Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Special Guest: Anida Adler

Dr Jeckyll, Ms Hyde
The constant battle between the swooning maiden and the snarling dominatrix.

He was an absolute arsehole. The man was domineering, forceful, intimidating and, sometimes, rude. If I’d met him in real life, my alter ego would have sprung to life and… it doesn’t bear thinking of.

I first met that other me when I was about sixteen. My friend Adele and I were visiting her friend, Chrizelda. They had a swimming pool in their back garden - not an uncommon thing in South Africa. What they had which not many others did, however, was an enclosed lapa. A lapa is a thatched roof supported on wooden poles, which is usually open-sided. This one was more like a little house, and inside it was kitted out perfectly for teenagers. A dartboard was mounted on one wall. A fridge behind the bar was stocked with soft drinks. There were cane chairs to sit on. Most importantly, though, it had a pool table.

This lazy, hot afternoon, there was a group of boys visiting as well. In the company of beautiful, slim Adele and voluptuous, blonde Chrizelda, I felt my nerdy oddness even more acutely than usual. However, as the afternoon progressed, I turned from intimidated to annoyed. These boys were not the sharpest tools in the shed. And one of them took a particular dislike to me.

The little snot was good-looking, and he knew it. When he turned his sneering attention to me, something inside me woke up and snarled back. I had a retort ready for every cutting remark, a withering look for every superior glance. Then it came to a challenge of a pool game, and I took him up on it.

How in hell I managed it, I will never know. I’ve never been a great pool player, and the boy was generally considered more than competent at the game. Every other hormone-loaded teen there fell quiet as the competition progressed. I matched him shot for shot, and in the end, he only managed to beat me by a whisker.

The whole group looked at me with new respect. It was time for me to head home, and I did so with my head held high. That same head lowered gradually as the hours passed. What on earth had just happened? How had I managed that? But I did, and though it was very rare, this alter ego appeared again over the years, leaving a few arrogant bastards licking serious wounds in her wake.

Now the type of guy I so despise in real life confronted me again, this time from the pages of a book. And all I could think of was how much I was rooting for him to manage a shag with the heroine. What on earth is going on?

I’m not alone in this, you know. I’ll bet a hundred dollars… okay, wait. I’m broke this month. I’ll bet ten dollars that the vast majority of us would really hate many of the overbearing heroes depicted in romance novels, were they to knock on our doors. I outgrew my nerdyness, and had ample opportunity to prove to myself that a great looker only amuses you so far if he is not compatible with your personality. The man most pleasing to the eye in the whole world will lose his charms if a right bastard resides in that perfect body.

The man for most girls is the one who is great company, has a good sense of humour, is kind, considerate, compassionate and a good father. Thinking of my own life partner, it’s precisely because he gives me freedom and doesn’t dominate me, that I love him.

Why, then, do the guidelines of so many romance and erotica publications tactfully (and sometimes bluntly) advise authors that heroes need to be type A personalities? You know, the anal kind that are a walking target for heart attacks because they’re so… so… growly?

We want our independence, we want our freedom. We want to be respected as equals. And when we get anywhere near a bed with a naked man, we want to be DOMINATED! Tie me up, spank me, or at least take charge, for God’s sake. The whimpering heroine of the tacky novels of old is long gone. Yet in a way, she’s never left. The heroine must be strong, but the hero must be stronger! He doesn’t have to rescue her, she can rescue him… but then he must bed her and shag her senseless to say thank you. We want to read about the feisty lady, and we want to see her conquered by the hero’s inner bastard. What is wrong with us?

I don’t know the answer to this question. We’re all helpless in the face of our dual nature. But in a way, I think it’s fantastic that we have romance and erotica to live out this unfortunate aspect of ourselves. In a story it’s harmless, it’s exciting and fun. We can get rid of the urge to whimper, and get back to real life with a snarl.

The Ancient

By: Anida Adler


What would you do if you fell in love with the goddess of death?

June 1945 - Tadhg Daniels sees a woman clad in strange clothes and a feathered cloak, but she’s invisible to everyone else. He’s convinced his mind has been unhinged by the horrors of the D-day landings four days before, but when she appears to him again, the woman proves she is real. She is Morrigan, goddess of death, come to warn him his life is about to end.

Morrigan is disturbed by the man she meets. He looks in her eyes unflinching, while all others avoid her gaze. She’s never found such a strong will to survive in any of her charges before. He refuses to accept he’s going to die.

There is a way for Tadhg to cheat death, a secret Morrigan has guarded for millennia. Morrigan can save him if she takes him as her lover, but sex with the goddess of death will change him. He needs time to decide if he’s prepared to give up his humanity in order to be with her forever.

But Tadhg is not the only one who knows Morrigan’s secret. Someone else wants to take by force the gift she can bestow. And he’ll stop at nothing to get it.

Excerpt 1:

Rat-tat-tat, rat-tat-tat, and two more German soldiers lay dead on the ground that had soaked up the blood of so many good men. The smell of cordite stung his nose and roiled nausea in his stomach. He glanced down at their faces, a seasoned soldier, judging from the lines etched around his mouth, beside him a boy not much older than Stephen.

Not now, not now. There had to be time enough to let the agony of taking life from others flow through his heart. He shoved past Morrigán. Someone fell beside him, and he pulled the trigger, shot and killed, wounded, maimed, and moved on. Bullets zinged an inch past him, and he tumbled into a shell hole beside Mark, breath racing in his chest.

And she was there, beside him, silent, waiting.

“I will not die,” Tadhg growled, but rising fear clutched cold fingers at his throat.
“You’re right there, my friend.” Mark clapped his shoulder. “We’re going to get through this shit together and go horseback riding when this fuckup is over.” He turned his attention back to the fighting, back to the air cloyed with hatred, anger, despair, and fear, and killed more Germans so they would not kill him. “Come on!” Mark shouted to Tadhg and launched himself over the lip of the hole.

Tadhg glanced at Morrigán and hesitated. Her gaze rested on him, and he saw eternity in her eyes. “No, Morrigán. No.” And with that he followed Mark, lifted his body from safety -- and felt the bullets slam into his chest as if time had slowed to a trickle. He fell and slid back into the shell hole, stared up at the blue sky in stunned disbelief.

Sound receded until he lay in utter silence among screams of pain and anger, in the midst of pounding boots and rattling guns. He felt no pain, but it was difficult to breathe, and something wet bubbled on his lips.

Morrigán crouched beside him. Why did she look angry? “You want to live, poet? You want to live no matter what?”

Again he felt that odd sensation of a part of him accepting, looking forward to entering the land of shades. He could blend with the power of running horses, exist in the steaming joy of early morning gallops across dewy fields. Yet inside him, another part rebelled, struggled for life, even as he sensed the last few grains of sand sink to the narrow waist of the hourglass of his measure of days. And as he lay dying, he rested his gaze on Morrigán’s beautiful, pearl-white face, and the part that wanted to live grew, filled him, became all of him.

“Tadhg, answer me. Do you want to live, no matter what the price?”

He couldn’t speak. Dear God, she offered him a chance, and now, because his lungs were filling with blood, he could not force his voice to reach out for what he craved with his entire being. Blackness tinged the edges of his vision; he fought to hold the receding image of her face. He nodded his answer, and she reacted in an instant, flicked her cloak over his body, and Tadhg felt himself falling, falling into a landscape of terrible dreams.


Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm sure I posted a comment earlier saying hello and thanking you for having me over. Somehow it got swallowed. Hmmm.

I'll just say it again: thanks for having me, it's lovely here.

Anida Adler said...

Yeehaa! I just assigned a number to each and every commenter on my virtual book tour, including hosts, then went to my research assistant and asked him to pick a number. He saw no names!

The winner of the Shannon O'Shamrock bear is Patricia Esposito, who commented on Sheri Lewis Wohl's blog. Congratulations, Patricia, I'll email you to get your snail mail address to send your prize.

Thanks to all who commented, I really appreciated the warm welcomes all over the blogosphere!

Anonymous said...

Don't stop posting such stories. I love to read articles like that. Just add some pics :)

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