The thing I most love about my current blog tour is seeing how readers and reviewers describe Snatch Me. It’s not an easy story to define, not for me at least. I’m intrigued by the fact that the scene where I break a genre taboo–the Lucky Librarian game– is the scene I get the most positive feedback about.Think a cross between hide-and-go-seek and strip poker.
Sexually Snatch Me is a wild romp. Emotionally it digs beneath the game into a character who is using the game challenge to escape a real life that has hit a bad patch, where things have gone terribly wrong and there just won’t be a quick fix. Jolie wanders into the game from one of those dark nights of the soul and she sees it as a place to explore her darkest desire, a craving for a big tough guy to come along and snatch her away from it all.
Who wouldn’t want to be snatched away from Jolie’s life? She’s grieving her father’s death and trying to keep his computer repair shop from closing in an economy and marketplace that can’t support it. In the game world she is drawn to, intelligence is power. That’s a big part of the fantasy for Jolie. She regains her sense of personal power as she gains skill and prowess in the game. Even when the guys have all the rules rigged in their favor, they don’t have an easy time catching Jolie. And when they do, she’s carried off in the arms of a sexy avatar to participate in hot sex games. That’s what Madeline Iva calls Having Your Cake and Eating it Too in her recent blog about Snatch Me and why we love capture romance.
When I was first kicking around the idea of writing Snatch Me it was with those old-time romances in mind. A pirate carries you off to an island to be wooed. A handsome barbarian captures you and takes you to his lair. An Arabian prince grabs you and rides off with you to some oasis hideaway. I was trying to come up with the modern equivalent for a hero-carry-me-away fantasy. Part of what makes a fantasy work is the potential for it to be real, and I couldn’t think of anything that fit that bill. Then I discovered Second Life, and role-play games where those favorite romance fantasies are played out in detailed replicas of the historical settings.
I quickly discovered that in virtual worlds you can get carried away, virtually and emotionally. I think this is one of the most difficult virtual reality concepts to grasp. I wrote about the Quarterz world like the player can really feel and experience what is happening. We all know that can’t really happen, right? But here’s the thing, it does. It happens to such a degree that psychologists are experimenting with using virtual worlds to treat conditions like PTSD in soldiers or autism in children.
Virtual environments are so graphically rich that they trick your brain. When the wind blows, when the sun rises and sets, when a door opens at your touch, you start to experience what is happening as if it were real. When you hear the waves lapping at the shore, see light ripple on the water’s surface, see the reflection of clouds moving across the water, your mind fills in the missing senses–scent of water, the cool sensation of water slapping at your ankles. It takes about five minutes inworld for you forget that person at the keyboard and become your avatar.
This is a trick storytellers have been playing on the mind since the days when we gathered around fires dressed in robes made of deer hide to hear their fantastic tales. If you include enough sensory detail, people are transported into the story and experience it with the character. You can fall in love with the story world and the characters in it. You can explore something dangerous and stay safe. Jolie does all that and in the process she discovers things in herself that allow her to finally face and deal with her real life problems. In a world designed to be loveless, she reclaims her ability to love. You can explore the Quarterz virtual world I built for the story via this page at my blog. Don’t worry, you can’t be abducted unless you know how to allow it. 😉
If you want to know more about Snatch Me or virtual reality, drop by my stops on the Goddess Fish tour this month. This week I’m at fellow EC author Francesca Hawley’s blog talking about my adventures while researching Snatch Me. I managed to get carried off and escape and recaptured and…well go have a look. All commenters on the blog posts during the tour are entered in a drawing for a $10 GC from Ellora’s Cave. I’ll have a list of scheduled of stops at the bottom of this post.
Snatch Me Blurb:
From the moment Jolie discovers the Quarterz, a virtual post-apocalyptic world for capture role-players, she can’t resist the challenge. She’s chosen a hard game, where sexual submission to a captor is expected, demanded, no quarter given. She uses the challenge to escape real life and feels a sense of kinship to a world like the Quarterz, a society too broken to fix.
Mack created the Quarterz and took a gamble when he secretly lured Jolie there. He suspects he and Jolie share sexual interests that neither can admit in person. Now he has to hope that time in the Quarterz can help Jolie cope as she struggles to rebuild her life. He has to stand back and allow her to find her way in a game where he’s not always the captor. But when the game is over, he’s determined to be the one who wins Jolie for real.
Snatch Me Excerpt:
I inched over the side of the tall crate I’d landed on and felt along the wall toward the door
I’d seen up front and to the right. The metal was cold and rough under my hands. My feet
moved over the damp floor. I stepped on something slimy and jerked,
banging a knee-high crate and sending an assortment of objects skittering
across the floor. I froze, looking upward. The door, right in front of me now,
popped open and I had a hand over my mouth and another arm around my waist
before I could scream. In the little bit of light cast through the door I could
see I’d dropped into some kind of torture chamber, complete with chains and
“You can make a bunch of noise and I’ll have to share you
right here with the guys from upstairs, or you can stay quiet and I’ll beam us
out of here to someplace more pleasant. Your choice.”
I went still. He dropped his hand. When I stayed quiet, he
took that as assent and we launched into a sickening spin that I thought must
be the way it felt to get sucked through a black hole.
We emerged on a dock. Going from solid to vapor and back
again has the same effect on your brain as a shot of whiskey. I staggered when
he let me go. His hand at my elbow steadied me enough that I could turn to get
my first look at the face behind the powerful arms that had snatched me from
the container. I recognized those steel-blue eyes, that superhero body
instantly. I wondered if he remembered me.
He was between me and the city streets. A boat bobbed on
oily, black water behind me.
“New girl,” he said. He said it like it was a chore.
It wasn’t a question so I didn’t answer.
“You know the rules?”
“You caught me. I’m yours to use, in whatever way you
choose. When you’re done I’m free to go. Like fishing.”
“Catch and release.”
“That’s just about right. You missed one thing.”
“You can always safe-out. Which means if you don’t want
this, you log out for the rest of the day. No questions asked. No honor lost.
Sort of like you did yesterday. Only it’s considered better manners if you just
say, ‘I’m safing out’ before you disappear.”
So he did remember. “I understand.”
He folded those big arms over his chest. He appeared to be
waiting for something, but I couldn’t imagine what was left to say. Finally he
asked, “Staying put this time?”
My mouth was so dry I couldn’t speak. I nodded.
He took a coil of what looked like black cord from his belt.
He was shirtless, his shoulder-length black hair whipped back from his face by
the wind off the water. He wore tight black pants and black boots. I doubted
the black cord was a fashion accessory. I was right.
“This is a leash.” With a flick of his wrist it uncoiled
like a thin snake. One end molded itself around my neck, the other around his
wrist. The section between us lengthened when I took a step back.
“You don’t have to tie me to you. You won. I won’t run.”
“The leash is as much to prevent other hunters from
snatching you away as to keep you tied to me. As long as you’re leashed no one
can touch you unless I invite them. That doesn’t mean game over,” he said with
a devil’s grin. “If you get an opening and want to try taking it, go ahead. If
you want a little fire in your action, you can fight right up to and through
the fucking. It’s always about what you want, sweetheart. And whenever it’s not
what you want, safe-out. Okay?”
He’d answered my most basic question. His definition of
using me any way he wanted included fucking. Fucking was his definition as far
as I could tell. And, more important, the game wasn’t over until the fucking
was done. I might be down, but I hadn’t lost yet.
“Okay,” I said.
He glanced over his shoulder. Flashlight beams cut through
the darkness. “Then let’s get moving before we have company.” He bowed and
waved me toward the boat. “After you.”
I moved ahead of him and the leash lengthened, but the band
around my throat compressed.
“Easy,” he cautioned. “The leash gets uncomfortable the
farther from me you go.” The compression eased when I stepped closer to him. He
held the boat steady with one hand and offered the other to help me down from
the dock. I stayed on my feet until he joined me, tilting the boat and toppling
me into his lap with a move that suggested it was planned rather than
fortuitous. He produced a jacket from the back of the boat to drape over me like
a blanket. The boat lurched forward when the motor roared to life, sending up a
plume of spray that made me appreciate the thoughtfulness behind the jacket.
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be under
the total control of a sexy man? To be owned? To be a slave to his desire? I
have. I’ve contemplated whether it would be as hot as it sounds.
It was and it wasn’t. My hormones were all over the idea. I
was wet, hot, so ready for him I was shaking. But there was this nagging voice
at the back of my mind that kept insisting I’d lost my mind. I shouldn’t want
him. I suspected the voice was right. I shouldn’t need this, crave it. Problem
was, I did.
The whine of the boat motor dropped an octave, to a steady
chug. The wind and spray eased to misty breeze. “Relax,” he said, his breath
warm, a soft tickle against my ear. “Enjoy the moment. Deal with what’s coming
when it gets here.” I decided to listen to him rather than the voice in my
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