Friday Spotlight: Michelle Polaris

Up, Up and Away!

I thought to revisit a fun subject I blogged about at the Naughty Author Chicks this past January and have included some of that text below. Since I am trying hard to add fun and play into my life (see my earlier post this week entitled “Not Light and Fluffy”) I will end the week at Whipped Cream’s Spotlight on a light note. So let’s talk superheroes.

Superheroes have made it into non-erotic romance. Not as frequently as other paranormal creatures, but they’re there. Notably in urban fantasy, whose lines have blurred with paranormal and fantasy romance. I’m thinking of Vicki Pettersson‘s Signs of the Zodiac series. Another series closer to straight romance is A.J. Menden‘s Elite Hands of Justice books, which include Phenomenal Girl 5 and Tekgrrl.

But what about in erotic romance? I admit there may be stories of which I’m unaware with superhero motifs. Certainly there are plenty of vampires and alien species running around in these books with power to inflame desire with a single breath and feeding on raw sexuality. But do any of them have official costumes? Fight on a team of do-gooder kick-butt good guys against evil and injustice? What would an erotic romance superhero power be? The ability to cause an orgasm in a partner faster than a speeding bullet while simultaneously bringing them a romantic happily ever after? To subdue worldwide evil and strife by slamming bad guys with an afterglow ray, causing them to fall to the ground in sexual repletion and then rise and declare their undying love to the first person they encounter? To cure impotency with a single blink, thereby bringing increased satisfaction to couples throughout the world, saving relationships left and right? I think all erotic romance authors deserve erotic romance superpowers. A lot of us already have secret identities, choosing pen names to protect our mundane identities as we blend in with the average Janes driving mini-vans, running to the supermarket, and schlepping to day jobs and kids’ sporting competitions.

My superhero persona, if I got to choose one, would be Wonder Whip Woman, apologies to DC Comics. Her cape and lasso would be black leather and her invisible jet would come with an invisible spanking bench. Imbued with the power to bring out the hidden submissive in even the most alpha of males (grin). Okay, maybe not. Instead I think Wonder Whip Woman would fight intolerance for diversity of sexuality, valiantly battling closed minded bigotry against non-mainstream sexual practices between consenting adults. In a way I touch upon this issue in Bound Odyssey, where the post-apocalyptic setting has heightened bigotry against all sexual minorities.

What do folks think of these ideas? Would the superhero motif make it in erotic romance fiction? Should all erotic romance authors be entitled to erotic romance superpowers? What would they be? What persona and power would you choose?

Since I asked these questions at Naughty Author Chicks I have discovered a superhero erotic romance by Savanna Kougar called Her Insatiable Dark Heroes. It’s on my e book reader now ready to be devoured. I hope to enjoy and let it be the first I read in a hot new trend to come. Mark my words, ladies and gentleman. Guess I better start cracking on my own superhero themed erotic romance.

Thanks for letting me visit with you this week.

Michelle Polaris

Thursday Spotlight: Michelle Polaris

Got BDSM? A Look at Why I Write It

I love to write strong characters. Yeah, it’ s a genre trend. Tough as nails women and men fighting the good/bad/ugly fight against evil. The days of the fainting heroine melting into the hero’s arms are mostly gone. Unless she’s doing it to have him drop his guard and then deliver a one two sucker punch. Ah, true love.

What I adore about writing BDSM stories is that they allow me to redefine the idea of character strength in a very explicit manner. A contract between a Dominant and a submissive involves an overt discussion about needs and limits on both their parts. A discussion that acknowledges the very basic core of who they are and how they’re wired and pushes aside the moral judgments of the world. It involves forming a bond of trust, even if it’s for a short period of play. A submissive gives away their control, trusting a Dominant to provide them with what can be described, if it’s done right, as a perfect freedom. The freedom from needing to make any decisions, judge themselves or worry about anything other than pleasing their Master or Mistress. And getting out of your head that way, just accepting what is happening to you, experiencing the sensations of the body, can lead many to what is described as almost a spiritual high. I admire any person who is able to put his or her needs so clearly on the table. That’s strength.

It’s been said that ultimately it is a submissive that has the control in a D/s (Domination/submission) relationship. Without a sub’s permission to allow the Dominant to take power, the Dominant has nowhere to go. My recent story, Bound Odyssey, can be characterized for the most part as a FemmeDomme. Meaning the heroine is the sexual Dominant and my heroes, two of them in this case, are the sexual submissives. Although in truth one of the heroes of my story, Roman, is a switch, someone who is able to move back and forth between Domination and submission based on the circumstances and his desires at the time. Not as much FemmeDomme has been written for the erotic romance market as its counterpoint. The reason being quoted to me is often that women, the primary audience, do not like to read about weak men. They want strong alpha heroes in their stories. But I believe the definition of strength is askew in this case. Strength does not always come in beating your chest and pummeling your adversary into giving you what you want. Strength can also be found in letting go. The wisdom of the tree bending with the wind instead of fighting it and snapping in two. It takes great personal strength to be willing to let go of all control.

More to the point, people are not simply one thing or another. What is lost in this preference to read about the tough alpha male is how men may be in charge and commanding in many aspects of their life, but still feel a deep need to give up control, move away from the stress of running the show in other aspects of their lives. The stereotype of weak submissive male characters is something we need to leave behind. A true to life male submissive character is not a wuss. He’s a lot like most guys in life we know and sometimes love. I give credit to erotic romance author Anne Douglas for talking about this a lot recently. The wisdom to be willing to honor this part of himself makes a man very strong in my book given the messages our culture throws at guys about what it means to be male.

Ironically, what I believe many female readers like about the dark, brooding alpha males in so many romance stories is the nugget of vulnerability that lies inside these characters. The wounds of the psyche that the heroine touches as the relationship develops between them. The woman’s love that proves to help heal that wound. (Or a man’s love of another man. Just saying.) It’s my belief that a well-told Femme Domme love story is about the same dynamic. Or at least that’s what I was attempting to write. If you end up reading my book, you’ll have to drop me a line and let me know how I did.

In the meantime, I will try very hard to write more stories where strength does not just mean one thing and characters are the same wonderful, complex mess we all are as we struggle through our lives.

Michelle Polaris

Wednesday Spotlight: Michelle Polaris

Not Light and Fluffy

A recent review of my book, Bound Odyssey, came to the heart of the matter of my writing. An reviewer wrote the following: “I will start this off by saying if you are looking for something light and sunny- this ain’t it. If, however you are looking for a good story with plenty of meat, intensity, and a plot with purpose, this one will do just fine.”

I was thrilled because, really, these are the types of stories I intended to write. Stories where the heroes and heroines are wading through the dark inside themselves and battling both internally and externally to get out of it with their souls intact. True love is one of the many tools they use in this battle–their lovers forcing them to come to terms with who they are and accepting themselves.

As a person who values self-examination, I had to stop myself. Why do I need to write so dark? Not to say there isn’t humor in my stories. My characters use humor the way we all sometimes do. To keep us going so we don’t fall into a quivering heap and give into the difficult stuff life often throws at us. I think my love for drama is leftover from childhood. I was a way too lonely and serious kid. Play was not my forte. I firmly believe that writing is therapeutic. My stories are in no way autobiographical, but the idea of helping my characters transform from a place of inner pain is something really magical. I guess it comes down to creation of hope. Creating hope for my characters creates hope for me. It’s what we all need to thrive as human beings.

Ironically, the writing itself is a form of play. Sitting down to create everyday will keep it growing in my life. Adults need to play as badly if not more so than kids. Play brings creativity to our lives. It helps us grow. Reading for pleasure, while ostensibly an activity done solo, is also a form of play. When we read we absorb new ideas, new possibilities, and try them on. Kind of like a game of dress-up in our heads.

So here I am fully intending to keep writing dramatic erotic romance. But if the medium affects the message and the writing itself lifts my heart, who knows. Give me a couple years. I might surprise myself and end up writing comedy.

Michelle Polaris

Monday Spotlight: Michelle Polaris

Research–It’s Not Just for Bed Anymore

As an author, research comes in many forms. And information from many sources. Although I write erotica, most research I do is more mundane than the lurid imaginings of readers hearing about my genre of choice.

Last year as I wrote my futuristic post-apocalyptic BDSM romantic erotica, I tapped into the scientific know-how of my husband and two other scientist acquaintances willing to happily speculate with me about alternative energy sources, polar ice cap melt, world-wide volcanic explosions, and atmospheric poisoning for my story setting, 2067 Earth post environmental cataclysm. I consulted a Coloradoan friend about the flavor of the different districts in the city and locations in down town Denver to place the characters’ residence. Google, of course, turned into my best buddy finding me city and state maps to identify the perfect locale for a research laboratory as well as a rugged state park site to situate my portal to another world. Yes my book has a portal, ripped open by environmental cataclysm as a matter of fact. Another good friend talked to me about choices of explosives for a bomb my heroine needed to detonate. How big would the blast site be based upon the type of bomb I chose? How stable would the device need to be during transport? What would happen if the heroine needed to lob the device through air at the target? I plugged in a little gun research in this scene as well. For my character Roman I looked up slang in Appalachian America and descriptions of the Carolina mountains of his youth. And Google sent me in the correct direction for a quick and dirty primer on mountain climbing, which I needed for the climactic scenes in the novel. Not that the bomb wasn’t hallowing enough. I found a description of the entranceway to the Denver zoo and ended up using pieces of that in yet another scene.

Okay, I did spend time on a few extreme sex toy sites to choose the right gadgets for my Mistress character Mira to enflame my heroes, Roman and Jace. But you see how diverse my research needs became? Realistic detail gives an important flavor to a novel. It transports the reader into the pages and layers beneath the emotional and physical interactions of the characters to make a scene that much more impactful. It’s exciting to find just the right minutia to add. I’m not a research addict and am more than happy to leave behind the years of college term papers. But when I need it I am thrilled down to my black leather boots to find the handful of key words or descriptions or visuals to meet my needs. My characters appreciate it too. My current work in progress is set in Las Vegas and although another friend has sent me brochures galore from her recent trek to Nevada, I have one response to my up and coming research needs for this story. Road Trip.

Michelle Polaris