by Kemble Scott
We're definitely a nation of doubters, especially when it comes to books. Authors who write memoirs are inevitably accused of making things up. And readers often suspect novelists are just offering thinly veiled portraits of themselves.
Fact is fiction, and fiction is fact.
I learned this firsthand when my first novel SoMa came out. It's set in San Francisco's gritty South of Market neighborhood and follows young people on a journey of thrills and self-discovery, much of it involving sex. Even though it's clearly labeled fiction, people believed it was my own personal story.
"You seem to know an awful lot about this SoMa sex stuff," they'd say, followed by a raised eyebrow, a smirk, and maybe a nudge.
Before writing fiction, I worked in journalism. In all those years, I wrote countless stories about murders, and yet no one ever said, "You seem to know an awful lot about that murder," as if I had committed it.
Sex is different. If you write about it, it must be some sort of unnatural obsession. Forget the fact that sex is where we all started (what, you were cloned?), if you write about it, there must be something pervy about you.
Well, sex in literature is finally getting its due. A tribute, no less!
On Sunday, August 3rd, Litquake - San Francisco's Literary Festival - is hosting Dirty Words: Litquake's Tribute to Smut.