Monday, June 25, 2007

The Brighter Side of Kinky



As I wrap up the last in my Rodesson daughter’s erotic Regency trilogy, I’m planning my next proposal. And the question I’m wrestling is: can my hero and heroine be kinky? And how kinky can they be?

When I’ve read some erotic romance, I’ve noticed that kinky is often the preserve of the "bad guy"; kinky is the line drawn between good and evil. The villain pursues group sex, bondage, fetishes, and often preys sexually on children (and yes, I’ve had my villains do that too).
The hero and heroine might try a little bondage or some new positions, but can they be truly kinky and be heroic? I.e. can my hero just not be able to perform without a good spanking first? I’m apt to think not—I think that would just raise too many concerns in the reader. Mainly, what has happened to him to limit his sexual responses to one pattern, and how can he be…well, made a more well-rounded and whole lover?

In my proposal, I wanted my heroine to be afraid of her sexual fantasies. The hero will show her how normal, healthy, and fun they are. I want my heroine to reach the level of trust where she reveals the images that disturb her. And as a writer, I know I have to toe a delicate line—I want to celebrate fantasy, exploration, role playing, etc., but I know I can’t just eliminate the weight of morality that comes along with playing those games. The guilt is important, and adds a lot of the spice, but I don’t want characters wallowing in it.

So while I’m crafting villains for my new idea, I want to show that the evil doesn’t come from indulging in kink, but in using power, violence, and torture to harm another person. In all the info I’ve read on the BDSM lifestyle, what is most important in a good relationship is consent and trust.

Here is an excerpt for my August ’07 book, Blood Rose, where my heroine tries to understand the dynamic between predator and prey in a vampires’ brothel:

Serena’s face was on fire, her throat dry and tight.

Mr. Swift leaned forward—heavens, she felt his erection push against her backside. He was aroused. She wanted to push back against him. But she tried to stay completely still.

"Is this the sort of thing you do?" she croaked the question at him. She should disapprove. But she found watching so arousing, so irresistible.

"Is it the sort of thing you would want to do, little lark? Wouldn’t you wish to perform for him, to entice him beyond all control?"

She had no answer, swallowed hard. "But those women are enticing vampires. The vampires will feed from them, hurt them."

"But you know vampires do not always kill—and the only ones allowed here are those with control over their feeding urges. And the girls are well treated, in a way. They have warm beds, beautiful clothing, and are very well fed. They have every comfort they could imagine. These are not girls trapped and abused by a brutal madam."

"They are free to leave?"

"Yes, but they don’t leave."

"Why not—if they have freedom, why would they not take it?"

Swift leaned closer. "Because they need to offer their blood. They cannot exist any longer without joining with a vampire and surrendering their blood."

"Slaves? Or worse—food!"

"In all relationships, one partner feeds on what the other offers. In different ways. The vampires are as much their slaves."

(from Blood Rose, by Sharon Page, Kensington Aphrodisia, August 2007)



9 comments:

Pam Rosenthal said...

Interesting post, Sharon. It reminds me of a remark from an email I got from a friend once, a guy who's had a lot of BDSM experience. Anyhow, he'd read Carrie's Story and liked it, and said, musingly and affectionately, "oh yes, favorite slave, that's a nice old fantasy." And I thought, yeah, that's how it goes -- we listen for the old songs -- writing them is like letting them play us.

Jane Lockwood said...

The hero will show her how normal, healthy, and fun they are. This reminds me a little of Woody Allen's reply to the question, is sex dirty?--yes, if it's done right. I see what you're saying but I don't know if translating deep and dark sexual fantasies into good clean fun is really what we're after. Acceptance of one's dark side, definitely, and building that element of trust.
I think it would be fairly challenging to write about a serious fetish within the limits of romance unless the heroine was willing to accept that her shoes might be as important to the hero as she is. Or possibly a bit more.
But I think there's plenty of room for fooling about and experimenting and all sorts of serious or not so serious play.

Pam Rosenthal said...

How about normal (or anyway not scary/pathological) but still not entirely explicable. I like to think that our predilections, our oddities, are in some way bigger than we are, or more interesting, that they're inexhaustively interesting ways we find around ourselves. Or to hope or wish so, anyway.

Kate Pearce said...

I agree with Jane-she said it much better than I could!

Lacy Danes said...

Sharon,
I love your story idea! I would read it just based on what you said here. Is it getting warm in here? Fans self.

I think you can write about BDSM/fetishes in the romance genre but it is hard to do if you have not lived it or fantasized about it in some form.

I mean how do you explain to someone that your sub/heroine craves being punished just as much as the hero/Dom loves punishing? then make it sound acceptable to people who don’t get it. You need to get inside their heads and really understand the craving. Which not every Dom/sub understands themselves.

Not all Doms are insensitive jerks. Or subs doormats. Which is the perception people have. Many Doms are VERY caring and cherish their slaves/subs more than they do themselves. Granted some don't.

Many subs are stronger in many ways than the Doms that play them.

Have you ever seen a good Dom play a sub? They are intensely aware of every thing the sub is going through; every breath, whimper, flinch, and moan are noted. The color of their skin, and the dilation of their eyes, etc. And they really care for/cherish them after play. Hugs, cuddling... and the look on a subs face... utter devotion to her Dom.

It is amazing. lol.

Sorry I went off on a tangent.

Lacy.

Pam Rosenthal said...

It's funny. While I was writing SM and planning to write romance, I thought surely I would include SM aspects in the romance. But I haven't very much -- just a little playacting in The Bookseller's Daughter and The Slightest Provocation. There's much more romance, imo, between the lines of my Molly Weatherfield Carrie books than there is SM between the lines of my romances. Which leads me to speculate that there is more romance implicit in SM forms than there is SM implicit in romance (though there is clearly some, and I've never read Laura Kinsale, so I've got more to learn here). Thanks to Lacy for spurring this train of thought (and no, I didn't intend the double entendre, but what the hell).

Lacy Danes said...

Very well said, Pam. I fully agree.

You know, I have always considered your Carrie stories Erotic Romance. They are filled with as you said Romance between the lines.
Lacy.

Sharon Page said...

Hi all,
Thanks for the comments--I had to go offline as my son has a fever. The usual "just in time for summer" colds.

Your coments were very well said, Jane. And I agree with you Lacy--I'd be afraid to touch the true BDSM lifestyle because of the nuances that I wouldn't understand.

Very interesting point, Pam, about the romance in SM.

Elizabeth Parker said...

I have to say I found this post disturbing because it seems to denigrate BDSM activities. They are not only for "villains," and they certainly don't divide "good from evil." Just because some like to play in this way, it doesn't preclude them from being "well-rounded and whole lovers." BDSM is a form of PLAY, often foreplay that leads to "normal" sex. If a writer doesn't truly understand BDSM, has to apologize for it, and feels squeamish about it, then maybe she shouldn't be writing about it.