And it must make for some interesting conversations at dinner parties - 'hi, I'm Jacob, my wife works with your wife. I hear you write - what genre?' Then again the question, 'do you still write porn?' has to rank with the old saw 'when did you stop beating your wife?' (For the record, five years ago - she's very good at Scrabble, to be fair).
Sure I've used some sex in my books, not enough to worry about the Googlers and Bingers I've just dispatched, but a little where I thought it lent some purpose. There's even a smattering of kinky sex in Skin, but blink and you may miss it.
But the assumption would be, I suspect, that if I wrote erotic fantasy, is that there's no smoke without fire. Therefore, QED, I must be of that sort of persuasion. I'm not being critical of those who write and read that genre, by the way - it's not my bag personally, but it clearly is the bag of many people. I suspect that if I did write that stuff, judging by the ranking of short erotic books on the Smashwords top sellers list (or essays as I prefer to call them) I'd sell a heck of a lot of more books than I do writing the stuff I do write.
But I write science based thrillers (apart from the odd parody) and I let a lot of people die in these books. Not from natural causes, mind - I don't think the concept that a character could just pass on naturally has ever occurred to me when writing. Lead poisoning by dint of an excess of bullets is a common method of death, but garroting gets its fair share of use, too. Ritualistic killings happen quite a bit as well, when I think of it. I do remember a colleague who read The Journeymen a few years back, in the days before eBooks become a normal way of publishing, when I printed copies of my books by hand. He'd been reading the book for a few days to my knowledge before he approached me and said 'you never told me it was that violent!' It was an 'Oops' moment, but I guess we all got over it.
So, if writing erotic fiction labels a person as a pervert, does writing thrillers where good guys and bad guys get shot, sliced, diced and prematurely buried mean that I'm potentially a killer? Does the fact that I (and many other writers) can imagine ways of taking lives make me a potential homicidal maniac? If not, is this really different to the erotic writers?
All I can say is that there is a massive market for books that describe people being killed, there always has been, and Agatha Christie for one absolutely revelled in it. I personally doubt she killed a single person, probably never even considered it, but a lot of fictional characters died under her pen or typewriter. But the real question, I guess, is whether it is the readers who are the potential killers? Perhaps, for my own safety, I ought to tone my books down a tad. Perhaps I should just let the characters off with a good slapping and a clip around the ear?
Given the subject of Project: Evil, perhaps I need to shelve that thought for a while, though. A megalomaniac hell bent on giving the planet a Chinese Burn just doesn't have the same level of impact as trying to destroy it, even in a comedic novel!
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