So I’m Albuquerque, at the SW/TX PCA/ACA conference, “Reeling in the Years.” Â I’m giving a paper on the vexed connections between fiction, testimony, and truth-telling, as philosophized by Jacques Derrida using a text by Maurice Blanchot as his inspiration. Â It’s way less wankerish than it sounds, and is actually really interesting and accessible. Â Seriously. Â I mean that.
I arrived late afternoon yesterday, so only made it to one panel, and I chose to go to a panel that was entirely about the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. Â It was really, really, interesting, not least because my thoughts about the book are very conflicted. Â It is a problematic book, to say the least. Â And coming at it with both of my two hats on (the one hat being that of an academic who studies gender issues and issues involving power and ideology; the other hat being that of an Urban Fantasist who writes about vampire nookie) often leaves me even more confused.
So we had a paper on the monsters in the book, from a woman who studies Fairy Tales and monstrosity, and one on liminal spaces within the book, from a woman who, you guessed it, studies liminal spaces, and a very good reaction paper from a woman who considers herself a second-wave feminist AND a mother, trying to understand whether or not this book is anti-feminist, or an excellent representation of third-wave feminism. Â So in the discussion afterward we talked about cyborgs, and how vampires are a great representation of the theories regarding post-gender (I used the word disengendered, which is wrong, but I also liked it), and how many adult critics focused on the male (or peni-ed vampires, as the case may be) characters while the young girls reading the books often seemed to focus on Bella, as a protagonist, as their true area of interest. Â In that vein, I realized that Bella is, actually, a lot like many UF heroines out there these days, and actually shares a few (and I’m talking FEW, but they’re interesting) similarities to my own heroine.
Anyway, it also made me think in terms of some last minute changes I just made in the manuscript for Tempest Rising regarding some sex scenes. Â I do some work for Planned Parenthood in Louisiana, and I’m the faculty sponsor for Planned Parenthood’s VOX group at my university. Â And I had my character blithely having unprotected sex – Â granted, with a vampire who assures her that it’s fine – but was that reallyÂ where I wanted to go? Â I’d always been slightly bothered by that inevitable paranormal romance scene in which the supernatural love muffin says, “Baby, we don’t need to cover my shit because [insert creature here]’s can’t carry the hiv.” Â As a writer, I totally get that it’s a BITCH to have your sexysexy interrupted by a jimmy, but seriously? Â I’ve seen the Montel where the girl cries, saying, “He promised me he was shooting blanks!” or the boy sits, sobbing, “She promised me discharge was normal!” Â
I was raised never to trust the people I have sex with, when it comes to my bits. Â That they are MY bits and I am responsible for them. Â And yet, I had my heroine throwing her bits out there without a care in the world, just because some random dude promised her he was a vampire. Â Okay, it was a way better scene than that, but the no-protection part of my otherwise sensual and aesthetically superior sex scene (really, yo) always bothered me.
So I fixed it, and I made the inevitably-interruptive aspects of the condom a running gag. Â Which totally sounds like something you get when you DON’T wear a rubber. Â Anyway, I worked it, and made it work, just like couples all over the world do every night.
And I felt better. Â Because my book is a total beach-read, fantasy romp. Â But I also want it to be real. Â Which is a paradox but it’s true. Â I also think this paradox is what bothers so many adult readers of Meyer’s books. Â Because our fantasies are, in large part, determined by our realities. Â And our realities are determined by our fantasies. Â So when a novel, such as Twilight, offers so many mixed messages to our most vulnerable age-groups, we’re not sure who to trust. Â Do we trust the author? Â The reader? Â Do we interfere, as parents or aunts or teachers, and sit the child down to explain that they will never be no-longer-pooping, shiny, 19-year-old mothers of psychic babies, none of whom, apparently, poop, either?
Move over Derrida. Â I got some urban-fantasy-filosofizing to do. 😉
Finally, check out my interview with Cindy Pon, over at the League. Â Awesome.