New uses for old sex demons

by Jennifer Stevenson

I haven’t always written about sex demons.  I don’t always write about sex, not all the time.  It just happens that sex is what publishers have asked me for, god knows why, I mean, is everybody obsessed with sex, or what? But ever since Trash Sex Magic, editors have wanted these books.

I worried, when Betsy Mitchell approached me from Del Rey about The Brass Bed, that I wouldn’t have enough to say about sex.  She was talking an open-ended fantasy series.  Originally I had envisioned a one-off romance, possibly a Harlequin Spice or something.  We dickered and brainstormed and I came up with a second hero for The Brass Bed who could be counted on to keep the conflict coming in the core relationship … and that series was born.  Then within two years it morphed into a romance trilogy, and now I had to cut off the legs I’d just attached, and restaple on wings and a beak.  Ironic, since it had been a parrot to start with.

But I worried about keeping Lord Randy interesting.  I mean, how may crazy things can a sex demon do in bed?  Even if I get to cheat and carry them off to demonspace for the action

As I worked on those books I found that I had lots to say about sex.

Jewel Heiss wasn’t the typical romantic virgin.  I designed her to be easily and frequently orgasmic, with a little black book a foot thick, purely to mess with Lord Randy’s head.  (A well-designed heroine should always mess with her hero’s head.)  Getting into Jewel’s views on sex showed me that I knew stuff I’d never articulated in a story—for example, that the heroine can be hungry for intimacy, and so afraid of it, she won’t date a man more than two or three times.  Yet, paradoxically, her promiscuity is her way of rehearsing for intimacy.  Jewel knows that sooner or later she will have the courage to open her heart to someone.  If she begins by opening her body to them, she can sort-of work up to it, gradual-like. Along comes Randy.

Randy had contributions to make, too.  In The Bearskin Rug he found himself making porn films, and realized that he had been a sex worker himself for 200 years.  The porn stars in that story helped Randy feel proud of his powers, helped him deal with the shame that had plagued him for two centuries, and revealed to him a piece of wisdom about sex that he didn’t realize he possessed:

[She feels] the desire to be whole again, virginal, free of shame.  … If
she only knew that she’s whole!  She’s always been whole.  She was
involuntarily despoiled in some way.  But the despoiler can take from her
only what she believes he can take.  She is still whole. …  [Yet s]he thinks
she is no longer a virgin.  … Everyone is still a virgin. What is a virgin?
Clean, whole, honest, pure.  When is a virgin despoiled?  When she feels
dirty, broken, dishonest, as if evil has been stirred into her insides.

Randy knows—who better?—that her virginity is still in there, buried under all the crap dumped on top of it by other people.  It can’t really be stolen, given, taken, or lost.  It just gets buried.

Well, I’ve got at least two more books planned for the series, so we’re about to find out what else these guys will learn…and I can learn…about sex.

Meanwhile I’m writing more sex demons.  It’s Raining Men comes out today, first book in my Slacker Demons series.  The slacker demons came out of that one phrase, just the two words, about three summers ago at a conference in St. Louis.  I had been watching Judd Apatow movies obsessively.  I was madly in love with his bad boys.  The idea of making them all sex demons was just obvious.  I collaged the title that weekend, and came up with five guys, all becoming sex demons in different ways, all working for different hells, all as lazy as dammit and about to lose their jobs.  Because as good as they are at getting women into bed, they suck at the paperwork.

Archie, slacker demon #1, is innocently tending bar, listening to his best
woman friend beef about the jerks she’s been dating, an conceives his
dumbest idea ever for cheering her up.  “Did I mention I’m a sex demon
from the second circle of hell? … yeah, we cast a spell to keep all the
decent men out of the neighborhood … but our funding got cut … now
you’ve been selected for victims’ compensation … and just for you, for a
limited time only, it’s going to be raining men.”

Because my slacker demons are all different, and have arrived at their crazy job by different paths, they are teaching me new things about sex.  I won’t spoil it by telling you here.  But it’s been fun so far.

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