Today we have authors Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays over for their blog tour of The Cowboy and the Vampire. You can see Jess' review on this novel HERE.
Notes from the Frontlines: Writing Sex Scenes as Nonverbal Conversations
Writing authentic sex scenes is a tricky proposition for any writer; for writing partners, it’s twice as challenging, and three times as rewarding.
We wrote The Cowboy and the Vampire together. It was first published in 1999 (Llewellyn) and thanks to the interest in paranormal romance (aka Twilight), was rereleased in 2010 (Midnight Ink). We’re making the most of this new wave of bloody energy and releasing a trilogy taking off where The Cowboy and Vampire ends, starting with the first title Blood and Whiskey which will be published early next year.
The Cowboy and the Vampire is a love story, written by two people in love. Tucker and Lizzie, our main characters are, despite their better judgment, also passionately and crazily hot for each other. When they aren’t arguing about his poor grammar (ain’t is not a word), debating her love of sushi (fish bait), or fending off Vampire attacks, they can’t keep their hands off of each other.
They make love in the mountains, in Tucker’s doublewide trailer, in the catacombs beneath a Manhattan church, in a cabin high in the Tetons, a barn and many other places. And that’s just Tucker and Lizzie. Vampires as a species are sexually insatiable and forever seducing humans, taking their pleasure from them and, usually, draining them (not in the good way.)
That leaves a lot of sex scenes to be written. We were up for the challenge, and we learned a few lessons in the process.
We don’t write bare-breasted, hip-thrusting erotica (yet, anyway) so we try to capture the emotion, passion and physical action of sexual encounters in ways that creep in just under the wire of R-rated and avoid the extremes of sappy romance or graphic porn.
Writing sex scenes — either between loving couples or hungry blood-suckers — that resonate with readers is an adventure. We approach sex scenes in our fiction the same as we would a silent conversation. This means that the creative framework we use to develop actual spoken conversations — building the back story, understanding the motivations that shape actions, setting the mood — ground a sex scene too.
Sex is what two people (or sometimes more) say to each other with their bodies when the topic is passion. It occurs in time and space between people who are “saying” something for a reason. For example, in The Cowboy and Vampire, the passion and romance between Tucker and Lizzie is all tangled up with the events around them and the quirks of their own personalities, as shown in this short excerpt from the book:
We made love under the first layer of coarse blankets quietly and slowly, both scared of this powerful thing between us, but neither of us backing down or hiding at all, just staring deep into each other and holding on so fiercely that it seemed there was nothing left in this broken-down old world but me and her and what was felt between us.
That and pine splinters in our private parts. And Rex, who’d crept up to the foot of the bed, and who I kept kicking at but he refused to budge until I at last grew tired of fighting him and he stretched out proper across the bottom blankets, trapping my feet.
Lesson two: Know your audience
As we work through the second draft of Blood and Whiskey, we found a chapter with some raw sex between two of our Vampires and a willing human. Elita, one of our favorite characters, was lying under the human – Virote, a Russian beauty – holding her wrists and feeding on her neck while Rurik, a powerful Vampire, took out his frustrations on her sexually. It was a battle of the wills between Elita and Rurik with Virote sandwiched happily between them, benefiting from the tremendous sexual energy crackling back and forth as they sampled her blood. Virote was treated to an otherworldly orgasm in exchange for a few pints.
We liked the scene, but took it out because it was too graphic in a “Dear Penthouse, I never thought this would happen to me” way. Cue the porn music. No finger pointing at which one of wrote it, but it certainly sprang up from some frustrations at the time. Hopefully at some point, it will be the basis for a hot piece of Vampire Erotica (hmm, maybe a new book under a pseudonym?).
Lesson three: Take advantage of the opportunity for immediate feedback from a trusted source
Writing sex scenes with a romantic partner can lead to some prickly questions like:
· Why don’t you ever do that for me?
· Don’t ever do that to me, ok?
· Where did you learn that?
· Wow, is that really something you think about?
But writing sex scenes with a partner also means access to an immediate litmus test. If one of us has been laboring over some passionate interlude and the other reads it and laughs, or worse, grimaces, then there’s more work to be done. On the other hand, if the other half flushes, turns the computer off and says, “I’m thinking about calling it a night. Care to join me upstairs?” well, bingo!
Lesson four: It gives us something to aspire to in our own relationship
When you write about two people who are passionately in love with each other and share a close and tender relationship, it prompts us to always make sure our own relationship is “novel-worthy.” It’s hard not to let some of that hope and excitement bleed into our lives. We’ve been together for nearly 15 years now and writing together about love and sex keeps those topics alive in ways others may not find as easy. Of course, we did recently forget our own wedding anniversary. We blame the Vampires. Just like Lizzie and Tucker remind us how to stay in love, our Vampires are completely self-centered and worried only about their own desires. That’s probably not the healthiest role models to keep in mind but as the years creep up in marriage, maybe it’s not all bad.
That Vampire Erotica novel is sounding better and better.
About the authors:
Kathleen McFall was born and raised in Washington, DC. A geologist and an insatiable reader, she writes well-researched paranormal fiction with Clark.
Clark Hays was born in Texas and grew up mostly in Scotland and then Montana on a cattle ranch. A poet in a previous life, he writes well-researched paranormal fiction with Kathleen.
About the book:
The Cowboy and the Vampire brings together two iconic characters — cowboys and vampires — and crashes them together in a story about love, the clash of cultures and evil plans to take over the world. There’s also a healthy dose of laugh-out-loud humor, a rich portrayal of life in the modern West, a fresh new take on the Vampire myth (religion meets evolutionary biology) and plenty of sex scenes.
And check out the novella Red Winter, by Clark, edited by Kathleen, released exclusively as an e-book.
About Red Winter: Sheriff Early Hardiman has seen a lot of bad things in his life, but nothing could have prepared him for the first Vampire to visit the Old West. It’s 1890 and winter is closing like a noose around tiny LonePine, Wyoming. Fans of The Cowboy and the Vampire know LonePine will see its share of Vampires in another 120 years, but in 1890 no one had yet imagined the undying terror of Jericho Whistler.
Giveaway includes 1 signed first edition of the original publication from 1999 and 5 signed copies of the current paperback edition. Open to US Shipping
To enter, fill out the form found HERE
Winner will be chosen from all those who enter the form, leave comments at tour stops for bonus entries. You can also enter at each tour stop. Good luck!