Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Heart of the Dragon

I've mentioned before that one of my listeners suggested I read some paranormal romances. So this week, after reading Allan Steele's Galaxy Blues, I picked up Gena Showalter's Heart of the Dragon.

It's a bit of rollercoaster ride switching from sci fi to paranormal romance, but also a bit enlightening. Steel introduces his main characters by their actions. Gena introduces hers by their emotions. Steel describes his character's escape from a space ship with detailed descriptions of the character's actions supported by his thoughts about those actions. Showalter's characters spend the first few chapters fighting unexpected sexual attraction and arousal. Their passion and their reactions to that passion are the main focus of her writing.

As a man, of course, I find it more enjoyable to read about space ships and alien encounters. But I did learn something very interesting from reading Heart of the Dragon. Showalter's characters experience intense sexual desire beyond their understanding or their control; as if their bodies had already decided to mate, and it just took a while for their minds to catch up. The overwhelming intensity of their passion made them feel more alive than anything else in their lives. The whole story reminds me of forced arousal sexual fantasies.

In these fantasies, a lover/seducer arouses your body beyond your control. No matter how hard you try to fight it, your body becomes driven by mind-numbing arousal, and all you can do is lay back and surrender until your body gets what it needs. There are at least two differences: 1) in sexual fantasies one person is deliberately trying to arouse the other, where Showalter has both characters fighting a mutual desire, and 2) in a sexual fantasy, it usually only takes a few pages for the seduced to be overcome, and Showalter's characters require most of a novel. But the primary plot is still about fighting your own body's desire.

When I wrote Demon Seed, I wrote it as a forced arousal fantasy. And I had thought (foolish man that I am) that this genre was completely separate/different than romance stories. But now I understand why my listener said the recording would appeal to readers of romance novels. Although the storytelling styles are somewhat different, the genres do overlap.