Tuesday, June 14, 2011

FAQ --Sex and Violence

Q: I am a new prospective reader who does not like sex and violence in my books. Thanks.

A: This showed up in the space for comments on a recent request to sign up for my Goodweather Report newsletter. 

It puts me into a quandry. I don't think my books are particularly known for sex and violence -- in my opinion, the sex is pretty minimal and the violence is often, (but not always) offstage.  But it's hard to write about murders without some violence.

And I write about life -- which is sometimes messy -- and people -- who tend to be far more interesting when they're flawed.  There have to be obstacles and crises -- and I hope to engage  fully the emotions of the reader -- not just give them a comforting back rub.


But I do understand the person who says -- "I have enough bad stuff in my life --  I'll take the back rub." 


The thing is, a fair number of folks have told me they find a visit to my fictional world comforting . . . there've been only two, so far, who've taken me to task for undue sex and violence.

So what do I say to this prospective reader?  How can I know what her comfort zone is? Probably, since she felt it necessary to mention,  it's pretty limited. She'll be safe with the newsletter though -- no sex or violence there.

  I've struggled with this question before -- both HERE  and in the post  NOT HER CUP OF TEA.
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16 comments:

Jon Lee said...

I think that your books are well-balanced. I agree with you, however, that it's impossible to know what one's comfort zone is. The fact is without conflict, there is no plot. If you write a murder mystery, you have to have a murder. I find murder mysteries an escape from the type of books that I teach in my classes. I believe you have to stay true to your creativity. Readers always go toward those writers who supply them with the words they either feel comfortable with or fulfilled with reading. Wasn't it Aristotle who said readers exist for writers, and writers exist for readers (definitely paraphrased). Every reader, I believe, finds a writer or writers who exist for him or her.

Callie said...

Life! Life is all about sex. No sex... no life. People who don't want sex in their books have the choice to read other books. They shouldn't dictate their beliefs to the author. Poor authors. If they listened to everybody they would never get anything written. Please yourself! It's your world and those who want to visit there come at your invitation. You should build it to suit yourself.

Ellis Vidler said...

I think we have to write what we're comfortable with and accept that it won't suit everyone. Mysteries usually involve murder, and some violence is expected. I don't find yours too much at all, but everyone has to find his or her own level.

As for sex, well, the same thing. It's part of life, and we all deal with it in our own comfort zone. Yours will surely not be offensive to anyone.

Just keep writing your own way. She'll probably love it.

June said...

My immediate response, which you can't say to a prospective reader, but I can:
They do still sell Little Golden Books.

Brian Miller said...

i often wonder about people who make these statements...on one level i understand...but on another i wonder where they live to be isolated from sex and violence...

Elora said...

And the clouds!....turmoil and tumultuous events unfolding...and I thought West Virginia did clouds well! Well done, Vicki!

Elora

Helen T in SC said...

If you don't want to read about sex and violence, please don't read the Bible. The variety is aplenty for those who love a cozy to hard boiled crime.

Vicki Lane said...

Nice thoughtful answers, you guys!

Never fear -- I'm not seeking to change the way I write -- I'm in MY comfort zone and will stay there. And I know the person wasn't asking me a question but the way she said she was a prospective reader made it seem like she was and I wanted to let her know where I thought my books were on the sex and violence scale -- certainly not X, probably not even R -- more like PG or PG-13.

June! You made me laugh!

Kristen Haskell said...

How can you possibly write about life and eliminate sex or violence. Impossible to eliminate sex as we aren't hatched from eggs. Whether we like it or not violence is something that man has not been able to overcome, it is part of our human experience. I think your books are interesting and the characters are very well developed, so much so that they could be real people. Your work is not filled with gratuitous sex or violence and it certainly isn't pornographic. I don't particularly care for violence myself but I never came away from reading one your books feeling like, it was too much. In fact, I would recommend your books to anyone that likes a fun, visually interesting and pleasing mystery because to me that is what they are. I love your writing and I don't think you should change a thing. That is just my opinion.

NCmountainwoman said...

I had to think for a while to recall the "sex" in your books. There certainly is not the "hot and steamy" sex one finds in most novels. It is actually quite minimal and serves only to further explain the depth of adult relationships. I also appreciated the fact that an "older woman" is a sexual being.

My comfort zone for violence is whether or not I can read something late in the evening and not have nightmares. If I find it is too discomforting (such as Stieg Larsson) I simply make certain I put it away before evening.

jennyfreckles said...

I'm not sure Miss Suzy H appreciates being entitled 'sex and violence'! I think you'd better send that lady to read some children's books.

Vicki Lane said...

I know what you mean, NCmountainwoman. Someone once mentioned being offended by 'the rape scene' in IN A DARK SEASON and I had to stop and think. (There was one - described at third hand and years later.)

I really appreciate all the positive comments!

Reader Wil said...

Your books are absolutely my " cup of tea ", or rather for a Dutch person:" my cup of coffee"! There is enough sex in it to make it interesting, but that is very modest. There is a bit of violence too, but not excessively cruel, like in the books of Dan Brown. I think his "Angels and Demons" is full of violence and cruelty. And there is not one murder but a whole series of killings, one even more violent than the others.do you think that women writers are writing less cruel books than men?
Thanks for your visit and comment. I can understand that on a farm like yours It's difficult to be a vegetarian. Anyway I am not a vegetarian, but I try to minimize my daily portion of meat. Once a week I eat eggs instead of meat.

Thérèse said...

Interesting post and comments. "Be true to oneself" that's what you seem to be doing...and it seems to be working too.

Witch of Stitches said...

I would think if one had a problem reading anything with violence, one would choose another genre - after all, mysteries are known for murder, generally.
I agree with others here - your books are very well balanced with no gratuitous sex and violence, just what is necessary and real for the story.
You can't please all the people and all that, but you are obviously doing something right since your books keep getting published! (of course you don't need me to tell you that, but I will anyway!)
Your books certainly are my cup of tea!

Vicki Lane said...

Wil and Witch of S -- you make me smile! :-)