Why on earth are you writing erotic epic fantasy?
We get asked this question a lot when we tell friends and family what we’re doing, so we thought we’d take a few minutes to inaugurate our new blog by talking about why we write what we do, as well as some of our plans for the future.
There’s no doubt that the erotic plays a very fundamental part in a lot of epic fantasy, though not always in an obvious way. Sometimes, of course, it is an explicit part of the narrative, as is the case with Jacqueline Carey’s excellent Kushiel series. Other times, though, it’s more subtle, often cloaked in the more respectable guise of the romance subplot that is almost (though not always) a key part of any hero’s journey. Who would deny that the erotic is a part of Robert Jordan’s enormously successful Wheel of Times series. Just because it’s submerged beneath (rather juvenile) romantic elements doesn’t mean that it’s not important. And, of course, there’s all the sexy bits of A Song of Ice and Fire–and on its HBO counterpart Game of Thrones–but that more often slips into the merely prurient.
What we want to do is to bring this awareness out into the open, to explore in an honest, frank way the ways in which sexuality affects human nature and behaviour while also exploring the themes familiar to any fan of high and epic fantasy: the nature of heroism, of good and evil, of the power of the individual to effect change in a cosmically huge and sometimes indifferent universe. We want to engage all parts of your mind, your heart, and your body, and bringing erotica and epic together allows us to do this.
Let’s be clear, here. Our work is going to be sexually explicit. There’ll be no beating about the bush with us. However, our novellas will about more than sex; you’ll find yourself immersed in the typical fantasy world, with its own history, religion, peoples, and mores. There will be gods and goddesses, priests and kings and emperors, poets and singers and peasants. And all of them, from the highest to the lowest, is going to be having a lot of sex. You’re going to find yourself immersed in all of the pleasures that these two genres offer their readers, and we fervently hope that you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoy writing them.
Though it might seem strange to say so, epic and erotica actually have a lot in common. Both modes tell us something about how we live, how we love, and how we look at the world or, conversely, how ewe would like to do these things if only we weren’t beset by limitations of all sorts. They both immerse the reader in a world where the normal rules that bind us do not apply, where people can engage in magical escapades and sexy goings-on (sometimes) without fear of reprisal. Both reflect and refract the world that we actually live in, allowing a safe space to explore vexing questions that cannot always be addressed directly in the real world.
And both, it is worth pointing out, are immensely popular, even if people are ashamed to say that they like either of them in polite company. No one wants to admit that they read erotica, both because as a culture we still struggle to talk in a mature way about sex (and about having it) and because I strongly suspect that it’s seen as inherently feminine (and thus not worth taking seriously and certainly not worth bragging about reading to one’s intellectual acquaintances). Fantasy, likewise, has always struggled to get a fair shake as a work of serious writing
The other question a lot of other people ask is: why the novella? Isn’t the short form antithetical to the genre of the epic?
Well, to that we say: yes, and no. Sure, epic has an enormous scope, a great canvas upon which the writer can sketch the grand cosmic conflicts that are at the heart of the genre and its pleasures. But we also think that sometimes the expected length of an epic can be a limitation, and it can encourage writers to pad, either with plot threads that end up going nowhere or in reams and reams of description that end up being skimmed rather than savoured.
So, we believe that the shorter form of the novella allows us the flexibility to write both self-contained narratives while also contributing to some part of a greater whole. Each of the planned novellas that we’re writing can be read in isolation, though obviously we hope that those who read one will find themselves devouring more and more of the other entries in the series. The novella has experienced something of resurgence in popularity at the moment, and we believe this is because of its strengths as a form.
Think of it this way: it’s like a really solidly-written television drama, in which each episode functions as both part and whole (as the TV critic Emily Nussbaum recently point it). There will obviously be narrative through-lines that run from beginning to end, but you’ll be able to dip your toe in at any point and enjoy an entry. To put it in TV parlance–which seems to us the nearest equivalent–we’re trying to straddle the line between episodic and serial narrative. We rely on you to tell us how successful we are in this effort.
The series, and this website, and in fact our entire apparatus as writers, is still very much in its fledgeling stage, but we really do look forward to engaging with our readers as we explore this new world that we’ve created. We’ll be updating this website fairly often, so continue to check back to see what we’re up to. Mostly, we’ll be chatting about writing and doing book reviews of our favourite fantasy and erotica. At some point, we hope to launch a separate website devoted exclusively to this world we’ve created.
There’s lots in store. We hope you’ll join us!
Kellen and KC