By L.M. Somerton (Guest Blogger)I recently read an article by Susan Hill, author of The Woman in Black, about what makes a good ghost story. It made me wonder if the same principles would apply to an erotic ghost story. How do you create the atmosphere needed when the core of the tale is an MM romance?
It’s one thing to sit around a campfire spinning spooky yarns and controlling your audience with the drama of the moment. Unfortunately it’s not possible to rely on readers to create the appropriate atmosphere for themselves or to issue instructions in the preamble to the book:
- 1. Do not read unless you are situated in an appropriately spooky setting. E.g. graveyard, abandoned asylum, haunted house.
- 2. Weather must be atmospheric – fog, heavy rain, thunder and lightening are all acceptable.
- 3. Watch a really good horror film to get yourself in the right state of mind i.e. ready to jump out of your skin at the least provocation.
- 4. Switch off all lights and read with a torch.
I have to confess that when I wrote The Portrait I wasn’t consciously considering which elements would work when it came shivers of fear. I was more worried about shivers of desire between the two main characters. In either case there is a fine line between giving your readers a thrill and sending them into fits of laughter. How do you avoid the traps and pitfalls of stereotypes but still give your readers what they need to really feel the atmosphere you are trying to create? In this day and age we are exposed to every imaginable take on the supernatural. Films and computer games bring our worst fears to life at the touch of a button. Is it even possible to create that kind of atmosphere any more or are readers immune to anything that isn’t in 3D?
I think the same thing that makes a story erotic can make it scary. Imagination. It’s the author’s job to put the pieces in place, to lay the foundations for the reader to then build their own picture – to really see, hear and feel what the characters do.
By happy accident, many of the ‘required elements’ of a ghost story snuck their way into The Portrait, so all those 18th century gothic novels I’ve read must have been lurking in my sub-conscious. Hints of a spectral presence, unexplained noises and shadows, an old house where the memories of past horrors linger – they are all there, aided by the natural atmosphere provided by the wonderfully gloomy British weather.
It only takes the smallest hints and suggestions to capture an intelligent reader’s imagination and I think that works so much better than launching into a full-blown terror-ride from the first line. Shakespeare put it well in the Scottish play:
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
So if you like your erotica with a hint of the supernatural, I think you’ll enjoy The Portrait – here’s the blurb to tell you a bit more:
When Tristan Lindsay takes a job cataloguing the library at Faversham Park, home of rock star Marcus Balen, he also accepts a role as companion to Balen’s artist son Garrick.
Garrick is beautiful and talented, he’s also demanding and infuriating. He uses Tristan as an unwilling model, shamelessly manipulating the shy boy’s emotions to draw out his submissive tendencies.
Drawn in to the enigmatic artist’s world, Tristan discovers a side of himself that he didn’t realise existed. Afraid of his own feelings, he learns to trust Garrick and falls deeply in love.
But Garrick has a secret that could tear them apart. A ghostly rival objects to Tristan’s presence in Garrick’s life. As the spectre’s malevolence increases, the young lovers must search for clues to the haunting and find a way to exorcise the jealous ghost. What they find leads them down a path that challenges the dynamics of their relationship. Will their love be strong enough to overcome its supernatural opposition or will there be no happily ever after?
And a short excerpt to tempt you:
Garrick was bent over a large drawing board, skimming over creamy paper with a soft-leaded pencil. His strokes were confident and he was utterly focused on what he was doing. Suddenly he looked up, his breath steaming in the unnaturally cold air. He cringed and swiped at his neck, rubbing away the sensation of clammy fingers exploring his skin.
“Leave me alone.” His voice was tight with a tension that was mirrored in the set of his jaw. After just a few seconds, the temperature reverted to its normal level and Garrick relaxed with a sigh.
He sat back and took a critical look at the drawing in front of him. A perfect likeness of Tristan stared back and Garrick licked his lips. The image captured the expression that appeared on Tristan’s face every time Garrick looked at him—a cross between fear and desire. A calculating smile curled Garrick’s lips as he pinned the picture to the wall. “You’re mine, Tristan Lindsay. You just don’t know it yet.”
Order your copy of The Portrait by L. M. Somerton here: http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?P_ID=1902
Bio: Lucinda lives in a small village in the English countryside, surrounded by rolling hills, cows and sheep. She started writing to fill time between jobs and is now firmly and unashamedly addicted.
She loves the English weather, especially the rain, and adores a thunderstorm. She loves good food, warm company and a crackling fire. She’s fascinated by the psychology of relationships, especially between men, and her stories contain some subtle (and not so subtle) leanings towards BDSM.
You can read more about L.M. Somerton at her blog http://lmsomerton.wordpress.org or write to her at lmsomertom - at - aol.com.