Does Your Werewolf Use a Condom? Plus Win a Copy of Kathryn Scannell’s Leap of Faith!

Posted on Updated on

embracingthedragon1200

Update: The winner of this contest is Renee Rearden! Thanks to everyone for participating. 🙂

Good morning everyone! Today I have a guest post by the awesome Kathryn Scannell, and boy is it a fun one. Smile Let’s get going:

One of the hot button topics in erotica/erotic romance is whether or not we have a responsibility as authors to encourage safe sex practices by setting good examples in our stories. In general, I think it’s a good idea, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go. Why? There are actually quite a lot of good reasons.

First, there’s the question of whether it’s appropriate to the story. There are settings where it just doesn’t make sense, and paranormal romance is often one of them. After all, if your shifter or your vampire is immune to bullets and heals from nearly any injury, how likely is it really that an STD will stand a chance of infecting them? Although there was an entertaining story in one of the tabloids back in the early 80’s when AIDS was a new problem very few people had heard of about how it was decimating the vampires of Europe…

It’s not very realistic for most historical settings either. Options for safe sex were fewer then, and the association between the act of having sex with someone who might be sick and getting sick yourself was tenuous at best in many cultures and eras.

Even in the modern era where it’s a practical option, it may not be appropriate to the character. In the real world we all know of guys who aren’t careful, even very intelligent ones.

We’re writing for adults here. I’d like to think my readers are smart enough to realize that not everything that happens in my book is a good idea to do themselves. That includes not practicing safe sex. If I were writing stories that were trying to send a message or teach a lesson, then I’d be sure something unfortunate happened to the character as a result of that unprotected sex. But I’m not doing that, and neither are most romance/erotica writers. The point of the story is the romance, and the happy ending, not a social message. So if its useful to the plot of the story, there may be repercussions, but I won’t add them to the plot just for the sake of making a point about practicing safe sex.

Building a nanny attitude into our books is a slippery slope. Saying my characters will always practice safe sex to set a good example seems like it might be a good idea at first. I’ve been feeling a little guilty that I didn’t give some kind of nod to it in my latest book, but it just doesn’t make sense. If you’re a wizard and can heal yourself, the idea of needing to worry about catching an STD is ridiculous. There’s not even a good reason for the character to think about the fact that he doesn’t need to worry.

Here’s the problem – if you start feeling you have to avoid any kind of unsafe sex even if it would be in character, for the sake of being a good example, why stop with sex? Why not extend the attitude to other things? That character that smokes, the one who drinks too much, the one who’s overweight – they could all be fair game for things that shouldn’t be in the story because they’re bad examples. If you write nothing but good examples, you end up with a book full of perfect, healthy people, who are terminally boring to read.

I do make one exception, and I’ll freely confess that’s a personal soapbox. When I write a BDSM scene, I’m very careful that it’s something that can be done safely, and that the precautions that make it safe get mentioned. I’ll confess that’s a little inconsistent with my general feelings about self-censoring your books for health or political correctness issues. My reasoning is this – these days nearly everyone gets the safe sex message from a lot of places – school, TV public interest spots, and so forth.

BDSM is a little different. A whole lot of people get their primary exposure to it from reading it in fiction. They may never go read an introductory book on how to do it safely, or have a more experienced partner for their early experiences, or seek out someone to advise them on what’s safe. So I want to be sure that if someone decides the scene I wrote was really hot and they want to act part of it out with their partner that they’re not going to damage anyone doing it. I don’t want that on my conscience.

I do lean toward putting in at least a voice advising safe practices when I can do it without impairing the story. I’ve got someone in Embracing the Dragon who advises the main character not to drive when he’s been drinking, because it’s something a friend or co worker should say under the circumstances. It would be odd if he didn’t.

When I write in contemporary settings, my characters do use condoms, because they’re generally smart, practical people, and safe sex is the smart thing to do.

Kathryn’s latest release is called “Embracing the Dragon”, a M/M romance straddling the boundary between urban fantasy and high fantasy. Read on for more info.:

Blurb:

Danny O’Riordan’s life was complicated before he had the vision of a past life that forced him to admit to himself that he was bisexual. There’s a war going on, and being Liegeman to Aran, the Elven King of Avalon puts Danny squarely in the middle of the politics of two worlds, Earth and Avalon. Adding a romantic relationship to the mix could be explosive.

His lover from that previous life has been reborn as Mordellir, the ruler of the Tengri Empire. The Dragon of Heaven is the most powerful person in his world. Will he want Danny back once he knows he’s been reborn? If he does, how far will he go to get his way?

Danny knows it isn’t smart to get involved with the Dragon of Heaven. Aran hates the Tengri. Following his heart and renewing that old relationship with Mordellir will leave him torn between his commitment to Aran and those old feelings which are still frighteningly strong. If he yields to temptation, can he balance his love for both men?

Excerpt:

Mordellir looked more at ease than Danny had ever seen him. Was this what he’d been like before he became Emperor?

Looking at him now, in this mood it was easy to see the resemblance to Demeth. Certainly there were differences. Demeth had been only part Tengri. He’d been shorter and a bit heavier built. Demeth’s hair had reddish highlights, which hinted at demon in his family somewhere. But there was still something in the body language, and the aura which reminded Danny achingly of those memories of Demeth. It wouldn’t be hard to put this man in place of the image of Demeth in those memories…

Thinking that had not been a good idea. Danny realized his mistake when he felt his cock start to swell. Just remembering the damned dreams he’d been having was enough to get him hard again, and the bathrobe he was wearing was not going to hide it. He could see a telltale bulge already. He shifted to cross his legs, hoping to keep things under control, but it just didn’t work.

Mordellir had noticed, too. His gaze followed that moving bulge, and he gave off a mix of amusement and interest. All the extra blood that wasn’t already in Danny’s cock rose promptly to his face as he realized that.

Mordellir grew even more amused as Danny turned bright red. “I didn’t think you were interested, Daniel. It’s certainly nothing to be embarrassed about. You’re a handsome young man. I’m not intimate with all my Favorites, but it’s certainly an option.”

Danny cursed inwardly. This was rapidly becoming a disaster. “No! I’m not– I mean I don’t– Oh Hell.” He ground to a halt. Doing anything would be stupid, and guaranteed to make settling the problem of those old memories worse, not better, but how did he say no without insulting the Emperor? Especially when his cock was obviously saying yes.

“Slowly, Daniel,” Mordellir said gently. “If I read that wrong, I’m sorry. Will you tell me why you’re so confused and embarrassed? It can’t be just having an erection in front of someone else, not after living among the Elves and the Kennakriz. What is it?” He looked probingly at Danny out of his good eye.

Danny took a deep breath to try to calm himself. “No. This isn’t simple to explain. You didn’t misread my reaction, but it would be a terrible idea to act on it.”

“Why?” Mordellir sounded genuinely puzzled.

“Because you’re the Emperor of the Tengri, and I’m the senior Liegeman to the King of Avalon, who happens to hate Tengri in general, and you in particular. That gives whole new levels of meaning to conflict of interest,” Danny said, wondering why he was explaining the obvious to someone this experienced in politics.

“So?” Mordellir felt perplexed. “Is this an Earth thing? A little sex hardly constitutes anything important. It’s not as if there was a commitment involved. There isn’t even a chance of children to worry about negotiating.”

What could he say to that? From an Avalon or Empire perspective, Mordellir was entirely right. The problem was that Danny was sure that if he let himself get any closer to Mordellir that those old memories would hit him full force, and he’d want something more. A lot more. That would be a serious political problem.

His first impulse was to explain that, but doing that could be opening a huge can of worms. He didn’t really know Mordellir. He might not be anything like Demeth. There were vast differences between Danny and Emrys, thanks to the different worlds they’d lived in, and the things that had happened to him in this life. Emrys had trusted Demeth, but everything he knew about Mordellir told Danny not to trust him. This was a man who’d schemed his way to the Imperial Throne over a trail of bodies, including his father, the previous Emperor. Then he’d held his own against his remaining siblings and children to keep that throne for more than 10,000 years. He had to be a master of manipulation and deceit. It would be ridiculously risky to lay a vulnerability like this out for him to exploit. But it was so very tempting. It felt right to do. Danny’s thoughts spun in circles, his impulses arguing with his common sense.

Mordellir waited for him to answer, looking faintly puzzled. In the end, that pushed Danny over the edge in favor of explaining. The expression was so like one Demeth had often directed at him when Emrys was new to the Empire, and reacting oddly to everything. This was still Demeth, and some deep part of him trusted Demeth.

Buy Link: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&manufacturers_id=272&products_id=3116

You can follow Kathryn at the following sites:

Email: Kathryn.scannell <at> gmail.com

Website: http://www.kathrynscannell.com

Blog: http://kathryn-scannell.dreamwidth.org

What are your thoughts? Is it a total turn-off for you if the characters don’t think about safe sex, or do you feel that you’ve had your nose rubbed in it too often, and want to enjoy a good fantasy where you don’t need to care about that level of realism?

One lucky commenter will win a copy of “Leap of Faith”, Kathryn’s short story set in the same world as “Embracing the Dragon” (selected via random.org).

Advertisements

28 thoughts on “Does Your Werewolf Use a Condom? Plus Win a Copy of Kathryn Scannell’s Leap of Faith!

    Margaret Fieland said:
    May 6, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Yes, I know we all need to practice safe sex — but fiction is not life, and in fiction, I find pushing safe sex is a turn off.

      Kathryn Scannell said:
      May 7, 2011 at 10:55 am

      “Fiction is not life”

      I think I may print this out and hang it over my desk. This is something writers and readers need to remember on so many levels.

    Rosalie Lario responded:
    May 6, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Thanks so much for visitng the site today, Kathryn. I agree with Margaret. We are all adults and know the difference between fiction and real life. I don’t read romance to be preached to, but to hear a good story. 🙂

      Kathryn Scannell said:
      May 7, 2011 at 10:53 am

      Thanks. It’s a pleasure to be here.

      I agree. I purely hate books where I feel I’m being preached at. Even if it’s a great cause, and I’m behind it 100%, an obvious soapbox in the middle of the story annoys me.

    Desmond Haas said:
    May 6, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I write creative stories and if the scene warrants it, I’ll note the use of condoms. However, I will not use my books as a pulpit because of either convention or publisher requests/demands. This is fiction, whether contemporary, paranormal, historical, whatever and I write to entertain.

    If this becomes a strong issue and mandated by publishers, I’ll put a note on a page after The End, saying, ‘All fictional characters in this book practice safe sex, whenever possible.’

      Kathryn Scannell said:
      May 7, 2011 at 10:51 am

      I’ve never heard it from a publisher. I usually see it in reviews and reader comments. I haven’t gotten any myself yet, but I’ve seen some real rants on the net.

    Robyn said:
    May 6, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Hi Kathryn. Great post. One book I’ve read, Seduced by Magic by Cheyenne McCray, had a witch in the story who said she conjured a shield to protect herself from everything. So the idea of safe-sex was still mentioned but stayed true to the characters.

      Kathryn Scannell said:
      May 7, 2011 at 11:05 am

      That works beautifully, as long as you can find a spot to work it in that doesn’t come across feeling like “As you know, Bob….” My Elves and Tengri generally just do a anti-bacterial/anti-virus spell after the fact, but the idea is similar.

    Nickie Asher said:
    May 6, 2011 at 9:43 am

    No. My vampires have sex with their gals and don’t give it a second thought. Why would they? Besides, it’s fiction…not reality. If someone is reading my work and confusing the actions of a character with real life then they have bigger problems than whether or not a condom is involved.

      Kathryn Scannell said:
      May 7, 2011 at 11:17 am

      So very true. I haven’t run into that problem yet, but I know of a couple of authors who have, and have been really frightened by it.

    Mona Karel said:
    May 6, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Funny – I wasn’t worried so much about safe sex with Kendra and Mykhael since I knew she was a virgin and he’d been locked away for several hundred years, not to mention he couldn’t be affected by disease. But when I realized I had put a cigarette in a characters mouth, I was appalled!

      Kathryn Scannell said:
      May 7, 2011 at 11:20 am

      It’s interesting how demonized smoking has become over the past couple of decades. I personally think it’s a foolish risk to take, and smells kind of nasty too, but as a society we’ve really singled out one risky behavior to try to stamp out, while ignoring a whole host of others.

    Renee Rearden said:
    May 6, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I agree with everyone else that fiction is entertainment. If a scene warrants certain warnings or explanations that’s fine, but I read for escapism. Diving into worlds different than my own has great appeal. Why would I want to be lectured at and reminded there are rules? I could read non fiction for that!

    Bring on the hot, steamy, sexy lovin’!!!

      Kathryn Scannell said:
      May 7, 2011 at 11:22 am

      Even the most escapist of worlds need rules, but they don’t need to be the same as ours.

      I’ve had a lot of fun with those differences in Embracing the Dragon, since Danny is from Earth, and has a whole different set of assumptions about what he should or shouldn’t do than people in the Elven kingdom or the Tengri Empire do.

    Pat Brown said:
    May 6, 2011 at 11:07 am

    In my contemporary gay fiction, I almost always have them use condoms. I make it part of the sex act. But the one shapeshifter story I did the characters used condoms before the shifter revealed himself, then after he said ‘we don’t need that. I’m not affected by your diseases.

    It comes second nature to me. I really don’t think about it too much.

      Kathryn Scannell said:
      May 7, 2011 at 11:27 am

      I agree. In contemporary gay stories, given the prevalence of AIDS, not using a condom almost puts the character into the TSTL category.

      Of course it can be a plot element too – something they did when they were very young and stupid, and have lived to regret, or at least still worry about, or something a villain might do.

    Viki S. said:
    May 6, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Like you stated – it all depends on how the story is going. If it fits fine if not fine.

    Julia Rachel Barrett said:
    May 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Love your post. I actually don’t feel like my characters need to be role models. If the situation warrants, they will use a condom, if not…then not. This is romantic fantasy. Just because a character in a book, any book, does something, that doesn’t mean I will go do it.
    I assume my readers are intelligent. They know the difference between fantasy and safe sex.
    I also don’t feel like my work of fiction needs to teach someone a lesson. I’d rather give them respite from a stressful day to day life.

      Kathryn Scannell said:
      May 7, 2011 at 11:31 am

      Thanks. 🙂

      I don’t think there are a lot of role models in my book. I tend to write characters who are very gray – the Emperor is a classic evil overlord with a few redeeming features that he hides very carefully. Danny is a lot more open about his redeeming features, but he can be a very violent person too.

      If you want role models, you don’t want to read erotic fantasy. There’s some very nice stuff on the young adult shelves.

    Janice Seagraves said:
    May 6, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    In my published book, Windswept Shores, I have my couple talk about STD’s and the chance of the heroine getting pregnant. But their on a deserted island and there’s no store to buy condoms so they end up going bareback.

      Kathryn Scannell said:
      May 7, 2011 at 11:33 am

      That sounds like it fits the story perfectly, and gave you a great excuse to build up sexual tension before they do anything, because there are so many practical reasons in that situation to worry about repercussions. And the simple fact that they think about it and worry would make the characters more appealing to me.

    Joelene Coleman said:
    May 6, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Something about my sexy vampire in the throes of seducing my heroine to have him stop his erotic seduction to whip out a Trojan, just kills the scene for me, not to mention he’d have to read the instructions because the darn things weren’t used 200 yrs ago. “Hang on a sec, baby, while I figure out how to use this thing…” doesn’t work.

      Kathryn Scannell said:
      May 7, 2011 at 10:47 am

      I shared this with a couple of friends who were over last night because the image struck me as funny, and two of them immediately turned to me and said, “They were so used 200 years ago”. Historical re-enactors learn the weirdest trivia. So I had to go look it up. They appear to have been right: http://www.undercovercondoms.com/condom-history.asp

      Although the historical options sound a lot less pleasant than the modern ones…

      but it would still definitely be a mood breaker…

    Sherry S. said:
    May 6, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    I think if it’s a paranormal story there’s not much of a reason to worry about using a condom. Sometimes it’s a big mood killer when they start talking about protection.

    sstrode@scrtc.com

      Kathryn Scannell said:
      May 7, 2011 at 11:39 am

      Sometimes a little break in the mood can be fun though. There’s a scene where Danny has made a very spur of the moment decision that he wants to try anal sex. But since it’s not something he’s done before, or planned for this particular night, he doesn’t have an lube.

      His partner (trying to avoid spoilers here) says “Oh, don’t worry, one of my guards will get us some.” 30 seconds later there’s a jar on the night table. That leads Danny to the sudden realization that the bodyguards aren’t just standing outside the door, they’re actively *watching.*

      That was a serious hiccup, as he’s not much of an exhibitionist, but luckily his partner was up to distracting him and overcoming it.

    Shelley Munro said:
    May 6, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Good post. I tend to agree. The only time I might have a paranormal character use a condom is when they have sex with a human in a contemporary situation. These days, the non-use of a condom would probably give rise to questions.

      Kathryn Scannell said:
      May 7, 2011 at 10:49 am

      Yes, I think it would be entirely reasonable for the human half of the pair to say “Hey, wait a minute. What about…” particularly if they’re not aware their supernatural partner is supernatural.

    shawn said:
    May 9, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    I don’t write in condom use in my stories. I read romance for the fantasy, to get away from real life, not to be preached at. The use of condoms don’t bother me in contemporaries, but I’m not appalled if the characters don’t use them. Besides, what romance author do you know would write a h/h with gonorrhea?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s