“It’s not a challenge to write the sex scenes,” says Melissa Broder, loosening her long blond hair from its elastic band and letting it fall neatly down her back. “I just write to turn myself on.”
The LA-based author is talking to me via zoom about the erotic material in Milk Fed, her new novel about hunger and sexual desire, which is out next week. “It is raw, and I did open a vein and I know that some of it can be perceived as strange or very dirty,” she continues. “But I’m just me. This has my DNA. It has the blueprint of my soul.”
Broder’s novel – the follow-up to 2018’s The Pisces, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction – is about bisexual 24-year-old Rachel, who is anorexic. It’s deeply personal; Broder is 17 years clean and sober and has had her own struggles with an eating disorder. But while it’s a funny and candid account of a woman obsessed with calorie restriction (“I’ll have the sugar-free, fat-free cappuccino swirled with the sugar-free, fat-free cheesecake,” says Rachel), Broder writes most boldly about the graphic sex and sexual fantasies of her protagonist.