Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

11/08/2014

Writing About Sex? Why Not, It’s a Universal Aspect of Human Nature


Author and senior vice-president of sales at Penguin Random House, Ananth Padmanabhan

I came across a review of an interesting book on erotica that poses some interesting questions and concepts Re sex and romantic love.

The book, “Play With Me”, is written by Ananth Padmanabhan, who is the senior vice-president of sales at Penguin Random House, and it is his debut novel.

Author Ananth feels there is a big gap in the market today of books dealing with the heart, mind and body and where do you draw the line between them (and/or connect them) when it comes to sex and romantic love. And he should know about any gaps in the market — being the senior vice-president of sales at Penguin Random House and part of the publishing industry for nearly two decades.

“The past few years have seen a lot of short erotic stories being published but novels aren’t so common. I have written short erotic pieces before, but this is the first novel of this kind from India in the male voice,” he says.

 “How does one draw a line between heart and body? When does the mind kick in? What does pleasure do to our notion of love?” he asks.

I have written a few steamy scenes in my past projects and Ananth’s approach and the questions it raises about sex and love is something that begs more understanding or, at least, consideration in developing motives and characters.

Now, this piece from The Hindu newspaper by journalist Preeti Zachariah:

 

Love, lust, and life

“It is not autobiographical at all. I wanted to write about sex — it’s a universal aspect of human nature…” says Ananth Padmanabhan, about his debut novel Play with Me.

 

“Can one person be in love with two people, in very different ways? Yes, he can,” says Ananth Padmanabhan, whose debut novel Play with Me (Penguin, Rs.250) is a somewhat salacious take on the eternal love triangle.

The book tells the story of Sid, a successful photographer in an ad-agency and his two radically different relationships with two women — the gorgeous, free-spirited Cara who changes the way he thinks about erotic pleasure and Natasha towards whom he feels romantic love.

“How does one draw a line between heart and body? When does the mind kick in? What does pleasure do to our notion of love?” he asks.

Here in the city to release the book at Starmark, the author is remarkably candid about his reasons for writing it. “It is not autobiographical at all. I wanted to write about sex — it’s a universal aspect of human nature. And there is a big gap in the market today.”

He should know — Ananth, who is the senior vice-president, sales at Penguin Random House, has been part of the publishing industry for nearly two decades. “The past few years have seen a lot of short erotic stories being published but novels aren’t so common. I have written short erotic pieces before but this is the first novel of this kind from India in the male voice,” he says.

Also at the release was psychiatrist Vijay Nagaswami and journalist Yagna Balaji. Dr. Nagaswami attempted to define erotica. “It’s not just about sex but about people in unabashedly sexual relationships. Erotica is about using a feather, pornography is about using the whole chicken,” he smiles.  Using the popular Fifty Shades of Grey as a reference point, he wondered whether off-beat sexual themes garnered better audience response.

Ananth demurs by saying “For pleasure to be extraordinary, it doesn’t have to be unusual. I wanted this to be real and normal. This is an intense book, written with a lot of integrity that captures what goes on in the character’s mind.” Yagna adds that unlike many other books that claim to titillate, there is no flowery language and veiled allusions. This is the real thing.

Ananth explains, “I wanted to understand how pleasure is impacted by the notion of love. There is no universal formula, however,” he says. “Many times we get into relationships which seem right at that point of our lives, even if we know that they probably aren’t long-term ones.”

“Sex is a fundamental need — there is no morality associated with it,” feels Ananth. Any decision you make is okay if you can live with it yourself.  We constantly seek pleasure. Relationships are all about pleasure. Why should I be apologetic about it?” he asks.

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