Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sexuality in Fantasy

This month's Travelling Fantasy round table topic is Sexuality in Fantasy. 

As a writer of Christian fantasy, I have hurdles to jump over when it comes to writing about sex. First, there are the moral rules I have to follow. Rules dictated within the Bible and rules followed by Christians outside the Bible which may or may not be Biblical but which fall into the category of "acceptable for Christian readers."

So far, I have not had a homosexual character appear to me wanting a story to be written about him. I have however had characters who engaged in sexual acts that did not quite fit in with what a Christian fantasy reader would accept. 

I have, for instance, created one graphic sex scene and one rape scene.  In Wind Follower, I wrote six small sex scenes and got several rebukes from Christian readers for writing them, although there is no way those sex scenes could have been described as titillating because there was so much woundedness, cruelty, and evil involved. 

I did create a mini-harem of sorts in Wind Follower: a man with a wife and a concubine. No one was really bothered by that sexual situation because Christian and/or western readers are used to stories where men have wives and concubines. In Constant Tower, my novel which will be published by Wildside Press, I create a world where women have two husbands each. I am not sure how that will go over with some folks. The main characters in that "marriage" are teenagers so I had to be careful about being too sexual because although ancient times were different and youngsters married earlier, in our modern times sex between teenagers is taboo. 

I think my biggest issue when showing sexuality, other than always worrying about my Christian audience, and trying not to affirm any kind of sexuality forbidden by my religion, is the problem of showing wounded sexuality. I tend to think that all humans are wounded and that this woundedness affects our sexuality. I also think we are confused sometimes and there are people who fall into our lovemaps and folks who fall into our lustmaps. In Wind Follower, my main character Satha probably loved her husband Loic, but I suspected she was more sexually-attracted to her husband's father Taer, and she was probably somewhat sexually attracted to the villain, Noam, even if she hated him. (Ah, if they had met at another time without that pesky family vendetta!)

From what I have seen in many Christian fiction, many characters have majorly sane healthy sex. I don't think that is true in real life. My characters tend to be sickly and often are battling self-loathing, depression, and other mental or physical issues. Sex gets complicated and the joyous blissful perfect combined orgasm is not something one is gonna find in a Carole McDonnell book. This is not to say that I do not understand that a book often carries the writer's wish-fulfillment character. In stories such as A Knight in Shining Armour, by Jude Devereaux and in the Korean drama, Queen In Hyeon's Man, the perfect man of a character's dream (and the reader's perfect man as well) pops up and love and lustmap match perfectly. However, as a writer of Christian fantasy, and as someone who has been ill and someone dedicated to truth (although truth is often merged with wish-fulfillment), I don't think I could ever write a book with joyous unwounded sexuality.  - Carole McDonnell

For more on this blog tour on Sexuality in Fantasy, go on over to: 

Theresa Crater has published two contemporary fantasies, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moon and “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age:  Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website at 

Andrea K Höst was born in Sweden but raised in Australia.  She writes fantasy and science fantasy, and enjoys creating stories which give her female characters something more to do than wait for rescue.  See:

Warren Rochelle has taught English at the University of Mary Washington since 2000. His short story, "The Golden Boy” (published in The Silver Gryphon) was a Finalist for the 2004 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Story and his novels include The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010. He also published a critical work on Le Guin and has academic articles in various journals and essay collections.

 I began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with JAYDIUM and NORTHLIGHT, and short stories in ASIMOV'S, F & SF, REALMS OF FANTASY and STAR WARS: TALES FROM JABBA'S PALACE. Now under my birth name, Ross, I am continuing the" Darkover" series of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as original work, including the fantasy trilogy THE SEVEN-PETALED SHIELD. I'm a member of Book View Cafe. I've lived in France, worked for a cardiologist, studied Hebrew, yoga and kung fu, and am active in the local Jewish and Quaker communities.

Chris Howard's a fairly creative guy with a pen and a paint brush, author of Seaborn (Juno Books) and half a shelf-full of other books.  His short stories have appeared in a bunch of zines, latest is "Lost Dogs and Fireplace Archeology" in Fantasy Magazine.  In 2007, his story "Hammers and Snails" was a Robert A. Heinlein Centennial Short Fiction Contest winner.  He writes and illustrates the comic, Saltwater Witch. His ink work and digital illos have appeared in Shimmer, BuzzyMag, various RPGs, and on the pages of other books, blogs, and places. Last year he painted a 9 x 12 foot Steampunk Map of New York for a cafe in Brooklyn. Find out everything at

Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings. She has published six fantasy novels, two of which were finalists for best fantasy novel of the year in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards, and some short stories in Australian and US anthologies. 

Carole McDonnell is a writer of ethnic fiction, speculative fiction, and Christian fiction. Her works have appeared in many anthologies and at various online sites. Her novel, Wind Follower, was published by Wildeside Books. Her forthcoming novel is called The Constant Tower.  
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