Archive for August 10, 2009

Sexuality

Posted in Writing Related on August 10, 2009 by carltonmellick

Jeremy Pellington writes:

“i would like to know what sexuality means to your work. reading some of your books, i’ve noticed that sexuality is a common theme, sometimes leering towards discomfort. i know that you are a bizarro writer, and it may be possible that you’ve thrown these things in for a bizarre attitude.”

Sexuality is usually important to my stories. I probably wouldn’t say that the sexuality has any meaning, but I often use sex as a way to create conflict, build character, or add strangeness. Sometimes it’s even there for the sake of world-building. Almost every one of my books has an unusual sex scene that is there for a reason. In Ugly Heaven, people have sex by cutting open their bellies and pressing these squid-like organs together, which is important for world-building because it illustrates how people are able to have sex in Heaven even though they no longer have human sex organs. In Cybernetrix, there is a sex scene in the Tron world, which is important because it creates conflict when the character goes back to the real world with an electronic STD. In the Egg Man, there is a lot of uncomfortable sex between a man with a heightened sense of smell and a woman who purposely never bathes in order to torture him. This creates conflict and builds on the woman’s sadistic nature. In Apeshit… well, I don’t even want to get into the sex scenes in Apeshit, but let’s just say they reveal the ugly sides of some of the characters.

So the sex in my books have a reason for being there. Kurt Vonnegut said that every single sentence you write should do one of two things: build character or move the plot forward. Sex scenes shouldn’t be any different.

I also try to make the sex scenes as imaginative as possible, because imaginative sex is something I feel is lacking in most books. And, as they say, if you want to read about something that other people aren’t writing about then that is the thing you should be writing about.

I also use sexuality to explore gender roles in my books. I often give conventional masculine personality traits to the female characters and conventional feminine personality traits to the male characters, so the sexuality of the female characters tends to be more aggressive, lewd, and predatory, while the male characters tend to be more innocent, emotional, and tender. Of course, this is nothing new (not just in fiction, but in reality) but in my opinion it makes the characters more interesting and more fun to write about.

I’m not saying the sexuality is completely without meaning. Razor Wire Pubic Hair, for example, is one big exploration into the meaning of sex. But for the most part, it is usually there to build the characters.