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“ACOTAR” Author Sarah J. Maas on Writing 'Steamy' Scenes: ‘I Can’t Look Most of My Family In The Eye’

The bestselling author's new novel, 'House of Flame and Shadow' is out today

<p>Frank May/picture alliance/Getty</p>

Frank May/picture alliance/Getty

Sarah J. Maas is speaking out about some of the sensuous scenes in her novels and they're seriously blush-worthy.

In an interview with TODAY on Tuesday, the author sat down with Jenna Bush Hager ahead of the publication of her new novel House of Flame and Shadow. The book, which comes out today, is the latest addition to Maas' Crescent City trilogy, and comes one the heels of her bestselling fantasy series A Court of Thorns and Roses. ACOTAR is known for its high-stakes battles, strong female protagonists and steamy scenes.

“I can’t look most of my family in the eye now,” Maas, 37, told Bush Hager of the scenes, the first appearing in A Court of Thorns and Roses. “I needed a glass of wine just to take the edge off. It felt like everyone was staring over my shoulder watching as I wrote these dirty words, and then also thinking, ‘Oh my God — my grandmother is going to read this.’”

<p>Amazon</p> The 'A Court of Thorns and Roses' series

Amazon

The 'A Court of Thorns and Roses' series

Maas’ grandmother, however, wasn't scared off by the, shall we say, romantic moments, which only intensified as the series continued.

“I said, 'Grandma, you know I love you, and I appreciate that you read everything that I’ve ever put down on paper, but maybe skip this one.’" Maas said. "And she was like, ‘Well, why, Sarah?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, Grandma, there’s a lot of really steamy, sexy material.’ And she just goes, ‘Well, that sounds right up my alley.’”

Maas also told Bush Hager about the “mortifying” moment when her mother-in-law asked her if the "steamy" scenes were based on real-life stories from the private lives of the author and her husband Josh Wasserman.

“I wanted to just walk into traffic,” Maas said.

But sexy situations are just one aspect of the books that make up Maas' critically acclaimed series which debuted in 2015. The books follow main character Feyre Archeron as she navigates a faerie land called Prythian, and includes explorations of trauma and strong female protagonists.

Since that first installment, Maas has put out a new book in the series every year, including A Court of Mist and Fury (2016), A Court of Wings and Ruin (2017), A Court of Frost and Starlight (2018) and A Court of Silver Flames (2021).

<p>Will Ireland/SFX Magazine/Future/Getty</p> Sarah J. Maas

Will Ireland/SFX Magazine/Future/Getty

Sarah J. Maas

Maas, who has written 15 books total, began writing when she was 16 years old. The author recalled that she wasn't always an avid reader, and it was only after a teacher encouraged her parents to take her to a bookstore and allow her to pick something to read that she fell in love with fantasy. She was so taken by the genre she began writing her own novels shortly thereafter.

Related: Viral TikTok Author Alex Aster on New Book Nightbane: ‘People Might Be a Little Bit Upset at Me’ (Exclusive)

“I told myself that even if it took me until I was 90 years old that I just wanted one book published,” she said. Maas has now sold over 30 million copies of her novels, and is a beloved figure on BookTok, the book community on TikTok.

“I’ve always been drawn to writing women that can’t be placed in any definable category,” the author said. “They can be very feminine but then also go, like, beat the you-know-what out of the bad guy and save the world and then look good doing it.”

Maas also reflected on what her writing career looked like now that she is a parent. While she writes at a slower pace than she used to, she's “figuring it out as I go.”

<p>Frank May/picture alliance/Getty</p> Sarah J. Maas

Frank May/picture alliance/Getty

Sarah J. Maas

“Writing is my job but being a mom is like my full time job,” she said. “And that’s become the most important thing in my life, is making sure that my children are not only happy and cared for, but that I'm also present for them.”

Maas, who shared that she hopes her books bring “hope” to her readers, teased that she’s already thinking about her next projects.

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“I kind of know the vague ideas of what I want to happen,” she said. “I haven’t even told my editor this. Surprise!”

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