Let’s Talk with Diane A.S Stuckart

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS…

by Diane A.S. Stuckart

I blame Maggie Toussaint for today’s blog post. When I submitted my January entry for this column, she emailed me back to say that she’d hastily read its title and thought it said something about peeing. We both LOL’d at that, but then she got me thinking. You see, I’ve actually addressed this subject elsewhere before; namely, the mention (or lack thereof) of characters using the bathroom in fiction. And so I decided that would be an amusing topic for my next entry here at the Bench.

You more refined gentlefolk out there don’t have to stop reading. I promise to remain classy despite the subject matter. But first, a confession. I have three architectural obsessions. Two are churches and cemeteries, mostly because how people worship their God and honor their dead is far more revealing of the society than any written history. The third obsession is, to put it delicately, comfort stations. Much as with churches and cemeteries, bathrooms tell us a lot about a civilization. Which explains why my cell phone’s photo albums contain random pictures of famous and not-so-famous bathrooms, the glorious yellow-and-black tiled bathroom in Key West’s Ernest Hemmingway house being my number one (no pun intended) favorite.

So what does this have to do with cozy mysteries? Quite a bit, for me.

I started writing historical romances back in the 1990s (and reading them for a decade prior to that). I always found it odd that, while characters constantly jumped in and out of beds and carriages, they rarely ate or drank. And never did a heroine take a potty break! Though, thinking back now, I guess that taboo was typical of the times. For those as old as me, you might recall that the off-stage flushing toilet sound effect on All in the Family was considered edgy for 1970s TV. And trivia buffs know that the bathroom stage sets featured in Leave it to Beaver and The Brady Bunch were built sans toilet so as not to offend viewer sensibilities.

Things didn’t change much in the ensuing years regarding attitudes toward the loo…at least, not in the romance genre. As a newbie writer not wanting to buck that unspoken romance writing no-no, I kept toilet scenes firmly in the water closet (sorry!). That was, until I read one particular chapter in a romance by the late, great Roberta Gellis. Following the main characters’ explicit night of passion, the heroine jumps out of bed next morning and gleefully uses the chamber pot…and, right in front of the hero!

Peachy ScreamTalk about mind blown! I vowed then and there that some character of mine would use the era-appropriate toilet at least once in each of my books. And I’ve kept that promise to this day. My current Georgia B&B Mystery, PEACHY SCREAM, has guests at my protagonist Nina’s inn queued up at the powder room following a long drive. In my upcoming (May 2021) release, PEACHES AND SCHEMES, Nina finds herself hiding in a ladies’ room stall because she’d been using the facilities just before two other characters rush in to conduct a heated argument. My editor never even blinked at that scene (maybe because I made that fictional bathroom cool and retro).

So…are bathroom scenes not your thing in fiction, or do you appreciate this bit of reality in your reading? Comment below for a chance to win an ARC of Peaches and Schemes, Book 3 in the Georgia B&B Mystery series (US winner only).

Remember to click over and enter our monthly contest. It runs from March 1-18, so there’s still time to enter! One winner, one book in hand. Yay! CLICK HERE