Now that I have your attention ... :)
I'm a huge American Idol fan and have watched it religiously since Season 3. Last night was the first episode of Season 7, which highlighted the best (and worst) of auditions in Philadelphia. One contestant only wanted a chance to perform for the judges a song he wrote called "No Sex Allowed."
That, and the previous post about "fade to black" sex scenes, got me thinking. To be perfectly honest, I'm one of those "fade to black" authors. Usually I have to struggle to write sex, because I believe the story should be able to stand on its own without sexual content to engage the reader. It took me a long time to say I wrote erotica or romance ~ in my mind, I write gay fiction. Sometimes there's a little sex in the story, but not as much as some authors write ... and not enough, some of my readers would probably say.
Which is fine with me. Sure, I might make more money writing more sex, but that's not my focus when telling a story. I don't stick in gratuitous sex scenes, or a certain number of fucks per chapter ... I can't do that. If the story dictates that the characters get their groove on, then fine. But I'm not going to go out of my way to find a place to add a little lovin'.
Some of my favorite stories (and, in my mind, my strongest as well) contain little or no sex. Scarred, Persistence of Memory, and my latest release Afflicted come to mind. The first publisher I submitted Persistence of Memory to actually asked me to increase the sexual content of the story, and I refused. I found a different publisher who accepted it as is, and now it's a finalist in the 2008 EPPIES Award, so I guess someone besides myself liked it, eh?
And all this blather leads me to Afflicted, a short story just released by Torquere Press in their Sip line. The story is much more serious than most of my stuff, and came to me almost effortlessly, all at once. It's about a young man who discovers his lover is a "cutter" ~ a person who cuts himself with razors or other implements to inflict pain on his own body. Why? The man doesn't know the answer to that. And he doesn't have any idea how to help his lover, either.
Here's an excerpt from the opening scene. The e-book is available for purchase here.
The first time I saw him naked, I noticed the cuts.
Red, angry scrapes across the pouch of his lower belly, like scratches or claw-marks. "What's this?" I asked, running a finger over one bumpy scab.
He sucked in his gut to pull out of reach. "Nothing." His voice turned sullen, pouting, and the erection that jutted from his thick crop of black curls seemed to wilt a little. "I thought we were going to --"
"Did you do this?" I asked, interrupting him. The cuts bothered me; they spoke of a pain I didn't know how to deal with, and that scared me. He scared me. I thought I'd known him.
When he didn't reply, I looked up from the cuts and saw the answer in his eyes. Sad, dark eyes, downcast, like the sky before a storm. He couldn't seem to meet my gaze, as if the cuts embarrassed him, or he was ashamed of his own weakness. "Where else do you this?" I asked.
Still no answer, but his arms moved behind his nude hips as if hiding from my view and I snatched his right elbow to see for myself. In the low lamplight of my bedroom, I could see very faint traces across his skin, a network of healed flesh. With a hard tug, I pulled him over to my bedside table and turned the lamp up higher, held his arm beneath it. "Please," he said, trembling when my fingers trailed over the scarred flesh. "It's nothing, okay? Those are so old."
Holding his arm aside, I pointed at his stomach. "These aren't."
His hand covered the fresh marks as if he could smooth them away, but he didn't say anything and I knew I was right. Sinking down to sit on my bed, I guided him into the span between my legs and wrapped my arms around his thighs. Ignoring the hard dick pointing at me, I pressed my face to his belly and kissed the highest cut, just below his navel. His hands cradled my head, fingers delving in my hair, and I waited for him to sigh my name before I admonished, "This doesn't happen again."
Excerpt from Afflicted by J.M. Snyder