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John Grisham: My sex scenes make my wife laugh out loud

10 November 2012

From The Telegraph:

Every morning at seven John Grisham sits down at the computer in his farmhouse in rural Virginia with a strong cup of coffee. It’s the same computer he’s used to bash out 25 bestsellers, and the same brand of organic coffee he’s drunk for the past 20 years.

“I’ll have two cups and then switch to decaf,” he says in his deep southern drawl. “My office is dark, warm and cosy with no phones and no internet because I’m terrified my stuff will be hacked into. I’ll get five or six pages done before lunch, then at around 12.30pm I’ll drive into town for lunch. If you get into a rhythm of doing that every day, with a few days off here and there, those pages pile up and you can get one book done a year.”

. . . .

Every legal thriller he’s written since 1992, when The Pelican Brief was published, has debuted at number one in the bestsellers’ list, and eight of those books have become Hollywood films.

. . . .

Grisham has no literary pretensions, he assures me. “I’m not trying to write great literature. I’ll leave that to someone else, and I’m glad they do it because I like to read great literature. But I do what I do. It’s enough for me that when I write something like The Racketeer, about five million people all over the world will read it. When I see someone in an airport lounge or on the beach reading one of my books, it still makes me smile, 30 books on.”

As for the bad reviews, he stopped reading those more than a decade ago.

“I could read two or three good ones and then one bad one would make me want to go and shoot people, so I decided it was best to ignore them.”

. . . .

“I once wrote a sex scene and gave it to [my wife] to read,” he confesses. “I thought it was a really steamy, raunchy scene but when I sneaked into the room to try to gauge her reaction she was screaming with laughter. I mean hysterical laughter. ‘You can’t write sex scenes’, she said to me. ‘What do you know about sex?’ So people shouldn’t expect any erotic fiction from me.”

Link to the rest at The Telegraph and thanks to John for the tip.

Books in General

11 Comments to “John Grisham: My sex scenes make my wife laugh out loud”

  1. Awww, haha.

  2. Uh…

    5-6 pages every day ends up being about 2,000 pages a year, or 600,000 words. That’s more than one book per year. I’m guessing he isn’t including time spent editing and revising drafts.

    Also, I wonder if he’s saying he takes every afternoon off. I guess if you’re John Grisham, you can.

    I’m crushed that there will be no John Grisham erotica. What a loss for literary culture.

  3. I haven’t read a John Grisham novel in years; but I remember enjoying them at the time. Now that I think about it, I don’t recall any sex scenes in his novels. I guess I know the reason why, now.

  4. Kudos to Mr. Grisham for listening to Mrs. Grisham. Thriller writers tend to write horrid, cringe-inducing sex scenes IMHO. Not sure if it is a side-effect from often extensive research for realism.

    I like thrillers. I’ve read many. Lately, there seem to be a mandatory sex scene in every book I’ve read, whether the story warrants it or not.

    I can skim through clunky mechanical sex descriptions. My main gripe is when the classic type A lone hero/secret assassin/badass spy and the book’s hot chick are about to do the deed. Suddenly, the hero displays the slick seduction moves of a 16-yearold, or a clueless middle-aged academic type bachelor. Awkward is only the beginning, though you now have a strong lead as to why the book’s hero is single.

    Dear sweet thriller writers, go Grisham. Don’t kill the thrill.

  5. This is so very true. I’m a writer of thrillers myself and so far every sex scene I’ve attempted has always ended up getting cut. Yes, they were bad.

    “What are you writing, James Bond?”

    “No honey, I’ll cut the scene.”

    I do however feel that creating sexual tension among your characters can add to the story. My protagonist is in the rather uncomfortable situation of having to work with his college girlfriend, something his wife does not approve of. It gives me ample opportunity to stir the pot.

  6. That’s why I avoid sex scenes and only allude to what happened. ;-)

  7. I thought that was rather charming. :)

    I like Grisham. I respect that he takes a stand and advocates in his books for social change. He’s written about some extremely important issues, and I really respect that.

    And I like his books, they are hard to put down.

  8. Writing sex is a learned skill developed through practice and reading similar scenes in other books. I wouldn’t expect someone, even as talented a writer as Grisham, to write a good sex scene on their first attempt, especially if the books they typically read don’t include them.

    • Thank you for that. No, it’s NOT easy. I invite anyone who thinks so to try. I worry way more about the sex scenes in my books than I do about the plot. Of course, that may be because people buy my books more for sex scenes than for plot. But at least in my head, it’s because sex scenes are harder to make believable.

      Although I have to admire the nerve of a man telling the world that his wife said, “You don’t know anything about sex” to him. Takes some stones, that does.

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