Today I welcome onto my blog my good friend Sophie. Take it away, girl!
Thank you for hosting me today, Kia, and giving me a chance to talk about my new book, Rage – The Vampire’s Concubine #2. The aspect I’d like to discuss today is power dynamics. Now, every story ever written has power dynamics in it. For the most part, someone’s going to be in charge, have control of a situation. Others will be followers, some might even be obviously subservient and then there’s the sneaky bastard who gets his/her own way through cunning and manipulation.
Darth Vader is a loner, a man obeyed through the use of intimidation and fear. He is merciless, almost, which make his interactions with both the Empire and the Rebel Alliance stark and dangerous. He’s fearless, in total control – a bit boring if you think about it – but then, then you add Luke into the mix and we see those rules gradually eroding. Luke is, at first, just another adversary, in fact they have very little interaction in Star Wars A New Hope. Then Vader tries to take control of his son in Empire Strikes Back (sorry for the spoiler, but I’m assuming folks know the ending), using his power and greater experience to corner Luke, a very clear example of master and what, with hindsight of the later 3 movies, we’d call padwan. However, in Return of the Jedi, Luke, by the end, becomes the one with the power. His love for his father, his need to save him and his sacrifice turn the controller into the follower. Vader does as Luke wishes, he returns to the Light. These are all fairly simple dynamics, but, wow, do the make for some good movies.
In The Vampire’s Concubine, the plot arc is still very close to the beginning of the story, Hieron and Umi barely know each other, so the power dynamics in their relationship at this stage are pretty black and white, much the same as Vader and pretty much anyone he deals with in A New Hope. Hieron, Lord of Harkham, vampire, is the master, his will is everything. Umi, whoever he was before he made his bargain with Hieron, is now a slave, new in his position and at the bottom of the heap. He has agreed to obey his master in everything in exchange for vampire power, and only time will tell if he can truly submit to Hieron so completely. The big question, though, is why he would offer 99 years of absolute service, it is a high price to pay, even for vampire immortality. Only later books will reveal his motives.
This very biased power dynamic, i.e. all the power is with one member of a relationship, can be erotically inspiring for me. And I have to admit to a leaning towards it for a starting place in a lot of my erotic fiction, because it catches the attention and spices up the moment, especially when the dominant partner is coupled with a partially rebellious sub, whether that is conscious of unconscious on the part of the sub. The first few books of The Vampire’s Concubine will be exploring the new and very visceral reactions that Hieron and Umi have to each other. Umi is new to both the vampire world and to male/male sex, both of which give him a wild side. He has already drawn Hieron in, persuaded him by his sheer audacity to agree to a mystery and in An Amusement, the first story in this serial, Hieron had discovered his new concubine likes sex. He uses that desire to master Umi, forcing him to tame that want to let go. Yet, even when Umi obeys, there is something about him which fires Hieron’s passions both in bed and out of it – the not knowing who Umi was.
Umi is both attractive and mysterious to Hieron, which, in Rage, could prove a lethal combination for, not only the Lord’s newest concubine, but others in his household as well. Hieron is absolute master, of life and death, pleasure and pain, and he is using his power to its fullest. And it is not Umi who knows how to soothe that ire.
Returning to the devious manipulator I mentioned earlier, Yan is the nearest to that character trope in The Vampire’s Concubine. He too is a slave, a concubine who cannot order his master around. Yet, he knows what he wants, he is not in Hieron’s harem by accident, and he knows how to influence his master. He is well versed in the dynamics of the harem and Hieron’s household and he sees the threat that Umi poses. Umi is helpless and failing under Hieron’s umbrage and he is taking the household with him: Yan must act. Even a master manipulator has a few things to learn, though, and I have much planned for Yan in future books. 😉
Of course, not all dynamics are created through power due to intimidation, some are due to consensus, where someone has proved they are worthy of a leadership role. An obvious example of this is in the well known story of Robin Hood. Robin of Loxley, (or Robert of Huntingdon, depending on the legend), becomes as outlaw in Sherwood Forest, robbing from the rich to give to the poor. Now, he doesn’t do this alone, he has a band of ‘merry’ men, not all of whom initially want to take orders from him. Little John is an outlaw in his own right and, when the two men meet, they end up fighting with sticks over a river. It’s a test of skill, a power battle, a way for the two men to get the measure of each other and, importantly, to earn each other’s respect. Robin becomes leader because of his mixture of bravery, leadership skills and tenacity.
Hieron, too, is not master of all he surveys simply because of the fear he can inspire, that would be illogical. He is a Lord, a ruler, and, although despots may keep power by an iron rod alone, my vampire is no despot. He’s not a nice guy when we meet him, but then he’s centuries old, he’s crotchety, he’s alone at the top of his pile. However, he has the respect of his people. He is a good leader, if not always a good man. At the moment, The Vampire’s Concubine stories are focusing on the personal interaction between Hieron and his household, because it is these dynamics that underpin the stories, but later books will expand out to take in Hieron’s position in the world and what that will mean to Umi.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the relationship between Hieron and Umi is very simple at the moment, master-slave. That makes for a forceful start, but nothing remains constant over time, that would be boring. Hieron and Umi are going to have 99 years together. Dynamics between couples (and their longevity will make lord and servant a pair, whether they like it or not) evolve, influenced by familiarity and experience. Umi must learn to be a concubine. He is leaving another life behind, one that he will not explain, and secrets can impact any association, let alone one where the person holding all the power is something of a control freak. Hieron has the control, he can punish, or reward at his own whim, but Umi already has an influence with him: he has persuaded him to make the bargain, absolute service for 99 years for immortality, and that influence can change and grow over time.
Umi is not a natural manipulator, not like Yan, but he will have to learn how to cajole his master, how to survive. Dynamics are about people, their emotions, beliefs, idiosyncrasies, and so is erotica. For me, the two sides of Hieron and Umi, both their public faces and their sensuously private ones, will be fun to explore. I am looking forward to developing Umi as a character as he tries to find a place in Hieron’s household, both in the bedroom and outside of it, and Hieron too has things to learn, about himself and about his slave.
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Rage and An Amusement Giveaway!
The Vampire’s Concubine
When, Hieron, vampire lord of Harkham, is approached by a mysterious young stranger, he finds himself tempted by the bargain his bold visitor makes: ninety nine years of absolute service in return for vampire power. With no name and no explanation of the reasons behind the offer, the attractive enigma becomes Umi, Hieron’s slave, concubine and vampire childe.
Yet, from the very first moments the bargain is sealed, Hieron discovers his concubine to be an erotic and obsessively maddening challenge.
The Vampire’s Concubine is an erotic romance told in short-story episodes.
Hieron, vampire lord of Harkham, is unaccustomed to visitors in his private bedchamber unless he has expressly invited them. Such an unsolicited intrusion should mean the interloper’s death, but Hieron finds himself unusually fascinated by the stranger who appears before him unbidden. Offering no name and no explanation of his reasons, the young man offers ninety nine years of absolute service in exchange for the gift of vampire power.
Amused and aroused, Hieron agrees to the bargain, names his enigma, Umi and decides he will become his newest concubine. The only thing left is to seal the deal in a bond of sex and supernatural power.
Available at Amazon, Smashwords and iTunes – check the An Amusement page
The bargain has been sealed, Umi is now a vampire and belongs to Hieron as his concubine. Yet, Hieron cannot reconcile himself to the secrecy behind his new slave, it makes him dangerously angry and the vampire lord lives up to his warning to Umi that he will be cruel.
Hieron’s demands weigh heavily on Umi, who, it seems, cannot please his master. As Hieron’s rage grows, Umi’s time is running out. Desperately, he searches to find the key to salving Hieron’s fury before the beast within his sire rises to destroy him.
Purchase ‘Rage’ and get ‘An Amusement – The Vampire’s Concubine #1’ FREE – see inside the book for details.
Available at Amazon and Smashwords – Check the Rage page
Umi is no normal concubine. His master’s gift of vampirism notwithstanding, there is much more to him than the Lord of Harkham has yet discovered. Hieron is no longer angry with Umi’s secrets, but he remains intrigued and, demon-owned twice over Umi maybe, but it is his mind that interests Hieron the most.
Under Yan’s tutelage, Umi is discovering the rites and skills to being a concubine, and Hieron is master when it comes to the night in his newest concubine’s veins, mostly. That bond holds a limit that Hieron has never experienced before: his childe has resisted the most intimate of contacts, that of the mind to mind control that normally lies within a sire’s remit.
There is power in his childe, power not of the vampire’s giving and, before Heiron is ready to deliver Umi to the harem, he means to discover it.
Sophie Duncan is a UK author of genre fiction with Wittegen Press. She has been writing since she was a child and has been sharing her work with others since she discovered the internet in the 1990’s.
She has published original works in many genres, from contemporary fantasy, through crime and mystery drama, to erotic romance. All of her published books can be found listed at her author page on the Wittegen Press website.