I gleaned a lot of inspiration for my erotic romance, The Initiation of Ms Holly, from being stuck in the Eurostar Tunnel in the dark on a malfunctioning train; at least that was the catalyst. But the idea of being forced to use our other senses as a replacement for the over-developed sense of sight has always intrigued me and has played a role in several of my short stories. I wanted to create a world in which my hero and heroine would be forced to rely on other senses.
Often in novels, we literally see the world through the eyes of the author, and our eyes are constantly at the forefront of our Panoply of the Senses, with television, films, internet, even books. We get a visual glut of input with not nearly enough attention paid to the other senses. As writers, it’s not unusual for us to view our heroine or hero up close and personal in our mind’s eye. In many cases we may even have already picked out the perfect actor or actress to portray them in the inevitable movie that will surely follow (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does thisJ.)
A good bit of the first three chapters of The Initiation of Ms Holly takes place in the dark or with Rita Holly blindfolded. But the novel goes way beyond a few chapters in a blindfold. Rita is not permitted to see the face of her lover, Edward, until she completes, to the High Council’s satisfaction, the initiation ritual into the secret society, of which Edward is a part -- The Mount. Neither is she allowed to have sex with him until she is a fully-fledged member.
What I wanted to do was create a world in which our most common method of being attracted to each other – sight, and our most common response to falling in love – sex, are taken away. Rita and Edward are left with only their other senses and with their wits to overcome the obstacles set before them, that is IF they care enough about each other to endure the challenge. And Vivienne, the sexy but vicious head of the High Council of The Mount, has no intention of making it easy.
It’s an archetypal story -- not being able to experience one’s lover through the sense of sight. In Greek mythology, Psyche is not allowed to see the face of her lover, but he is so tender, so engaging so charming. And since he visits her in the dark of night, it’s a fair assumption that he’s good in bed too! Whatever he does, he does it well, caring for her in ways that inspire love. But of course it’s not enough. Psyche needs to SEE the man she loves to reassure herself he’s as wonderful as she believes him to be and not the monster her sisters tell her he is. Of course he’s neither man nor monster. He’s Eros, the god of love, himself, and she has broken his only command – not to look upon his face. Let the fun begin! The tale of their love and Psyche’s abandonment and reunion with Eros is one of my very favourite myths. The Initiation of Ms Holly is a modern retelling of that story, all dressed up and turned about and set in
Which brings me back to the other senses. Can we truly trust what we can’t see with our own eyes? Most mammals trust their noses far more than their sense of sight, and there have been studies done that suggest we humans still have those latent mammalian olfactory abilities. We just don’t use them anymore. Barn Owls can hunt quite effectively in total darkness by using only their amazing sense of hearing. Could we actually recognize true love with our sense of smell, could we recognize the heartbeat of our lover, or the shape of his face against our fingertips? Could we rely on the sense receptor in our skin to define for us what we can’t see? How much of what is unseen could we perceive with our ears or with our sense of taste? Edward tests some of Rita’s other senses in the beginning chapters of The Initiation of Ms Holly, with some very yummy results. ‘I don’t have to see you to appreciate you,’ he tells her upon their initial meeting in the pitch black of the train.
For me, toying with the senses and how they affect our desires and feelings for other people, how they affect our perception of intimacy, provides one of the most fascinating angles to any story. If we can’t see our lover, can we trust our other senses to tell us if we’re living with a monster or with a god? And even if we do see our lover, do we trust what we see with our own eyes to be the whole truth?
Rita and Edward’s journey is fraught with sensual twists and turns as well as the usual emotional mine fields that litter the path to love – jealousy, doubt, lack of trust, fear of loss, and all sorts of other tantalizing goodies. Emotions and senses – put the two together and watch the fireworks. Sometimes what we see with our own eyes is not to be trusted. And sometimes we CAN smell a rat. So the journey of a thousand miles, the journey to love, begins with a kiss in a dark train – at least for Rita and Edward. That and some very expensive chocolate.
K D Grace was born with a writing obsession. It got worse once she actually learned HOW to write. There's no treatment for it. It's progressive and chronic and quite often interferes with normal, everyday functioning. She might actually be concerned if it wasn't so damned much fun most of the time.
K D's erotic romance novel, The Initiation of Ms Holly, published by Xcite Books, is now available everywhere.
Her erotica has been published with Xcite Books, Mammoth, Cleis Press, Black Lace, Erotic Review, Ravenous Romance, and Scarlet Magazine.
Her second novel, The Pet Shop, also published by Xcite Books, will be available in October 2011.