Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Writing from the Middle: Getting Your Swirl On!

By Xakara (Guest Blogger)

Greetings, Kittens! First, I’d like to congratulate Lisabet on her win at Whipped Cream with BODIES OF LIGHT. I can’t wait to read it and spend time with Christine, Alyn and Zed, (hint, hint). Thank you for having me here today!

It’s been a whirlwind of interviews and guest blogs recently as I prepared for my July 4th release of DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT (PsiCorps Book 2). Having to approached the same subject several times over a short period, left me with a wonderful opportunity to cover so many of the themes explored in my PsiCorps Chronicles and My Therian World series. When I looked at the options before me, I decided on an ongoing feature discussing what it means to write Bisexual fiction in an industry specifically geared towards MF and MM romance. It opened up a stream of consciousness on everything from the marketing aspects, to the erotic components in MMF romance and “Writing From the Middle” was born. Much to my delight, with only two entries out in the world, Writing From the Middle will become a regular feature at Queer Magazine Online the third Saturday of each month as part of the weekly, Masters of Passion series.

The idea worked so well for my rambling mind, I knew it would make a perfect vehicle for discussing the new book as well, or more accurately, the series of books. In a general post, I covered the issue of marketing MMF when you don’t want to be quiet about the bisexual content. In the context of my PsiCorps Chronicles, on Monday, I discussed what it means when I say I write Bi/Pan/Poly fiction. Today, I’d like to get into the idea of adding a little chocolate to the otherwise vanilla landscape of romance. Yes, Kittens, today we’re getting our swirl on and talking the perception of kink in my PsiCorps series.

The most interesting thing about kink in romance from an author’s perspective, is that it’s less about what you thought you wrote and more about what the reader sat down and read. I write ménage exclusively and it wasn’t until I began to publish that I learned that ménage is considered kink all on it’s own. If you had been asked me to list the kinks I explore in my work, I would have never listed ménage as one of them. I accepted that it wasn’t mainstream vanilla, but I considered it French Vanilla at most—covered in caramel sauce, if the boy parts touched. Imagine my surprise to learn it was shelved with the hottest of erotic romance and considered daring and explicit. Heterosexual, monogamous bondage is less outside the lines than putting three characters in bed and having them all enjoy each other equally. Who knew? Suddenly my French Vanilla was revealed as someone else’s Rocky Road.

Nothing to do but to embrace it.

GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST (PsiCorps #1), was my first foursome. It wasn’t intentional, the third guy just snuck up on me and I was too in love to turn him away. Because it deals with psychics, it opened up an entire network of paths that I don’t think I would have otherwise explored. The Riley character has a deep affinity for the mingled taste of arousal and fear, of pleasure riding shotgun with pain and the conflict of someone wanting more, even as the hind-brain says to flee. It’s a very sensual experience and very primal because it can all take place without any physical exchange. It’s mental and therefore immediately intimate and all encompassing. I don’t ever label this in book one. In book two, DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT, it’s referred to as an “alleged pain kink”, which is corrected to “a dominance kink”. But in the end, it’s all summed up with the term "vampire", the nickname for Riley’s type of Psi. One that comes to have a much deeper meaning than anyone had given credit.

Later on, in Dawn’s Early Light, there’s a glimpse of Ajay’s submissive side, but again this is never labeled or carved in stone, and his moment is born of a persistent seduction on his part. He’s coy and receptive, but he’s clearly guiding the situation to the outcome he wants. He’s offered up the illusion of power, but firmly kept the reigns of control. This too, is part of his Psi-Vamp goodness.

In the opening chapter of Ghost of Christmas Past, Torrin and Quintus have a similar encounter. Torrin has very clear control in the situation, but it’s Quintus who uses power to bring things to bear when the moment comes up. Later in Dawn’s Early Light, Torrin again takes clear control in a sexual situation, but freely admits he has no power over the ultimate outcome. He can only maneuver that moment to become what he needs it to be, to make peace with whatever comes next.

Despite the sensation play and subtle flow between dominant and submissive dynamics, these are in no way BDSM books. The flavor, the tone, the actions, and the story simply don’t qualify. In fact, the first examples of Riley and Ajay are changed by the use of the term vampire and fall firmly under that particular subset of kinks. Although I didn’t actually catch that to be honest. Yes, I freely admit that I use the term vampire liberally throughout Dawn’s Early Light and there’s a good deal of biting threats and oral fixation explanations, and it’s even used in my content warming. But with the complete lack of blood, I didn’t realize it was a vampire book until it was tweeted as such by someone else. Honest to blog!

And this is what we’re talking about! The book I thought I wrote and the book actually being read, are not entirely the same entity, so I’m left to take everyone’s word on it. You tell me the foursome in Ghost of Christmas Past is kinky, or that Dawn’s Early Light is a D/s tinted vampire book, I’m good with it. I think we all need a little chocolate in our vanilla from time to time and my subconscious obviously agrees. And if the all-male threesome with all the biting and marking, or the pregnant cunnilingus scene mean I’ve passed soft serve chocolate-vanilla swirl and gone into cookies and cream. I’m good with that too. In fact, if contemporary heterosexual monogamous romances are the vanilla standard, and say multi-partner gay sado-masochism is Death by Chocolate, I think Cookies and Cream might be just the place for me. Although I admit, the third PsiCorps book...Coffee Toffee Crunch, definitely!

When do you decide an element in a book in kinky? Is it anything unfamiliar? Something your recognize from being told? Something that mirrors your own kinks? Any time there’s more than two? Or if it’s not on the BDSM shelf, is it automatically vanilla no matter how many people are involved? Let me know. This will be the last giveaway until the end of the month, so leave a comment and an email or alternate contact option. Good luck and thanks for reading.

Ghost of Christmas Past

Available from Liquid Silver Books

Blurb: Four years after being gunned down by the city's most infamous crime boss, Empath and PsiCorps Agent Torrin St. James wakes from a coma to find that he's seemingly lost everything. Entered into the WitSecPsi program, as part of his cover Torrin is believed dead by the members of his psychic Triad, Resonance Partner Riley Valin and Psi Anchor Sky Roarke--his fiancé. Faced with nothing but the cold comfort of justice in testifying against the crime boss, Torrin convinces his Handler Quintus to help him barter his cooperation for a chance to break protocol and see Sky and Riley before the trial.

Two days before Christmas, in a secure safe house hours outside the city, PsiCorps makes arrangements for Torrin to see the two people he loves the most. It's everything Torrin's wanted from the moment he opened his eyes, but when the time finally comes he's left to face a multitude of truths and a symphony of sorrows. After four years the loves of his life have moved on, his Handler Quintus has been keeping secrets, and there's a high-level leak in the agency he's given his life to. The entire world has turned upside down and Torrin doesn't know if he has the right to fix it, but he's about to find out. Isolated in a safe house, under the worst storm of the season and no way to turn back, he'll learn if their feelings for each other are still passion incarnate or if he's just a ghost from Christmas past.

Contains: Psychic sensation play, same-gender making out, differing-gender making out, M/M/M/F foursome, polyamorous HEA

Dawn's Early Light

Available from Liquid Silver Books

Blurb: U.S. Marshal Mackenzie Matthews has spent the last six months on the most important witness protection assignment of his career--protecting PsiCorps’ own. The four agents under his care in the program have always had his admiration, but now, under such close quarters, they’ve earned his affections as well. Bonds formed after a dramatic showdown on Christmas Eve, and the concerted efforts in its wake to build a sense of normalcy around his pregnant charge, has Mackenzie the happiest he’s been in years and the most frightened.

To push for more not only questions his integrity as the lead marshal on the case, but it threatens the surrogate family that has engulfed him in a sense of home. Mackenzie is the only one that can see the danger in every step he takes--so he stands in place. He soon learns that he’s the only one not willing to move forward. In a whirlwind of revelation as the country celebrates the stars and stripes, Mackenzie is faced with what it means to truly be free. He’ll learn that sometimes no amount of caution can save you from what’s meant to be. Sometimes, no matter how deeply you bury secret desires in the darkness, it takes but a single kiss to reveal it all by the dawn’s early light.

Contains: Psychic Vampire seduction, all male ménage, M/F oral fixation and bloodless biting to spare.

Bio: Xakara is an openly Bisexual author of erotic poly paranormal fiction, with an emphasis on bisexual and sexually fluid characters and cultures within her work. Real life culture clash is at the forefront as she’s left the Midwest and is a new transplant to beautiful New Mexico. She lives overlooking the Sandia mountains with her long time sweetie and a handful of friends that are like family.

Equally splitting her time between the worlds in her head and the world around her, she manages to find her way through life with a smile and zen-vibe that carries her and her heroines through the tough times. She smiles every time she tells someone she knows that she writes erotic paranormal fiction, and they reply, "I always knew you would".

Becoming a paranormal romance author was a happy accident when she chose to write a short novella to clear her mind of edits on her first urban fantasy novel. Now she finds she enjoys the focus on the relationships and loves traversing the two genres, and finding new ways to define both.

She always loves to talk to fans and new friends and can be found several places, waiting to catch up.

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Email: Xakara [at] Xakara.com

13 comments:

Lisabet Sarai said...

Greetings, Xakara!

Welcome to Beyond Romance. How could I not love an author who greets her readers as "Kittens"? ;^)

I've never considered menage to be kinky. It feels quite natural to me. Like you, I'm bisexual and I've felt constrained by the hostility that F/F encounters seem to generate in the romance community. I'd be interested in your experiences - are your bisexual books selling well?

Actually, it sounds like your work would be just what I like!

Thanks for being my guest.

Lisabet Sarai said...

P.S. - Congratulations on your release last Monday!

xakara said...

I couldn't have been more stunned to be told that menage was considered kink and super erotic. I still can't see it that way personally, but I acknowledge that's how the industry looks at it.

All four of my current contracted works only have male bisexuality. PsiCorps 3 has F/F, as does my next Therian World novel, so I haven't had to face the hostility directly yet, but it's coming. I have seen it in the lack of finding places that take F/F and the arguments that it simply doesn't sell, particularly for anthologies. But I'm noticing more FFM coming out and I'm fortunate that my current publishers don't seem to care. I am left to wonder why the romance community as a whole doesn't seem accepting yet. The embrace of M/M makes the F/F phobia seem even stranger.

Suzanne Graham said...

As an author who has written F/F, I agree that the perception is that women don't want to read it. Really? As a bisexual, I would like to see more of it.

Thanks for a great blog, Xakara! Your books sound fantastic.

xakara said...

You're welcome, Suzanne, and thank you for commenting!

I'm amazed each time someone swears that there's no readership for FFM or F/F. Writers are also readers and I know a great deal of bisexual writers who want to see more F/F in all configurations.

I was actually discouraged in conversation with an editor, (not mine), from writing a MMFF, where two couples fall in love. I was told that four was too many, (Ghost of Christmas Past is a foursome and doing fine), and that no one wanted a F/F scene outside of lesfic,(aside from us apparently), and lesbian readers wouldn't buy it because of the M/F scenes.

It's a struggle, one I hope to get more dialogue on here soon.

~X

Elizabeth Silver said...

Menage is definitely its own kink. I've found that certain people specifically seek it out, like others do BDSM (to pick a big one), AND they tend to get very particular about the way pairings work out. Go figure right?

I especially love how you said what you thought you wrote isn't necessarily what the readers read. Life, and writing, is all about walking that fine line between perception and intention!

Alix said...

Fantastic article. A great insight to a great mind. Thank you very much.

C. Rhys said...

As a bisexual woman who writes f/f and m/f/f, I agree! There needs to be more f/f in this world! :) And more m/f/f. None of this m/m/f stuff, though. Two cocks is too many for a little girl like me. ;)

xakara said...

Elizabeth,

I know people are drawn to menage, but I never knew it was a kink. You should have seen my face. I spent an entire day walking around going, "Really?, But, really, really?". It was a trip.

But it's always interesting to listen to someone and get back what they read, versus what I thought I wrote. It's a trip.

xakara said...

Alix,

Thank you. You are just made of awesome!

xakara said...

C. Rhys,

No, no, you can't knock MMF, I write MMF primarily, of course, what you describe is MFM, in that configuration, both are for the woman. In MMF, they men can entertain each other, no need to try to take two at once if you're not up to it. *wink*

But definitely, more FFM! I want more folks showing up to put the B in LGBTQ.

Mara said...

I just wrote a really involded post and blogger ate it and did not spit it out!! When will I learn to make a copy of my post in cae blogger messes up?
Oh, well. Here's the gist of what I wanted to say. I agree that kink is in the eye of the beholder and is based on what someone wants to do, but maybe isn't ready to make it happen. I know that's how it goes for me. As I explore the world of BDSM (unfortunately - I don;t know where to explore it in person yet. But I live in NYC so I know it abounds!) through writers who are part of that world, I am getting a better sense of what my kinks are and how far I'd be willing to go if I find the right (read: safe)place to play.
I hope I win Dawn's Early Light - that would make it a twofer win from you this week.
Tanks again,
Mara

xakara said...

Hey Mara!

Since you already won once, I'll give you a second entry in this drawing, just because it would be cool! :)

I do agree that books are a great way to explore things you don't quite have names and discover kinks you didn't know you had. I think it's one of the reasons that the romance community should be less rigid in what it's willing to embrace. Until you read it and live in it for a few minutes, there's no way to know for sure how you feel about it.

Thanks for commenting :)

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