Having grown up in a non-Christian, non-American home (I was born in the former USSR), I never quite internalized the whole Puritan, repressed anti-sex attitude that still periodically sweeps through the US on occasion. Not only were my parents European, but my dad is also a biochemist (read about his unconventional views here). We discussed human reproduction with the same openness (and at times boredom) as any scientific process.
Growing up with parents unfamiliar with American culture came with other perks. I was watching soap operas at 10 (the summer Luke raped Laura, no less), and reading trashy-but-amazing potboilers like Master of the Game, Mistral’s Daughter and Hollywood Wives by age 13. (Not to mention that classic of Jewish-American literature, Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in NYC.) Every single tome was infinitely educational. In fact, when my husband and I first started dating and he asked where I had learned a maneuver he particularly enjoyed, I referred him, only half-jokingly, to the collected works of Mr. Sidney Sheldon, one of the great and inspiring novelists of our time.
Naturally, with a wasted youth like that, there was only thing I could grow up to be: A soap and romance writer. (Well, there are some mystery novels in there, too, but, as in real life, my characters’ shady motives are very often sexual.) However, I am well aware that pretty much everyone believes mass market popular fiction to hold absolutely no redeeming value–which makes you wonder how it got to be so popular in the first place.