I would like to welcome Cecilia Tan to Literary Escapism today. Cecilia has been writing professionally since her teens and her fiction has appeared in Ms. Magazine, Asimov’s, Penthouse, and Best American Erotica. We’ll also be giving away a copy of her most recent collection of short stories – White Flames, so make sure you stick around.
Writing “Mind Games”
by Cecilia Tan
Hello! Thanks to Jackie for inviting me to do this guest spot at Literary Escapism. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a writer and editor, and although I do a lot things in a lot of genres, I’m best known for combining erotica with fantasy/science fiction.
I wrote my first story of that type in 1991, a piece in four parts called “Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords”, which I posted on the fledgling Internet to instant acclaim. By 1992 I had published it in a book and founded the publishing house Circlet Press to publish erotic science fiction and fantasy. Since then I have published many, many books and short stories, featuring faeries, vampires, futuristic lesbian guitarists touring the solar system, and the culture wars between alien nations learning to get along when one’s religion is the other’s sexual taboo.
But I have not returned to the theme of telepaths until now. I’m not sure why; telepathy and psychic powers have always been among my favorite themes in novels. Perhaps it just took me a while to get back around to it (all right, 16 years…)
What’s interesting is that although the theme is familiar, the medium is new. The book I am currently writing is for the new ebook company Ravenous Romance. Although I’ve written a lot about love in my fiction, this will be my first bona fide romance novel, and although previous works of mine have been made into ebooks, this is the first one that will be done exclusively in this new medium.
It’s exciting and scary at the same time.
I’m not sure how hardcore readers of romance will like what I’m doing, but I hope that they will. By all accounts, “romance” is not as narrow a definition as it once was. I’ve read some romances but it seems like these days, especially in the field of “paranormal romance,” that some things that were part of the tried and true formula of other romance sub-genres are no longer required. There must be a love story, yes, but it doesn’t have to end in a wedding, for example. Some editors have told me that in paranormal romance in particular, with those that incorporate elements of horror like vampires and werewolves, the ending doesn’t even need to be happy. Whoa.
This makes me think that although romances are still a vehicle for women’s fantasies and wish-fulfillment, the wishes we want fulfilled are more varied and broader than they used to be – or than the publishers used to want us to believe that they were.
My goal is to write a love story that has ample opportunity for erotic exploration (no, in my books the sex does not all come at the end…) and that intertwines a fantasy or sci-fi concept that will keep the plot moving and give the characters something to play against besides just “real life.” The fantasy element – in this case telepathy – needs to be done well enough that people who come to the book from the sf/f side won’t be disappointed by it, and the romance element, the love story and developing relationship between the main characters, likewise should satisfy the romance readers.
Can I pull it off, balancing these two things? I think so, because neither one should preclude the other. The plot involves an emotionally withdrawn woman, Wren Delacourt, whose life is turned upside down when her free-spirited sister Abby disappears. Wren is prone to bouts of intuition, though she has been suppressing, ignoring, and doubting her “gift” since her teen years. Nonetheless, she listens to her intuition when it tells her not to go to the police about her sister. She ends up hiring a private investigator instead and finds herself quite attracted to him. The attraction is mutual, and by the third chapter the two of them are struggling to maintain a professional distance. All I can tell you beyond that without giving away too much of the plot is that they don’t succeed at maintaining the distance for long.
So I think both genre fans and romance fans will be happy with it, as will readers of my erotica. If there’s one thing I actually worry about, it’s that I can’t come up with a decent title for it. Right now we’re calling it “Mind Games,” which might be too boring and generic-sounding. I still think the best title I ever thought of was “Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords,” and it’s been all downhill since.
You’ll be able to download “Mind Games” (or whatever we end up calling it) starting in 2009 at Ravenousromance. They are doing a giveaway on the site right now where US residents who sign up for the email list can win an iPhone, and they are also giving away an iPod Touch every month, too. Sadly, as an author of theirs, I can’t enter to win. I’ll have to hope I get one for Christmas so when my ebook comes out I’ll have something to read it on!
Thank you Cecilia for sharing with us your writing process for Mind Games.
Contest Time! We’re giving away a copy of Cecilia’s newest short story collection, White Flames to one lucky commentary and it’s very easy to enter. All you have to do is answer this one simple question: Does a romance novel have to have a HEA ending? What’s the best and/or worst ending you’ve read in a romance novel?
As always, if you want more chances to win, you can post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your answer.
Join the Literary Escapism blog group over on Facebook and you’ll get an additional entry. Only new readers to the group will be considered.
I’ll determine the winner with help from the Research Randomizer. All entries must be in by midnight on Dec. 2nd.