Today, I am participating in Cleis Press' blog tour to help promote a wonderful anthology called Seductress: Erotic Tales of Immortal Desire
. Why am I doing this? Well, my eager questioner, that answer is pretty simple: I'm one of the contributing authors. (Squeee!)
I thought about the various ways I could approach this blog entry, and I decided to take a more global view to the topic. Instead of talking about how I came to write my contribution (because really who cares about little ol' me?), I thought I would instead take a look at the subject matter from an outside perspective and work my way in.
This anthology contains 21 stories about succubi. Nothing hotter than that in the worlds of paranormality and supernaturalness, right? However, the succubus comes with a lotta lotta baggage, and maybe we should consider that for a mo.
I probably don't need to mention that the succubus always takes a female aspect (the male version is the incubus). It should also come as no surprise that a succubus stems from an interpretation of women's sexuality. In the earliest tradition, the succubus is a demon who instills lust in otherwise pious folks. Should those pious folks succumb to the temptation, they end up dead or damned forever (or both). That part lives with us to this day, even the title of this anthology is Seductress
, after all.
Break it down to the simplest elements and you get: a woman who is comfortable with her sexuality and convinces you to be comfortable with yours is evil incarnate. How insulting is that?
In the wrong hands, it can be incredibly nasty: misogynistic, fill-in-the-blank-phobic and destructive.
In the right hands, though? In hands interested in molding thoughtful stories and intriguing characters? The succubus can become something truly fascinating. The baggage is there, as with any supernatural beasty—vampires were merciless, amoral, bloodsucking fiends until Anne Rice's Interview With the Vampire
and John Shirley's Dracula in Love
came along to breathe some freshness into the two dimensional shell.
What about the succubus? There's a creature dying for a makeover! Well, I can think of at least two paranormal series that try.
One would be Jackie Kessler's Hell on Earth
, which tells the story of Jezebel, who flees hell and hides out as an exotic dancer on earth, while trying to be human. Dark yet funny.
The other would be Richelle Mead's Georgina Kincaid series. Starting with Succubus Blues
, Richelle Mead offered us a look at another side to the demon. The books combine Bridget Jones sass, Devil Wears Prada zing and supernatural sexiness in a delish cocktail.
These both bring freshness to our poor belabored succubus, helping her claw out of the negative stereotype and into something far more interesting.
I believe Seductress: Erotic Tales of Immortal Desire
takes this a step further. The width and breadth used by these storytellers are quite surprising. Just about any one of these tales could be expanded into a full on novel or series, and if the authors were to try, I would certainly give it a read. However, the joy of an anthology is not being immersed into one imagination, it's a chance to savor dozens of imaginations. Sometimes, the stories will share themes or motifs, sometimes they will be wildly different. Some make us grin, others touch us deeply, and (at least with these) all of them are trying to make us a little happy-squirmy. Really, what could be better than that?
Do succubi deserve a chance to live and play outside the "ooooh, eeeeevil" ghetto? I'd say so. Why not give Seductress
a read. I'd love to hear what you think.