Friday, June 15, 2007

Erotic Dark Fantasy: Things that Do More than Go Bump in the Night

A stolen idea for a blog from Catherine Lundoff:

"Stories detailing the romantic and sexual relationships of vampires, werewolves and other critters have been popular for years and are only getting more so. What's the allure? Who does this well? Would you really want to do the nasty with someone who smells like a wet wolfhound?"

No, and I also wouldn't want to have sex with someone whose skin is dead... and cold.

I actually have my character in Tall, Dark & Dead talk about this. In Garnet's own words she says: "The fact remained that he was dead. As a doornail. And dating doornails was no fun. Trust me, I tried being with a dead guy once and it was miserable. I found that whole cold skin thing a big turn off in the bedroom. You can only do so many things in a hot bath or shower, and even then the heat didn't... well, penetrate, if you know what I mean."

This was one of those contemporary fantasy moments where the reality, if you will, of having sex with an animated corpse makes for a humorous reflection by the main character. I intentionally asked myself the question Catherine wants the panel to consider: what nitty-gritty, true-life details would you encounter if you took a supernatural being to bed?

I also have Garnet deal with the fact that vampires are nocturnal, and eighty percent (smaller? higher?) of the world is not. Like the majority of people, Garnet has a day-job. Dating someone who comes out after sunset is hell on one's sleep schedule. I know a lot of people who exist on very few hours of sleep at night, but I'm not one of those. Even though I can do short bursts of late-night living, I find I generally need to get eight hours of sleep (or more!) or I get really cranky. And, part of how I deal with writing contemporary fantasy is asking myself: what would it be like for me? Thus, Garnet ended up skipping a lot of work to nap.

The question is actually a gnarly one, because there is a kind of line you have to walk when you write fantasy. Getting the details "right" makes the story ring true, but if you were to say go into great detail about sleeping with a corpse you run the risk of losing a large percentage of your intended audience (minus, of course, the necrophiliacs.)

I guess the answer is to put in just enough to keep things real and willfully ignore the rest.


Kelly Swails said...

Keeps it real, yo.

I think you've got it right; enough details to make it realistic but not too creepy.

Network Geek said...

No, I think the secret is to let the reader enjoy the fantasy and leave out enough detail that the super-nasty reality doesn't intrude on their suspension of disbelief. The reality is, no one would really want to be doing even half the things that characters do in fantasy novels, even the erotic stuff, in reality because the reality of it all would suck. That's why fantasy as a genre is so popular right now, our reality kind of sucks. We want the escapism.

At least, that's my theory.