The New Joy of Sex - Interview and Top Tips from Author Susan Quilliam
The original Joy of Sex revolutionized people's love-lives during the seventies with its hands-on approach to personal pleasure and sexual satisfaction. However, the book now seems a little dated and parts of it irrelevant to modern love-making. This is why publishers Octopus Books decided to enlist the help of Susan Quilliam to revamp it!
Susan Quilliam is an exceptionally talented writer, agony aunt, sex expert and relationship psychologist. With her impressive collection of work and years of experience, Susan is clearly the perfect candidate to add a modern edge to the book that is to sex guides, what Hoover is to vacuum cleaners!
Masterminded by Susan, The New Joy of Sex has been completely revised and combines 21st-Century thinking on sex and sexuality with the much-loved style of the original. The result is a unique guide for modern lovers that's intelligent, witty, insightful and illustrated with the most beautiful drawings and photographs.
The Lovehoney Erotic Book Club was lucky enough to get an interview with Susan and got to ask about the creation of the book, her opinions on sex and relationships and get some top tips on writing an erotic guide.
Coffee table book, instruction manual, scientific document, recipe book for the ultimate gourmet love-making - what do you consider The New Joy of Sex to be?Susan: I would love to see The New Joy of Sex on everyone's coffee table because I feel it's a beautiful book in itself; the photographs are just stunning and the creamy white cover - with open out section to show you just that little bit more of the models - is lovely.
'Instruction manual' sounds cold to me as does 'scientific document' - though that said, the new book had to have a great deal of science added to bring it up to date.
Of all the terms suggested I like 'recipe book' the best - and so would Alex Comfort, as he saw it as a pick 'n' mix book to create truly advanced 'cooking'.
All that said, I would have described it as what the Japanese call a 'pillow book', to be used when in bed with your beloved to suggest, entertain and above all, inspire!
What would be your favourite section of the book? Was it an existing part that you added to or a new piece that you added yourself?Susan: I actually like every part of the book - and most of the sections are blends of both me and Alex Comfort. That said, if pushed, I would go for two sections.
The element called 'love' encapsulates what the whole book is about - playful, adventurous, connecting sex - without being 'soppy'.
And I love the section on 'holding back' because it's classic Joy of Sex: an advanced technique you don't read about in many sex manuals and a fabulous way to enhance pleasure.
How easy or hard was it to edit the book for a modern audience?Susan: The task was lengthy - it took two years from commissioning to launch - and it was also challenging. I needed to add in new knowledge, update the science, alter the 'Seventies' approach to life and make sure that everything in the book reflected the way we think and feel in the Noughties.
But reinventing the book was never hard work, and always rewarding; Alex Comfort's original book was so amazingly good to begin with that it was always a delight to work on. The most difficult thing of all was that I wanted to add in lots of new sections but simply didn't have room for everything.
As an accomplished author, how was it to rework someone else's book as opposed to writing something completely from scratch?Susan: I didn't find it difficult to rework Joy of Sex because I had good material to begin with - I read the book several times before I agreed to the commission and also did several test samples of text to be sure I could recreate the very distinctive style.
I enjoyed the parts where I needed to alter Alex Comfort's work - adding in extra sentences or paragraphs was sometimes like doing a jigsaw puzzle. I also enjoyed the parts where I wrote absolutely from scratch, either the 40 absolutely new sections, or those elements where I rewrote Alex's work to reflect current changes.
The photographs and illustrations in The New Joy of Sex are beautiful, sophisticated, erotic and instructional. Was this purely an artistic decision or one out of necessity to get rid of the slightly outdated bearded man from the original book?Susan: The bearded man actually disappeared several years ago when the book was reprinted, so the new work wasn't to get rid of him! But we did decide that a new book needed a new approach, and a very high standard of production. We hope the book is a piece of artwork in itself, something that readers will like to have around because it is beautiful.
There is a lot of information and detail in the book, but it's possible to just easily and accessibly dip in and out of it, depending on what you want to know. What do you think the readership will be like for The New Joy of Sex?Susan: Like the original, I see The New Joy of Sex as a 'recipe book' - not something you read from cover to cover, but something you look at when you want to know about a particular topic, or be inspired to explore a particular aspect of sexuality. The book is aimed not at the beginner, but at the person or couple who has had sex, enjoys it, and wants to know and do more.
I do think there's a lot of 'junk food' around in sex books, where sex is seen as something light and trivial whereas in fact the pleasure and connection of sex is immensely important and powerful. The original title 'gourmet guide' says it all.