"Why I Don't Write Sex"

It’s true—I draw the blinds on the sexual lives of my characters. I’m not being prudish; I have no objection to a candid depiction of sex where it enhances the readers’ experience of a book and its characters. But, it seems to me, in romantic fiction—in the comedies of manners that I write—the depiction of sex would be out of keeping with the world I want to represent. My hope is that readers imagine the characters in my novels as potential friends or acquaintances. I may be curious about the sexual lives of my friends and acquaintances, but I don’t want to be a witness to what they do behind closed bedroom doors. (I’d feel embarrassed.) As a novelist, I think that not to represent sex is to heighten the readers’ engagement with the life of my characters—to give even greater romantic charge to the story.

I don’t write about sex because I want to leave this corner of life to the imagination—and not just my readers’. I like to think that, in this area, my characters can carry on perfectly well without me.

Paula Marantz Cohen

(Paula's new book is Suzanne Davis Gets a Life)
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