Iíve always been a voracious reader, and Iíve wanted to be a writer most of my life. Though Iíd made many attempts to start novels over the years, I faltered in every case, and never even figured out what my problem was, let alone overcame it.
Then I heard about Grandmaís Sex Handbook, a project by my extended family to compile our collective wisdom about sex for newlyweds, headed by my cousin ďAnne,Ē and I got to read early drafts of many chapters. The chapter on Fantasy vs. Lust really surprised me, and either my Grandmother didnít pass that part down to me, or I forgot it completely in the fog of getting married. When I read the detailed explanation though, I was amazed, and it really stirred me to think about it, especially in light of my recent reading activity.
Now, I enjoy reading just about every kind of novel except horror stories, but Iíll stick with one genre for a year or so, get tired of that, and switch to another. As it happened, when I read the draft Fantasy vs. Lust chapter, I had been reading mostly romance novels lately. Romance novels, if you donít know, can have a level of sensuality from zero to constant, detailed sex. And I admit, though Iíve thrown away some of the books where a plot barely existed to provide a setting for sex, Iíve also secretly enjoyed some pretty spicy scenes in otherwise well-told stories. I had also worried that it wasnít a very Christian thing to do.
So after reading about the distinction between fantasy and lust, I reasoned that reading the sexual scenes in some novels was okay, as long as it didnít prompt me to want to actually cheat on my husband, since it was just imaginary fantasy. Something still bothered me, though, and then it hit me: The vast majority of the explicit sex scenes in romance novels are between unmarried couples, and they were frequently just one-night stands, or even between total strangers. Why werenít there any explicit scenes between happily married couples? I came up with an answer to that, too. Because there werenít any Christians writing explicit romance novels. But should there be? Might God want a Christian to write a sexually explicit novel? And even if so, who would publish such a daring thing?
I asked Cousin Anne about her plans to get GSH published, and she put me in contact with John Lambert, a friend of hers who generously helped me learn about self-publishing and print-on-demand. Armed with the knowledge that I could upload a word-processing file and have the manuscript become available as a print-on-demand book for free, I started toying with the idea of trying to write again.
Based on my track record to that date, I had little reason to have any confidence in being able to complete a manuscript, but I felt compelled to try anyway. And to my astonishment, I kept writing and writing. I liked my characters. I liked my story. Somehow, the word-count kept growing. Once I got to the point in the story where my protagonist was about to get married, I had written over 70,000 words, and I was starting to get excited. I had never gotten so far, and somehow, it just felt like I was going to be able to finish this story. Whether anyone else thought it was any good was, well, another story. I know a lot of authors have written stories they think are wonderful, but no one else does. I still didnít know if Iíd end up in that camp.
By this time, Johnís wife Carla had decided to create Intimate Press and publish Grandmaís Sex Handbook. So, I timidly asked John if he would review what I had so far and give me his opinion. He agreed, and I waited anxiously for his first comments. I guess he liked it pretty well, because he offered me a hundred bucks to finish the story just so he could read the rest. Even if he was teasing, that was very encouraging, and he said Carla liked it as much as he did.
Although the first part John read related a characterís explicit sexual thoughts, it didnít include any fictitious sexual acts yet. I actually hoped to avoid those, but the story just seemed to write itself, and it included substantial detail about the initial sexual activity of the main couple, including the middle-aged, just-married wifeís first-ever orgasm. (For those who think thatís too far-fetched, I assure you that while I hope itís uncommon, that aspect of the story accurately reflected the circumstances of a good friend of mine.) Now I was worried about what John and Carla would think of the additional material.
So, I talked to John, and he read what I had so far. Much to my relief, though he thought the additional material was pushing the envelope, he thought it was justifiable as integral to the character and plot development. And at his suggestion, I made a few revisions that improved some important plot issues and eliminated some logical inconsistencies.
And to my delight, Carla decided sheíd be willing to publish my story as the first-ever novel by Intimate Press! That was thrilling news, to be sure, but it also dawned on me what a great responsibility we were undertaking. A novel teaches people whatever it talks about, and teachers will be judged by God with greater strictness, according to James 3:1. With that in mind, we reviewed and revised the manuscript to try to ensure that itís Godly in addition to being interesting.
Though Iím sure there will be Christians who believe itís impossible to please God and discuss sex in fictional narrative, I obviously disagree. I hope this book is in line with the goal of Intimate Press that non-Christians who read it for the story will see a more abundant life than they know, and will be drawn to our wonderful Savior, and that it will help Christians who read it to enhance every aspect of their relationship with their spouse.
Having read some of the early reader comments about Cousin Anneís Grandmaís Sex Handbook, I hope this book encourages readers in an entertaining way as much as her book does in a factual way.
In Jesusí Name,