I’m now working on the final rewrite of Blind-Sided, the sequel to In The Flesh and the second novel in Medusa’s Consortium Series. Like ITF, Blind-Sided has its share of demons, angels, vampires, and monsters — a real mash-up of fun, scary, sexies. But as the series unfolds, what continues to astound me is that, though I know the villain is to be avoided at all costs, like my heroine, I STILL want to shag him! And the truth of the matter is that in Blind-Sided, the dilemma of who the real monster is has been one of the highlights of writing the novel.
Our attraction to the villain is one of the wonderful contradiction that makes a great paranormal story — makes any great story actually. And the delicious and frightening opposite side of the paranormal coin is that as a reader, and a writer, I want to be almost as afraid of the hero as I am of the villain. I want to shag them both! Oh the angst! I honestly can’t think that anyone could really fall for a vampire or a werewolf or a demon or a powerful witch, or any other paranormal hero/heroine without being, at the same time, terrified. In fact just the right combination of fear and attraction is, in my opinion, one of the most powerful aphrodisiacs ever. I think it’s absolutely essential in a sexy paranormal story. A part of what makes good paranormal work for me is knowing that the hero or heroine could easily turn and destroy the very thing he or she loves and longs to possess. More often than not, the hero is little more than a villain, striving to be greater than his nature, and the more difficult the struggle, the more endearing I find him to be.
In fact, there are times when the only separation between the hero and the villain is how willing they are to do battle with their own flaws. Of course the battle with flaws is nothing but the age-old human struggle magnified and highlighted for the sake of the story. Few of us literally rip people’s throats out when we’re having a bad day, and most of us would be horrified if the love of our life did that before morning coffee. That niggle of fear, that edge of uncertainty is what raises the stakes, what raises the level of tension and excitement in a good paranormal story. The lover is not safe, and yet that danger makes the sex all the hotter and the angst all the angstier. In my opinion, it’s the lack of safety that makes paranormal romance so stimulating in those larger than life ways that are more difficult to achieve in ordinary romance, though are definitely brought into play in BDSM stories. In fact, I would suggest that BDSM, at least on some level, is in part, the desire to make our sexuality a little more dangerous, a little more edgy, in the absence of demon lovers and vampires. The whole sexy, super-heated, blow-your-mind purpose of good paranormal erotica is to make totally dangerous sex and plunging-off-a-cliff romance a vicarious possibility for the reader. The possibility of vicariously loving something wild and untamed, even unnatural, can make for a gripping read.
I remember seeing Frank Langella’s Dracula back in the day and thinking, as I panted my way through the horribly delicious scene in which Dracula seduces Lucy, that even with the terrible truth of what the end result of his sexy attentiveness to her will be, who could possibly have refused, even if they hadn’t been under his thrall? He was a gentleman, he was charming and mysterious, he was hypnotic, he was gorgeous, he was terrifying. And I wanted him!
In the paranormal realm, one good fuck may be all you ever get, but it will damn well be worth it! Give us a demon, whose power is lust, whose sensuality is deadly, a vampire who is terrified he may just rip his lover’s throat out in his passion, a succubus who can bring her lover to exquisite ecstasy but at the risk of stealing his life force. Oh yes! Bring it on! In paranormal romance, that edge of ecstasy, that infatuation that may well be deadly, is drawn out to a thin dangerous edge and, as readers, we get to ride the edge, wondering if there will be pleasure or death or both. I get goose bumps just thinking about that moment when le petit mort could very easily end in the real thing!
I love the paranormal contrast of light and darkness and the way the two are blended. After all there’s only awareness of one in the presence of the other. I think the balance of fear and lust and the highlighting of flaws through otherness, done well, is the making of a good paranormal romance. Conflict is the main ingredient of any good story, and when a story is paranormal, there is, by the nature of the beast, or the witch, more room for more conflict. And that’s a big part of the fun. Wanting what we know is very bad for us while at the same time not trusting what might be good for us keeps us on that delicious edge that, in every good story, pulls us forward, makes us fantasize and lust and speculate. And seeing the characters in a paranormal novel get exactly the thing that both attracts them and terrifies them is part of what makes paranormal so outrageously hot.