Friday, March 8, 2013

Never on a Friday--Brad Parks talks about S*x

RHYS BOWEN: We get all kinds of guests on Jungle Red. Some are erudite, some have fascinating skills to share with us, and some are...some are like Brad Parks. Naughty, pushing the envelope and we never quite know what he's going to say. But fun.

Brad is back again with a new book called The Good Cop and heaven knows where he's going this time! but please don't believe a word he says!

By Brad Parks
Noted Sexologist
            Good morning Reds, please take your seats. Thank you. What’s that Ms. Brogan No, you don’t have to sit in alphabetical order. I know how you feel about being stuck next to Ms.Burdette all the time.
            That’s good. Now, Ms. Bowen has been kind enough to invite me here to the Salon, and I plan to talk about sex in crime fiction. But I’d like to set some ground rules first. We’re not going to do it in the sly, winking way that blogs often handle this topic. There will be no schoolgirl tittering; no inappropriate innuendo; no thinly disguised anatomical references that involve animals, fruits or vegetables. We’re going to discuss this like mature, sober-minded adults who...
            Yes, what is it, Ms. Spencer-Fleming...
            No, we do not want to hear about the time you and Ross “did the matrimonial mambo” in a five-foot snow bank. See, that’s the kind sophomoric callowness we’re simply not going to tolerate. (Though I suppose I should expect no less from the woman who, on the occasion of receiving the prestigious Nero Award from the Wolfe Pack literary society, was base enough to point out that the society’s short-form fiction prize – the Black Orchid Novella Award – had an acronym that sounded similar to how Mainers pronounce the popular slang term for an erection).
            Anyhow, where was I? Ah, yes. Sex in crime fiction. As I was explaining, we’re not going to use euphemisms like “taking the skin boat to tuna town”; or “doing squat jumps in the cucumber patch”; or “visiting the love taco stand.” We’re going to engage in an intelligent discussion of when we should let our characters have sex, how we should handle it, and the implications for the story as a...
            What is it Ms. Harris?...
            Actually, I did not know you could do that with a garden trowel. That’s very interesting, but maybe that’s a better tidbit to save for when you decide to have the Dirt Nap series cross over into the erotic genre.
            So, moving on, this subject recently became pertinent to me because in my first three novels, the protagonist, an investigative reporter named Carter Ross, abstains from intercourse with any of several potential partners. This was not necessarily out of any physical disability – Carter is healthy enough for sexual activity – but it never happened naturally within in the flow of the plot.
            However, when it came time to write the fourth book, THE GOOD COP, which released this week, I decided that in order to further develop his story arc, he might need to raise the emotional stakes of his relationship with a certain female character. (For the record: This was not in response to readers constantly asking me, to use a certain crass colloquialism, when I was going to “let Carter get laid.”)
            I approached this gently, as I am aware that I created a character who is very much like me – I am a former newspaper reporter, and we’re both 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, with brown hair, blue eyes and certain fondness for pleated pants – and I didn’t want to even give readers the suggestion that I myself might...
            Yes, Ms. Ephron, I’m aware I have rather large hands, but I don’t think that...
            No, I’m not telling you my shoe size.
            Now, as I was just starting to explain, I believe sex must be handled carefully in novels. Yes, it’s a natural part of life. But so is going to the bathroom, and we don’t show our characters doing that. So as Carter and this particular character began certain courting rituals familiar to the species H. sapiens, I...
            Actually, Ms. Crombie  I don’t explicitly state what position the characters used. I really didn’t feel that particular detail lent to the scene’s dramatic thrust...
            Okay, okay, you in back, stop giggling. I admit “dramatic thrust” was a poor choice of phrase. Let’s say it didn’t add to the narrative push...
            ...Sorry, I should say that I didn’t want the pacing to grind to a...
            ...Strike that. I meant that some readers felt that detail would stick out as...
            Right. Never mind. It just didn’t add to the scene, all right?
            Now, continuing with our discussion, I write what I consider to be reality-based novels. So it was important to me that this sex scene had a certain verisimilitude that...
            No, Ms. Spencer-Fleming, that does not mean the chapter only takes three minutes to read...
            And, no, it doesn’t mean all the male readers will finish it first! Please I’m trying to foster a thoughtful discussion about this subject, one that I hope will continue with a robust dialogue in the comments section after the blog post is over. I want readers to be able to comment on how they prefer to see sex handled in fiction, and we can’t do that if you Reds keep interrupting me with this kind of facile...
            What’s that, Ms. Ryan?... 
            Oh. Really?...
            Is that so?...
            Yes, well, uh, you might want to see me after class.

Brad Parks is a Shamus- and Nero-Award winning author of four novels. Booklist gave his latest, THE GOOD COP, a starred review, calling it “a tautly written thriller with charm and humor.” Library Journal said, “Parks’s award-winning series is essential reading.” He has two children so he has had sex at least twice.


  1. When I can stop laughing I'll comment.

  2. Love it! An amusing look at a subject that sometimes makes me flip a few pages to get back to the mystery. I'll be checking out Brad's new book. Thanks

  3. When --- if --- I ever stop laughing, I might be able to think of something to say. Meanwhile, I’m simply going to add “The Good Cop” to my ever-growing mountain of to-be-read books . . . .

  4. This classroom is quite a handful for you...oh, sorry.

    Very funny! I mostly read mysteries with the sex off the page but will have to say that Julia did an excellent job when we finally got to experience Russ and Clare doing the [pre]matrimonial mambo.

  5. Maybe YOU don't show your characters going to the bathroom...

  6. Good morning, Reds!


    Reds? Reds??

    Oh no. They've stopped talking to me.

    Sigh. Well, as for the rest of you: good morning! Glad to amuse. Oh, and EJ, when you show your character, ahem... you know... these are your paranormal books, right? So are they paranormal there, too? Never mind. I don't want to know.

  7. Looks like I found my next series, and I can't wait to start the "fore playing".

  8. Really, Brad, you could at least write something for this post, rather than just transcribing what happened when you lectured to the Reds.

    Ha! Still laughing.

  9. Tsk, tsk. What an unruly bunch here. You sure had your hands full with this group, Brad!


  10. Thank you, Brad, for my now coffee-dripping nose. Reds, you should have warned us so the susceptible wouldn't be drinking coffee as we read this post.

    Now on the serious side, I tend toward the "make me feel the emotions" side, rather than the boring "insert tab A into slot C" mechanical side. Too much detail in sex scenes is similar to too much graphic mayhem--turns me into the skip-this page flipper, if it doesn't cause me to just add the book to the pile I'll donate to the women's shelter. I think that's because the best part of reading, for me, is using my imagination. James Lee Burke uses passion, not so much physical description, as did Dick Francis.

    And to end on a serious--sort of--note, I truly enjoyed your post, Brad. As with many others, I'll be adding your book to my never-ending TBR list.

    Oh, has anyone written a plot about killing Captcha?

  11. A great way to start my day!! There are certain elements of this post which will imbed themselves permanently in my mind -- the BONA awards, indeed.

    Thank you. Thank you.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Brad, you are such a SCAMP! (wonder if that's an acronym...)

    ALways LOVE seeing you, um, I mean, it's nice to see you, um, why does everything suddenly have a double meaning?

    xxx oh rats, I don't mean XXX, you know? I just mean..oh, never mind.

  14. That was the best laugh I've had all week.

    Thanks for stopping by Brad. BTW, it's about time that Carter "got lucky".

  15. Brad, I thought I told you not to mention--oh, um, never mind...

    Great post!

    And I must say I agree with Edith about Julia's handling of the Russ and Clare bits--no, I mean, well, you know what I mean. Good job, Julia.

  16. **And I thought I had problems dealing with 100 seventh graders over 5 class blocks, trying to teach math. This was a great post to read on a "snow day." Now to read Mr.Park's books. Already have downloaded them on my Kindle.

  17. Well! You hinted at a lot but didn't say a thing. Are you sure you're not a politician? Enjoyed it and I will certainly read your books if your hero has the same sense of humor.

  18. After seeing the Reds in action at Bouchercon, I can imagine this conversation all too well.

    No, not that kind of action. Sigh.

    As long as the act supports the story arc of the book or series, I'm okay. But a gratuitous scene will totally make me a page-flipper a la "yeah, yeah, get back to the murder and mayhem."

  19. What a way to make me smile first thing in the morning! Now I've got to read THE GOOD COP just to see how you did handle a sex scene!

  20. For me it depends on the type of book. If Molly Murphy suddenly started having sex in graphic detail, I would be turned off. I don't expect explicit sex in cozies. Now if it was a darker mystery and fit with the tone, that's a different story. But it does have to fit with the plot and not be gratuitous.

    Same goes for romance. I can enjoy a sexless Amish romance or a Georgette Heyer and a racy regency. It just has to work with the plot and style/tone of the book.

  21. Another reader laughing too hard to comment. My lunch break is now over and I must return to work with some rather unique images in my head, thanks to a certain guest author.

  22. I've heard of double entendres, but what is this? Quintuple entendres? I dunno, lost count. Too funny, Brad!

  23. Thanks to all who said they're thinking about adding me to their TBR -- I appreciate it!

    Karen in Ohio -- I'm glad SOMEONE recognizes what it's like to deal with these miscreants.

    Denise Ann -- Just remember, when you think BONA, think Julia Spencer-Fleming. Wait, that came out wrong...

  24. Love the Carter Ross books! I'm very excited for "The Good Cop!"

    And a little warm in general...

  25. Hank -- Would really love to have seen the post you deleted. Now clean it up, will ya?

    Kristopher -- You and many others seem to agree.

    Anonymous -- 100 7th graders? Do you get combat pay for that?

    Pat -- Carter Ross and I share the same height, weight, eye color, hair color, upper middle class upbringing, general worldview and chronic Caucasian stiffness. Otherwise, there's not much we have in common.

  26. Reine -- Just breathe deeply. It'll go away soon.

    Paulabuck -- Try opening a window. But only if you're in the Northern Hempisphere. Otherwise, stand close to the air conditioner.

  27. Any blog that Brad visits is bound to be hilarious! Love the series and will probably be giggling if/when Carter gets ready...
    Your newsletters and interns antics always make my day.

  28. Well, I returned to work from lunch with today's blog post still in my head, and giggled on and off all afternoon. The coworkers probably thought I had some wine with my peanut butter. The work day is over now and I still cannot stop laughing long enough to post a proper response. But I really needed a god laugh this week, Brad, so I thank you!

  29. All I can say is -- now we know how Brad swung the votes to get Carter Ross named "The World's Favorite Amateur Sleuth."

  30. SCAMP...Silly Charming And Mildly Pornographic?

  31. Yes, RO, exactly the kind of thing I was considering.. :-)

    Sex-talk Can Affect Mental Prowess

  32. What a hoot after a rather long day.

    ~ Jim