But because I've made such an effort to steer clear of all that in the tattoo shop series, a review of THE MISSING INK on the website of a small Tennessee paper left me scratching my head. Don't ask me what paper it was, I don't remember, and I'm too lazy to go back and look. But the two reviewers who reviewed my book, after saying how wonderful it was, put a disclaimer at the end, noting that "sexual language and profanity may offend readers."
I couldn't believe it. I quickly shot off an email, asking what they meant by that, since I knew I'd only used the word "ass" a couple of times (and to describe the body part) and there was no sex in the book. This was their reply:
With regards to your use — or lack thereof — of profanity, we warn readers of any and all profanity, no matter how mild; so 'ass' does qualify. Perhaps it would have been better if we had specified 'mild profanity'; we apologize for not doing so.Really? I think they're a tad sensitive. And perhaps a bit repressed.
You also said you didn't use sexual language because the book 'has no sex whatsoever'; however, we describe 'sexual language' as not merely a description of the sexual act, but of sexual feelings. To wit, on page 204: 'He ran a hand through his hair and gave me another intense look, one that I felt between my legs.' This, along with his hand beneath her breast, bodies pressed close together, etc., is the sort of thing we meant by 'sexual language.'
But it's not just them. Over the weekend I got my editor's notes for INK FLAMINGOS. I've been going through the manuscript and making changes as she suggests. But I found two that baffle me.
I describe a very voluptuous woman getting out of the shower and wearing only a small towel, which shifts at one point, "flashing a little nipple." She took that phrase out. As if the word "nipple" is one of those words we just whisper in private company. And in the second instance, I have someone getting a tattoo on her lower back and tugging her jeans and underpants down to get it. My editor took out "underpants."
I think this is going a little too far.
Are you easily offended by language in a book? Or do you take it all in context?