Vulnerability and Strength – stripping my characters bare.
by Dianna Hardy
This blog post was brought on by someone asking me why I put [explicit] sex scenes in my books. After my initial internal answer of ‘why not?’, I thought about this in more detail, and the answer revolved around vulnerability and strength.
There are very few things in life that really strip you bare. One is pain, one is death and the other is sex. (Can you tell I’m a Scorpio? Lol.)
All of these things make you vulnerable, but it’s only by learning how to be vulnerable that you can be strong – something that all my characters go through.
Out of all those three things (pain, death and sex), sex is probably the one that everyone relates to the most. Most adults have had sex by the time they’re adults, or at least, by the time they’re twenty-five. Not everyone has experienced a death by that age. Not everyone will have experienced excruciating pain (not just physical), but everyone will have been stripped bare through sex.
I make my scenes explicit because, in my mind, this is the only way you really get to know a character. Sex is such a personal thing. Knowing what someone likes and how someone responds gives you a humungous insight into who that person truly is.
Examples (may contain SPOILERS):
Elena is very open and “giving” of herself in a physical and sexual sense. There’s the energy transference with Gwain, and the blood-letting with Katarra, and it’s all wrapped up in a perfect innocence that has never left her, after all, she would “heal the whole world if she could”, says her mother of her. It’s a wonderful contrast to how she couldn’t give of herself at first, and to the “taking” energy of the succubus and what happened when she lost her virginity.
Amy is fiercely independent… well, not in the bedroom she’s not! She likes to submit. She may not like that she likes to submit, but she does. And there’s this bittersweet dichotomy she has between her past and her present as well. The 1950’s was a much more “submissive” time for women to be living in, and yet, even as her present personality rebels against it, the other side of her is quite at peace with that era and cherishes her time there.
Mary (oh, I love Mary!) – she’s a woman who knows what she wants and will damn well tell you so. She approaches sex the way she approaches life: head on, with zest and curiosity – and, of course, as a way to [try to] heal her pain, emotional as well as physical.
And I don’t have enough room to talk about the men – I’d be here all day, lol!
In short, what my characters get up to in the bedroom – how they respond to sex – simply makes them more three dimensional for me; it makes the story rounder, too. One explicit sex scene in which you can hear the characters’ thoughts / see their reactions, and you suddenly know them a hell of a lot better than you did just a few minutes ago. It’s a great way of connecting the reader to them, particularly in a novella length book, where you may not have a lot of time to pad out all their surface traits.
Why do we connect so strongly to characters in this way? Because sex makes us all vulnerable. It makes us all feel something on a very deep level that is only ours; that no one else (maybe with the exception of your partner) gets to see. And reading a book is a private thing – you can indulge in what makes you feel vulnerable without anyone needing to know about it. You learn about yourself this way, and you learn about what your strengths are too, because vulnerability can only lead to a stronger you. If you’re reading a scene where you like the writing style and the people in the story, you become attached in that short, shared moment of vulnerability. You relate.
I also mentioned pain and death (death, in my world, really only being a metaphor for transformation). I write about those too. Pain (whether emotional, mental or physical) is often also “explicit” in my stories. The result is the same: an attachment is formed through that shared moment of vulnerability.
I think we all become attached to characters in this way, but obviously different writing styles and different scenarios will appeal to each of us.
For myself, I get to know my characters better through writing them into sexual / painful / transformative situations. They’ll often do something in those raw moments that I totally will not expect, and I’ll be all, “Whoa! I did not know that about you – cool!” You get to the naked truth of who they are.
Finally … well … I’m a Scorpio. Life itself is explicit to me, and everything, at its crux, is about sex, pain or death.
I’m leaving you with a Buffy The Vampire Slayer quote (love Joss Whedon), from Becoming, Part 2. I think it sums up the above perfectly. Angelus is fighting with Buffy – it’s their final showdown, and he’s metaphorically stripped her bare…
Angelus: Now that's everything, huh? No weapons... No friends... No hope. Take all that away... and what's left?
The Witching Pen Novellas are available in digital and paperback format. All info and buy links can be found on the series website The Witching Pen Novellas.
And thanks so much to Ninfa for taking the time to read and review this series :)
Dianna Hardy is a multi-genre author of paranormal things, dark things, poetic things, sexy things, taboo things, and sometimes funny things. She writes about witches, demons and angels. All info about her books can be found on her website DiannaHardy.com
by Dianna Hardy
Paranormal Urban Fantasy
Mary is lost. Her worst fears have materialised in front of her, and now she's demon prey, and no one can save her.
Elena is on a mission to save her mother from the Shanka Demon Tribe, but she needs the help of her friends for her plan to work. Only, they're all caught up in their own bloody mess.
Amy is a jumble of feelings, memories that are hers, and yet are not, threaten to undo her sanity, and that bit of happiness she has carved for herself out of all the madness.
Karl is worried about Elena and Gwain.
Gwain is desperately looking for Mary.
Pueblo is fighting to keep the woman he loves.
Heaven and Hell are colliding.
The Apocalypse is approaching...
...what could possibly go wrong?
I have been patiently waiting for this book (okay, not so patiently), since I turned the last page of “The Sands of Time”.
I had high expectations, I must admit, and that feeling of fear that grips every reader when they're told their favourite characters are about to meet their end, happy or otherwise...What will the author do? Where will she take the story? The characters?
I need not have worried. At all.
“The Demon Bride” is absolutely OUTSTANDING.
From the Prologue opening the book, to the gorgeous Epilogue, this book is one crazy, emotional, action packed, totally intense, fun filled ride.
I am not ashamed to admit at least 3 of the chapters had me in a babbling, crying, sobbing mess, whilst the others had me giggling, outright laughing and at the edge of my seat and hanging onto every skilfully written word.
Dianna's dark writing flows with an ease that had me forgetting these people weren't real for 5 hours of my life (yep, couldn't put it down, savoured every word, would do it again right now cause I'm sure there's some bits I've missed, since I was so desperate to find out what else would happen, and get to the end!).
Plot-wise is the culmination of all the fabulous world-building done for the first two books. The Mythology finds a more encompassing origin: Angels, Demons, Gods, Vampires, Witches, Dragons, everything is tied up in a tight, neat little bow that makes perfect sense and fills in those puzzle-shaped holes nicely.
The evolution of the characters was spotless, the scenes were never superfluous, every detail and every chapter served a purpose and the writing was so fabulously witty I wish I'd written it myself (author jealousy, ladies and gents! Lol).
I love what's been done with the Fae and the hint of Arthurian Legends that was thrown in, and might go unnoticed to the untrained eye, but totally had me squealing as I am a big fan of Arthurian Lore.
The sex scenes were H.O.T.! and never pointless, which is something I hate. They are there for a reason, and give you glimpses into the characters souls.
Team Gwain by the way...just in case you were wondering ;)
Let me tell you, between fierce Shape Shifters, rugged Fallen Angels and heartless Demons, this is definitely one for the adults ;)
Many questions find answers, some new characters see the light of day in a very intriguing manner (Gosh I cannot wait for “The Last Dragon” to come out!), and all in all, it was a completely satisfying experience that left just enough hunger to want to know what else is going to happen now, cause there's more coming, and if this book is anything to go by, the next chapter is going to be spectacular.
“The Witching Pen” has officially topped my all time favourite series list and “The Demon Bride” gets a big, fat “HELL YEAH, 5 STARS!” from me.
Wonderful, poetic, jaw dropping and heartbreaking.
I loved it.
I truly, totally, absolutely loved it.
'Fury lit his eyes. “This shirt – this man's shirt – smells like you.”
Because I've been wearing it, O' Demented One.'
' “I thought I'd lost you again! Most people die when they walk into a blazing fire!”
He didn't know?
“I'm immune to fire.”
“No bloody kidding.” '
' “What am I to you?”
He brought his forehead to hers, staring into her, his eyes holding nothing but naked truth. “I've loved you for so long...You're my downfall,” he whispered, his words breaking, “...and my fucking salvation.” '
' “I don't give two monkeys about sex, you know. None of the Totilemi do. We want to spread knowledge, not babies and STDs.” '
' “...You're eight.”
“I'm eight thousand.”
“Well you look and sound like you're eight.”
“And isn't that the fucking bane of my existence.” '
(I love Sophia!)
' “Every sacred mission, every hunt for hidden relics, every pilgrimage from one end of the earth to the other...I was looking for you.” '
' “You are old and grey,” she teased.
“And you're never too immortal for a spanking,” he shot back...'
I loved many more but some of them contain spoilers, so if you want more, you know what to do...go get this book, out August 31st ;)
The Demon Bride paperback can be pre-ordered from
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