No 29: a man who writes the sexy bits for other people's novels.
George wasn't a writer at all. He was a police officer who wanted to get out of the force. Somebody told him that you could make money from your pen, and he had an idea for a story, and so, not knowing how difficult it was meant to be, he sat down to write a novel.
'I had no idea what to do after I had finished the novel,' says George, 'but then I read about some literary agent who sounded hot stuff. I hadn't even known what a literary agent was till then and sent it to her. She rang and asked me out to lunch. I thought it was the big time. I mean, a literary agent wouldn't ask you out to lunch unless you had what it takes, right?
'So I got the shock of my life during the lunch when I tried to raise the subject of my novel, and she just said: 'Let's not talk about novels, let's talk about sex.' Blimey, I thought, things are moving faster than I can handle here] But it turned out she wasn't talking about her and me; she was talking about sex in books.'
Apparently, the novel George had sent her was not up to much - story and characters all a bit glib, all a bit predictable. But what struck her eye was that the few sex scenes George had included were lively and authentic.
'I only put a bit of sex in because I thought it was expected of me,' says George. 'They say you can't sell a novel without the added taste of sex. Sex is the monosodium glutamate of modern fiction, you might say. So I wrote a few sex scenes and she just went spare over them. She said it was always the other way round with new writers. They could usually handle the plot and story, but came to grief on the sex. In fact, she said that most established writers were the same. They usually had to go away and groan and sweat on rewriting sex scenes, and even then they weren't much good.
'Well, you can see why in a way. Writers are interested in story and character. A sex scene doesn't usually advance the plot and it seldom reveals much about character, so the average writer can't see the point of spelling out the details of a sex scene. It seems about as boring as spelling out the details of a football match or a traffic jam. It's something the average writer wants to avoid.'
But George's new agent, who had spent endless hours cajoling her writers into putting more sex into their novels, suddenly saw a way out of her dilemma. Get George to write the sex scenes.
'I don't know why I get them right,' says George modestly, and adds immodestly, 'but I do and I'm damned good at it. I think maybe it's because I can't handle story and character, and this is how I compensate. You know how some writers are good at action? And others are good at descriptions of nature? Well, maybe I'm just good at writing about sex. I started writing the sex scenes for various novelists, and it seemed to work all right. It suits the novelists and I get well paid, so where's the worry?'
Could George name any novels he had written the sex for?
'Ah, now there I can't help you. It's in my contract, see. I can never reveal whom I have written the intimate bits for, otherwise it would make them look a bit silly. But put it this way: I have helped to win the Booker Prize once or twice. And there is one writer who is very famous for her bedroom scenes, none of which, I know for sure, she has written.'
Does he write in a different style when he is doing the bedroom scenes for a female writer?
'Yes, you have to describe things more from the woman's viewpoint, but all writers are different anyway, so you have to try to follow each person's style.'
Does George have to do much, well, research for his writing?
George laughs. 'Do you mean do I go to bed with lots of people and then write about it?'
That's sort of what we meant.
'No, no, no. Not necessary. I mean, did Ian Fleming shoot a lot of people before he wrote a James Bond book? No, I am a happily married man.'
Does he find that after writing about it so much, sex has lost all attraction for him?
'Is Dick Francis sick of going to the races?'
We have no idea.
'Nor have I, but I imagine not.'
No, we imagine not.
Coming next: No 30, a man who arranges divorce parties to celebrate the end of marriages.Reuse content