Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming promotes optimistic SF -- stories that inspire us to fight the good fight for another day. Committment to larger projects, the writer's sense of mission, joy of reading, the creative campfire of the SF community and the love of deserving protagonists are celebrated. We believe in heroes and striving to be what we believe in. It is also a news hub for content related to the Okal Rel Saga written by Lynda Williams.

30Jan/12Off

Broadly Speaking + Kindle Releases

Two pieces of news today:

Yesterday, Lynda Williams (along with Reality Skimming contributors Pauline Baird Jones and S.A. Bolich, and others) appeared in the January 2012 installment of Broad Universe's podcast, Broadly Speaking. Lynda appears in part two of the podcast, in which the authors take part in a round-table discussion on Time Travel. Listen to the podcast here.

Parts 1 & 2 of the Okal Rel Saga, Courtesan Prince and Righteous Anger are now available for Amazon Kindle! Upcoming is Part 3, Pretenders. If you haven't read the first books of the series, now is a great time to get started! More recent releases from Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing are also on Kindle: Part 6 of the Okal Rel Saga, Avim's Oath, and Opus 5.

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25Jan/12Off

Ethics in SF #12: Susan J. MacGregor

This week we bring back our 2011 feature, Ethics in SF, for a look at violence in fiction.

Ethics in SF: A series of interviews, articles and debates on the Reality Skimming blog, hosted by Lynda Williams, author of the Okal Rel Saga.

Susan J. MacGregorSusan J. MacGregor has been an editor with On Spec Magazine since 1991. Her written work has appeared in On Spec, Northern Frights, and other venues. In 1998 her anthology Divine Realms was published through the Ravenstone imprint of Turnstone Books. Her non-fiction book The ABC’s of How NOT to Write Speculative Fiction was published in 2006 by the Copper Pig Writer’s Society and has been used for numerous workshops. Recently, she co-edited Tesseracts 15: A Case of Quite Curious Tales, released through Edge Books. At present, she is working on a paranormal romance trilogy set in an alternate medieval Spain--think the Inquisition vs. gypsies, tattoo magic and psychic gifts. When Susan isn’t writing or editing, she studies Spanish and dances flamenco. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2011 issue of On Spec Magazine. It was reprinted on January 16, 2012 on the the Clarion blog under Writer's Craft #58: Writing as a Violent Act. It is reprinted here with permission.

Writing as a Violent Act

When I attended the When Words Collide convention in Calgary last August, I sat on the ‘Writing Difficult Scenes’ panel with a number of folks, including Lynda Williams (author of the Okal Rel Universe saga), fellow On Spec editor Barb Galler-Smith (author of Druids, Captives and Warriors) and others. I made a comment that I liked gritty scenes and that one of the most personally disturbing stories I ever wrote was about castration. The story was later published in Northern Frights V. After the con, Lynda asked if I might write about violence on her blog, Reality Skimming. She assumed that I liked to write ‘extreme stuff’, and that I might address some questions on ethical considerations.

I had to decline.

Why? Because what I write isn’t excessive compared to some of the really extreme stuff out there. But it did get me to thinking about the portrayal of violence in fiction, and what works for me and what doesn’t.

Violence in fiction needs to be there for a good reason. With my castration story, the horror wasn’t only in the act to which I alluded in the end; the horror came from my protagonist’s lack of conscience, her ability to manipulate events and her sense of loss and betrayal coupled with her need to control. Embedded even deeper in the story was the idea that her psychopathy stemmed from demonic influence. I kept the reader guessing, never knowing what my anti-hero might do next. Horror is much stronger when it leaves an aftertaste, when you can surprise your audience and make them wonder about the potential of such things happening in their own lives. I set out to write a story that suggested an unremarkable girl with a crush might hide something sinister, might stalk the object of her infatuation and see his involvement with another as an ultimate betrayal. Her love interest and his paramour had no idea of her intentions until my protagonist took matters into her own shaking hands.

I’m not titillated by blood spatters and intestines looping about one’s knees, left to steam in a pile on the floor with a ‘the end’ sign affixed to them. On their own, such scenes are gratuitous. For such visceral elements to work, they must be appropriate to the action. More importantly, there must also be a strong emotional reaction to them on the part of the point of view character. The stronger and more graphic the scene, the more I need to understand the character’s motivation and his psychological make-up. These things should be in place before the violence occurs, or afterwards, in some kind of a review. I have no sympathy for characters (or their writers) who fail to give me a reason for the violence. Even then, it will also be a question of whether the seeds sown beforehand are enough. Many times they aren’t, or there’s a disconnect, where, despite an attempt at validation, the violence is justified by a thin excuse like ‘that’s just what werewolves do’. A defense such as this shows a lack of imagination and the effort needed to present something original.

So perhaps I’m talking about the skill level of the writer, or maybe it’s just a matter of personal taste as to when something is ‘not enough’. I prefer to see some sophistication in what I read, which is another way of saying that I want to see solid characterization. Gratuitous violence rarely includes the inner workings of the characters’ minds or their world. It gives no understanding into the horror. The point is to shock rather than to offer insight.

Of course, there are times when the characterization doesn’t provide insight, but the theme does, and being theme, the reasoning doesn’t become apparent until the piece is seen or read in its entirety. One of the best examples comes from the movie, Pulp Fiction. Lots of violence there, but every brutal scene is linked with elements of down-home, folksy Americana, like the music in the background, the settings—kitchens, bathrooms, pawn shops, restaurants with look-alike Marilyn Monroe waitresses, consumer goods—hamburgers, gourmet coffee, magic markers, or simple niceties, like saying ‘pretty please with sugar on top’. Spoiler Alert: When Pumpkin and Honeybun chat over coffee and then hold up the coffee shop, when Jules recites Ezekiel 25:17 before he executes Brett, when Butch toasts toaster pastries and notices Vince’s gun on the counter before he blasts him full of bullets, or when Jules is more concerned about Vince bloodying Bonnie’s bathroom towels than the dead body in the back of their car, the message is obvious: Our culture is familiar, misdirected and dangerous. Violence is Us. The theme shows us who we are. Not to mention the irony and black humor that causes us to laugh because we recognize ourselves in it. If Pulp Fiction portrayed violent scene after violent scene without any juxtaposition to the culture, it wouldn’t be the amazing piece of fiction it is. It’s also interesting to note that the actual violence portrayed is short-lived. It doesn’t go on and on. When Marsellus tells Zed that he’s going to ‘get medieval on your ass’ we know that he’s going to have thugs take pliers and a blowtorch to Zed for sodomizing him, but we don’t actually see this scene. Marsellus threatening Zed is enough.

Violence is the stuff of action. As writers, most of us will pen a violent scene at some point or another. Therefore, it’s important to understand why we’re writing the scene, who we’re writing for, and what our motivation is. Here are a few reasons I’ve come across as to why writers write violent scenes:

  1. They write them to prove they can.
  2. They write them to live vicariously through them. The violence gives them an outlet where they can blow an enemy away or portray a rival in an unflattering light.
  3. They like being able to stomach vivid, violent events with dispassion. They have guts. They can handle it.
  4. They write the story to impress or compete with others. Anything you can do, they can do bloodier.
  5. They write the scene or story because it’s based on real life. The event actually happened to them or to someone they know.
  6. They write the piece in the hopes that it will work for a particular anthology, magazine or publishing house.
  7. They write the scene or story to give the reader a thrill.
  8. They write the scene because violence is the outcome of rising tension and action.

All of these reasons (with the possible exception of #5) fall short of why we should write violent scenes or stories. If we’re writing to prove we can, that’s fine for a start. Many of us begin this way. We want to push ourselves to see what we can do. But as we mature as writers, we need to get beyond this motivation. Reasons #2, #3, and #4 are misdirected. They’re all about the writer, and the focus is in the wrong direction. Reason #6—writing for a publication—is strictly pragmatic. On its own, it’s slightly removed from what a better motivation might be. Reason #7—writing to give a thrill—heads in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough. Reason #8—violence as an outcome—makes sense and is justified, but it shouldn’t be the sole reason for penning a violent scene. As for Reason #5, if a writer is writing a memoir, or using a past experience to add reality to a story, it may or may not be an appropriate reason for writing it. It depends on whether or not the violence provides a fulfilling experience for the reader.

The point of any violent scene or story should be to give one’s audience a visceral, an emotional and, by the end of the work, an insightful experience. Some readers are happy if they encounter only the first element. I’m not one of them. The trend to make things more graphic than ever doesn’t satisfy me. What does is encountering violence in a creative work that punches me in the gut, the heart, and the head. That brings me a new understanding or a way of looking at things. That makes me feel deeply for the characters. That makes me want to do something about a situation. That makes me feel richer for the experience, because what’s happened in the story matters.

Creating stories that do those things, takes a lot of work. There are many layers, and there is much thought and craft that goes into making them. Certainly, much more than the shallower stuff that settles for the shock of a cheap thrill. Here’s a final reason:

  1. A writer depicts violence because it provides the platform and stimulus for higher ideals to address it. Those things might include actions involving sacrifice, forgiveness, love, justice, determination, survival, hope, gratitude or redemption.

This last point invites us to strive for loftier goals than simply pointing out that ‘life is hell and then you die’. But that’s me. And there are many folks who write from the opposite camp, where violence is depicted and relished for its own gory sake.

Your Turn: Comment with your own reaction to the questions.

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18Jan/12Off

Dialogue #1: Matthew Graybosch (2 of 2)

Dialogues: Lynda Williams and a guest author tackle the same topic from two points of view.

Topic: Why did it have to be swords?

In Lynda Williams's Okal Rel Universe, Sevolite society settles even large-scale conflicts in a dueling system in order to protect precious habitable space from the potential damage of nuclear warfare. In Matthew Graybosch's Starbreaker, post-Nationfall society has seen a revival of sorts in the use of swords for the same reason Sevolite society insists on dueling as a means of settling disputes, even if Adversaries and active militia still carry firearms. Why, when many other weapon choices are available, does the sword play such an important role in speculative fiction?

Last week...

Matthew Graybosch at Niagara Falls Matthew Graybosch
studied computer science and applied demonology at Miskatonic University, but learned that even after the dotcom bust, software development pays better and is steadier work than exorcism. He is the author of Starbreaker, a serialized science fantasy novel published by Curiosity Quills Press, and lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife and a cat who insists on reading the Okal Rel Saga with him.

Today...

Lynda Williams Lynda Williams
is the author of the Okal Rel Saga, published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. Part 7: Healer's Sword arrives in 2012. Lynda's work features moral dilemmas in a character-driven, multi-cultural setting with radically different attitudes to sex and social control surrounding space warfare and bio-science.

Lynda Williams: Why Did it Have to be Swords?

What's the social function of combat?

Two fold. Sheer bloody win because your life depends on it. And a competition to identify the better man. It's usually been men, throughout history, and biology leans in that direction. Which only makes Vrellish culture all the more interesting, for me, but that's a separate issue.

The fascination Sevoites show for dueling is a combination of our culture's engagement with sports, jurisprudence and politics, because Sword Law combines these. Honor, meaning trustworthiness, is critical because it underpins economics. A cheating fencer is just as apt to cheat you on trade deals. A house that puts on a good show on the challenge floor is more attractive -- strong and trustworthy. So an honorable rep also functions as advertising and public relations. In Sevolite society, the cost of cheating is much greater than the cost of losing a single duel. Usually. And when it isn't, people are tempted. Just like Olympic athletes are tempted to cheat when winning becomes the only "good".

Ancient warfare is full of examples of competitive warfare vs. total warfare. It makes sense for any culture, not just reality skimming ones. Total warfare trashes economies and devastates populations. In the Okal Rel Universe, Killing Reach is a legacy of total warfare. Nesak wars border on it. The last three books deal with this delicate balance teetering and breaking down in patches. I believe war between Rire and Sevildom would be much worse than the worst Nesak war, though, because the signals for crying "hold enough" just wouldn't work and it would escalate to genocide.

The fact combat is personal and targeted to one enemy, is ultimately what makes hand-to-hand combat more honorable. Never entirely fair, for the reasons Matthew suggests in an email discussion: "A woman fighting a man twice her size is likely to be at a serious disadvantage in unarmed combat, though training can mitigate this risk. The use of swords can further mitigate this disadvantage, but the use of firearms can make the advantage commonly enjoyed by men over women almost irrelevant." What is "fair" though? If it means you play by the rules and have some opportunity to decide whether to engage, then hand-to-hand combat under Sword Law is much fairer than involuntary victimization of civilian populations in total war. In the same email conversation, Matthew writes, "The problem with firearms is that if you miss, you might end up shooting bystanders. Furthermore, the use of modern military firearms makes warfare impersonal. If the sword is a morally superior weapon, it's because it makes combat personal; you have to look the person you're fighting in the eye, and you can't dehumanize him and soothe your own conscience by calling him a mere target."

Here's the problem as I see it. There's always an element of any society that craves competition to get ahead, however that's defined. If you don't provide legitimate outlets for ambition, the society is in trouble. But these outlets should be regulated so as not to trash the neighborhood in their expression. I particularly like this quote from Matthew in our email discussion: "A sword is an extension of your body. A bullet can have your name on it. A nuke, however, is addressed "To whom it may concern".

In our world, the outlet used to be excelling in school. In the medieval world, it was becoming a knight. All sorts of unfairness, cheating and cruelty of various sorts abounded. But there were also rules. For example, knights might be abominable to peasants (particularly peasant bowmen) but they treated one another like gentlemen when holding prisoners for ransom. Honor didn't mean you couldn't beat a servant or rape a woman. It meant you had to be trustworthy in the eyes of your peers: friends or enemies.

Horth is one of my experiments in fairness. Is it fair to the opponent who goes up against him on the challenge floor or in space, that he's a spatial genius? Not really. Unless the person who volunteers for the experience is well aware of his talents, like D'Therd in Throne Price. (There's also the whole fairness issue in D'Ander's duel with D'Therd in Pretenders, but that's another matter.)

But flip the tables and suppose winning depends on an argument or social graces. Then Horth is at the disadvantage.

In the last book of my series, I introduce VRs -- super Sevolites with little personality, created by the Lorels. Eler advises crack swordsman Vras Vrel not to volunteer to go up against one of these beings and the sense of unfairness is there, again. Vras is a real person who duels. The VR is something else. The context in which Sword Law is an expression of civilized behavior is breaking down.

In my research on fencing I read a lot of historical accounts of the use of swords in both field warfare (where usage is very different) and personal combat of the more showy or personal kind. And there's nothing at all "nice" about the injuries. A person really does need nerves of steel to face someone else, one on one, who is planning to kill him, as well. As Erien always complains, in my saga, killing people with swords is an ugly, brutal business. And he's right. But it's still more civilized than cracking planets or stations using rel-ships.

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17Jan/12Off

Lynda on Broadly Speaking Podcast

On Monday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. Central/5 p.m. Pacific, Lynda Williams and others will be getting together on Skype to record a discussion on time travel for Broadly Speaking, a podcast produced by Broad Universe. The podcast will be posted on Broadly Speaking's Posterous space in late January (exact date TBA).

From the Broad Universe website:

Join Broad Universe members and their guests as they discuss all the many issues and interests facing writers in today’s changing world, where life often seems to imitate art – especially science fiction, fantasy, and horror! Listen in on lively conversations about characters, world-building, writers and writing, with BU’s most interesting women. Every month offers a different theme and a different host.
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11Jan/12Off

Dialogue #1: Matthew Graybosch (1 of 2)

Dialogues: Lynda Williams and a guest author tackle the same topic from two points of view.

Topic: Why did it have to be swords?

In Lynda Williams's Okal Rel Universe, Sevolite society settles even large-scale conflicts in a dueling system in order to protect precious habitable space from the potential damage of nuclear warfare. In Matthew Graybosch's Starbreaker, post-Nationfall society has seen a revival of sorts in the use of swords for the same reason Sevolite society insists on dueling as a means of settling disputes, even if Adversaries and active militia still carry firearms. Why, when many other weapon choices are available, does the sword play such an important role in speculative fiction?

Today...

Matthew Graybosch at Niagara Falls Matthew Graybosch
studied computer science and applied demonology at Miskatonic University, but learned that even after the dotcom bust, software development pays better and is steadier work than exorcism. He is the author of Starbreaker, a serialized science fantasy novel published by Curiosity Quills Press, and lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife and a cat who insists on reading the Okal Rel Saga with him.

Next week...

Lynda Williams Lynda Williams
is the author of the Okal Rel Saga, published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. Part 7: Healer's Sword arrives in 2012. Lynda's work features moral dilemmas in a character-driven, multi-cultural setting with radically different attitudes to sex and social control surrounding space warfare and bio-science.

Matthew Graybosch: Why Did it Have to be Swords?

Even the most casual reader of speculative fiction will notice the preference for swords when a protagonist must resort to violence. This cannot always be justified in science fiction, but the preference becomes more pronounced as science fiction softens, puts aside rationalism, and becomes fantasy. Hiro Protagonist bore an unnamed katana in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. Jedi and Sith alike bore lightsabers, swords with plasma blades, in the Star Wars films. Michael Moorcock's first protagonist, John Daker, first bore Kanajana, and then the Black Sword -- and his other incarnations wielded other manifestations of the Black Sword, such as Dorian Hawkmoon's Sword of the Dawn, and Elric's hellblade Stormbringer. Gandalf, the archetypal wizard of modern fantasy, carried the elvish sword Glamdring. Even in Alexandre Dumas' historical romances, the Musketeers did most of their fighting with rapiers, not firearms.

Why do swords figure so prominently in fantasy? One could point at human history, and suggest that in every human culture capable of metalworking people forged swords. Swords, named or unnamed, figure prominently in the mythology of many European and Asian cultures. Perseus was given a sickle-bladed sword with which to behead Medusa. King Hrothgar gave Hrunting to Beowulf when he set out to kill Grendel's mother. In Judeo-Christian mythology, the archangel Uriel carried a flaming sword with which to keep humans from returning to the Garden of Eden. King Arthur wielded Excalibur, but was warned by Merlin to value the scabbard more highly than the sword, for the scabbard would preserve his life no matter how badly he was wounded. The French knight Roland carried Durandal. In east Asia, the Ama-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven) figures so prominently in Japanese mythology that when it was given to the mortal Yamato Takeru it eventually became part of Japan's Imperia Regalia -- emblems of the Emperor.

We can claim that swords hold preeminence in fantasy because they figure so prominently in so many cultures' hero myths. However, that still does not explain our fascination with swords in a century where wars are fought with more efficient weapons: semi-automatic rifles, machine guns, cruise missiles, and now remotely piloted drones. Who needs a sword, to fight enemies one at a time and hand to hand, when we have the technology to kill in bulk and at a distance?

Though I am neither a psychologist nor an anthropologist, I would submit that we romanticize the sword because we have made violence utterly impersonal in real life. A modern soldier in a modern war can be killed without warning by an unseen enemy, and have no chance to fight back. The use of the sword makes violence personal. By making violence personal again, we limit the scope of conflict to the combatants. Lynda Williams builds an entire ethical system based on the need to preserve habitable space by restricting the scope of conflict in her Okal Rel books, and her Sevolite culture gives this system a simple name: Sword Law. I work along similar lines in my Starbreaker series, since characters in my setting not only wished to preserve their environment, but live in a culture possessed of a horror of government-sponsored mass violence.

As seen in films like The Princess Bride, the use of swords makes violence more appealing in the aesthetic sense, as we can see the combatants make of combat both a dance and a dialogue. I doubt anybody would be satisfied if Inigo Montoya were to say, "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.", and then open fire on Count Rugen with an AK-47 set for fully automatic fire.

It is reasonable to claim, however, that violence could be made personal and the scope of conflict limited without the use of the sword. Clubs, knives, and brass knuckles would do just as well, to say nothing of empty-handed martial arts like aikido, kung fu, savate, and krav maga. Indeed, bare-handed fighting figures prominently in Asian media, though Chinese martial arts films tend to blend empty-handed fighting with the use of melee weapons. However, there are other reasons for heroes in speculative fiction to carry swords, and not knives or brass knuckles. The sword is considered an aristocratic weapon, while knives and knuckle dusters are for thugs and gangsters. Though every man in Rome's legions carried a sword, later European cultures limited the use of the sword to the upper classes for economic reasons. Though the Roman gladius was a weapon simple enough for a common soldier's use, swords in use during the European Renaissance tended to require years of rigorous training for which only the wealthy had time. By the Enlightenment, swordplay had become a liberal art, and the use of swords in combat was limited to cavalry charges, and duels between gentlemen.

Bearing all of this in mind, it is little surprise that with exceptions like David Gemmell's Druss, most heroes in fantasy and the softest forms of science fiction often favor the sword. Our mythological heroes carried them. Knights and nobility carried them. Officers and gentlemen (and sometimes ladies) carried them. Why not place them in the hands of starfaring Sevolites, or Adversaries sworn to the defense of liberty and justice for all?

Next week: Lynda Williams writes her response to the central question.

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4Jan/12Off

Continuing Characters #5: Amel

The first installment in Continuing Characters featuring a character from the Okal Rel Universe.

Continuing Characters: A series of interviews featuring continuing characters and the authors who know them best.

Book 4: Throne PriceBook 5: Far ArenaBook 6: Avim's Oath

The Okal Rel Saga by Lynda Williams is a 10 novel series, published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy, set in a very different universe. The character-driven stories tackle themes of culture clash in a context where all-out war is so horrific it is all but obsolete, but passions still run high. Currently forthcoming is Part 7: Healer's Sword.

Amel Soul of Light by Yukari Yamamoto Amel is the prince raised as a pauper and the prostitute with the heart of gold. He begins the Okal Rel Saga as a battered 16-year-old. He ends it, about twenty years later, as a religious and secular power. As recognized by reviewer Stephanie Ann Johanson, Part 6: Avim’s Oath is the book where Amel gets a grip and takes charge. But then, Amel is mostly Demish so it’s not surprising that he takes a few books and about twenty years to mature. The main protagonist of the Okal Rel Saga, Amel is one of the point of view characters in all the books except Part 2: Righteous Anger, where he makes a cameo appearance.

"What would life be without other people?" --from Part 5: Far Arena

Questions for Amel (circum Avim’s Oath)

Q. What do you most desire?

To have lived a different life. At least, I always used to think so. Now, I am no longer sure. When I was young I wanted nothing more than to escape unwanted attention and to spend my life with the people I chose to love. Most of my dreams were foolish ones but I needed them to be large, real and beautiful. As I get older, I have begun to see responsibilities before me that are larger than my personal desires. Change is coming, and the Demish will need my help to cope. I cannot bear to think of all that is good and beautiful in a thousand years of Demish life being lost in the maelstrom of change, even though I understand much of the change will be good.

Q. What is your greatest fear?

The stupidity of people who have no empathy. If every would-be conqueror could feel even a tenth of the anguish he inflicts on others, it would be a better world. The greed for dominance some people feel is sickening. And yet, I must acknowledge it is necessary to fight for what I believe in and that means I must risk harm to myself and those who follow me, as well as those we oppose. There is no escaping conflict if one holds an opinion. Sometimes I fear the sadness at the bottom of all struggles in which someone wins and all the rest must lose.

Lynda Williams Lynda Williams is the author of the Okal Rel Saga, published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. Part 7: Healer's Sword arrives in 2012. Lynda's work features moral dilemmas in a character-driven, multi-cultural setting with radically different attitudes to sex and social control surrounding space warfare and bio-science.

Questions for Lynda

Q. Where did Amel come from?

Originally, he was a thought experiment in how kind someone could be and still survive. I’ve also been accused of creating the perfect man for myself, as a teenager, and can’t deny the charge. Amel interests me more, now, as a maturing visionary and leader than as a hot date who is also awesome at giving a woman his full, emotional attention. He is an archetype, but he is also as individual as people I know in real life. He has been around nearly as long as I have, and has tons more experience interacting with people and other characters than will ever appear in print. He evolved in a spirit of interactive play.

I even have a small collection of his poetry, snatched from "the other side" over the years, and translated into English when necessary. :)

Q. What role does Amel’s arresting physical beauty play for you?

On the superficial side, I’m going to blame my teenage self again. When my older self inherited him, however, I took on the challenge of exploring the reactions he inspires: everything from adoration to predatory behavior, annoyance or jealousy. He has a hard time getting other men to take him seriously.


From Part 8: Gathering Storm – Eler POV

He’s so damned pretty, Eler indulged in a blackening spite, he could be a woman if his chin was just a little sharper, his shoulders narrowed and his hips adjusted a bit.

Mentally making the changes, Eler found himself smack in the middle of an angry, sexual fantasy that popped in a bubble of revulsion when Amel’s body snapped back to its masculine proportions in his mind’s eye.

"Ugh," Eler said aloud, shaking his head with a shudder. There were times when even he wished he could reign in his imagination.