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Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Truth Really is Stranger than Fiction

Friends and readers have asked me if writing paranormal stories is hard, if I have trouble making my imaginary world believable and consistent.

That’s a tough question to answer. I wouldn’t want to say it’s easy to keep the details of my worlds straight. My two current series, the Seasons of Sorania Cycle (Phaze) and Duals and Donovans: The Different (Samhain), both rely heavily on sex magic and have witch characters. Keeping the magical systems, special terminologies and invented religions clearly delineated for the two very different worlds (one technologically similar to the Roman Empire, one very like our world, only with magic and shape-shifters) can be tricky.

Believability, though, is another question. Sometimes it’s easier to make a completely imaginary world believable than it is to encompass all the weirdness of real life.

If you pick up a book knowing the heroine’s a witch, or the hero’s a shape-shifter, or the gods themselves may be meddling with the characters’ destiny, you’ve already agreed to enter a world that isn’t the one outside your door. My next Duals and Donovans book, Foxes’ Den (due out in September from Samhain) involves a male witch and a shapeshifting fox dual who work together to save a cursed kitsune, an immortal Japanese fox-spirit who’s an avatar of their deity Trickster. With that set-up, you expect the unexpected and bank on events being more than a little weird, even if it starts out in the very real city of Portland, Oregon.

But if you’re reading a straight contemporary tale, you expect things to be a little closer to your everyday experience. That’s why I find contemporary romance, tales of everyday life writ large, incredibly hard to write. Real life doesn’t operate on consistent rules like I can set up for my imaginary worlds, and real human “heroes and heroines” may be far more unusual and unexpected than any fictional vampire, were-critter or genie. If you picked up a book with a blind hero who’d climbed Mount Everest, you might think it was stretching credibility. Climber Erik Weihenmayer, however, is very real and quite the inspiration. For that matter, so is my blind friend Randy, who isn’t quite up to ascending Everest yet, but is planning an assault on treacherous Mount Washington in New Hampshire as part of a larger charity project. Check out this link if you get a chance and be sure to leave a comment. (If you decide you need to create a blind mountain-climber hero after checking out these sites, be sure to thank me in your credits.)

How about a male specialist in Elizabethan embroidery whose real job is doing classified, scary stuff for a government agency he’s not allowed to specify? Or a burlesque dancer with an Ivy League graduate degree in classical archeology, who reads Latin erotic poetry wearing nothing but a few strategically placed spangles as part of her act? I know ‘em both. (If you’re getting the impression my friends are an eclectic bunch, you’re right.) I’d find a female civil engineer in a historical set during World War II a little hard to swallow except my grandmother was one. All the men kept getting drafted, and one day they realized their office manager was a genius at math and spatial relations.

People seem to be impressed by the “world-building” involved in fantasy or paranormal books, but the real world is far bigger, more complex, and more confusing. Authors who can take that complexity and make it coherent—when real life so rarely is—have my undying respect.

As for me, I’ll stick to my imaginary worlds, where I create the rules of reality! Here’s a taste, from Lions’ Pride (Duals and Donovans: The Different, book 1). Lion dual Jude been drugged by the bad guys and is near death. His wife Elissa and their friend—soon to be lover—Rafe have pulled him into the Otherworld to work some healing magic.

Elissa's lips tasted of green and cinnamon, of life itself burgeoning, and his cock swelled in response. But there was an undertaste, one hauntingly familiar but not right.

Pine and forest smells, like the air around them, amber and male feline musk. For all it didn’t belong around his woman, let alone on his woman’s lips, it went straight to his cock and balls, adding to his desire. He ached sweetly for things he hadn’t known, had barely dared to imagine.

A hand gripped his shoulder, large and heated and firm. Not a threat, but a gift, he sensed. The scent of sage, already on the wind, already on Elissa, grew stronger.

Reluctantly, he turned from Elissa.

Into Rafe’s waiting arms.

Rafe stood, fully human, naked as Jude himself. He was shorter than Jude, but strong, muscled. Perfect copper abs tapered to narrow hips and a cock Jude felt hard against him, but didn’t dare to look at.

Instead, he met the other man’s eyes and saw the cougar, tawny and alert and curious, in the same spot where the human-seeming Rafe stood. The lion responded as he would to a beautiful lioness, or to the lioness the lion perceived Elissa to be despite her human body.

All kinds of questions rambled through his head, too many to ask.

“We’ve found you,” Elissa said. She pressed against him, her arms around his waist, her breasts soft against his back. “We’re going to get you out, my heart. No matter what.”

“Elissa…” He tried to turn, to look into her eyes, to tell her not to risk herself. That he’d be fine—even though he had no idea how he would be, poisoned and imprisoned and in the kind of pain that would eventually break his mind.

Rafe had left his hand resting on Jude’s shoulder as if it was the most natural thing on earth. He placed the other over Elissa’s on Jude’s hip, so his fingertips brushed Jude’s skin, the sensitive low belly, perilously near Jude’s swollen dick.

His cock felt huge, treelike. On fire with need. Wrong, yet so right. Elissa’s cunt was its natural home, but he felt an equal pull toward Rafe’s lush mouth and firm, elegant ass.

The air throbbed with the smell of herbs and pears and pine and fur, of male and female musk. Jude closed his eyes, trying to shut out some of the stimuli, but this was a dream and the sight of Rafe, of Elissa, of the two of them touching him and each other, burned through his eyelids.

“Rafe, what are you doing in my dream?” Jude finally stammered. He’d meant it to sound accusing, but it came out plaintive and eager, as if he’d been yearning for Rafe to be there for so long he’d given up hope.

“This,” Rafe said, and reached up to kiss him.

OK, you can find hot guys kissing in the real world, but I like it even better with all the magical bits.

Teresa Noelle Roberts writes erotic paranormal romances, short erotic fiction, and the occasional fantasy and poem, all only skirting consensual reality. Under the name Sophie Mouette, she and her coauthor write sexy contemporaries with enough strange plot twists, wacky secondary characters and odd pets that they might as well be set in alternate worlds.

When she’s not writing, she can be found growing vegetables and flowers, exploring New England (especially the parts near the water), accumulating yarn and books, and enjoying the company of her husband and cats. Oh, and crunching numbers at a day job, but that’s not very interesting. (under construction, but stop by anyway)

Phaze author page

Samhain author page

Teresa loves new Facebook friends! Find her at (you guessed it) Teresa Noelle Roberts


BrennaLyons said...

I have friends much like your friends, and I'm always fond of saying: "If I put that in one of my books, no one would believe it." Sigh. I can most definitely relate here.


Andrea I said...

It's nice to find a new author with good books to check out.

GPS said...

I'd much rather write about the paranormal world. That's the joy of reading a book - immersing yourself in a whole new world.

Chloe Waits said...

Great post Teresa!
I write paranormal and contemporary so I understand your comments on both!

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

@Andrea--thank you!

@ GPS: I agree, although a contemporary that deals with an unfamiliar slice of reality can do the same thing.

@ Chloe

@ Brenna--It wouldn't surprise me if we knew some of the same people.

To top it off, I'm actually friends with that urban fantasy heroine who's five-foot-nothing, quirkily hot, and has multiple black belts. In case of a zombie invasion, I'm hiding behind her because she's sure to develop handy magical powers.