We need to talk about sex

23 May 2019, Charlie A Raya


We need to talk about sex


How the subtitle for book 2: travelling came about

I have a confession to make. Originally, I just wanted a great opening line for book 2, and settled on: ‘We need to talk about sex.’

The greatest opening line in literature I know is by Albert Camus in his novel ‘The Stranger’. It goes something like: ‘Today mum died.’ What an opening, I have often thought, and I’ve always wanted to have something like that for one of my stories.

Now, I have been thinking about sex for some years, wondering whether there might be some key in it, something that could help us to better understand our actions, behaviour, or motives. If you think about it, it’s actually weird how much our cultures are influenced by notions about sex, not least the demonisation of the body in many religions, all the fuss about gender, or the way we dress, and many other issues.

In the original daydream, sex didn’t play much of a role in this early stage of the story.

‘So, we are ruining the planet with our excessive capitalism only to have more sex? Blimey, there’s got to be a better way. If sex is all we ultimately want, we should get straight to it.’

book 2: travelling, Chapter 11, Otaon

This is what happened

I decided to open the first chapter of book 2 with the line: ‘We need to talk about sex.’ Then I opened a file on the subject and started collecting random thoughts, and everything I had so far thought about.

The term sex is used in a general way in the story. It includes love making and rape, dressing and architectures, our relationship with our bodies, gender, roles, marriage, sexual orientation and a lot more …

The sex file quickly grew, and I felt that Alice should convince her team to integrate all questions around sex into the project. In which case, it would occupy them for a while. So, I scheduled sex-talk meetings over the following two years of the story. Funny enough, there is a scheduled meeting just days after I started taking note of the #metoo movement. I like these moments when fiction and reality overlap unwittingly, and I will make use of it.


‘So, what are we going to do about beauty?’
‘The same thing we should do about sex.’
‘And, what’s that?’
‘Relax.’

book 2: travelling, chapter 8, holidays

The full confession

So, yes. All I wanted was to start book 2 with a punch. However, when I began writing book 2, I couldn’t make the opening line work. That’s how book 2 got its subtitle, and a lot more on sex than expected. In fact, the sex-talk, as the team in the story calls it, has somewhat of its own journey within the journey.


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