My Week 188: The Mystery of the Box of Porn on the Porch

Well, I’m finally back to normal routine, which means I can actually sleep in on the weekends. It’s amazing how those few extra hours can mean the difference between being alone in your car and having a screaming match with the nametag you’re wearing around your neck that got caught on your ear whilst you were trying to remove it, and staying calm when you get knocked out of HQ Trivia at question 4 because you don’t know ANYTHING about American geography. On Tuesday, I said to the nametag “Get off me, you stupid f*cking piece of sh*t!!”, but last night, knowing that I had an infinite number of hours to laze around in bed, I simply looked at my phone and quietly whispered, “Calling the lines on the periodic table ‘periods’ isn’t very f*cking creative.” Note that I’m no less sweary when I’m rested—I’m just more subdued about things.

Anyway, on Wednesday, Ken sent me a BBM (which is like a text message that very old people use with a Blackberry, and yes, I had to download a specific app onto my iPhone to receive them because Ken won’t text like an actual human being) which said, “There’s a box of books on our porch. Do you know anything about this?” After work I called him to find out more:

Me: What’s this about a box of books?
Ken: I came home and there was a cardboard box full of books on the porch.
Me: What kind of books? Can we put them in the little library?
Ken: I don’t think so. Some of them are kind of…adult.
Me: You mean, like, porn? Did someone leave a box of porn on our front porch?! Who would do that?!
Ken: Well, they’re kind of porn-ish. There’s one about 50 Shades of Grey from Christian Grey’s perspective.
Me: Putting aside the fact that somehow you know his name is Christian, what else is there?
Ken: There’s some pretty racy stuff…Also, I only know his name because I read the back of the book.
Me: Sure, honey.

Then he read me the synopsis of one of the other books, which is a ‘Harlequin Blaze’ novel: “For venture capitalist Adam Sutherland, attending Camp Winnehatchee’s reopening was a no-brainer. He’s even reuniting with former camp counsellors to chip in and help revive the camp. What he ISN’T expecting is to find a girl sleeping in his bunk. Or that the girl is none other than Julia McKee, who went from shy and awkward to scorching hot babe…Julia intends to show her bad-boy childhood crush just how to put the ‘wild’ back into the wilderness. And this time, he’ll be the one left wanting more…”

Me: OK, we definitely can’t put that in the little library. ‘Scorching hot babe’? That sounds super-cheesy, and kind of like a guy wrote it. What does it say about the author?
Ken: The bio says that the author is a woman who has written 65 books for Harlequin Blaze since 1993. Get this—“she enjoys music, theatre, and musical theatre.
Me: A woman of wide and varied interests.
Ken: Also, “She is active working with high school students in the performing arts and lives with her cat.”
Me: What? Does her school board know she writes porn? Do you think that “active working with high school students in the performing arts” is a euphemism? Is this where she gets her story ideas?! There is so much wrong about this…that poor cat.
Ken: Well, we can’t put any of these in the little library, that’s for sure.

No porn, please!

Let me explain about the little library. A couple of years ago, Ken and I wanted to do something for our community. We have no actual library, and on the weekends, the school library is closed. So we built a cupboard, mounted it on a pole, and stocked it full of children’s books so that the kids in our community would be able to find something to read on the weekends. It’s been very popular, and regularly, I can look out the window and see a family stop, peruse the shelves and pull out a book. In the past, people have donated books to the library, but they’ve always been children’s books, except for the one time someone gave us a box of Spanish textbooks, which we donated to Value Village. Everybody in town knows that it’s a CHILDREN’S library. So why would someone give us porn? (And believe me, I opened up a page, and it’s very explicit. Also, in order to write this post, I had to touch one of the books that someone else had read whilst ‘enjoying’ its graphicness, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, I realized after that there was someone’s blond hair sticking out from between a couple of pages, so I am now in full-blown handwashing mode). Is it someone who read My Week 181: 50 Shades of Eww and wants to keep that ball rolling? Do I need to put up a sign that says, “Donations are welcome—no porn, please.”? Or conversely, a sign that says, “My marriage is fine!” in case it’s someone who’s just trying to be helpful?

At any rate, I have no idea who the books belonged to, but now, I’ll be walking around town on the lookout for a blond woman with a big smile on her face.

My Week 181: 50 Shades of Ewwwww

Have you ever had one of those weeks that seems to be theme-based? Apparently, my theme this week is “50 Shades of Grey”. Now before you all start thinking that I’m a very lucky, and also naughty, girl, let me assure you that it’s nothing quite so salacious. It’s just that the topic of either that particular novel/film or the subject of ‘adult’ fiction have both been coming up fairly regularly lately. It all started last week, when I was at the Page to Screen conference because I’d been invited to attend the cocktail reception by my publisher. He’s been my publisher for about 2 years now, but this was the first time I’d ever spoken to him, let alone met him—all our communication has been via email. Anyway, he invited me to go, because he was pitching my novel to producers in this kind of speed-dating style format, with the intention of getting someone interested in making it into a movie or whatnot. Over the last few weeks, Ken and I had engaged in some pretty thorough speculation about what he actually might look like. Ken was convinced that he was a tall, older, absent-minded professor type, and I thought he was probably middle-aged but distinguished. He has a VERY Anglo name, so imagine my surprise when I walked into the reception and was met by a rather diminutive man with a VERY strong Russian accent. Well, I don’t know if he’s actually Russian, but you know how the Russians get credit for almost everything these days, so whatevs. At any rate, I really enjoyed finally getting to talk to him, and he introduced me to a couple of the producers that he knew. We also had a conversation about my next novel:

Him: I read the synopsis. Is it science fiction?
Me: It’s more dystopian. You know, like post-apocalyptic Canada.
Him: Many people here are asking for science fiction. It’s popular.
Me: Yeah, it’s science fiction.

In my defence, there are definitely some science-y bits in it. But then he had to leave. I decided to stick around for a little while longer, because there was free wine, and that outweighed my discomfort with being in a crowd of people I don’t know. So I was standing there, minding my own business and drinking a nice Chardonnay, when I was approached by this trio of women. They wanted to know what I wrote, so I told them, “Young Adult fiction. My main character is 16.”

“Oh,” said one of them. “MY main character is 16 as well, but it’s not Young Adult. There’s LOTS of sex in it. I mean A LOT OF SEX. It’s very ADULT.” And it was kind of weird and creepy how she so cheerfully emphasized the amount of sex in her book, so I tossed back my Chard and excused myself. And now I’m worried about what kinds of films these producers are making.

Then earlier this week, we were out for a birthday lunch, and the topic of 50 Shades of Grey came up at the table. I’ve never read or seen any of it, but the consensus was that the books were poorly written and the movies weren’t much better. One of my colleagues said she had just seen it with a group of lady friends, and at that moment I looked down at my phone to read an email. When I looked back up, someone was saying, “And then they raised money and took all the kids at the school to see it.” And I was like “What?! That’s horrifying! What parent would allow their child to see THAT?!” Then everyone just stared at me because the conversation had moved on from 50 Shades of Grey to The Black Panther and I should probably pay attention to conversations if I want to contribute to them.

And yesterday, I was in the kitchen at work, and someone asked me what kind of novel I had written. When I told her, she said, “Do you ever write anything adult?” and I was like, “What, you mean, like porn? God, no.” She immediately clarified that she just meant books designed for an older audience, not “erotica”, but it occurred to me that there’s no real way to ask that question without sounding like you actually MEAN porn. IE: Do you write for a mature audience? Is your work meant for adults? Are your readers older? Because all I have to do in my head is put quotation marks around “adult”, “mature”, or “older” and it automatically sounds like it’s porn. But I could never write porn, not even that 50 Shades sh*t, because every single one of my female characters would giggle self-consciously and make jokes whenever anything remotely sexy happened. Face it—there are just some people who shouldn’t write porn. I’m going to now try writing something “adult”, just so you have proof:

Woman: I’m bored. Talk dirty to me.
Man: OK. Mrs. Smith, I’ve been looking at your lesson plans and you’ve been very naughty.
Woman: I have? Ooh. What have I done, Mr. Jones?
Man: Your rubrics don’t align with curriculum expectations. You will have to be punished. Please come to my office.
Woman: Your office? Tell me more.
Man (husky voice): I just had new carpeting installed. It’s builder’s grade, but it’s very nice all the same.
Woman: That’s definitely going to trigger my allergies.
Man (husky voice): Ohhh, your allergies eh? Maybe you need to have them spanked out of you.
Woman: *laughs hysterically*

That may or may not have been based on a real conversation between 2 people who have been married almost 30 years. The closest I’ve come to actual porn lately though was the movie Red Sparrow, starring Jennifer Lawrence. She plays a Russian ballerina that trains to be a sex spy, which is to say, someone who uses sex to spy on people, NOT someone who spies on people having sex. Anyway, there was a LOT of graphic action in this movie, which we had gone to see with K and her girlfriend, the lovely V. When the movie was over, we were all just like, “Well, that was certainly a complicated plot….” and “Gosh, the Cold War was an interesting time in history….” So probably not the kind of movie you want to see WITH your teenager. And now, I just took a break and peeked at Facebook, where one of my friends has posted an article about a Canadian trapper who was attacked by a randy 200 pound beaver, so I’m just going to leave things there.

Hey there, baby.