naomi_jay: (by the sea)
[personal profile] naomi_jay
One thing all the adult paranormal romance novels I've ever read have had in common is sex. Whether the heroine is a virgin or experienced, young or old, short or tall or whatever, somewhere over the course of the book, she'll have sex. It's a romance after all, and sex is the culmination of the romantic journey the heroine and hero go on throughout the novel. It's natural, it's expected, it's fun.

And it doesn't happen in THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE. Evanthe and Morrow never have sex.

Oh, they did in the first draft. But it felt misplaced and a little seedy. Evanthe had just fought off a zombie. She'd been badly bitten. She needed stitches and medical attention. And yet I decided in the first draft this would be the perfect time for her and Morrow to get hot and heavy. *shudders* Nothing says "romance" like a zombie attack.

The other problem with that original sex scene is the characters themselves. Evanthe is young (twenty). Morrow is...not. He's pretty resistant to the idea of them entering a relationship for that reason alone (although when you read the novella you'll see there are other reasons). For him to suddenly decide that right then and there was the moment he went from mentor to lover felt...skeevy. When I read back on the sex scene, it felt inappropriate for these characters. Yes, Evanthe wants to be with Morrow, but she's young, inexperienced, and vulnerable. And yes, Morrow wants to be with Evanthe, but he knows she's young, inexperienced and vulnerable and he knows he's...not. On a second take, the scene felt dirty in the wrong way.

So I cut it out. I wanted to show two characters discovering and admitting their true feelings in the NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE, but I wanted that discovery to be natural and unhurried. And frankly, admist everything else going on - forbidden spells, rogue zombies, idiot demonologists with horrible cars - a sex scene would have been ridiculous. In a novella there isn't the time for anything that doesn't move the plot along, and Evanthe and Morrow stopping to have sex wouldn't have contributed to the plot.

That's not to see I don't think this is a romantic book with a romantic journey. But I feel I owe it to the characters and the readers to let events unfold naturally and with the sweetness and...well...old-fashioned sensibility I feel Evanthe and Morrow have at their hearts. Morrow doesn't want to rush things. He wants to court Evanthe. And Evanthe is just happy Morrow's finally admitted his feelings for her.

So I guess THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE isn't a typical paranormal romance. But it's actually more reflective of me than a lot of my other books. Like Evanthe, I was a late-bloomer when it came to romance. I was shy and awkward, and desperate to demand what I wanted but terrified of being rejected. Like Evanthe, I eventually got what I wanted. Unlike Evanthe, I didn't have to fight off zombies to get it. So this is a story for anyone who loves zombies, grave-robbing, necromancy, and black magic. It's also a story for anyone who ever despaired of getting that first kiss, let alone anything else. And maybe if you think all these paranormal girls just move too damn fast nowadays, well, then this is a story for you too ;)

on 2011-11-11 02:59 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Hi! Found this here livejournal from your blogspot blog--I'm writerlyra on twitter :D

Most of what I tend to write is paranormal romance, and you know, I have yet to read a PR book that doesn't include at least one sex scene! Even the book I'm working on for NaNoWriMo will eventually include it--but definitely not yet. I'm only a little over 7,000 words in XD

on 2011-11-11 03:02 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Hi, Lyra! You know, after I posted this, I realised I have read a paranormal romance with no sex. The title escapes me, but it was part of Harlequin's Silhouette Shadows line back in the 90s, and I think the hero was um...physically too much...for the heroine (in that he was part beast). When it came up in the novel, they were both like, "well, we don't need sex to express our love." It was pretty sweet, actually. Wish I could remember the title!

on 2011-11-11 03:09 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Added you, btw :)

Wow I wish you could to, I'd like to read that book! I absolutely adore Christine Feehan's Carpathian series and even though the love between the couples is supposed to be so great that the word "love" doesn't even cover it, her books are still riddled with sex scenes. Don't get me wrong, they are done very well, but sometimes it feels like...if the emotion is that strong between two people (and since they are telepathic and can feel what each other is feeling) that the physical act of sex isn't really needed.

on 2011-11-11 03:13 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Ahhh! I found it!

I read the first Carpathian book and felt the same way - I feel like I got told more than I got shown. Sometimes I read books like this and feel like I'm a lot more old-fashioned than I think I am! :)

on 2011-11-11 03:20 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Oh wow that looks really good! *adds it to me "to read" (and order!) list*

*nods* Yes, that is one of the problems I had with the series. The other thing is, if you read all of the books in the series, they start to all feel the same--there's a master vamp causing chaos, girl and guy Carpathian are "meant to be", girl resists guy with everything she has, guy has some dark secret that he reveals to her eventually, they get together, master vamp destroyed. It all started feeling very formulaic and way less than surprising, which is why I stopped reading the series.

on 2011-11-11 04:34 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I don't think I've ever read a PNR without a sex scene (although I have read contemporary without sex scenes), but I don't think its essential to a romance. You could definitely portray love without the physical aspects of it, and still have a reader care about the characters and their relationships.

I definitely will read this at some point! :D

on 2011-11-11 04:36 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Hopefully that's what I've done here! Maybe if it had been a novel, the sex would have occurred, but it felt like it was unnecessary for the novella (although I will write a sequel at some point!).

on 2011-11-11 04:39 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Yeah, definitely go with your gut feeling...and you can always have a potential scene later. ;)

on 2011-11-11 08:01 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I have been feeling anti-sex-scene in my reading for almost a year. They're too often gratuitous and when there are multiple scenes, I resent the way they interrupt already threadbare plots, even if they're well written-- and they're frequently not. If characters didn't have to have sex every few pages, there would be space in the book to make the plot and themes a little meatier and the book would be a much better balanced read. Having characters make frequent passionate verbal declarations of love is not, for me anyway, a satisfying stand-in for real character and relationship development. I like to see the foundation of friendship and intellectual/spiritual connection be built up slowly between characters. Then I can believe, when I put the book down, that their relationship will continue on its own, whether or not the author writes more. Sexual attraction is vital, but when, how, in what detail, and if the characters act on it is just gravy.

on 2011-11-12 09:30 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I feel like this is a major problem with urban fantasy at the moment, which is what I mostly read. It's almost like authors are contractually obliged to include the sex scenes, which means they often come at inappropriate times. I'll never forget my shock at Jessica Andersen's Night Keepers, where seconds after the hero and heroine meet, he's persuaded her to have sex with him to save the world. Seriously!

I want to be invested in characters and believe their emotions. Sure, I know people have random hook-ups all the time, but I'd rather read a developing relationship and wait for the magic moment than have it thrust in my face two minutes after the couple have met. I don't buy that as the start of a loving, committed relationship.

on 2011-11-13 01:32 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I like how you handled the sex scene. It's important to be true to the characters and the tone of the story.

And, yay for zombies! I am a zombie loving fiend. :)


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