Deb Tawna’s parents are not scandalized by her books (so she must try harder)

This may come as a shock to you, but there’s sex in my books.

Not on every page, but certainly on more than one. It comes with the territory when you write romance (though the fact that I write romantic comedy is what compels me to point out that I’ve already used the word come twice and haven’t even touched this week’s topic of family members reading our books).

Where was I?

Hanging with my parents (my favorite manuscript proofreaders!) in Kauai last month

Right. Sex. The fact that my books contain it has not deterred me from sharing them with my parents. Quite the opposite, really.

My parents are retired teachers. My dad taught middle school English for 30 years, and my mom was a third grade teacher. To say these two have eagle eyes for the mechanics of writing would be an understatement.

I’ve never been shy about discussing the fine art of nookie, and my parents have always been open about such matters. Nevertheless, there’s something disconcerting about having your parents read an explicit scene that comes straight from the naughty depths of your imagination (there I go again with comes. Oh, and naughty depths. And…OK, I’ll stop there).

I’ll never forget the time my mother read a manuscript that’s since been relegated to the save-for-later drawer. I don’t know about you, but it’s not every day I get notes from my mom that begin, “Reading through this phone sex scene, I think there’s a typo in the second sentence after the orgasm.”

When I gave my parents an early draft of MAKING WAVES, I tried to divvy up the editing tasks. “Could you maybe ask Dad to skip reading the steamy shower scene?” I asked my mom. “Tell him to focus on the parts where I left blanks for the names of famous football players.”

Naturally, they ignored me. Good thing, since Dad caught a small error surrounding the placement of the soap dish.

Overall, I’d say it’s been a pretty positive experience having my parents reading my manuscripts. I get the benefit of having them catch typos, and they get the benefit of knowing ahead of time which of their friends should be told there are no more copies of my books available in stores.

How do you handle risqué matters in books and movies when it comes to discussing them with your parents? Please share!

19 Replies to “Deb Tawna’s parents are not scandalized by her books (so she must try harder)”

  1. Hey I’m the non-fic Deb, just imagine the horror of writing the chapter about Mark’s and my sex life and sharing with my parents. My priest! My autism family readers who see me at conferences fully clothed and know that when I holler “F” it’s usually at a misguided journalist or doctor…..

    Have you read my Chapter on our sex life?

    (For those of you who haven’t read my book (sob!) I’ll share the inside joke with you. I have a chapter called “SEX TIME!” and when you turn the page it is 100% BLANK. Next chapter please!

    (PS) Did your entire family raid the buff calves store? Wow!)

  2. Yeah, that’d be weird. When my dad found out I was being published, he was like, ‘Oh dear. I’m not sure I can read that book.” He’s all scared he’s not going to like it and hurt my feelings. He’s so cute. I’m a little nervous about the romance part of my novel and what my family will think about it. But…I’ll just have to get over it. 🙂

    Great post.

  3. My mother, if she were still alive, would be scandalized and saying Novenas for me every Monday night at church. My father is probably not going to read anything I have published, but he is proud of what I’m trying to accomplish and always asks about it.

    It’s my kids. I have three children, 22, 20 and 18 and I don’t think they’ll be embarrassed by the topic, but that I know so much about it. 😉 I keep saying, “Well guys, you did come from somewhere.” *Giggle…I said come.*

    After the eye rolling, my oldest daughter said, she “can’t handle the visual.”

    Psssht…I raised prudes.

  4. I’ll admit, even I had to peek through one eye at the first sex scene in your book. It felt like I was prying, somehow.

    But then I realized it was really good and needed to be read with both eyes open.

    Your family is so wonderfully supportive.

  5. LOL! Sounds like you have some pretty awesome parents. My mom is more of the book worm, so I have her red through my manuscripts. It’s more of a dont-ask-don’t-tell policy she and I share. I usually just slide her the ms and never mention anything. And she slides it back to me with hand written corrections, never anything verbal. Anyway, it saves from any awkward moments. Do you think it’s too late for the birds and the bees conversation?

  6. It is my dearest hope that my terminally ill mother will live long enough to read my published work. After all, my love of reading and writing came from her. (Oh, dear. I said “came.”)

    I use to produce 2 copies of every manuscript – one for her and one for me. She doesn’t like reading online so I give her these “books” and she catches all my mistakes. “On Page 43, you used the word “head” wrong.” I check my copy of page 43 and sure enough, I have this amusing typo:
    “She took him by the head and lead him into her bedroom.” It was supposed to be ‘hand’.

    My mom is and always will be my biggest fan.

  7. My Dad’s a retired psychologist, so letting him read my books is an interesting experience, no matter what I send him.

    One comment: “This guy’s long on id and short on ego.”

    I had to ask if he meant that literally or as a euphemism for the character’s physical shortcomings (hur).

  8. I’m having a hard time (heh) thinking about my mom reading my books. I may wind up telling her the publisher added the sexy scenes when I wasn’t looking. You know how tricky those publishers can be when it comes (heh-heh) to selling books.

  9. My parents have read things I’ve written in the past and I fully intend to give them copies of my novel to read when it’s finished, right about the time I’d hand it off to crit partners. Growing up Dad always gave me good feedback on reports and the like, but I’ll give it to them without the expectation they do that for this. My book doesn’t have an explicit sex scene, but it does have a couple scenes that are undeniably “hot” – and a crapload of f-bombs. I just plan on telling them if it were a movie it would be rated R, and they can read or not read as they see fit. Hopefully they will read it and will give me some level of feedback – I’d love that – but I’m not worried about them seeing what I’ve written. I mean, if I’m not comfortable with them reading my book, what hope do I have?

    Now, my deeply religious grandmother is a completely different story. 🙂

  10. My family is a bit repressed in discussing sex. I know my parents have started my first novel but we haven’t discussed if they’ve gotten to the naughty scenes. It’s very uncomfortable!

  11. I plan to give my male relatives a special, “edited” version of my book where all of the sex scenes are cut out. They still tease me for a story I wrote when I was 14 that contained the phrase “their lips brushed”. As I’m now 22, I think they may be too immature to read the full manuscript 😉

  12. My mom is never. Ever. Ever. Ever. (Times a million.) Going to read my books. Ever. Ever. For one thing… there are kissing scenes!! And also the mothers in my books *cough* don’t always fare well…

    As for other family… well, they don’t know I write. Though I’ve had a short published in anthology so you can google my real name and find that…

    *is scared*

  13. Tawna, that’s hysterical! I love your parents. I admit that when I sent the manuscript for my second book to my Dad, I took out one steamy scene. My in-laws read it in the actual book, though, which is pretty funny. And could be the reason I received high-necked, long-sleeved, loose-fitting pajamas from my MIL for Christmas!

  14. My mom and I just had a long conversation about erotica writing and all that entails. She even offered to send me her scenes so I couldn’t be blamed for the sex in my current WIP. (I had to pass but it was kind of her to offer) My dad and I have a very firm “you don’t tell me about your sex life and I won’t tell you about mine” policy. Yes, such a policy had to be created and it was a happy day when it went into enforcement. The thought that terrifies me is my grandmother. She and I share an obsession with books and has ranted at length of sex in books. She believes it isn’t necessary. How am I supposed to explain to this woman that I write romance novels? While my mother has always been wonderful at helping me edit and find problems I live in terror of the day I get published and my grandma picks up my book.

  15. My own family has been dealing with my profanity for a lifetime, so they’re used to it. It’s my poor husband’s family I worry about. My last few books have been safe/tame enough, but I have one coming out in October that has the word fuck–twice–on the opening page. Which is why my in-laws are never going to hear about it. (“What book? Oh that’s not mine…”)

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