JK: I was angry with you after reading Small Town, because I feared that the explicit sex in the book would torpedo any chance it had of being the large, important post-9/11 book it otherwise was, and I felt like you deserved that at that point in your career. Maybe it was the warning in the subtitle, or the fact that thanks to your eBooks I’ve now read more of your back catalog and can put this kind of work in better context, but I wasn’t put off in the slightest by the sex in Getting Off. What are your thoughts about writing explicitly, and what has the reaction been to it over the years?
LB: Well, I’d have liked for Small Town to reach a larger audience, but I’ve never felt Susan Pomerance held it back. The only people she rubbed the wrong way, so to speak, were Bernie Rhodenbarr fans who felt they’d been ambushed by what was not their kind of book. Thus the subtitle and open pen name for Getting Off; I really don’t want to sell books to people who aren’t going to enjoy them.
For many years I tended to tack to the prim side, perhaps as a reaction to all those years writing erotica. Scudder may lead an active sexual life, but he could hardly be more circumspect in reporting it. And that seems of a piece with the man’s character.
Have to say, though, that I loved writing Susan Pomerance, and I fell in love with Kit Tolliver and Ree Perrin. And I truly enjoyed writing hot scenes, not least of all because the hottest are pretty much all dialogue. “Show, don’t tell?” Fuck that. When it works, there’s nothing more erotic than overheard conversation.
Click to read the full interview in Grift.