Kristi Charish loves a steamy sex scene as much as the next Urban Fantasy fanatic – but is it always the time and place? She stopped by to share some thoughts with us on the place of sex scenes in her series, The Owl Series, and in her latest title: OWL AND THE ELECTRIC SAMURAI.
When I was invited to come on XOXO After Dark for a guest post, I spent a while trying to come up with an appropriate topic. XOXO is a place to find some pretty hot and sexy UF (it used to boast a flamometer rating after all), and while my protagonist, Owl (aka Alix Hiboux), might be accurately described as a hot mess, The Owl Series is not. My series, for all its romantic plot entanglements, most definitely falls on the tepid scale of that infamous flamometer.
Why isn’t there more sex in Owl? I mean, I’m writing urban fantasy, aren’t I? Isn’t the hot supernatural sex scene kind of a prerequisite?
When I started reading urban fantasy oh, 10 years or so back now, I loved the mix of adventure with the supernatural and romance. There’s a lot of fantastic sex scenes written in to many an adventure urban fantasy (Laurell K Hamilton anyone?).
But I also noticed there were a lot of UF novels where the graphic sex scenes felt sandwiched in. It didn’t read like the satisfying and natural culmination of the story and character arcs, but artificial and synthetic—like a puzzle piece that is seriously not going to fit but the author tried to wedge it in there anyways. It’s awkward—like finding a porn magazine your younger brother hid between encyclopedias because he thought you’d never in a million years stumble across it (#notallhidingspotsarecreatedequal) along with the stilted family dinner conversations that follow.
Here’s the thing, as a reader I’ve never shied away from sex in novels, but when I read sex, I want good sex. Not cheap sex wedged into a chapter like the quickie porno clip frantically downloaded on your cubicle neighbor’s computer while he/she thinks no one is looking. That’s not sexy, it’s uncomfortable—for everyone involved! While good sex adds depth to a story, gratuitous sex often cheapens it, and sometimes the story gets dragged along for the ride.
Owl is an awkward heroine at times. Though she’s at the top of her thieving and supernatural archaeology game, she’s self-conscious, obsessed with an online videogame, and doesn’t always think of the things she says before they spill out of her mouth (she also probably drinks too much Corona if we’re all being honest here). I wanted to write a character that broke many of the female lead stereotypes, and Owl does that. She rebels against most things, including the ‘sexy’ stereotype. And that’s ok! There are more ways for women to be sexy now than ever before! Why should our female leads and stories be wedged into a box?
Owl has romance (I don’t think you can have a good adventure novel without it), but true to her and the story it’s often behind closed doors. And in my mind, for Owl, not having a sex scene is even more sexy and empowering than if I wedged one in.