It’s time once more for…(Gasp! Oooh! Yes! Yes!)The Bad Sex Awards!

By PJ Parrish

Wow, and this could not have come at a better time, right?

I mean, it’s been a sort of depressing year. (Go read Mark’s Saturday post if you need a reminder). And I just got home from my bagel place where I was reading in the New York Times about Congress’s Cromnibus spending bill, which told me that tucked inside the $1.1 trillion is a provision that requires the Obama administration to include white potatoes in government nutrition programs for mothers and infants. Your tax dollars at work…making the world safe for starch.

But I digress. Let’s get back to the important stuff — sex.

A quick aside before we get properly into this topic, I met a friend of mine for coffee last week – she is also a writer and was telling me all about how she found her boyfriend checking out penis pumps at aiclegal. She told me the whole situation has inspired her to get writing again! It’s amazing what can help you to escape a writer’s block…

Now, we have talked here often about how hard it is to write good sex scenes. A lot of writers find that in order to write about good sex, they need to have experienced it. I think that most of us crime writers do a pretty good job with sex. We get in and out without much ado and many adjectives. Which is why I get such a big kick out of the annual  Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction awards.  It’s sort of fun to see the literary types muck things up.

This year’s winner is Ben Okri. Never heard of him? Well, he won the prestigious Booker Award back in 1991 but his latest novel The Age of Magic, snagged the big bad sex award. His story follows a team of documentary filmmakers who wind up in a hotel by a lake in the shadow of a looming mountain. The winning scene involves Lao, the film’s presenter, and his main squeeze, Mistletoe.

Are you ready? Small children, sensitive dogs, and those easily offended should now leave the room:

Sky rockets in flight. Afternoon delight!

“When his hand brushed her nipple it tripped a switch and she came alight. He touched her belly and his hand seemed to burn through her. He lavished on her body indirect touches and bitter-sweet sensations flooded her brain. She became aware of places in her that could only have been concealed there by a god with a sense of humour.

Adrift on warm currents, no longer of this world, she became aware of him gliding into her. He loved her with gentleness and strength, stroking her neck, praising her face with his hands, till she was broken up and began a low rhythmic wail … The universe was in her and with each movement it unfolded to her. Somewhere in the night a stray rocket went off.”

More? Give me more, you say? Okay, here are some of short-listers who came close but no cigar:

Is that a penguin in your mouth or are you just glad to see me?

“He kissed the slight, rose-coloured trench that remained from her knicker elastic, running around her belly like the equator line circling the world. As they lost themselves in the circumnavigation of each other, there came from nearby shrill shrieks that ended in a deeper howl. Dorrigo looked up. A large dog stood at the top of the dune. Above blood-jagged drool, its slobbery mouth clutched a twitching fairy penguin.” 
— Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North

I’d like to buy a vowel, Pat, and maybe a period

I continued to tell her flesh of its gifts, such pleasure, gently but insistently given, even biting her earlobe with my front teeth, sweeping her hair from her face, her neck, as she cried, and breathed less jaggedly, “It hurts, it hurts.” I did not stop until it stopped hurting, until I heard pleasure articulated from her. Her throat as open as her body, wet everywhere from tears and the coming, and I did hear it, a long high twisting cry and a twisting in my arms as my fingers dove up and up into the full expressive wetness of her. Hold me, hold me. Here and here, she said after she came, placing one of my hands between her legs to press again, another over her breasts. Hold me tight.

 — Amy Grace Loyd, The Affairs of Others

That girl can really do the Rhombus!

The girls entwined themselves lithely around Tsukuru. Kuro’s breasts were full and soft. Shiro’s were small, but her nipples were as hard as tiny round pebbles. Their pubic hair was as wet as a rain forest. Their breath mingled with his, becoming one, like currents from far away, secretly overlapping at the dark bottom of the sea. These insistent caresses continued until Tsukuru was inside the vagina of one of the girls. It was Shiro. She straddled him, took hold of his rigid, erect penis, and deftly guided it inside her. His penis found its way with no resistance, as if swallowed up into an airless vacuum. She took a moment, gathering her breath, then began slowly rotating her torso, as if she were drawing a complex diagram in the air, all the while twisting her hips. Her long, straight black hair swung above him, sharply, like a whip.

 — Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

All the cats who dig striptease prayin’ for a little breeze

Her hair was piled high, but when she shook her head it came cascading down in a glowing wave over her shoulders, and fell as far as her knees. This rippling curtain did not cover her breasts which thrust their way through it like living creatures. They were perfect rounds, white as mare’s milk and tipped with ruby nipples that puckered as my gaze passed over them. Her body was hairless. Her pudenda were also entirely devoid of hair. The tips of her inner lips protruded shyly from the vertical cleft. The sweet dew of feminine arousal glistened upon them.

— Wilbur Smith, Desert God
Like a virgin, baked for the very first time

She was moaning softly now, her breath coming faster. She tasted of apples. Her soft warm flesh was driving me crazy – that dish of delight my tongue was now lapping at frenziedly. Her suppressed cries were coming faster and faster. I unbuttoned my pants, pushing them down past my hips, and my beast, finally released from its cage, sprang up wildly. I started inching my way back up, continuing to stimulate her manually, until the beast found its way in. She opened her eyes and said softly, ‘I’m still a virgin, please be careful.’

I kept myself quiet for a moment, kissed her and said, “I’ll be very gentle, all right?”

Running her tongue over her lips she nodded; she was as hot as boiling water in a distillation flask, and it wasn’t long before I was able to really get going. We both came at the same time. I stayed inside her for a few seconds, gazed at her, and smiled.

— Saskia Goldschmidt, The Hormone Factory

Those are the only ones I can print. Click here for more.  Go on, you know you want to.

So who finds all this dirty stuff? If you want a behind the scenes look at the process the Literary Review goes through every year, watch the video below. But it’s like Bismark said: “Sex is like sausages, it is better not to see it being made.” Or something like that.

Happy holidays, fellow crime dogs. Peace and out.

Writing About Sex (Shh!) – Five Writing Tips

Jordan Dane

Purchased image from Fotolia

A guy thriller author I know (who shall remain anonymous) said his most mortifying experience about his debut book was that his mother called him after she’d read it and corrected his sex scene.


And secondly, Ew.

I had another writer friend who thought that writing these scenes would be easy, although he’d never written one before. I said, “Go for it, buddy. Show me what you got.” Since the guy wrote in first person (and I was sure that every protag he wrote was HIM), I wondered how he would handle it. The scene turned into a very short QUICK paragraph. I suggested he try thinking of a sex scene as if he were watching porn, where someone ELSE was in the video. It was my way of showing him that 3rd person might be a better fit for him in a “practice” scene like this. The light bulb went on for him and he got it.
Even thrillers and crime fiction have men and women playing roles in the book, so tension and gender differences can be a great way to add conflict. Not all books have to have sexy scenes, but you can decide how much or how little to add if you want some spice to your novel.
What is the right balance or blend of romance in your plot? My basic rule of thumb is: if you can delete the romance from your book and the plot no longer makes sense, then you’ve got the right blend and it’s integrated well. In other words, the sexual tension between your protags puts them in more danger and ramps up the stakes. You punish them for wanting to be together.
Five Key Tips to Writing a Sex Scene:
1.) Make the scene about something more than sex. If you’ve built up the tension, make the characters have more at stake than just a romp in bed. Have your woman come from an abused past or have the guy put everything at risk to be with her so that one wins and the other almost loses for them to be together. Make the scene meaningful beyond the physical…and make it emotional. Readers who might not read a sex scene might be compelled to read yours and not skim over it, because the character’s emotions are bare (as well as their bodies).
2.) Get creative in your word choice of action and body parts. For some reason, I try to minimize the “usual” choices for body parts and I prefer sexy sounding descriptions of motion. People can “get” what you mean without going into too much detail. I’ve included an example below.
3.) Foreplay is often the best part (sort of). Don’t short change the set up of flirtation and intimacy. Anticipation is very much a player in building the tension. Sometimes even the foreplay can make the whole scene.
4.) You don’t always have to leave that bedroom (or limo) door open. Sometimes you can ease it closed with only a peek. Take your characters to a point where it works for your book, then close the door and let your characters have their privacy if that’s what you’d like to do.
5.) Don’t forget that sex changes everything. Before and after, make it ring true. Once your characters cross the line of physical intimacy with each other, things get complicated. Make it real.


1.) If you’re a writer, what challenges do you have in writing sexy scenes? Any tips on making them easier?

2.) If you’re a reader, what hot scenes do you remember from books that have stuck with you and please share your thoughts on why the scene(s) were memorable.
Excerpt THE WRONG SIDE OF DEAD (HarperCollins) by Jordan Dane – Garrett Wheeler and Alexa Marlowe in the backseat of a limo in NYC:

“Yes, I would. Call me if the bounty hunter is receptive to the idea and I’ll make arrangements to meet you.” His somber face warmed to a smile. “But whether she is or not, maybe we could take a few days off to ourselves in Chicago. It’d be nice to get away, just the two of us.”

By the hungry look in his eyes, she knew he meant it. She felt the pull of their mutual addiction. Alexa sipped her champagne and leaned forward to loosen his tie.

“Now you’re talking.” Her throaty voice and suggestive expression sent the message. The business part of their meeting had concluded. “I’d love some downtime with you … alone.”

“We’re alone now.”

“Yes, we are.”

Done with talking, she closed her eyes and kissed him, breathing in the subtle smell of his cologne with her fingers entwined in his dark hair. His lips and tongue tasted like pricey champagne. She hadn’t intended to do much more than kiss him, but when her hand moved under his suit coat, she craved the feel of his bare skin, especially as he nuzzled her neck. The sensation sent a tingling shock wave over her body and things got out of control. Under the silk of her dress, blood rushed down and through her, a surge of pleasure she couldn’t restrain.

“I thought you’d be wearing it.” Next to her ear, his voice resonated against her, driving her crazy.

Alexa understood what he meant. She had slipped the jewelers case into her vintage Dior envelope purse, saving it for when Garrett could put it on her personally. But she didn’t tell him that. She found another way to say it.

“I wanted it to be the only thing I wore the next time I saw you.”

That made him smile. She heard it in her voice when he said, “Now why didn’t I think of that?”

He kissed the palm of her hand then reached over and punched a button on a control panel. She heard the soft whir and the window to the driver’s compartment closed. And even though every window in the vehicle darkened with a screen for privacy, she still saw the people and traffic outside.

“Can they see in?” she whispered.

“I doubt it.”

Without another word, he trailed his fingertips down her legs, unbuckling the straps to her platform Miu Miu shoes and tossing them aside. The carpet felt good against her bare feet.

“Garrett? We can’t … not here.”

“What if they can see us, Alexa?” He got to his knees between her legs and stripped out of his suit jacket and yanked off his tie, not taking his eyes off her. “Do you really care?”

Her cheeks flushed with heat. She wanted to glance toward the cab that had stopped next to them at a light. She saw the taxi driver turn his head from the corner of her eye. But she couldn’t take her gaze off Garrett. The man’s swarthy good looks mesmerized her, but behind those eyes was an enigmatic man far too complicated to understand in a lifetime.

On the outside, he wore pricey clothing like a mogul on Wall Street, but underneath it all, a wicked scar or two on his dark skin reminded her of the violence in his life. She’d seen him kill with the same passion she saw in his eyes now.

He’d become as adaptable as a chameleon with one foot in the civilized world and the other in places she was too scared to contemplate. Truth told, that had been the part of him she wanted to understand but never would.

“What if they are watching us?” he asked again, his voice lower. Her rapid breathing filled the quiet vacuum of the limo, mingling with his. As he unbuckled his pants, he kept talking to her, “Let’s give them something to see.”

He reached under her dress, his large hands gripping her hips and lingering.

“Tell me you want this, Alexa. Tell me how much you want it.”

Garrett loved pushing her limits when it came to intimacy. Every new experience put his mark on her. And she knew it.

“I want this … I want you.” She reached up to kiss him, but he only shook his head.

“Take it off. Everything.”

Driven to the brink beyond caring, she didn’t take long to make up her mind. Piece by piece, she took off her coat and silk dress as he watched. She didn’t take her gaze off him, not wanting to break their connection. With every garment she removed, the hunger in his eyes intensified.

She turned her head toward the nearest window and found she wanted someone to see her. She even craved it, but before she told Garrett how she felt, he spoke first.

“Where is it? The necklace.”

Alexa retrieved her purse and gave him the necklace. She held back her blond hair to let him slip it on her neck. The gold chain and diamond dazzled on her warm skin as it flushed with arousal. It was all she wore.

“What do you think?” she asked as she posed for him, her inhibitions gone.

“Priceless.” Drawing her closer, he lowered his lips to her body.

“Oh, Garrett. Yes.”

He knew exactly how to touch her and took what he needed. Like an out of body experience, she pictured the scene in her mind’s eye—in broad daylight, in the middle of traffic. She looked up into the urban landscape of New York City as the limousine stopped at another light and pedestrians crossed the street, peering into their tinted window.

And the sensation was … exhilarating.


Yes! Yes! Yes!…Oh no

Ah yes, it’s in the air. Happens every December. All that joyous warbling. All that frantic pushing and shoving. All that delicious anticipation that leads up to that frenzied moment when you tear off the wrappings to get that lovely prize.
Yes, it’s the annual Bad Sex In Fiction Awards.
Don’t know about you, but this is the highlight of my year as a writer. Because I have been there, naked before the computer screen — well not literally but quite figuratively –- trying to put into words this most basic human act. And it is not easy to do without sounding like a fifth grader with a gland disorder.
Yes, I have sex. In my books. But I usually weasel out and fade to black, hoping my readers are old enough to remember when Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr rolling in the surf was hot. And I have sat on enough sex panels at writers conventions to know that all my fellow authors struggle with this. Except maybe Barry Eisler but I once saw him take down a drunk in the bar at the Edgars so maybe his id is a little more out there than the rest of ours.
We crime dogs all know one truth about our genre: It is far easier to write the most evil serial killer than it is to write about the two-backed beast. And I, for one, really appreciate the fact that the editors at the Literary Review wade through all the big important novels to cull out the best examples of the worst sex committed on paper. Because I like knowing that people like Phillip Roth and Tom Wolfe can, when they really apply themselves, write worse crap than I can.
The bad sex prize was established by the Literary Review “to draw attention to the crude and often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel and to discourage it”. There were so many good entries this year that even J. K. Rowling (The Casual Vacancy) and E.L. James (Fifty Shades of Gray) got nosed out.
So…do you want to read some excerpts from the finalists? I warn you, this is not for children or those with weak stomachs. Go ahead. Read ‘em. You know you want to. But you’ll hate yourself in the morning.

Next time can we just do it on the floor?

“Down, down, on to the eschatological bed. Pages chafed me; my blood wept onto them. My cheek nestled against the scratch of paper. My cock was barely a ghost, but I did not suffer panic.”
— The Quiddity of Wilf Self by Sam Mills.

We’re gonna need a bigger boat

“We got up from the chair and she led me to her elfin grot, getting amonst the pillows and cool sheets. We trawled each other’s bodies for every inch of history.” — Noughties by Ben Masters

If you wanna be a pony soldier you gotta act tough. Now mount up!


“Now his big generative jockey was inside her pelvic saddle, riding, riding, riding, and she was eagerly swallowing it swallowing it swallowing it with the saddle’s own lips and maw — all this without a word.” — Back to Blood, by Tom Wolfe.

Good thing she didn’t raise cacti

“He began thrusting wildly in the general direction of her chrysanthemum, but missing — his paunchy frame shuddering with the effort of remaining rigid and upside down.” — Rare Earth by Paul Mason.

Or maybe it was the Ben & Jerrys she dabbed behind her knees

“She smells of almonds, like a plump Bakewell pudding; and he is the spoon, the whipped cream, the helpless dollop of warm custard.” — The Yips by Nicola Barker.

I AM big, he said. It’s the pictures that got small

“This is when I take my picture, from deep inside the loving. The Canon is part of my body. I myself am the ultrasensitive film — capturing invisible reality, capturing heat.” — Infrared by Nancy Huston

Wouldn’t it be wubberly?

“And he came. Like a wubbering springboard. His ejaculate jumped the length of her arm. Eight diminishing gouts. The first too high for her to lick. Right on the shoulder.” — The Divine Comedy by Craig Raine


Mind the gap!

“In seconds the duke had lowered his trousers and boxers and positioned himself across a leather steamer trunk, emblazoned with the royal arms of Hohenzollern Castle. ‘Give me no quarter,’ he commanded. ‘Lay it on with all your might.’”– The Adventuress: The Irresistible Rise of Miss Cath Fox by Nicholas Coleridge
There. Now don’t you feel better?