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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tia Nevitt

Do you love fairy tales with a twist? This week, I'm pleased to introduce Tia Nevitt to the blog. Tia reviews many science fiction and fantasy books over at Debuts & Reviews, but today she's coming over to talk about sex and The Sevenfold Spell.

Please welcome Tia Nevitt.

When to Include Sex Scenes

I’ve gotten a few reviews so far of The Sevenfold Spell, and the reaction concerning the sex scenes is worthy of a blog post. Mainstream fantasy usually includes few sex scenes, and would be classified as “sweet.” Therefore, a couple of reviewers were surprised by and didn’t like the sex, and one even called it erotica. Another said it had lots of “fun sex.” And another said that the sex scenes weren’t sexy enough!

I tried to be very careful with the sex scenes. I didn’t want it to be any sexier than what you would find in a standard romance novel. In fact, in my opinion, it’s a good deal less so because the scenes are so short. And as that one reviewer said, all but one or two aren’t really sexy at all.

Most surprised were my friends when I told them that this story would be rated R. (My family wasn’t surprised, which pleased me.) I totally don’t look the part to be writing sexy novels. I dress modestly, with my necklines just high enough to cover my cleavage. My skirts just barely clear the knee—if they clear it at all. I don’t wear anything tight. And I don’t swear.

So why the sex scenes? I call it writing unleashed.

This is when I don’t hold anything back during that first draft. I let it all pour out, even if I know I never want to see what I’m writing in print. And then, in the second draft, I edit out what I don’t want the world to see, leaving as much emotion behind as I can. And believe me, I did a lot of editing on these sex scenes when I finished. The apple cart scene was a standalone sex scene before I decided to cut it and have it as a reminiscence between my main character, Talia, and her closest friend.

I wrote Talia as Princess Aurora’s opposite. Aurora is royal, pure and beautiful. Talia isn’t any of those things—at least on the surface. I’ve never slept around, but I really tried to get into the head of a girl who did. Over the years, I’ve spoken to many women, some of whom talked to me quite frankly of their experiences in sleeping around—especially the women I knew during my military days. So I didn’t write it in total ignorance.

I don’t use this writing unleashed technique on sex scenes only. I’m working on a Christian novel, and I’ve done the same thing there. I also used this technique when describing battle rage. It’s for emotionally intense scenes, no matter what the emotion. When I can get in that writing unleashed zone, I know that I’m producing something good.

When I was trying to adjust this story for short fiction magazines that didn’t accept adult material, I took out all the sensual scenes. And I didn’t really have Talia’s story any more. I never even tried to sell that version. When I knew I was going to send it to an epublisher, I went back to my previous version, took out one of Talia’s lovers, and replaced him with another man, who doesn’t become her lover at all. And he is the man who probably would have provided the best sex scene!

Will the future stories in the Accidental Enchantments series be as sensual as this one? It’s hard to say at this point. I know one story won’t, because of the compressed timeframe, but the others can go either way, depending on whether the plot needs it. Either the way, I try to unleash my writing for every work of fiction I write.

Buy The Sevenfold Spell at Carina Press.

Here's the blurb:

Have you ever wondered what happens to the other people in the fairy tale?
Things look grim for Talia and her mother. By royal proclamation, the constables and those annoying “good” fairies have taken away their livelihood by confiscating their spinning wheel. Something to do with a curse on the princess, they said.

Not every young lady has a fairy godmother rushing to her rescue.
Without the promise of an income from spinning, Talia’s prospects for marriage disappear, and she and her mother face destitution. Past caring about breaking an arbitrary and cruel law, rebellious Talia determines to build a new spinning wheel, the only one in the nation, which plays right into the evil fairy’s diabolical plan. Talia discovers that finding a happy ending requires sacrifice. But is it a sacrifice she’s willing to make?


Joely Sue Burkhart said...

Tia, I get this sometimes too, and it can even be ME applying the guilt. I'm Christian too and I write sexy books. Really sexy books. But I always try to make it more than just "sex" -- or at least move the story and the characters to where it is more than sex. They're growing, changing, and learning to love and have hope that maybe they didn't ever have before. To feel accepted, cherished, comforted. In all the darkness of this world, falling in love and enjoying your partner without hiding or suffering guilt can bring light and peace, too.

Kimber An said...

It is rather amusing, isn't it? You know, just because I live the sanctity of marriage doesn't mean I don't *like* it. I mean, c'mon, I've been knocked up five times and only twice on purpose. Trust me, they were not immaculate conceptions!

Joanne said...

I like the idea of unleashing our writing, no matter what we're writing about. It seems like emotion and feeling are part of that outpouring, which have a way of making a story very real.

T.D. Newton said...

Is the assumption that Christians don't have sex?? (lol)

This kind of thing just confuses me. For example, my most recent work contains sex, but it also deals with a nation of people who kill certain newborn children; an act based on their faith and fear. Are some people going to be upset by this? Probably, and rightfully so. Child murder is not a good thing, but hardships and less-than-savory experiences are parts of "real" life, therefore they must be included in fiction as well.

The fact that people agree/disagree with whether something is a valid or worthwhile act has nothing to do with whether an author should include it (or a character should do it, for that matter). I feel this is true particularly when dealing with SF/F worlds, with cultures that don't truly exist (and [in most cases, hopefully] never will).

If our fiction only contained stories about savory actions and wholesome outcomes, it wouldn't be worth reading.

So long as it's for the purpose or context of the story, pretty much everything is allowable in my opinion. Then again, nothing really offends me anymore (except being treated certain ways).

I can understand it to a certain extent, but I certainly don't agree with an author censoring themselves because their audience may be squeamish toward certain circumstances (particularly sex). At the same time, if Christians are squeamish about sex & violence, they need to re-read the Old Testament.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Tia, I thought you'd like to know I downloaded The Sevenfold Spell to my Kindle this morning and really enjoyed it. I thought the sex scenes were realistic and important to the plot. I liked the strip tease with the carpenter the best. ;)

Tia Nevitt said...

TD, I don't think I was censoring myself. It was a matter of classification. I knew if I left it the way it was, it would have been classified as erotica. I didn't want it to be classified as erotica, so I pulled it back. Believe me, it is still plenty sexy.

Joely, the sex in your novels work very well. You even got me reading dominance and I was OK with it because it was integral to the plot.

Kimber, you are hilariously blunt as usual! Joanne and Sandra--thanks.

T.D. Newton said...

Oh no, I wasn't criticizing you, I was upset about your (and Maria's) critics on this particular topic.

I earnestly believe the literary world is one of the only safe places to explore a lot of these "unsavory" topics. Asking an author to "tone it down" is like asking an artist to paint a picture but with only primary colors. Burnt Sienna is just too inflammatory. Periwinkle, too violent. Mauve, too racy.

I could go on and on (as you well know), but I think you get the idea.

Maria Zannini said...

TD: I really like your analogy about asking a writer to tone it down.

You paint a canvas or write a story by the needs of the subject, not the demands of the audience.

Maria Zannini said...

Tia: Thank you so much for coming over with a topic that isn't nearly discussed often enough.

I enjoyed having you here!

T.D. Newton said...

Thanks Maria, though I can't say it's an original analogy. I'm very anti-censorship, so I've no doubt heard it used a time or two over the years.

Tia Nevitt said...

Todd, my friend Carole, who I mentioned on the post pointing here, would agree with you, and she is a very devout Christian. She writes some edgy stuff and no Christian publisher will go anywhere near her. She was published by Juno Books. And yes, it's too bad you can't publish Christian novels today that are as sensual as Song of Solomon.

Thank you Maria. I am prepared to pop in all night!

Susanna Fraser said...

This was a big issue for me when I started to write because I'd spent several years within a subset of Christianity that taught that ANY sexual fantasies or feelings for anyone not your own spouse were sins because of the verse in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says that anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Even chaste romances like inspirationals or traditional Regencies sometimes get condemned sometimes under those teachings because, if single, you might develop unrealistic expectations, and, if married, you might compare your husband unfavorably to Mr. Darcy.

By the time I started writing romance, I'd long since loosened up and decided that God had made us sexual beings and that what Jesus really meant was that we shouldn't dehumanize others by viewing them ONLY as sexual objects, and that we should be careful to avoid getting on slippery slopes that might lead to us breaking marriage vows. But there's this part of me that's still waiting for the first letter from one of my relatives or college friends expressing shock that I could write such a sinful book.

LovLivLife Reviews said...

Aloha Tia!!=)

I love the concept of "writing Unleashed." I'm not a writer but within my personal journal I just keep writing without giving too much thought to explaining my feelings but just laying it all out.

I have The Sevenfold Spell tbr'd but this post has really set a tone of this novel. Thank you for sharing!=)

Tia Nevitt said...

I apologize for not seeing this; I thought I posted the twelfth comment!

Susanna, I think your book is racier than mine, but I think my book runs into red flags because the main character is promiscuous. I got a second review calling it erotic. I know I won't run into anyone around here that objects to erotic romance, but I don't think it would have been classified as erotic if it had been a print book.