Ugly. Inside and out. A nutshell. That’s Maxine. The pleasure I got from making such a repulsive character for my book was absolutely exquisite. It was a new and wonderful experience. I’d definitely do it again!
When it comes to writing novels, male characters fit ‘ugly’ much easier. And, as long as there’s a redeeming counter-force, readers don’t usually give Mr Ugly a second thought about his ‘ugliness’. He was made that way and it’s okay. Giving ‘ugly’ traits to a female character in modern fiction is risky. Many of us want to protect femininity at all costs. Putting a flawed female upfront defies logic. Women should be empowered. They are to be seen as an uplifting force in a world long fractured by outdated patriarchy. Vulgar female behavior doesn’t exist today and, if it does, it doesn’t need discussing.
Wrong. It does.
I’ve met vile females. They do exist. Regardless of what society thinks about the matter of bringing the bitch to the page, she is a very real person. She’s a shitty individual. The she-narcissist lives amongst us — and she’s definitely worth mentioning. I wrote Maxine until I birthed her into life, and then I wrote until she was dead and buried. As a nod to feminism, I conceded to one thing when writing about this obnoxious super bitch: Her name. When it’s shortened, a man appears in its place.
I don’t apologise for creating this royal pain in-the-ass. I’m just glad to have had so much fun making and breaking her, using her demise to take charge of a much larger story. Her corpse was used to lay an original path for readers to walk. Now tread slowly and read where it goes and why I set up Maxine up to fail.
Dark fiction does heroes a great big favour. Without a certain kind of evil to rise to the occasion, heroes can’t develop into what they are meant to become. Thank God for the darker elements of humanity and the baddest of bad-boys (or girls) to show us and our hero the way into the light.
What about the reverse storyline, y’know, the one where an ordinary hero loses to a fantastic villain, with evil winning the day and taking readers to the dark side?
Too hard to envision?
I could talk about mind-traits blocking the path to enlightenment — how our brains are wired to find the happy-ever-afters in the stories we hear and read. I’d include something about existentialism’s desire to fix problems whenever it sees a breakage in itself, but that’s not my job. Writing is my thing. My work is to tease out intriguing plots from ideas and turning long strings of words into entertainment. Dark fiction is my life. I live and breathe it. My quest is to create a villain who can be loved and hated with equal measure, with the reader accepting evil by the final page.
Are we talking of monsters, witches and the supernatural?
The only monster my writing contains is the one each of us carry around inside us. It dwells beneath an old part of our subconsciousness, and it just happens to be the most dangerous. If the conditions are right, this inner-creature is capable of broaching the upper-consciousness, reaching the surface and making it into this world. If you believe this is possible, then you too can accept the kind of evil I write.
SEETHINGSincludes storms. Some are seen, others are felt. When they meet, a murder takes place. Police recognise the timing, but there are few other clues. It’s a mystery, but the greater mystery is why. The answer is deeply unsettling. It’s a crime that could’ve been committed by anyone. Even you.
Vanilla eroticism is known for its predictable plots. Romantics call them happy-ever-afters. Outcomes are expected. Clichéd plots are guaranteed. Someone’s manly chest meets someone’s perfect eyes and hair, and only names and situations change. Couples find their right type of Utopia by The End. Nice. Boring.
Neo-noir erotica is edgier than it’s softer counterparts. It’s arousing and unsettling. A narrative rarely takes a clichéd path or closes the way you’d expect an erotica-story to end. Love, justice, righteousness, good-over-bad, a love-that-conquers-all plot courses don’t easily fit into this genre, not in a conventional way anyway. If you go looking for a HEA, you may find one, but you’ll need to skew your head sideways to see it. Sex is used to tell a broader, deep-seated story from our darker sides. That side seeks a happy-ever-after too and it’s version isn’t so obvious, much less accepted.
When writing SEETHINGS, I purposely lured the reader into my book with a conventional approach to eroticism and then reshaped it. Okay, that part’s easy to digest. It allows this writer’s text to earn some keep. The characters then move together, feeding off their lusts and fears, devouring each other like lovers do — but then one oversteps the mark and a shadow climbs into bed with them. Something is wrong. Sex is in the story, but it’s not always its motive.
Every word in this chapter was crafted to get our lovers together, driven by what drives lust. It’s passionate and electric. It flows well, and I’m proud of how arousing it turned out to be. My toes curl a little thinking about it. The challenge was adding a third character and spoiling the natural order of things. That shadow I mentioned earlier in this post? Working it into the couple’s intimacy was a real challenge. The ending is kind of happy — foran unseen shadow. What about our lovers?
Read SEETHINGSnow to unsettle all your thoughts on traditional erotica.
“Forman’s writing style is artful, with the protagonist Mitchell’s warped thought processes masterfully exposed. The author has a powerful and vivid command of language, and his word pictures are stark and disturbingly real.”
– Linda J Bettenay, author of ‘Secrets Mothers Keep’ and ‘Wishes For Starlight’.