Popular novelists use pseudonyms to write romance novels, and romance novelists use them to write erotica. But when I wrote What A Mother Knows, it was my real name going on the cover. So naturally, when I wrote the big love scene – okay, sex scene – I worried about what my daughters would think.
The story is about a mother’s quest to find her daughter, so already it hits close to home. At first, I was more concerned with how the girls might judge the daughter’s part. Then I realized I was working even harder to get the mother’s part right, to make her believable and sexy, all at the same time. It wasn’t just the romance that worried me, it was the fact that there are some undeniable similarities between us. Sure, Michelle is taller and thinner, but her desperate need to protect her daughter? That’s all me. So when it was time to write the big love scene, I started to sweat.
I wanted to make it as hot as possible, but my daughters will read it as soon as it comes out. I wanted to go crazy, but there was important plotting to be done amid all the heavy breathing. When Michelle develops a kickass attitude and takes charge of her life, she takes charge in the bedroom as well. She’s not actually in a bedroom, mind you, but in a unique location that makes both the sex and the story better.
I imagined the most exciting seduction I could, the kind every woman dreams about. There is champagne and chocolate, her lacey red lingerie pressed against his rock hard chest, and enough heat to make it last until morning, when there is a surprise twist in the story.
It’s a hot scene. How do I know? My agent never commented on it. Even my editor, who made notes throughout the rest of the book, left these margins conspicuously blank. For a few days, I wondered if either had actually read it. Then I realized that they didn’t say anything because there was nothing to say. It works.
So here I am, an author hoisted by her own petard. My novel has a main character similar to me, with a sex scene that is decidedly hot. Will my daughters wonder if I’ve had sex like that? Will they recognize the lingerie from the stash in my drawer? Or will they rcognize that great sex is every woman’s right, including their own?
I don’t know, and I’m not about to ask. But that doesn’t make me a wimp. After all, that’s my real name on the cover.
Leslie Lehr‘s latest novel is What a Mother Knows (May 2013) She is the author of WIFE GOES ON and 66 LAPS, which won the Pirates Alley Faulkner Society Gold Medal. Her essays about mothering and parenthood have been featured on The Today Show and were excerpted in Arianna Huffington’s bestseller, On Becoming Fearless. A screenwriter based in Los Angeles, she is a member of the Authors Guild and teaches creative writing at UCLA Writers’ Extension. www.leslielehr.com
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