Turn Me On

By Julie Mayhew

It started off as an argument on a short story course.

Men tend to put sex into short stories when it isn’t relevant at all to the plot, characters or mood, I said.

It was a sexist line to take. I know.

Adam Marek our brilliant tutor at Berko Writers had urged us to read the latest Murakami story in The New Yorker.

I had and then I had scrolled through other stories in the archive, with The Berko Speakeasy in mind. Could we read this story aloud at a future event?

Often the answer would be ‘no’ because a story would be ticking along nicely, brilliantly, and then there would be a gratuitious and graphic sex scene.

There’s no rule to say we won’t read sex scenes aloud at the Speakeasy – we’re not prudes and neither are our audience – but there’s a certain dynamic in that room, with reader making eye contact with audience, that asks that if we are going to describe graphic sex it has to mean something. In a lot of these stories I felt it didn’t.

I brought this argument to the table at our next workshop.

It got heated.

Don’t female writers write bad sex in their own unique ways too? suggested one.

Probably.

Is sex ever any good when it’s on the page? asked another.

Oh, it must be, sometimes, surely…

BadLiterarySex_Feb15

So that’s what led us to organising Turn Me On, a night to discuss the sex scene, good and bad, from Lady Chatterley to Christian Grey.

We’d love you to come and join the debate – and bring along your favourite sex scenes from literature.

Let’s put this argument to bed.

Turn Me On: A night of good (and very bad) literary sex
7pm, Tues 10th Feb, Upstairs at Here Cafe, Berkhamsted
For more information and to book go to the Berko Writers website.

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Berko Writers’ Summer School

Berko Writers’ Summer School, in association with The Berko Speakeasy and Waterstone’s, will include a two-hour masterclass with award-wining short story writer Adam Marek.

Summer School

Adam – author of the collections Instruction Manual For Swallowing and The Stone Thrower – comes to Berkhamsted on July 29th to show students how to deliver the maximum punch with the minimum word count.

Also on the programme is a radio drama masterclass with Julie Mayhew, a screenwriting workout with Lucy Scher, a writing advice session with Literary Agent Juliet Pickering and a guide to how to market yourself as an author with publishing insider Jamie Fewery. Students can choose to attend just one class, or book in for the whole programme at a discounted rate.

To find out more about the workshops and tutors, and to reserve your place go to the Berko Writers’ booking site.