Lynn Savage is the author of Mr. Klein’s Wild Ride. Mud Flat Press sat down with Lynn (via email) to question her about the book.
MFP: Gary and Summer Klein’s lives are shaken when Gary is offered the job of publicizing “Panerotic,” the new “Disneyland of Sex.” Beyond that basic description and avoiding spoilers, what would you like to tell our readers about the story of Mr. Klein’s Wild Ride?
Lynn Savage: It’s also a story about how marriage and parenthood drain our interest in sex, so what we do to make ourselves feel more sexually alive is a huge factor in determining how successful a long-term marriage can be.
MFP: What inspired you to write Mr. Klein’s Wild Ride?
LS: My friend Christian Carvajal and I were at Pok Pok, his favorite restaurant in Portland, when he challenged me to write about sex from a perspective other than my own. We were discussing a magazine feature, I think, but I decided to try my hand at writing a sexy novel from a male perspective. It was easier than I expected, I think because the male gaze is so ubiquitous in Western culture that I could see the movie in my head. I wanted it to be a novel about sex in a marriage, and an exploration of swinging was probably the most lurid—and therefore commercial—version of that story I could imagine.
MFP: OK, we have to ask this one: Are you now or have you ever been in the life? Did you interview swingers in preparation for the book?
LS: I certainly did talk to dozens of folks in the lifestyle as preparation, and some of their experiences informed moments in the novel. Y’know, once they knew I wasn’t interested in judging or outing them, it’s remarkable how quickly they opened up. Swingers have a lot to say about swinging, it turns out, especially about the challenge of keeping it a secret! As for me, I can certainly tell you some of my experiences were a reference point, but I make a point of never answering the “are you now or have you ever” question because it wouldn’t be my secret alone that I was giving away. I wouldn’t feel good about impinging on anyone’s right to privacy.
MFP: We heard rumors that you had a different title but changed it. A little birdie said it was because you were afraid the first title was too salacious. Care to comment on that?
LS: The rumors are true, I have to admit. For most of its writing and production, Mr. Klein was called Pornotopia. That’s a real word, by the way, not one I made up, though I honestly thought I did at the time. It means a place of absolute sexual freedom and comfort, a paradise for sex and sexuality. That means different things to different people, of course, and getting as many of them as possible in one book was an interesting challenge. Did I change the name because it was too salacious? Hmm. I liked that my original title brought the book up quickly in a Google search, I know that. But the first several readers told me that if I used any form of “porno” in the title, people would assume it was purely erotica, one sex scene after another, whereas I feel it’s aiming for more than that. I mean it’d be disingenuous and, frankly, short-changing the reader to write a book about sex that didn’t have hot sex in it, but it’s more about the park and the central relationship between Gary and Summer than it is about insert tab A into slot B.
MFP: Bliss Panerotic sounds a lot like a Disneyland for swingers. Do you have a personal love for theme parks?
LS: I grew up north of Portland, Oregon, so I never got to go to a theme park till after college. It’s a real hole in my childhood! But since then I’ve been to both Disneyland and Disney World and just adored both. They’re really fascinating places. It’s amazing to see the level of craftsmanship, imagination and pure, technological know-how that goes into shaking the money from every last tourist’s pockets! But I really do love them, cynicism aside, and I love how they tell a story during the course of a ride and its waiting line. I also love several aspects of Las Vegas, which I’ve come to know from three or four weekends there with girlfriends over the years. In both cases, it’s about persuading a child or adult to believe she’s in a whole new world, as the song goes, which is something every novelist hopes to achieve as well.
MFP: Is there anything we have not asked that you wish we had?
LS: It always surprises me that no one asks if I’d visit Bliss Panerotic! And I would, even if only for that restaurant I imagined. Why can’t that exist in my real life? Look, I just hope people understand that Mr. Klein’s Wild Ride is more than a catalog of sweaty sexual positions. It’s about the physical side of love and intimacy, and I believe it suggests how many thrilling possibilities await those who leave ancient taboos behind.