Fiction

30 Days, 30 Books That Shaped My Life – Day 12 NaNoWriMo

This post is rated PG-13 (tomorrow’s will be NC-17, so don’t share it with your kids/younger brother, kay?).

Let’s talk about sex. If you follow me on Twitter, you probably don’t think I’m particularly “out there” when it comes to themes of sex and sexuality. However, if you check in who I follow on Twitter (or buy my book – it’s proofed, so the PB version should be available for holiday gift giving!), it won’t take a giant leap for mankind to figure out how my bread is buttered, so to speak.

That aside, themes of sex and sexuality in literature have always really resonated with me. I’ve already made reference to a couple books I don’t like (and, full disclosure, I have not read them; I’ve only read about them) that I think do a piss-poor job of talking about sex. The first, Twilight, does a piss-poor job by avoiding sex altogether; the second Fifty Shades does a piss-poor job of talking about sex in which the author obviously has never participated (or really bothered to research; if my posts aren’t illuminating enough, you can check out what members of the Alt community think of Ms. James’ “how-not-to” manual here and here – note: rape triggers in second link).

Interestingly, these books (related, since Shades is a Twilight fan fictionalization) came out (ha ha) 30-some years after a super sexy book about forbidden love, Flowers in the Attic. I guess I’ll be betraying my age when I admit that I was a (very young) teen when this book by V.C. Andrews (who has been a lot of people but at the time was Virginia Andrews and still very much alive and writing for herself) took the best seller list by storm. It was the Twilight series of its day, and the two follow up books (eventually there were five books about Cathy Dollanger and her twisted, messed up family) titillated a certain kind of reader. I was a late bloomer, in that regard, but certainly the sex was what impacted me about this story. It was what made me devour the book and reread it while waiting for the sequels Petals on the Wind and If There Be Thorns. By the time the other books were published, I had outgrown V.C. Andrews. (I may have read Seeds of Yesterday, but Ms. Andrews succumbed to breast cancer shortly after writing the fourth Dollanger book, and all her other works after 1985 were at least partially ghost written.)

While I doubt the writing would heralded as anything better (or worse) than Stephanie Meyer had Ms. Andrews’ work been published today, her story telling was fast paced and made a lot of little girls want to dance around naked in the attic. It probably started my sexual awakening towards less-than-nilla, although it would take as many years between Flowers and Twilight for me to formulate these ideas consciously or in my life. I wonder if young women today would be reading Shades post-Twilight if they had the combination of fantasy, horror and sex in a single book like Flowers in the Attic.

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