Obsession, n.[L. obsessio]
2. The state of being besieged; - used specifically of a person beset by a spirit from without.
Back in the Olden Days it was easy writing for Black Lace …
Then we knew we were writing about sex. Hard-edged, transgressive, no-holds-barred, call-a-cunt-a-cunt sex that would get women hot and wet and breathless. Romance was irrelevant: this was Black Lace, not Mills & Boon. Our male characters could be handsome or ugly, attractive or repulsive, kind or cruel, comforting or provoking or downright frightening, just so long as they were, within that situation, finger-lickin’ hot. Hell, they didn’t even have to be human, or alive – In Cruel Enchantment I wrote sex with a dragon and with the walking dead (I wouldn’t get away with those nowadays, believe me).
So keen was I to avoid being seen to write about Love, as opposed to Sex, that even in situations where it was completely appropriate I wouldn’t mention it. It’s obvious to readers of Divine Torment that the two main characters are wildly in love, but I never once use the L-Word.
Everything changes … Nowadays romance is In and characters should live happily-ever-after together … eventually. I am actually very happy with the new paradigm (at least when I’m writing longer pieces of fiction) - partly because any character, male or female, who can shag their way through 80,000 words without ever becoming emotionally involved is one that I’m likely to find a bit repellent. Partly because there just isn’t anything more erotic than the experience of falling head over heels, obsessively, truly-madly-deeply in love. But it does result in some challenges for the writer...
First, you’ve got to make your male characters actually worthy of more than a one-night-stand. Not always easy: a pretty face and a big cock just aren’t enough.
And then there’s the emotional involvement… After all, I’m (mostly) writing about how a female character falls for a male. There’s the authorly obligation to write sincerely, and to feel what the character is feeling. Which means, since I’m currently working on two novellas plus a novel with rival male heroes, that at the moment I have to be hopelessly in love with four different fictional blokes: a werebear, a ginger eco-warrior, a Crowleyan chaos magician and a king of ancient Sumer… The hormonal overload can be painful at times. I catch myself watching eagerly in crowded areas for someone who doesn’t actually exist to turn up and meet me. And poor Mr Ashbless has to put up with me moping tragically around the house with a haunted look in my eyes and waking up at 3am for furtive liaisons with my computer.
Sometimes you just want to flee to the Arctic to get away from it all.
So, ’fess up, you writers – or is it just me?
Will anyone admit to Faking It instead – writing a hero they secretly found risible or boring?
Readers; it’s easy to fall for a fictional character you can see on screen, but do you ever get a real crush on a man who only exists in writing?
I’d love to know…
Janine Ashbless on Amazon.co.uk