How I Got over My Sex-Scene-Writing Embarrassment with Ruthie Knox

I’m so delighted to have Ruthie Knox back on the blog today, talking about something that I think will relate to all of us who write on the spicier side of the fence. 
But before I hand over to Ruthie, I’m over at Everybody Needs A Little Romance on the 10th (US time), and I’d love some comment love – hint hint!

Oh, You Scandalous Woman!or, How I Got over My Sex-Scene-Writing Embarrassment

I recently had anappointment for my annual lady-parts checkup, and when my (female) gynecologistunfolded the stirrups and asked me to scoot my butt down to the edge of thetable, I said, “Oh, I have something interesting we can talk about for thispart! I’ve been writing romance novels. They’re really sexy.”
And somewhere in ruralOhio, the Ruthie Knox of twenty years ago keeled over and DIED.
You see, when I was ateenager, my mother was a practicing midwife. There was a pelvic model on ourdining-room table. There was, at one time, somebody’s placenta in ourrefrigerator. My mom had long, involved telephone conversations with strangewomen about mucous—the private kindof mucous. And I Would Not Talk about Sex. Not with my mother, not with myfriends, not with anybody, anywhere, ever.
I did, however, read alot of sexy romance novels. I liked to thinkabout sex. I certainly assumed I would some day be having sex. It was just the whole conversation thing. The wholebeing-at-ease-with-the-fact-that-actual-human-people-have-sex thing. I couldn’thandle it.
I don’t have a dramaticstory about how all of that changed. I just grew up, I guess, in the usual waythat people do. I went to a liberal college and got more comfortable with myinborn feminism, et cetera, and so on. If one wants to have sex, one needs to be able to talk about it. Particularly ifone wants to have good sex. So Ifumbled my way through the awkwardness and got over it.
But when I startedwriting romance, there was another level of discomfort to get past—a sort ofknee-jerk siren in my head that screamed SEX! SEX! YOU’RE WRITING ABOUT SEX!EVERYONE WILL READ IT AND THINK ABOUT YOU WHILE THEY’RE READING IT AND THEY’LLKNOW YOU HAVE SEX AND THEY’LL WONDER IF IT’S ABOUT YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND OMIGAAAAAHD!
I’m pretty sure everyromance writer has this siren, although volume levels may vary.
Mine was remarkably easyto switch off—all it took was one person. In the early months after I startedwriting, a friend of mine said she’d love to read the manuscript that turnedout to be Ride with Me. I wasthrilled, but also extremely nervous. “There’s sex in it!” I told her. And thisfriend—a wonderfully blunt woman—asked me, “You do know I’ve had sex, right? I’ve even read books with sex in them. I think I canhandle it.”
So I took a deep breathand sent her the file. And then later I sent it to my parents. And after that Ilet my husband read it. And several of my friends.
And it was fine.
Getting comfortable withbeing someone who writes sex scenes for public consumption is a multistageprocess, but so is getting comfortable with sexuality generally, as a humanwoman. We get so many mixed messages about our bodies and what we’re supposedto do with them, what we’re supposed to wantto do with them, what we should want other people to think about them/us—it’stricky business, with a large Sidecar of Shame that threatens to slam into usif we navigate it wrong.
But it’s only fictionalsex, you know? It’s not like I’m killing puppies. So when I heard recently thata few of my relatives by marriage who I don’t know particularly well havepreordered Ride with Me, I gulped,and then I let it go. I hope they like it! Since these relatives all havechildren, I’m going to go ahead and assume they’ve had sex. They can probablyhandle my smutty, romantic, monogamous novelized version. Maybe they’ll evenlike it! Maybe my fictional sex will make the real, live lady parts of thesereal, live women feel happy.
But also, yay!
As for my gynecologist, Ileft her with my website address and a promise that I’ll still come back for myannual when I’m glamorous and famous. If she’s lucky, I’ll autograph herstirrups.
RUTHIE’s fab debut Ride with Me is available from Loveswept on February 13, 2012!

In this fun, scorching-hot eBook original romance by RuthieKnox, a cross-country bike adventure takes a detour into unexplored passion. Asreaders will discover, Ride with Me is not about the bike!
When Lexie Marshallplaces an ad for a cycling companion, she hopes to find someone friendly andfun to cross the TransAmerica Trail with. Instead, she gets Tom Geiger — alean, sexy loner whose bad attitude threatens to spoil the adventure she’sspent years planning.
Roped into the cyclingequivalent of a blind date by his sister, Tom doesn’t want to ride with achatty, go-by-the-map kind of woman, and he certainly doesn’t want to want her.Too bad the sight of Lexie with a bike between her thighs really turns hiscrank.
Even Tom’s stubborndetermination to keep Lexie at a distance can’t stop a kiss from leading toendless nights of hotter-than-hot sex. But when the wild ride ends, where willthey go next?

 Ruthie Knoxfigured out how to walk and read at the same time in the second grade, and shehasn’t looked up since. She spent her formative years hiding romance novels inher bedroom closet to avoid the merciless teasing of her brothers and imaginingscenarios in which someone who looked remarkably like Daniel Day Lewisrecognized her well-hidden sex appeal and rescued her from middle-classMidwestern obscurity. After graduating from Grinnell College with an Englishand history double major, she earned a Ph.D. in modern British history thatshe’s put to remarkably little use.
These days, shewrites contemporary romance in which witty, down-to- earth characters find eachother irresistible in their pajamas, though she freely admits this has yet tohappen to her. Perhaps she needs more exciting pajamas. Ruthie abhors anepilogue and insists a decent romance requires at least three good sex scenes.
One luckycommenter will be randomly chosen to win a digital copy of Ride with Me. Good luck to all!  To win, all you have to do is let us know what you do shamelessly today that would mortify or disappoint the high school version of yourself!?
Rachael’s answer – I eat Avocado!! Okay, so it’s not very exciting but I despised the stuff then and now I actually quite ADORE it!!

13 thoughts on “How I Got over My Sex-Scene-Writing Embarrassment with Ruthie Knox

  1. I was surprised by how well friends and family reacted when I broke the “I wrote a book and it has sex in it” news. My favorite response was my sister's – “I love sex! I just had sex this morning!”
    Good luck with the release. It sounds great.

  2. When my elderly mother read my recently released book she whispered to my sister “where did she learn all that sex stuff?” I certainly wasn't about to tell her :)Great post.

  3. “But it’s only fictional sex, you know? It’s not like I’m killing puppies.”

    Yay! Can I borrow that comeback for my less-than-understanding relatives??? Unfortunately I have a few of those. But that doesn't stop me from lettin' it rip in my books 🙂

    Great post!!

  4. Great post, ladies!

    I was waaaaay more shameless in high school than I am now. But I do put the trash out in my pajamas these days. My high school self would have died first.

    Ruthie, I had no idea your mom was a midwife–did I ever tell you I did a looong profile of a nurse midwife/home birth proponent about a year ago? Such a fun article to research. I have this vague idea for a midwife heroine somewhere in the back of my head as a result, but haven't yet made it turn into anything.

  5. A woman who'd read one of my books looked me up and down and said witheringly 'Clearly you're obsessed…'
    I don't have any problem writing sex scenes – but when I decided to produce audio versions of my books – I couldn't read the words aloud without collapsing into giggles. I was completely defeated by 'nipples'! Fortunately I have a good friend with a great voice who was able to do it for me.

  6. Yes, Ruthie, it seems like you REALLY got over writing that 'sex-scene embarrassment', questioning whether you really had that, ahem – just teasing!!

    Your stories are so romantic that the hot, steamy is just a compliment to it all — love your post & RIDE WITH ME – great story!


    This had me laughing so hard I nearly snotted my coffee! That decibel level seems about right. Thinking that everyone would assume I was writing about my sex life was the hardest part for me. But then I got over it. Cuz, really, if they think that, more power to them. Or to me and my husband. *lol*

    P.S. I so appreciated the WI accent in OMGahd. *squishes*

  8. Thanks for your kind comments, everybody!

    @Eleri — That's hilarious! Perfect response.

    @Helen — To which you might have replied, “I read about it in a book, Mom!”

    @Aimee — It's all yours!

    @Gilly — that's so funny. Yeah, I don't think I'm going to be clamoring to read audiobooks versions of my work. I'm not positive I can say “cock” without busting up in giggles.

    @Gina — “More power to them” — exactly.

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