I'm drafting up entries for an Alpennia FAQ based on either overt or implicit questions I get asked about the books. Since this week is asexual awareness week, I thought I'd post the question about sexual content in the books. Because some people get confused about the difference between books that don't include explicit sex scenes and books about characters who don't have sex.
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Content: Do the Alpennia books have sexual content?
The novels and all the short stories that have been written to date do not have on-page explicit sexual content. It is clearly communicated if and when the characters have sexual relationships, and there are scenes involving sharing a bed with an implication that sexual activity has occurred (or will occur). My intent is to continue this mode for the rest of the novels, but some of the short fiction will include more explicit content. Because I've established "no on-page sex" as the default for the series, any stories that do include sex scenes will have a content note to indicate that.
There are two main reasons why I took this approach. First, one of my literary models for the series was Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances. While the current historical romance field has moved on to expecting explicit sex scenes as the default, that isn’t the literary tradition that inspired me. I made a stylistic choice to evoke a particular mood. The second reason is that, as an asexual writer, I’m not entirely comfortable yet with my ability to write good, believable sex scenes. It’s a skill I’m working on acquiring and there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to. Being an atheist hasn’t gotten in the way of writing believable religious characters (at least so I’ve been told). But explicit sexual content isn’t something that I need as a reader to enjoy a book, and the Alpennia series was--first and foremost--a project to write the books I wanted to read that no one else was writing.
The books do include a viewpoint character who is on the asexual spectrum, and there is a minor character who will later be made explicit as aromantic. My characters occupy a very wide range of sexualities. The lack of on-page sex is not a reflection of their sexuality, but of my choice as the author.
If you find it impossible to enjoy a book, or to believe in the “chemistry” of a romantic couple unless you see them having sex on the page, then it’s possible that the Alpennia series isn’t for you. All I ask is that you don’t claim that the books are badly written because of that one factor.