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Saturday, June 19, 2010
Author Interview: Michelle Polaris
Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Michelle Polaris who has a brand new release, Magician's Chains from Ellora's Cave released on June 16.
Michelle told me she had always been told that pornography was simply about titillating sex, and that erotica focused on the protagonist’s individual sexual journey and personal development in light of that journey. Erotic romance, on the other hand, used the romantic and sexual relationships between the two or more heroes or heroines to resolve the characters’ internal conflicts, allow their growth, and let them reach a happily ever after.
"I’m of the opinion, however," she said, "that the really great erotic romances also show us characters facing their internal conflicts and growing as individuals outside of the factor of sex with their romantic co-stars."
Her favorite erotic book is Rough Canvas by Joey W. Hill.
"The relationship is amazingly intense between Thomas and Marcus," Michelle explained. "These men are clearly soul mates and their struggle to figure out their shit and come out of their internal conflicts whole and together is amazing."
Joey is one of two of what Michelle calls her "absolute favorites" when it comes to writing erotic fiction. The other is Denise Rossetti.
Michelle admitted to being a fantasy/futuristic writer at heart and this is clearly evident in her book Bound Odyssey, set in a post-apocalyptic setting. She was trying to convey the most realistic effects of an extreme global warming scenario, so she interviewed three different people with environmental and scientific expertise to help in her research for that book so she could get the world building right.
"Barring the ability to speak with actual experts," she said, "the web is my research friend. I've frequently Googled the major muscle groups of the human body or even mountain climbing lingo to add layers to my stories."
Michelle actually first set out to write romance fantasy, but it kept getting hotter and hotter in tone. In the meantime, some writing friends introduced her to erotic romance, and specifically, BDSM erotic romance. Her muse was thrilled with this new sub-genre and Michelle's worldbuilding interests melded with the kink in a "what if" brainstorming session over dishes one night. And, so, Bound Odyssey was born.
Her latest release, Magician's Chains, is Michelle's first male/male romance and is also in the BDSM sub-genre. It's a fantasy set in contemporary Las Vegas.
"The idea for the novel came from a fairly erotic daydream I used to have years ago about a stage magician," she said with a blush. "Then I ran across some pictures of Harry Houdini and read some brief primer books about famous magician characters. I remember being seduced by watching those made for television magic performances as a youth. They were always somewhat sexy in tone. This topic seemed like perfect fodder for a story."
She told me that the writing of Magician's Chains didn't differ too much from the writing of Bound Odyssey because even in it the world building has a contemporary flare.
"Bound Odyssey is set in the near future so it has enough current day references to connect with readers," she explained. "That being said, Magician's Chains did not begin with a clear overwhelming sense of disaster and danger in the story universe, so it was challenging to find ways to build that into the story early on. I try to set my bar on tension pretty high, not only interpersonal tension between the characters, but tension from the external plot."
No matter whether Michelle is writing straight fantasy romance or erotic romances, the character development and world building are the important things.
"The sex is an added bonus," she admitted, "but even that is in the context of knowing my characters’ goals, motivations and conflicts inside and out."
I asked what her family thought about her writing.
"My mother prefers to talk about the non-erotic books I’ve written. She congratulates me very politely when I tell her about an erotic romance contract success, but her face and voice are tight. Believe it or not my grandmother insisted on reading Bound Odyssey. I tried to tell her she wasn’t old enough yet to read it, but she would have none of it. I don’t think she got more than a third of the way in, and called me up to ask questions about how I knew so much about BDSM." She laughed. "My grandmother is super cool and has always had a better social life than me, but I guess she’s never been to a fetish club."
Michelle is currently working on the sequel to Bound Odyssey, tentatively titled Bound Freedom. She's pretty excited about it because she introduces three new very alluring and appealing protagonists as well as revisiting Jace, Roman, and Mira and their ongoing adventure.
As a special treat for our readers, Michelle shared a sneak preview from the opening of Bound Freedom that has never been seen before.
Bast would rather taser himself unconscious than start this conversation. Rather crash his damn grav cycle on the Rauche Canyon’s toothy rocks. Or eat his council gavel whole. Rather do almost anything than unhinge his jaw and begin to speak. To him. Gavreal. Unfortunately, avoiding it was no option. Not if he wanted to keep his self-respect. Not if he wanted to be able to look into the eyes of the men depending on him to elevate their status above that of perverted freaks.
Ahead of him, the Movement crowd stomped in place, shifting with unease, barely listening to the speaker. Her gender kept them from calling out coarse insults--barely. But their mumbled criticisms bloated the air. The Movement was like a poorly tempered glass wall ready to shatter with a single tossed pebble. Didn’t anyone else see the galloping disaster coming?
Bast had fucked and bled his way up the political ladder to this position of influence. A glance over at the distant red-tinged spires and domes of the capitol’s skyline reminded him of his rough path up from a street scrub youth. After all that, no sorry-assed fear of a conversation would keep him from using his power now.
So why’d it feel like daggers skewered his lungs? Mother-all, he needed to visit the Underground later tonight and down one or two or ten shots of Bramhal. He’d earned them.
He shifted on the wood seat for the hundredth time, his hardening cock kicking with its nearness to Gavreal. Yeah, the conversation with him would go great. Bast shot a glance down at his crotch. You’ll be waiting a long forever before he’ll care about your wave for attention, my fine fellow. Forget about it. Relationships were no longer on Bast’s agenda. Only, his dick tended to ignore this fact.
Bast swallowed his bitter laugh. Screw this!
He rolled his shoulders to loosen knots and spoke to the man sitting next to him, low enough not to disturb the speaker. “We vote in a week, Gavreal. Tell me how you’re leaning, leastways, or will your usual obstinacy leave me guessing?”
Gavreal didn’t bother to turn his head to acknowledge Bast. “Leastways? Your backdocks origins are showing, Bastion. Control, councilor. Find some.”
The cords in his thighs were taut cables ready to snap with Gavreal’s condescension. “Just answer the question, councilor.”
Gavreal’s spine stiffened. “My decision depends. Are you planning to keep encouraging your constituents to stick their heads up their asses and flaunt their differences to every Mistress they meet?”
“Fuck you, Gavreal.”
“That’s old territory, Bast. Ancient history, in fact.”
Bast put a stranglehold on his temper. “You’d let Gailea throw away this chance? I know you don’t give Mother-all for the rights of these men, but we have to risk it. Earth culture can help us accept new customs. You of all people, with Pellia’s history in your marriage—”
Gavreal’s head whipped around to impale him, green eyes as compelling as Bast remembered. “Don’t!” his furious retort. “Don’t ever go there.”
A black rawness hung between them. Mother, he was sick of it.
Bast cursed his stupidity. Pathetic that he’d been willing to dance out that particular card. What other response had he expected?
Gavreal’s icicle mask clicked back into place as he smoothed the fabric of his trousers over his legs. He turned his gaze to the speaker and his attention to the edgy crowd. Gavreal’s black ink tattoos wound over most of his exposed arms and chest, the dense sworls of pattern and dashed marks of high status contrasting with pale skin over smooth muscle.
Bast remembered what it had been like to work down that chest, those sectioned abs. To lick the tiny nut-brown areolas and make Gavreal grunt under his bite as he pulled hard on his balls, the twisting pain Gav wanted. Soft moments after fucking when Gav relaxed the permanent stick up his ass enough to rub his cheek against the strands of Bast’s hair on the pillow. But that was a lifetime or ten ago. Or so it seemed. And Bast was deranged letting his thoughts wander in that direction. Acid hate was eating away at Gavreal, slowly melting the man to nothing. If it hurt Bast to witness, there was nothing to be done.
Sick of this obsession, Bast refocused on his purpose. “What about the chance we can breed with Earth stock?”
Gavreal’s thumb sawed back and forth over the cloth of his pants and Bast felt vindicated. The forced proximity bothered Gav, too.
“Mira Duncan refuses to allow harvesting of her eggs for study,” Gavreal said. “With nothing more than blood samples I’m not sure the risk is worth it.”
“Not worth it? Dammit, women aren’t conceiving. And when they do they only produce boys. It’s the plague all over again, but with no explanation.”
“I’m aware. But you’re not concerned about the fertility issue, Bast. You never have been. Its just manipulation to win me to your side. If Earth comes through this gate armed to decimate us, it doesn’t matter whether we can breed with them.”
Gav’s head nodded to the shimmering blue sheet of energy hanging in the air to the side of the crowds. The gate--on center stage for the masses. Provoking them. Stupid decision Dara had made to hold the speech here.
Bast shook his head. “Diplomacy isn’t dead. If we send someone through with a genuine offer, we’ll remove their need to attack at all.”
Gav only grunted.
Dara’s statement was winding down. He recognized the extra punch to her words designed to inspire listeners. She’d provided Bast the opportunity for this discussion by sitting him next to Gavreal on the dignitaries’ platform. She didn’t care whether he convinced Gavreal or not. Dara wove her own plans. She’d been throwing them together so often, he’d like to call up the contract he’d set with her on his scheduler, crunch the device it into tiny pieces and ram them down her throat. Forget how her compromise let him keep his status as he bucked tradition. That she was the most powerful political figure in Quintiq City was irrelevant. She needed to quit manipulating the two of them. With her, you never knew if you faced a friend or an opponent.
There was a bare smattering of applause when she finished, the dissatisfaction of the mostly male crowd too much for even Dara’s expert handling. Bast began to rise for his part in this calamity.
It happened then. No warning. A sudden static whine rose on the wind. Overpowering. Forcing his hands over his ears, and blanketing the crowd with a buzzing tidal wave as they called out in pain. Pressure pounded in his ear canals, enough to crush them flat and burst his head.
A flash of blue-green light exploded from the gate, strobing over the gathering. He stumbled and rocked back into his seat blind with the color. His and Gavreal’s chairs jostled together on the platform.
He counted breaths. When he was almost to the point he’d black out with overload, the whine cut off. Light died.
A fog of silence hovered over the clearing. Crawling foreboding ticked his shoulders. Then, a roar from the crowd jerked his head back in the direction of the portal and he shook his head to clear his vision.
A single body stumbled forward from the edge of the gate, tripping over the mossy ground with disjointed movement.
The collective gasp of the crowd was almost comical. The police, recovering quickly, moved toward the stranger, peace sticks raised with electric charge turned on.
Bast’s gut took a dive. A woman.
You can keep up with Michelle on her blog, http://micheleepolarisblog.wordpress.com