With that said, I wouldn't consider myself a fantasy author either; I have no interest in the political maelstroms that most hard fantasy novels seem to deal in. For instance, the only reason I finished The Lord of the Rings the summer I was fourteen? I simply had nothing better to do. My family was camping in our habitual spot at Fraser's Domain and it was extremely pleasant to lie in the sun beside the river and read while listening to CDs, even though I had long since lost interest in the story itself. Finishing it became more a matter of honour than anything else, come to think of it. I had begun the book at the behest of my brother, older than me by two years; he wasn't really known to be much of a reader while I'd had a voracious appetite for books ever since I learned to read (curiously enough, I don't even remember learning how; I can remember learning to write, but my hazy memories of childhood always hold a memory of how to read the letters I couldn't write; I suspect this explains to some extent my peculiar pronounciation of some words and my bizarre default settings when it comes to phoenetically sounding out unfamiliar words). So, the fact that my brother, not the family reader, had read and loved this monster tome? Totally meant I had to do it, too. Although I almost gave up when, a few hundred pages from the end, my extended whānau and I sat down for a lengthy game of Trivial Pursuit that resulted in my receiving the entirely ironic question of: what else did Frodo lose, when he lost the One Ring? The question itself was bad enough, but I clapped my hands over my ears and said: "DON'T TELL ME, DON'T TELL ME!"
Naturally, they told me.
Still, despite the fact I only got to the end of the book in a blaze of grim fatality, it still amuses me to think that I had combined Tolkien, Enya and Central Otago in 1996, long before one Peter Jackson. Me: 1. World: 0.
So, yes, fantasy? Isn't really my thing, any more than romance is. Which isn't to say I can't read and enjoy them; for instance, I found Dune fascinating, though I won't read much beyond it, and I have a long-standing weakness for Nora Roberts, old-school Danielle Steel and those terrible, terrible Mills and Boon books you can chomp through in less than an afternoon. When I was younger I was arrogant enough to assume myself a literary writer, but these days? I think I've accepted what others have recognised in me for years: I'm a writer of character. Plots are a useful sideline in my work, but it's the characters that I write for.
So, this is where we come to the idea of love. It amuses me to no end that my first presumed publishing credit is going to be in an anthology of erotica, paranormal or no; I've never even had a boyfriend (long story, but in the end I'm going to claim conceit and say I'm like the immortal Sherlock Holmes; I simply am not interested in romance in relation to myself). I mean, I entered the story on a whim, not knowing a lot about Mitzi Szereto or her previous works, though I suspected my story would be far too vanilla for her requirements. In the end I did flesh out the two sex scenes to some extent at her request, but the process of editing left me with the understanding that she chose the story on the strength of its atmosphere more than anything else. We have H.P. Lovecraft to blame for this, I think -- I'm sure the man would turn in his grave, to think that a young female author of paranormal erotica is holding him up as her primary influence -- but we'll also blame Amnesia: The Dark Descent for that one. Oh god, that game. It makes grown men cry like little girls. I do love it so.
...this does remind me, actually, that I have to try and write some blatant horror for the Wily Writers' Halloween issue. Because I was exposed to Stephen King at far too young an age -- read side-by-side with Christopher Pike and R.L. Stein, no less -- when I was in my pre-teens and early teens? I wrote ridiculous amounts of gory horror. I have a lingering affection for the genre, to the point I still have a mostly-unwritten novel in my mind that involves pirates, lesbians and MOTHERFUCKING ZOMBIES, so...yeah. It'll happen. (And I'm sure Lovecraft would love me to do something with the courtly love of women while invoking his name, too. Ha!)
But yes, there is a bit of an oddity in that I personally have no interest in romance in my own life, but I do focus a lot on it in my writing. Partly it's because the interactions of people are a keystone of their lives, but sometimes I wonder if fanfiction didn't play a part in it. I mean, I've been writing original fiction since I could write -- the first story I remember writing, I was five or so, and it was about worlds of lava with rainbow bridges and children who lived inside a sun -- but I dabbled in fanfiction from when I was about twelve until I was twenty-one or so. I didn't really understand what it was until I was sixteen or thereabouts, which is when the internet first struck my house asunder, but anyone who's read a could deal of fanfic will know that while gen is a valid and common category, it's all about the ship-sailing in the end. And although I'd learned quite a bit from reading far above my age level for all of my young life, I think my first real introduction to smut? Happened through the wonderful world of fanfiction.
Still, though...I've never mastered the art of smut. And I say that as someone about to be published in an erotica anthology. Ah, irony, my old friend...I have one of Mitzi's other anthologies around here somewhere, and though I haven't read all of it yet (I was distracted first by my Charlaine Harris marathon, and right now I'm on a Jacqueline Carey mission) I've read enough to think: "What on earth did she see in my work?" Not that I'm going to rock the boat by asking! ^_~ But, as I said, I read enough ship-fic for various OTPs I'd developed fixations on, and in the end I had to give it a whirl myself. But I discovered rather quickly that original or fanfic? I can't write PWP. Every time I tell a pair of characters to go and get it on, they...tell me a goddamned story.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, in the greater scheme of story-telling. Every scene should be relevant to a story's development, and the fact that I often set out to write two thousand words of smut and end up with a ten thousand word short story that explains to me in detail a significant event in someone's past or a cultural idosyncracity or spawns an entire novel...I suppose it's useful? Although it can be irritating with it, ha. I believe The Simple Story, which I sampled a bit in the last entry, started out that way; I think I just wanted Araben and Aleksandr to have a tender moment, considering the rather ballsed-up state of their relationship at the time. And I'm fairly certain the next story I'm going to share a snippet from, Together We Will Live Forever, was the same -- I wanted to find out something about Otho and Círa, and considering he was sent to "seduce" her in the beginning, I figured the bedroom was a relevant place to explore their dealings with one another. Currently the story is unfinished at fifteen thousand words and deals strongly in the histories not only of Círa and Otho, but of Ryennkar Vassidenel and Arosek Asfiye, and in the complicated machination of the personal and political relationship of Cydrac Agrane and his Second, Andorin Osideros.
And all I wanted was some smut. Dammit.
Still, with that said? I suppose I can take some comfort -- and evil glee, yes -- in knowing that I did once write a "short" story about Círa and Otho that is mostly an extended sex scene...although it also goes a long way towards explaining their estrangement at the time Kit Eryntalla meets them both. Of course, Kit's story? Is a young adult novel and therefore will never have this scene included. It still amuses me to know that it exists, mind you...
However, let us move on to this little bitlet from Together We Will Live Forever. Like most of my short stories, the title is a placeholder and merely borrowed from a song I happened to associate with its writing. You can hear it here; Clint Mansell's score is the real reason I finally watched Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain, and this song? Will always make me cry. It's about life, it's about death, but mostly? It's about love. And in the end, no matter what turns of the worlds join and split them asunder, that is really what matters most in the relationship between Otho Calenta, Major in the Crimson Ruby Division Northern Armies, and Círa DeCameiron, Ice Maiden of Aran Nomese and Lady of Greywater.
|Otho Calenta and Círa DeCameiron, as drawn by the lovely Neme-chan.|