The Eyes: Like a good movie, I want my dramatic scenes to be subtle, leaving the obvious unsaid. My method is for characters to make eye contact. I know this isn’t original, but I use it frequently. Maybe too much. The eyes are so important, though. I’m old fashioned; if someone won’t make eye contact with me, then I don’t trust that person. Those twin ocular organs can reveal so much. My characters glance at each other, look at the floor, roll their eyes, squeeze them shut, narrow them to slits, or glower at their enemies. Many writers do the same, but sometimes I prefer this ‘eye action’ to dialogue. That’s how real people communicate, especially when it comes to conveying unhappy or reluctant emotions. Who really comes out and says ‘I hate you’ or ‘I love you’? Few people do—but their eyes tell all. It became a fiction fetish for me after watching Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. All those facial close-ups, crinkled expressions, and stony glares told so much without the characters uttering a single word. Yes, words are a writer’s fortes…but if you can say it with less…
Hot Liquids: Now, this is definitely fetish territory. Hot sensations shock a character, conveying passion, anger, or consummation. It is the opposite of cold, which often signifies a lack of emotion, death, or non-organic life. Combine hot with liquid, and what are the first things that come to mind? Blood, sweat, urine, semen, coffee, a steaming shower. Most of these are biological emissions. Blood from a gushing wound, or a woman’s cycle. Sweat from exertion, nervousness, or sex. Semen from male ejaculation, which might represent completion, seeding…or even rape and male domination, with all the evil that implies. Coffee scalds the mouth, fires the nerves—it’s like the drinker is imitating a vampire in sucking down hot liquid. And the steaming shower? It cleanses while burning. Though it can be shut off, the character remains under the shower head, purposely incinerating skin cells in an act of sado-masochism. Like they want to burn away an unwanted part of themselves. Now, most of these things have sexual connotations. Sex in my fiction is often about release, control, or rejecting the cerebral for the primal. There’s something about getting splashed with hot blood that is sexual, even bestial, illustrating how our rational minds can so easily give in to base desires. The act of killing, and the resulting blood, is comparable to copulation and the male orgasm, that ends with a hot spray. So hot liquids ultimately represents sex and death in my work—the gods still worshipped by modernity in every bikini billboard and action film.
The Truth Seeker: Many of my heroes and heroines fall into this fetish. Regardless of genre or setting, they always try to ‘find themselves’ while surviving a harsh reality. I can’t help it; I won’t write a character with no room to grow into something else. This is true for most writers and their main characters, but I tend to write about vagabonds in a greater system they can’t control. Outsiders who exists on the fringes. Examples are: a ranger who treads the frontier, embolden to no one; a drug-addict bounty hunter, sentenced to a world where the population hates her; a space salvager who travels the cosmic expanse alone, never staying on one world for long; a sell-sword who roams a blighted land, never satisfying his emotional needs; a suicide who enters a city of cannibals, but who refuses to eat flesh. What can I say? Happy heroes/heroines bore the shit out of me.
Antagonistic Lovers: I admit it: I loathe a tame love story. I’m not referring to a lack of sexual action, or the absence of ‘sparks’ between lovers. What I’m talking about is irritation, annoyance. People who don’t want to fall in love, who argue with their romantic interest. Couples who have so much sexual tension they could kill each other. They don’t come to blows (I’m not into that fetish) but they aren’t best friends. Yet, anyway. Why is this my fetish? Did Han and Leia in The Empire Strikes Back ruin me for life? I don’t know. Because it’s more interesting. More believable. Opposites attract. And I don’t like easy love. If something isn’t hard to attain, then where’s the dramatic impact once a character receives it? No, I’m not talking about the cliché ‘city girl meets cowboy’ drivel. I like two characters who have their own lives, ambitions, and weaknesses, and don’t want another person intruding into their world. They are their own people, and aren’t docile conformists. That’s the romance I like to write. Besides, what better way to show that they really love one another?
The Strong Woman: Male writers do this all the time: write female characters who kick ass, wear tight pants, a black leather sports bra, and have 36-24-36 measurements. It’s a fantasy for them. Women write strong heroines as well, and let’s admit it: they also pander to the fantasy kick-ass chick (I use ‘chick’ on purpose; sometimes these don’t feel like real women to me). I write strong feminine characters too, and yes, one of them wears tight, black leather clothes. But she is on Mars, and all that dust gets in everything…oh hell, I won’t even try to rationalize it. I find it sexy, okay? But sexiest of all is what else I add to such heroines: they are capable of doing things themselves, without the aid of a man. If she has sex, it isn’t because she’s a slut, or because I’m lewd and want a steamy sex scene. She has sex because she enjoys it like every other human being. I write her as self-conscious, because she’s lovely yet doesn’t see it (can’t stand the runway model arrogance). My heroines are liberated by their sexuality, not constrained by it. They are comfortable in so-called ‘men’s’ roles. There never is any doubt in their minds that they are the equals of men. That’s what I find sexy in a heroine. Call me crazy, but a subservient, brainless bimbo isn’t a turn-on.
These are just some of my fiction fetishes. I’m sure there are a few I’m unaware of. Since I recognize these repeated motifs in my writing, it’s time to try something different, so I don’t become stagnant. That is the real point of this exercise.
But I’ll keep the Strong Woman fetish. She’d beat the crap out of me otherwise.