Welcome to our stop on the Absolutely Erotic Blog Hop, where we’re showcasing erotica and erotic romance authors from the Absolute Write forums. Each day, interviews will be posted, and when it’s all said and done, some lucky commenter will win a huge prize! Click here for the entire blog schedule and details about the contents of the prize, and how to win an armload of ebooks, a $25 Amazon gift card, and more.
Today, we’re hosting Crane Hana, author of Moro’s Prince, a scifi erotica.
Q. So we actually have a fair bit in common! You write fantasy and scifi (sff) romance/erotica as well. What draws you to it?
A. I love the scope possible in sff settings. I’m also lazy. When I write a contemporary piece, I have to do a lot of research to get the details right. With my sff work I can either fudge some details, or fall back on 30 years of worldbuilding for an encyclopedic answer. But I’m still a complete sucker for romances, so I’m hardwired to be a matchmaker for my characters – even in what should be mainstream sff.
Q. What’s the hardest part in balancing sff with erotica? The most fun part?
A. The hardest? Understanding and accepting that the two readerships have vastly different expectations. Sff readers may not be as comfy with graphic (especially gay) sex as erotica readers. Erotica readers may not forgive plots that appear too complex and unrelated to getting the main characters into bed. I know I have some readers who skip everything but the sex, and I want to warn them they might be missing valuable clues. To me, plot is foreplay. Happily, most of my fans seem to think the same way.
The most fun? Cutting loose, ignoring all the old fade-to-black conventions, and using sex scenes to advance plot and character development. I’d noticed that my frustration level with sff was growing over the last 20 years. Writers like Lynn Flewelling, Judith Tarr, Tanya Huff, Diane Duane, Lois Bujold, Andre Norton, and Mercedes Lackey were writing (or hinting) at great erotic romance relationships, but being rather coy when it got down to business. Recently, sff has learned from erotica and romance, and I’m now seeing strong, hot sex scenes in many fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance books.
Q. What is your favourite scifi/fantasy race?
A. Too many! From my first reading of The Silmarillion in 1977, I loved Tolkien’s Noldor elves, obsessive-compulsive creative types known for their stunning art and grim persistence.
I admire the different races in C.J. Cherryh’s fantasy and science fiction books, because she always thinks them through and never settles for clichés.
I like re-reading the revised editions of Storm Constantine’s ‘Wraeththu’ fantasy novels, because they feature some of the most epic and beautifully designed intersex beings I’ve ever seen in fiction.
Likewise, I’m really digging the different Votan alien races in the new Syfy Channel series ‘Defiance’. I see hints of careful and logical worldbuilding there.
Q. Your book, Moro’s Price, contains M/M BDSM romance. What do you like best about exploring those themes in a fantasy universe?
A. It’s tempting to say I don’t have to be concerned with the real aspects of BDSM: negotiation, respect, power exchange, safety, care, and sanity. But that’s not right, either. I’d destroy my wiser readers’ suspension of disbelief if I didn’t at least try to keep most of those elements intact. I’d ruin my characters, too, and I rather like my current catch-and-release policy.
I have to admit that the BDSM aspects of Moro’s Price hit me on the head at first. I knew the title character Moro had been terribly abused as a young adult. I didn’t know that he thought it was his fault, because he didn’t understand or accept his submissive streak. He’d also never had a ‘safe’ partner. When I wrote Valier meeting Moro on the skyscraper roof, I had no idea that Valier was an untrained Dom and sadist whose dark potential unnerved his family. Within five minutes I knew the future dynamic, and how my boys might save each other.
Q. What is the most taboo thing you’ve written?
A. Well, I’ll admit to writing unshifted shapeshifter/human sex and making it canon in part of my universe. I have written angsty deathfics both in original fiction and fan fiction – the latter to prove a point, when a friend once challenged me to write something other than sweet romance. I’ve written a cannibal scene that was a cherished act of love between two consenting people with no other choice. When I queried publishers for Moro’s Price, I knew my use of graphic rape as a necessary plot point was going to disqualify me from the very publishers who were most clamoring for bold mixes of erotic romance and sff. That was fine, because I found Loose Id, who was precisely the right publisher for that book.
Q. What do you think of Amazon and Paypal forcing limits on taboo erotica?
A. I think it’s generally a coward’s accommodation to ultra-conservative critics more hung up on sex than violence. There are taboos I don’t enjoy: harming children and animals is a big NO for me. However, there is a simple solution: I don’t read it. I certainly don’t write it. I don’t think taboo sex in fiction is going to make a reader more likely to break his or her socialization and do horrible things in real life – if they’re going to do that, they’ll do it anyway. Most people will satisfy such fantasy interests in private, without harm to themselves or others. The manga culture in Japan is a good example of how it can work as a possible safety valve. Amazon and Paypal are the Biggest Kids on the Block right now, but there will be other market outlets less squeamish and sanctimonious.
Q. Moro’s Prince also has some really dark elements and themes, like sexual slavery, depression, and suicide. How does that help to enhance positive experiences, like romance and sex?
A. This is part of the Hero’s Journey (as referenced by Joseph Campbell), and the heroic travails we humans have told stories about since the days before Gilgamesh.
In order to really know and value themselves, people may have to go through unspeakable stress first.
If I didn’t include those dark elements, the story would be mild to the point of pablum – though knowing me, disaster would strike somehow. Moro’s life without nine years of slavery would have been boring to any outsider: school, return to a quiet little frontier world, marriage to the two loves of his life (who somehow never met a need he could not even articulate). It would end in divorce, or when one of the Sonta factions found him and kidnapped him for his genetic code.
This way, Moro winds up with Val, who can actually understand him – and who will happily fight the universe for him.
Q. Moro’s Prince is a m/m romance, however it does have some m/f scenes. How have readers reacted to the blending?
A. Most readers have accepted it. I telegraphed early and bluntly (I thought) that this would eventually be a m/m/f story. I’ve had some readers complain about it, but those also tended to be the ones who didn’t seem to get all the sff elements. (Shrug.) I wrote this to please myself, and I’m fond of pansexual fiction. I can insert myself into a female character’s POV as easily as a male’s. So across the projected series, I will write male-male romances, male-female romances, female-female romances, and weird alien-weirder alien romances.
Q. Moro’s Prince contains a trigger warning, and is blunt about the themes that some may find upsetting. I find that Amazon’s policies of banning and filtering certain erotic books puts readers at risk because authors will be less upfront about banned content. Do you agree or disagree and why?
A. I agree. Those warnings are as important to the online booksellers as negotiation is to BDSM agreements. Warnings let readers know what’s in store and why, so they can make (hopefully) informed decisions about their reading.
Q. What themes do you want to explore in your future titles?
A. I want to expand the role of BDSM in my work. While a BDSM relationship is in no way the same as qualified therapy, it can help a character break away from his or her bad past. I’m writing a coming-of-age epic fantasy where a woman must accept her darker side in order to save a world. I like themes of self-sacrifice (C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy still blows me away). I adore brothers-in-arms stories about mismatched pairs who know they should be enemies but aren’t. I’m into balancing dark moments with humor. If I could write an entire book about pillow fights, movie nights, and great food, I would.
Q. What types of relationships are you drawn to in romance and erotica? What types of characters and power dynamics are at play?
A. I like challenging relationships where both parties have to work at it, even if they are supposed to be ‘destined soulmates’. Nature isn’t that kind, and neither am I. No doormats need apply. I like humor. I like unexpected pairings that make me swoon with their ultimate perfection. (Psst. More than the sex scenes, that’s why I read good slash fan fic.)
Q. If you could spend a night with any of your characters, who would it be and why?
A. Out of the characters in Moro’s Price, it would probably be the star-eater Aksenna, embodied in any of her mortal Vessels. Though I’d need more-than-human endurance, if it got down to sex. I’d rather have a few drinks with her and interview her. She’s ironic, secretly romantic, occasionally brutal, and always fiercely protective of the mortals she considers ‘hers’. More than her Vessel the Sonta queen Imra, Aksenna most takes on the role of Moro’s grandmother.
Q. How do you do your research for your stories?
A. Because the BDSM angle came up unexpectedly in this story, I conducted research into the actual lifestyle (I’m not a player.) That meant reading very good books, hanging out on websites, and asking some very forgiving friends some blunt but respectful questions. I’m still researching, as the level of BDSM gets more intense in the next book.
For worldbuilding in general, I read much more nonfiction than fiction. Real-world science, travel, and history all help me weave better make-believe settings. I follow several online news services, but the one most consistently sparking story ideas is Arts & Letters Daily, which covers art, science, and humanities issues all around the world.
Thanks for hosting me, and giving me such thoughtful questions.
Thank you for visiting this stop on the Absolutely Erotic Blog Hop! Please be sure to visit M.C. Hana’s blog tomorrow to read an interview with Jack L. Pyke and comment for more chances to win the grand prize!
|Crane Hana lives in the American Southwest, in a flat place full of cactus. She writes fantasy, science fiction, and erotic romance as both M.C. Hana and M.H. Crane. When not writing, she is a commercial artist and fine craft artist with work in museums and university special collections across the U.S. She is short, middle-aged, and in love with a Technomage…all else is subject to change without notice.
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: m/m space opera
heat rating: Explicit
|Prince Valier gives suicidal escaped-slave Moro another option than leaping off a skyscraper – a few hours of meaningless rough sex, while Moro is infected with Val’s lethal symbiont. Neither man expects Moro to survive, or become the one man in the galaxy who can tame Val’s darker urges.
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