I'm currently writing a romance novel. Aren't we all? But every time I write the word cock or pussy or balls I feel my face get red and my skin get itchy. No one is reading it except me. No one ever has to read it but me. So, why am I so afraid to put these words on paper.
I say them. All the time. I'll ask my best friend if my tits look good in a dress or I'll discuss a particularly dirty romance novel with nary a blush saying phrases like "God, the way that he tied her up and fucked her hard with that huge cock was totally hot". I mean, probably not that exact phrase, but you get my drift.
It's like reading the words from someone else's imagination gives me a comforting degree of separation that taking them straight from my own fantasies doesn't. I can read a book by someone like Tessa Bailey and think, "Wow, that's insanely hot" but when I write the words myself I can't help thinking, "Wow... someone as awkward as me should never ever say these things. Who do I think I am?"
And hence, the creation of yet another blog post specifically geared towards getting authors to give me advice under the guise of an interview. My victim of choice this time around? Tessa Bailey. Duh.
Tessa Bailey writes some of my all-time favorite romance novels and many have dubbed her the Queen of Dirty Talk. One time I was reading one of her books and literally said out loud, "How the fuck is she coming up with this sinful dialogue?" And then my husband turned to me and said, "What?"
Anyways, she's a goddess from the planet Hottest Sex Scenes Ever and I'm just lucky I can see her through my telescope (what does that mean? Idk).
Tessa Bailey writes books for Avon Romance and on her own as an indie author (the self-published stuff is where it gets really raunchy, but I have to say that her traditionally published stuff is nothing to sneeze at). I wholeheartedly recommend her books for anyone who loves dirty contemporary that stays just.this.side. of erotica...sometimes. I'll recommend my favorite stuff at the bottom, but for now... enjoy this interview chalked full of questions that I thought of while staring at my six page long sex scene where I use the word 'cock' far too much and 'cunt' not enough.
Romantically Inclined Reviews: Do you have to get yourself in the mood to write sex scenes? Does it take a certain location, music, candles, pictures of your hero and a good imagination to make the magic happen?
Tessa Bailey: I'm going to be honest with you. It takes me almost nothing to get in the mood. The mere suggestion of copulation and I'm off to the races. It's a blessing and a curse.
Romantically Inclined Reviews: What does the first draft of your sex scenes usually look like? Is it absolute trash that needs intense editing or do you tend to get it mostly right on the first go?
Tessa Bailey: Sex scenes are the one thing I get right on the first try. I spend a lot of time on them and I don't write out of order, so I make sure they capture the right mood, mindset of the characters and, if possible, move the plot forward. I occasionally add more dialogue on a second draft to make the scene more revealing. Or dirty. Or both.
Romantically Inclined Reviews: How do you keep your sex scenes fresh between books? Do you research new techniques, watch romantic movies, observe couples, eavesdrop on couples, etc?
Tessa Bailey: It's usually the characters who dictate their sexual proclivities to me. Depending on their personalities, pasts, hidden kinks, the ton of the book, there are endless possibilities for sexual dynamics between the characters. Honestly, I just have an endlessly filthy mind and sometimes I spend days mentally playing with a sex scene until I go yesssss. When you see me, just assume I'm thinking about intercourse.
Romantically Inclined Reviews: Do your friends and family ever struggle to look you in the eye after being exposed to one of your sex scenes or are they just as impressed as your readers?
Tessa Bailey: My friends might be having a hard time looking at me these days, but I'm so shameless, I probably don't even notice! And they were with me in the beginning. I specifically remember one night in a bar where they called out euphemisms for penis to use in my first book and I studiously typed them into my iPhone notes. So we're beyond embarrassment. My family doesn't read the books and thank God for that.
Romantically Inclined Reviews: Do you have any tips for writing dirty talk and making it sound natural?
Tessa Bailey: Again, it really depends on the character. Does the hero love the heroine's ass? When he finally gets her alone and he's been lusting after her/that ass for weeks... "Turn around and let me sink my fucking teeth into that sweet, little thing." I love making men animals and if the woman is on board/enjoying herself (that's key), objectify her. I personally love being objectified in an intimate setting. I want to be a sexual object, because then I don't have to think about anything else except getting there. Another thing I love is when men say something in the heat of the moment that proves he's been paying attention. Something about her smell that's been driving him insane or the way she crosses her legs at work. Is that helpful or do I just sound like a pervert?
Romantically Inclined Reviews: What are some words/phrases you avoid?
Tessa Bailey: I tend to avoid the word juices. I don't know why. It's just not my favorite. I also try to be realistic about how men speak. I've never heard a man use the word "caress" or "desires" in my life. They do not sound like women, they're blunter, and I think that's the appeal.
Romantically Inclined Reviews: How did you get over the initial awkwardness of putting your fantasies or imagination down on the page? Did it take time? Did it take wine?
Tessa Bailey: It took time. When I wrote my first book, I wrote like my mother was reading over my shoulder and it showed. The next time, I poured all my freakiness onto the page, never thinking it would be published. Surprise! It was. After that, I just forced myself to get comfortable with myself as a woman and not someone's child, sister, etc. I'm an adult woman, I like sex/reading about sex and (a lot of) people who pretend otherwise are lying.
Romantically Inclined Reviews: What would be your number one tip for someone looking to write erotic scenes in their books?
Tessa Bailey: Write it for yourself. Write what turns you on. Don't worry about one person not liking your choices. Be unapologetic. And remember the tone/plot of your book. If they've been awkwardly flirting for seven chapters, use it. If she's shy and he's loud/brash/arrogant, maybe you can endear him to the reader by having him lay down and let the heroine explore him slowly. Use your story/character choices to craft the sex scenes and make them count. Make them mean something. And most importantly, do not masturbate until you're finish writing. It kills the mojo.
A special thanks to Tessa Bailey for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions for me and all the prospective writers out there. If you're interested in checking out her work you can find her traditionally published books in most brick and mortar bookstores and her independent books here. I recommend her Academy series for those who love hot cops and Captivated (the book she co-wrote with Eve Dangerfield) if you want that dirty shit. But I'll recommend Tessa's books until the day I die, so... take your pick.