Archive for May 12th, 2008

Writing Roots: Literary Lust

By Christina Katz

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawerence. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Any of these might spring to mind in an adult discussion about lust and literature. But when you’re a tween, not so much.

When I was growing up, parents didn’t talk to their kids about sensitive subjects much, never mind sex. Or maybe they did on the West Coast, but not in New England, where I grew up. I also doubt there were as many articles and books about how and when to have such conversations with your kids as there are today. Parents probably just hoped someone else would take care of it, so they would be off the hook.

But what kid’s curiosity wasn’t spurred by those little blue booklets that were handed out in health class in seventh grade? Or was it sixth? I really can’t remember. But I do remember that it was really poor timing. Worse, the information in those little blue books was so scant that it was just enough to spark a much larger curiosity that would inevitably run its own course.

In my tween years, I took my curiosity to the library where I began to explore my lust for, ahem, literature with titles like Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret? Of course, Margaret’s dilemmas seem pretty tame by today’s standards, but they were good enough for me. I blazed through the entire Judy Blume collection, concluding with Forever, of course.

Since my mother was an avid reader, I easily borrowed tomes like The Thorn Birds or plastic-covered gothic romances from her book trove. But that just left me in search of more provocative stuff. And I found it, in a home where I babysat. The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort-how could I resist? I didn’t.

Appetite partially satisfied, I began trolling the adult aisles at the library. Clearly, the adults were keeping all the good stuff to themselves. In the Romance aisle, I discovered authors like Judith Krantz and Jackie Collins and we became secret friends for several years.

When it comes to good old-fashioned lust, I don’t think books are such a bad place for young people to explore. If more resources on steamy subjects had been available in my own home, say on a low shelf in plain sight, perhaps I would not have felt compelled to seek the information elsewhere. But then again, healthy curiosity is not easily contained. And isn’t that what libraries are for? To satisfy a lust for literature no matter what the reader’s age?

And thank goodness for that.

Christina Katz, author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, is working on her second book for Writer’s Digest Books, Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform (now available for pre-order at Amazon!). She has also written over two hundred articles for magazines, newspapers, and online publications and has appeared on Good Morning America. Christina is a popular writing instructor who has taught hundreds of writers over the past seven years. She blogs daily at The Writer Mama Riffs and is publisher and editor of two zines, Writers on the Rise and The Writer Mama. More at

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