Thursday, April 23, 2015

More Into This Than I Thought

by Annabeth Leong

I never seek out historical fiction. In fact, I confess to an inner sigh at the thought. There is something about the phrase "historical fiction" that seems like too much work to me.

Then I think about my favorite things, and the historical pieces start stacking up.

I'm not sure if Jean Roberta will be too modest to talk about her own work, but I love The Flight of the Black Swan madly. Not only is it hot and wonderfully shameless, it has one of my very favorite historical elements: boats. Women running off on boats has always been an instant sell to me, since way, way back, when I first read Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. If Amazon ever makes a bestseller list highlighting those titles, I will go bankrupt.

When I consider more deeply, I think part of it is that I'm not endlessly interested in every little detail. The clothes alone don't get me, nor do the events or the particular places. There are, however, things I really like. I'm interested in manners and protocols and the conflicts they create. Because of that, I've gradually had to admit a great weakness for regencies or anything Jane Austen-y.



While I'm plugging other people's books, here's another: Sense and Sensuality: Erotic Fantasies in the World of Jane Austen, edited by the excellent J. Blackmore.



A great deal of last week was dominated by a frantic and obsessive reading of Penelope Friday's Petticoats and Promises. This is, wonder of wonders, a lesbian regency romance. I am no expert, but it felt accurate to me, and did engage with issues of the scandal that would result if the romantic connection between the two main characters was discovered. It has some erotic scenes, but I'd say it's on the romance side of the line.

Anyway, as I was reading I kept thinking I would read the hell out of this genre if it was more of a genre. I even spent a couple days googling "lesbian regency romance" and various combinations thereof to see if I could find a list (and I'll gladly take recommendations in the comments!).

I think a lot of what I'm interested in is rebellion, no matter when or where it happens. It's particularly fascinating in a restrictive historical context. As people have pointed out, there are pitfalls to this. It's easy to understate the challenges characters are facing, or to overlook the way a character would likely think as a product of his or her time. When it's done right, it can make me ache and thrill.

My own historical writing is usually on that theme. I'm thinking about stories like The Miracles of Dorothea of Andrine, which I researched for extensively. It's deep in church politics, about a bishop investigating a woman who's been put forward as a candidate for beatification. What he finds, however, is that the woman in question has been heading a matriarchal Virgin Mary-worshipping sex cult.

I normally avoid advertising my own work here, but today is sort of fortuitous—it's the cover reveal day for Liquid Longing, which is a collection of many of my erotic speculative fiction stories and novellas. A lot of the pieces are set in fantasy versions of historical locations. In addition to the religious novella I already mentioned, there's also a piece set in ancient Tokyo, several stories set in ancient Greece, and one inspired by Mongolian legend. The cover artist put a lot of incredible research into creating the cover I'm posting here. Since I've already crossed the line, I'll also mention that I'm looking for people interested in reading advance copies of this book as well. Feel free to shoot me an email or ask me about it in the comments. I will warn that these stories are erotic, not romantic, and many of them are dark or taboo.



I feel like I've been incredibly scattered in this post, and I apologize for that (and for my lateness). I hope I'll get it together for a better essay-style thing next time! And I guess I should try to write an erotic story about a woman running off on a boat. :)

14 comments:

  1. This is something I'd really like to read. When is it officially available? I'm being somewhat proactive in acquiring stories as reprints for BLE, and reading anthologies/collections to see things that may not be sent to me as submissions, but might be available on request. Plus I love historical specific erotica! it's almost as much fun to read as it is to write.

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    1. Thank you, Sacchi! It's officially being released on May 5, and I'll send you an advance copy. I'm not sure if it's got stories that would be appropriate for BLE, though. I want to write you an original for that, but I will also think about whether I have stuff that's come out recently that would be worth looking at (does it need to have been printed during a certain time period?).

      Thanks so much for being excited! It means a lot!

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    2. In my CFS I say "reprints, preferably published between June 2014 and June 2015," but I can be a bit flexible. I also say 2000-4000 words, since i'm only being allowed 55,000 words total, but there's some flexibility there, too. I do want to be able to fit in a wide variety of stories.

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    3. Thank you! Apologies for asking a question I could have answered myself...

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  2. Love the cover for Liquid Longing - what I love reading and writing about in historical fiction are the lives of everyday people and how differently they interacted with one another compared to the way people treat each other today. Men no longer stand when a lady enters the room, sometimes even when they are being introduced. I get mad when I see a man shaking hands with a woman when he hasn't bothered to get his ass of the chair. Etiquette, for the most part, is a thing of the past, and I for one wish it would have a resurgence. Where are you Miss Manners?

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    1. Just read something in Miss Manners where a guy offered to donate sperm to his lesbian niece and her wife. He couldn't figure out why they're avoiding him. :>)

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    2. Thanks, JP! I really agree about how interesting etiquette is. I think that's one reason I like regencies. They're often about 75% etiquette. And I'm also addicted to reading advice columns, though at the same time I often find them irritating.

      Daddy X, that's a great one. :)

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  3. Ooooh!...Get in touch with me re: the ARC. daddyxmasmut@hotmail.com

    Dark taboo sounds right up the proverbial alley.

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    1. Nice! I'll send you one! Thank you. :)

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  4. Annabeth, this new work looks intriguing. You know us here at the Grip. We're not put off by edginess and non-romance. :)

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    1. I love that about you all at the Grip, believe me! And thanks for being interested. I do always feel like I should give a heads up. I'll send you one, happily. :)

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  5. Oh PLEASE send me a copy (PDF), Annabeth! I'd love to read and review this.

    I like your comments about being drawn to rebellion. Although it's doggedly heterosexual, I recommend Daphne Du Maurier's FRENCHMAN'S CREEK, about a bored British lady who runs off with a French pirate. This was what I thought romance was, before I actually got involved in the industry!

    Oh, and I should mention I guess that Totally Bound has a whole series that offers explicit versions of the classics, including JANE EYRE, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, and many more:

    https://www.totallybound.com/imprint/clandestine-classics

    I personally feel a bit ambivalent about these. They invited me to write for the imprint and I refused, feeling that it smacked of disrespect. On the other, there is a guilty pleasure in pulling back the curtains and exposing the flesh in these tales.

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    1. :) Lisabet, thank you! I will send you a PDF directly. And as far as Frenchman's Creek, you've got me with French pirate. And that I've always liked your recommendations.

      I can see your ambivalence about explicit versions of the classics. Retellings of them, very yes. I like twisting and reconceiving these stories. Expansions, I'm less sure. Maybe I'll try one and see what I think...

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  6. And a general comment to say you're all awesome. I love this place!

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