November 30, 2014

We're Live Again! Welcome Back to Foreplay and Fangs

Foreplay and Fangs has been dark for the last month as you know, mostly to give me a chance to focus on National Novel Writing Month. But now the crazy November deadline is past, Thanksgiving is over and even the leftovers are gone. It's time to get back to work!

If you've only just joining us here at Foreplay and Fangs, or if you're wondering where this silly little blog full of naughty tips, tricks and tastes came from, well, today's post is for you.

This whole thing started with a vampire who refused to be a hero.

Have I been wrong?
Have I been wise
To shut
My eyes and play along?
~Natalie Merchant

Readers of Lotus Petals might be surprised to know Rhiannon Donovan was the beginning of everything for me.

Rhiannon used to be the villain of another vampire's story (which may or may not come into play in her next book, but you'll have to read Satin and Steel to find out!).  Many, many, many moons before that, she was just supposed to be a supporting player, a sidekick who stepped in at just the right time to save the hero. Unfortunately for me, Rhiannon decided she wanted to kill the hero instead. Thus, Rhiannon Donovan went from a plucky duckling of a vampire pal to a ruthless, unforgiving monster. I guess she really, really hated the frilly courtly dresses I tried to put her in.

Of course, getting back to Lotus Petals, Rhiannon obviously evolved past that stage in her development as well, and became someone far more complex. She wasn't cut out to be the sidekick, no, never. But she wasn't an irredeemable monster, either (that honor definitely goes to Sölva, her Viking bodyguard). Throughout many stories I realized there was some gem in Rhiannon's character that set her apart from the true villains...something that made for a deeper story. Something that might, eventually, save her.

That gem, of course, was Aijyn.

These two were the beginning of it all. They had a story to tell, and I believed it was a good one. It took me a long time to find out how to tell it in just the right way...and then, after I finally had it down in its entirety, had fallen in love with them all over again, I faced a huge problem.

Lotus Petals broke the cardinal rule of the romance genre. It failed to meet most publisher's guidelines right out of the gate, and those that didn't outright reject it before I could hit Send on my email submission still didn't want to take the chance on a story like mine.

I won't say which rule it breaks because that gets spoilery. Suffice to say, though, that Rhiannon and Aijyn sat for many, many years on the shelf, a faint gleam in my eye while I searched for a place that would give them their shot.

In the meantime, though, writing Lotus Petals—delving into a world not just of intrigue and adventure but of real, passionate, unflinching erotic love—sparked something in me. I considered myself a writer of horror and supernatural fantasy, but not erotica. And yet, as I penned the sensual moments of Rhiannon awakening a new and wonderful lust in sweet Aijyn, I discovered I really, really liked it.

This is what I mean when I say Rhiannon Donovan (and Aijyn, of course) became the beginning of it all. Their love became my love: a love of passion and eroticism. While I waited for the day they might come out of their shady, rules-breaking corner, I created Foreplay and Fangs, a collection of erotic stories I considered experimental. They made me eager to explore not only sexy stories of romance, but downright dirty stories of greedy and even sometimes dark and dangerous sexuality. I discovered a delight in exploring indulgences, and in writing fairy-tale scenes of making love. 

I wanted to write as a gay male (he shows up in Rhi's next story, too), and to write of a polyamorous trio (Finn and his Ladies from Goblin Fires). I fell in love with Sadira, a character divulging the deepest, most carnal and most beautiful aspects of sexual slavery and submission to me. She appears in a short story on this very blog, titled To the Victor, and she became the star of this years NaNoWriMo novel for me.

Part of coming into the world of erotica was coming into the world of societal sexual awareness, too. Learning about writing erotica also taught me more about LGBT and gender issues. I discovered aspects of lifestyles I'd never understood before, and what I learn excites me. The people—authors and educators, practitioners, bloggers, podcasters—I've run into, talked to, or followed, they excite me, too. It's not just about erotic fiction for me anymore: I feel lucky to have learned so much about the realities of our sexuality, identities, and emotions, from that little spark of curiosity.

It's funny now, to see Lotus Petals becoming a reality too, now. Rhiannon and Aijyn started me on this path, and now, with their first book out in Ebook and print—that's kind of like a Holy Grail to me!—and their second book going into feels like I've finally grown to deserve them, and their story, for real.

This all started with a vampire who refused to be who I expected her to be. Her story, of course, followed that example. Her lover, the timid courtesan, broke the mold and challenged demons. Nothing about Lotus Petals wanted to follow the rules.

That's the best thing Rhiannon ever taught me. So here we go, world! Let's break us a whole lot of rules! 

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