December 13, 2019 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

On Writing a Lesbian, Erotic Thriller

I did not set out to write a lesbian erotic thriller.

My husband was hired to write a spec script in 2009, for which that certain bit of magic that you need to make a movie did not materialize, but I loved the story. A self-conscious co-ed throws caution to the wind and goes home with an older, sexy woman only to awaken tied to a bed. It was the distraction that I was looking for at the time in my writing career. I suggested to my husband that I could adapt his thriller into a book, and in 2015, “The Need” was born.

The fact that the two main characters were female was not a driver for me to write this book, but it definitely pushed me in unexpected ways. I found myself writing edgier scenes, and that was partially the subject matter of holding someone in your residence against their will, but the female-female dynamic gave me certain permissions in my writing that I had never experienced while writing about female-male relationships. I created an unapologetically manipulative, violent seductress in the form of a love interest that I don’t think I could have justified in a female-male love affair story line.

The thriller turned into a love story.

Falling in love with a villain is tricky business. Yes, you can make them sexy as hell for palatability purposes, but it doesn’t resolve the issue of their seemingly repugnant soul. When my husband wrote the script, he wrote it as a thriller. There were few romantic elements, and the story focused more on the shady world of internet porn. I saw an opportunity to develop a love story.

The love story between Heather and Angie is the biggest roller-coaster ride in the smallest of spaces. Heather appears to have a simple agenda on the surface. Mind games, masochism, and documenting everything via photo and video. Angie’s obvious reflex is to escape, except the experiences tap into an unexplored part of Angie’s body and mind.

Their love story may start out as twisted game of cat and mouse but ends in the genuine complexity of two people needing each other to morph into a different version of themselves.

The love story turned erotic.

Sex always makes relationships more complex. And sex scenes are the most challenging to write because to make them not only hot but also compelling, you have to make it about more than just the sex. You have to throw in a plot twist or a character arc while the characters are physically entangled in one another. Otherwise, it can feel very repetitive.

The erotic moments between these two women are particularly important in this story, to frame the growing connection in an otherwise dark and twisted backdrop. While many readers may immediately jump to a Stockholm Syndrome theory, I approached every erotic moment as an opportunity to transport the characters out of their current emotional and physical binds.

One of the most unusually erotic moments in the book is when Heather confesses her love to Angie. The confession is an aperitif to a sex scene that is already explicit, but now heightened because of the vulnerability of those words.

The eroticism was transformative.

Transformation is a central theme in this book, and that in itself can be a scary thing. It is easier to settle into the comfort of a known quantity. Once we explore, transform, and grow, there’s no turning back.

The Need titillates, by diving into the many grey areas of transformation, and right and wrong in various situations. It pushes the limits of our social norms and dares us to ponder outside our boundaries.

“How do you think we learn about ourselves, Angie? By being comfortable and not pushing our boundaries? By always feeling safe?” Her lips pause at my chin and the smell of coffee is heavy on her breath. “You want to go home? Believe his excuses and go back to status quo? That’s always going to be there for you. But this, and me…if you walk away now, you may regret it forever. What’s a couple more days?”

S.L. Hannah was born in Poland, grew up in Canada, and moved to Southern California to pursue her love of single-engine airplanes. The Need is her first erotic thriller. The manuscript won the 2013 Golden Palm Contest, and the book won the 2016 iHeartindie contest. Buzz about the break-out novel calls it “one powerful piece of writing…creepy as hell.” S.L. Hannah lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband. When she’s not writing fiction, she continues to solve the aviation problems of the world. Read more about S.L. Hannah at her website.

The Need is available on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

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