For all that the M/M genre is growing, it isn’t just about pulp fiction and romance anymore. Some talented folks are branching out, creating strong and interesting gay and lesbian characters throughout the whole spectrum of themes, tropes, and genres. One such boost has been the Horror genre, great for anyone who likes to be scared out of their mind while safely tucked away at home.
Here is author Brien Michaels to talk a little about what he writes, as well as some of the nuances that are happening within the genre.
We’re gonna start this post off with a few definitions, if you don’t mind.
Romance: a medieval tale dealing with a hero of chivalry, of the kind common in the Romance languages : the Arthurian romances.
• the literary genre of such works.
Horror: an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust : children screamed in horror.
• a thing causing such a feeling : photographs showed the horror of the tragedy | the horrors of civil war.
• a literary or film genre concerned with arousing such feelings : [as adj. ] a horror movie.
Erotica: literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire.
Now, of course, all of the above are various genres of fiction, but what happens when you start to mix and match them? With the explosion of ePublishers over the last decade or so, and the popularity of epubs such as Ellora’s Cave, Loose Id, etc…I think most readers know what Erotic Romance is. But for the sake of the post, it is described as “stories written about the development of a romantic relationship through sexual interaction. The sex is an inherent part of the story, character growth, and relationship development, and couldn’t be removed without damaging the storyline.” It’s a booming genre and shows no signs of waning anytime soon.
Now, Erotic Horror, on the other hand, is “alternately noted as Dark Erotica, and is a term applied to works of horror fiction in which sensual or sexual imagery (or even descriptions of the physical act of sexual intercourse) is blended with horrific overtones or story elements.” To the best of my knowledge, Erotic Horror is somewhat newer than Erotic Romance, and written far less frequently because of the sometimes difficult task of blending the scary with the sexy and still telling a compelling story.
In my experience I’ve learned that while one genre may possess certain…qualities and attributes of the other, it in no way makes them switch places. That is to say: just because a relationship is developed because of possibly extenuating circumstances, that doesn’t make an Erotic Horror story an Erotic Romance. And vice-versa. The two are as different as night and day. Or for the sake of this post: as different as a heart that’s pounding because of love and a heart that’s pounding with fear. The only thing they really must have in common is the sex.
Why the genre/terminology lesson, you ask? Because I recently released an Erotic Horror novella, and it’s called Last Friday Night. The story revolves around Tyler Mack and Jessie Nalick, two otherwise straight men who are kidnapped and told that if they don’t sleep with each other, everyone they love will be killed. But, that being said, they’re offered a small loophole. If they can make it to the bottom level of the house they’re being held captive in, they can go free and no one has to die. On their journey to find the front door, they must face their worst fears without turning back or running away.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty of sex in the book and, as they’re trying to escape, the two of them do learn quite a bit about each other. But I don’t think that changes the label. The book focuses more on the horrific situation my heroes find themselves in than any potential for a relationship which, according to the definition, is essential to an Erotic Romance. This is a book that focuses on what scares you, and how those fears may or may not shape you as a human being. Or, at least how those fears redefine how you look at the world around you.
Last Friday Night is book three in my Stories of Us series. It’s not vital that the books be read in order, however, Tyler’s little brother Dylan plays a fairly significant role in this story. Dylan’s main story is called Can’t Make You Love Me, and it’s the first book in the series. I only issue the warning because this book does spoil the ending of that one, if you plan on reading. I’ll end this post with an excerpt. One that’s a little creepy, but a little sexy too. Those are my favorite, I think.
Friday, 9:15 p.m.
Jessie couldn’t keep his eyes off the club jutting from Tyler’s body. Why wouldn’t it go down? He’d shot a massive load down Jessie’s throat not twenty minutes ago, so why was Tyler’s dick still so fucking hard? The hallway around them gave him something else to focus on, but he couldn’t stop stealing glances at Tyler’s crotch.
“This is bogus,” Tyler said. “She’s playing us.”
Jessie’s throat was suddenly as dry as the desert at the height of summer. “Better to play along and survive than not and die, right?”
Tyler looked at him, his green eyes smoldering. “Are you stupid? We play along, she still kills us.”
The angry edge to Tyler’s voice dug its way through Jessie and unearthed desires he couldn’t wait to explore. “But maybe she’ll stick to her word.” He imagined tonguing Tyler’s cock again.
Saliva poured into Jessie’s mouth. He shook his head. What the fuck was wrong with him? Their lives and the lives of the people they cared about were on the line, and all he could think about was sex. But he couldn’t help it. Something in this house kicked his sex drive into high gear. Why else was he fixated on Tyler’s bulging abs, triceps, biceps, and that sexy little treasure trail that led straight down to–
Jessie clenched his eyes shut and willed himself to focus.
“What’s wrong with you?” Tyler asked.
“I’m fine,” Jessie lied. He wasn’t fine, but he would be. All he had to do was open his eyes and force them to stay on Tyler’s face.
Tyler scoffed. “Let’s get this over with.”
Jessie opened his eyes, but Tyler had turned and was striding down the hallway, his ass Jessie’s focus. He bit his cheek and followed. He couldn’t let Tyler know the thoughts rampaging through his mind.
The hall seemed to go on forever, a single, endless beam of light on the ceiling guiding their path. Crude drawings marred the wooden walls which looked as though some overgrown child had dipped his finger in a bucket of paint to decorate. The first drawings were nothing more than stick figures making faces at each other, but the farther down the hallway Jessie and Tyler traveled, the more disturbing the images became. Just before the staircase leading downstairs, a gigantic, multi-headed dog fed…on people. Behind that dog was a figure, cloaked in shadows and pointing with a long, skeletal finger.
“This place is giving me the creeps,” Jessie said.
“Join the club.”
Tyler descended the steps, and Jessie followed toward a sliver of light visible at the bottom. But at the landing, they were plunged into darkness.
“Oh, come on!” Jessie cried.
Tyler snickered. “You aren’t afraid of the dark, are you?”
“Eat me. I haven’t been afraid of the dark since I was ten,” Jessie said. He regretted the words as soon as they were out of his mouth. Something rippled over his skin; everything fled from his mind except a vision of Tyler bending him over and burying his face between his cheeks. The image was so vivid that, for a second, he felt a tongue sliding over his hole. He suppressed a shudder.
Tyler was silent for a moment. “You know that if we make it out of this, nobody can know what happened back there, right?”
“Yeah, cuz I’m just dying to tell people I went down on you.”
No matter how good it felt having you in my mouth.
“Good. Cuz if you do, I promise you I’ll kill you myself.”
“My lips are sealed.”
“Good.” Tyler stopped moving.
Jessie brushed past him. The spot where their flesh connected burned, as though Tyler’s skin was made of fire. But the heat wasn’t uncomfortable. In fact, it spread through Jessie’s body, and he found himself once again really feeling the fact that he hadn’t come during his and Tyler’s exchange. He wanted to go again. He was just about to ask Tyler why he’d freaked out when he heard a scurrying sound.
“What the fuck was that?” he asked, looking around as if he could actually see anything.
“I don’t know,” Tyler said, “but stay close.”
Tyler’s hand closed around Jessie’s wrist and pulled him in. What the hell? Before he could question the action further, the sound was back, echoing in the encasing darkness. It sounded vaguely familiar, but he refused to let himself believe it was what he thought. Not here. Not now.
“Listen,” Tyler said.
Nothing was moving, but something was there. Jessie could feel it. It was big, and the more closely he listened, the better he could hear slow, shallow breaths coming from its mouth. “What is that?” he asked. He could hear the tears in his own voice as the voice from the bedroom replayed itself in his brain.
The two of you will face your deepest, darkest fears.
He realized what it was with such crushing certainty he was sure he’d suffocate.
It couldn’t be.
But it was.
Blinding lights came up, and Jessie’s eyes needed a second to adjust.
A gigantic spider sat not ten feet away, all eight eyes trained on Jessie and Tyler. Venom dripped from one of the arachnid’s enormous fangs. Jessie whimpered, pulled his wrist out of Tyler’s grip, and backed away.
“No!” Tyler hissed. “We turn back or weasel out and it’s all over, remember?”
“I can’t,” Jessie whispered, shaking his head slowly. “I can’t…”
A drop of venom fell from the spider’s teeth onto the floor. It burned through the surface.
Tyler grabbed Jessie’s wrist again. “It just had to be spiders. Why couldn’t you have been afraid of bunnies, or something?”
“It’s my brother’s fault,” Jessie said quietly, terrified if he spoke too loudly the beast would attack. He was just about to give Tyler the Cliff’s Notes version of what had happened when the creature took a step forward, its legs moving one after the other. Something like a growl trickled from its mouth.
His first instinct was to turn tail and run, consequences be damned, but his joints and muscles seemed to have frozen in place. He tried to yank his hand from Tyler’s grasp and flee, but his body wouldn’t cooperate. A single tear escaped his eye.
This was it. He’d come all this way in his life just to die at the teeth of a creature that, up until now, he would have sworn couldn’t have existed.
It took another step forward, mouth spreading open to reveal rows and rows of rotating, razor-sharp teeth.
“There’s no way around this thing,” Tyler said, the fear in his voice echoing the terror in Jessie’s heart.
It really had been a setup from the beginning. Neither of them had been expected to survive this first “test.”
Thanks for stopping by! As a prize, one random commenter will win a copy of their choice of ebook from my backlist. Sound off in the comments. Would you read erotic horror? Do you think the two genres could be interchangeable?
Open until Friday, June 29th at 11:59 pm (PST). A winner will be selected and notified on Saturday.