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Intimacy in a novel

The first time I read the blog A sky filled with sparkling stars, I was immediately struck by the intro: “… content may be considered adult content”. That felt like permission to discuss the intimate scenes in When I Wake Up.


Sex in books is sometimes subtle and at other times, more graphic. People’s preferences about how explicit they want these scenes to be, seems to be divided. Personally, I feel that intimacy is vital and very telling about the characters: does it show them as loving, gentle, adventurous, controlling, liberal or inhibited, for example? How a character interacts with someone sexually might be directly linked to how he or she acts in life, or it could be a space where they act out another side of themselves.  


Writing When I Wake Up, I set out to create a book for adults and intimacy is part of adult life, and although I believe in love and monogamy, some of my characters think differently. Rolf, a painter in his fifties, doesn’t want to be tied down by anyone, not even the love of his life, Iris. He believes in options but feels it’s fair to have multiple partners as long as he’s open about it and allows his wife that same privilege.


Iris chose an open marriage because that’s what was offered to her by the man she loved, and she ended up embracing it. That was, until someone entered her life, tipping her believes in favour of fidelity.


While Rolf and Iris openly discuss sex, married couple Anna and Erik don’t. They have experienced a stagnated sex life since the birth of their children and that has led to resentment on both parts. If a married couple chooses not to communicate about their issues, or feel they can’t, then what do they do?


I greatly admire writers who get the balance right, including Stieg Larsson, Margaret Atwood and Joyce Carol Oates. Not to forget Sarah Waters who in my opinion, writes flawless sex scenes.


Sex is private but in a novel, the characters’ lives are on full display to the readers and how they are intimate with others, forms part of who they are. It’s therefore likely to be the case in my next book as well. It will depend on how adventurous the characters are!

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