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Monday, November 29, 2010


Let's Talk About Sex

Sometimes I wonder if murder-mystery or horror writers ever get asked why they always want to kill people or have such a fixation with demons that melt eyeballs. Maybe they get asked, and maybe they don’t. However, if you write romance novels and have any degree of steaminess in the story, you WILL get asked about sex.

What I get a lot of are perplexed looks as people try to find the delicate way to ask, "You're a straight woman, so how do you know how to write all this gay sex?" Which is actually easy to answer: research and imagination. Yeah, I've looked stuff up. I've also made stuff up. Sometimes I think the latter is best. Your mind really gets to working when you're trying to figure out where someone's leg would go in this or that position and when it would get tired or whether or not endorphins would compensate. Or when you're trying to imagine how and why a flogger could feel good, or why (and when) exactly pain becomes pleasure. Yes, I've asked gay men questions and straight men too, and I've done a lot of reading and porn watching. But the best stuff to me is always found between the lines, not in the how-to but the how and the why and what that means to the character.

I write sex for the same reason a mystery writer writes murders and a horror writer writes scary: because it's interesting. Because how a human being could end up in such a situation and how different characters would react to it is interesting. Plus, for me, writing about sex is freeing, because it's a way to unpack something our culture has made far too complicated. Having sex, thinking about sex, and wanting sex is a natural human condition, but we load it with fear and shame and confusion. Sex is an exciting, wonderful, and fulfilling way to explore self and to explore relationships. It feels pretty damn good too.

So why do I write about sex? Because I learn a lot about characters and people in general and even myself whenever I do. Why gay male sex? For the same reasons, but also because I like to find out what is different and what is the same emotionally. Because I like exploring and validating and celebrating relationships that a lot of western society is still pretty squeamish about. Because the characters that come to talk to me the most happen to be gay men. Because sex, more than murder or horror or any other genre I’ve ever encountered, is always so very, very about character, about the deepest parts of us exposed, often in ways we hadn’t predicted.

But mostly, really, because it’s awfully, awfully fun.


Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren't enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her family. Heidi also volunteers frequently for her state's LGBT rights group, One Iowa, and is proud to be from the first Midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage.

 Visit Heidi's web site at and her blog at

1 comment:

Maureen said...

All reasons that sound legit to me! Go for it!