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The Grimorum Arcanorum

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Chapter Four: Adult Themes in Fanfic

By Christine Morgan

If anyone was going to tackle an essay on this topic, it simply had to be me!

Over the past few years, I have written more than fifty fanfiction stories, most of which have been based on Gargoyles and more than half of which have included sexual content. This has led to quite a reputation. I have been called the "bad girl of Gargoyles fanfic," not to mention a few other things slightly less polite.

Even before I discovered fanfiction, I was writing erotic stories. These were mostly game-related, based on characters in role-playing games. Many of them were written as gifts for the players, good friends of mine.

My first-ever fanfic was called "A Matter of Pride," and was written after watching "The Lion King" one too many times. Once it was written, I decided to post it to a sex stories newsgroup where I had seen a few other fanfics, primarily involving Star Trek characters or various superheroes. I never realized there were so many other grown-up Lion King fans, and the response was overwhelming.

When I began writing Gargoyles stories, I found the same sort of thing -- lots of adults, and an overwhelming response to my second story, "Passions." At the time, there had not been many forays into the erotic arena among that fandom. Now, thanks in part to modest pioneers like me, there are many authors who have taken to exploring the more sensual aspects of our beloved defenders of the night.

My own stories have ranged across quite a spectrum of erotica, from the romantic ("Passions") to the raucous ("Love Machine") to the darkly disturbing ("The Pure and the Profane"). I have tried to avoid writing the same thing over and over, because that to me is just plain boring. In my stories, I have seen characters practice safe sex ("Attraction"), awkward adolescent sex ("Lead Me Not"), and various different acts and positions. The purpose of this was to challenge me as a writer to see if I could make it believable, and to give the reader something new.

There are those who are shocked, appalled, horrified, or puzzled by all of this. I have been called upon a few times over the years to explain (some would say "justify) why I write what I do, why people read it, who the heck I think I am to sully the characters in this way, etc.

So I thought I'd take a look at some of those questions, and answer with my opinions. These are only my opinions, of course, and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.


#1 -- Why do you write that stuff?

The simplest answer for this is because I have a knack for it. Every writer has some things he or she is drawn to and does well. Stephen King once described it as having different filters in our minds -- what goes through one person's filter might catch in another's (I think this was in Danse Macabre, and if not, it was in one of the introductions to a short story collection). I happen to have a filter set for erotica. I'm lucky enough to be good at it.

Some people think I must write about sex because I'm a desperate, lonely woman with no life. On the contrary, most of the best erotic writers I have ever known are in happy, stable, loving relationships that give them confidence and security (plus, occasionally, assistance in research).

#2 -- Why do people read that stuff?

And they do, believe me! Fifty percent of all paperback sales in the U.S. are romance novels. That's a lot of heaving bosoms.

There are probably a lot of reasons why people like to read about sex. First off, let's be honest, sex in fiction tends to be a lot better than sex in real life. Nobody wants to read about realistic sex -- sweaty skin sticking together, awkward or uncomfortable positions, kids walking in at inopportune moments, etc. Sadly, people often have enough of that in real life. Sex in fiction can be perfect -- smooth, seamless, romantic, simultaneous-multi-orgasmic encounters.

Another reason for the popularity of erotica has to do with the body's most important sexual organ -- the brain. Stimulation of the brain has more to do with "good sex" than stimulation of the rest of the body. For some people, reading or viewing erotica gets the brain going, and then the body (and the partner) can reap the benefits.

#3 -- Is sex necessary for fanfic?


This has to be one of my least favorite questions, because of course sex isn't necessary for fanfic. Nothing is necessary for fanfic. Fanfic itself isn't necessary. Neither are the shows fanfic is based on. Nothing but food and shelter are necessary.

Does sex help fanfic? Sure, sometimes. But throwing in a sex scene isn't going to make a bad story better. The story should first and foremost be about the characters and their interactions, whether it is sexual or not.

I have read some ghastly fanfics which seem like nothing more than Penthouse Letter rejects with names of characters added. I've gotten some alarming requests for scenes that I could never imagine writing, because in my mind those scenes would not seem at all believable for the characters involved.

Sex is a major drive, whether acted upon or not. It is a part of life, and art reflects life, so it doesn't seem at all to me that there is no place for sex in fiction. Or in fanfiction.

#4 -- Aren't you worried that people will be offended?


I refuse to buy into the culture of victimhood. If someone is offended by something I write, the problem is theirs. We are all responsible for our own reactions.

If I am deliberately trying to provoke someone, that's a different matter, but if I am writing something honestly and with good faith to myself, and someone else doesn't like it, that's their problem and not mine. My stories are always clearly labeled if they contain things people might see as objectionable. I am not forcing anyone to read them. I do not feel obliged to censor myself because I might upset the sensibilities of another.

#4a -- What about your responsibility as a writer?

My main responsibility as a writer is to write well, no matter what I write about. A writer of fiction is, in my opinion, an artist and an entertainer, not a preacher or a teacher or trying to get any big moral message across.

#5 -- What about kids who might be corrupted?

In a world where a majority of prime-time television is filled with lewd jokes and other sexual innuendo, I am hardly worried that my stories will prove the downfall of today's youth. Whether any given story is appropriate for any given person is up to that person and/or his or her parents.

People don't go crazy because of something they've read, played, or seen. Few things get under my skin as fast as seeing blame placed on books, role-playing games, movies, magazines. Men don't turn into rapists because they subscribe to Playboy. Kids don't kill themselves over D&D. The underlying root problem has to be there to begin with.

#5a -- Would you let your own child read your stories?

Sure, when I feel that she is mature enough. I also let my mother read them, and my younger brother, and it doesn't bother me at all.

Maturity is relative. I have met teenagers who could pass for thirty, and I've met thirty-year-olds who act like teenagers.

#6 -- How dare you write about cartoon characters like that?

Whenever I get this question, it's usually followed up by "you sicko." And that, I must confess, has on the occasions it's happened, only led me to write even naughtier stories than the one to which the person was referring. Petty, yes, but I might as well own up to it.

But once I get past the question's attitude spin (and my own), I can admit that it's a valid one. Of the erotic fanfic I've written, nearly all of it has been based on animated characters, mostly from Disney. And nearly all of it has followed up on what I personally read into the source.

I believed that the look Nala gave Simba was laden with come-hither sensuality. I believed that Frollo's mad obsession with Esmeralda was sexual in nature. I believed that there were erotic undertones in several Gargoyles episodes (and now, because of me, a lot of readers will never be able to watch "Temptation" the same way again).

It is part of my own internal mindset that I read more into those examples than other people do. That filter in my mind. That part of me that doesn't see anything wrong with thinking animated characters can be just as sexy -- or even sexier -- than real people.

In closing -- and if you've stayed with me this long through my often impassioned ramblings, Reader, I salute you -- I would like to stress again that this topic is one that must be settled personally within each and every one of us.

It is not my place to force my views on anyone else, nor is it their place to force their views upon me. I have explained my reasoning to the best of my ability, not attempting to convert or change anyone else's mind but only in the hopes of opening some windows of understanding.

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