Archive for September, 2019

Liner Notes for September 2019

September 29, 2019

(This post has been brought to you by the efforts of my 117 classically trained Patrons! Visit my Patreon page to learn how to become one of them.)

Another month has (almost) gone by, with another set of stories with them, and I thought it might be fun once again to look back at what I wrote and talk a bit about how and why I wrote it. Let’s discuss, shall we?

Our Lullaby: One of my not-so-secret joys is making up song lyrics. I’ve done quite a few filks of popular songs here on this blog, switching out the traditional lyrics to make the song mind control themed, and anyone who spends more than a couple of hours around me knows that I will frequently make up random and silly lyrics to whatever happens to be on the radio. (One of my favorites is singing along to “Piano Man” with, “And the piano sounds like a carnivore, and the microphone smells like a deer…”) So when I saw this song title, I thought, “Oh, neat! I should write a lullaby that’s also a hypnotic induction and have the controller sing it to the victim as a means of reinforcing their control!”

As it turned out, I think it wound up being a little bit monotonous (due to the lack of a proper chorus – it’s just a verse structure that repeats and repeats and repeats). And of course, not having actual music makes it feel a little tuneless and droning, since you can’t actually hear it in your head without making up your own tune. But oddly, I think those things help if it’s a lullaby. Lullabies aren’t songs you listen to for enjoyment, they’re soothing noises someone makes until you fall asleep. “Tuneless and droning and monotonous” aren’t bugs in this case, they’re features.

Yesterday Was Just a Dream: So when I saw this title, there were a few elements of the structure that clicked into place immediately. One, this had to be someone who was mind controlled without knowing it (mind control of course being a given, because I write mind control smut) and who did something they now regret, thinking it was their own idea. Two, the controller has to reassure them that it never happened, and it was all just a dream. Three, that reassurance becomes a reinduction that controls them all over again. That was the skeleton the plot hung on, but there was a lot more work to do.

The first step was to figure out what it was that they did and why they regretted it. The obvious thing that jumped to mind was sex, because again, see “smut, mind control”, but there are a lot of reasons you can regret sex. It seemed like ‘cheating’ was a fairly big one, but I knew from the start that I wanted this to be a pretty authoritative relationship right off the bat – this is a victim essentially coming to confess to their controller and seek absolution, that implies a power dynamic that’s unequal even before the brainwashing and hypnosis comes into play. So if it was cheating, it wasn’t going to be a woman and her friend’s husband. It needed to be something where the dominant was seen by the audience as culturally empowered to control the pace of events. So probably a male controller and a female victim, and probably an older male and a younger woman at that.

So it’s a young woman, cheating with an older man on his wife, and feeling guilty about it. There are a limited number of reasons why a young woman would be in that kind of close and frequent proximity to an older man in an ostensibly non-sexual way, and I was already picturing the ending where the wife walked in on them and was triggered. This felt like it had to take place in someone’s house for the proper emotional resonance. I didn’t want to do incest at all, because it’s a huge squick, and I definitely didn’t want to do anything that implied sex with someone underage, so that meant a college-age woman who was cheating on her best friend’s mom with her best friend’s dad and didn’t realize she was being hypnotized to do it. From that point on, it was just a matter of typing.

Naked in Front of the Computer: Sometimes, it’s like these songwriters are really just writing mind control smut titles to suggest to me, and everything else is just an excuse. As soon as I saw this title, my time on Tumblr came back to me – there are a lot of folks on there who post a lot about losing track of time, going through one sound file after another and scrolling past spiral after spiral and winding up in a sort of loose, aroused trance where they’re focused and suggestible even if there’s not a ‘live’ hypnotist on the other end of the connection. So I pictured someone like that finding a very addictive website, and trying to tell themselves that it didn’t mean anything for them to keep coming back to it night after night at the same exact time to do the same exact things.

I decided to set the story in the Middle East (I had a lot more background worked up for the character to help contextualize her story, but after a year of writing other things, most of it’s drifted out of my head) because I do think it’s important not to default to “white” for your protagonist and I think people of all different cultural backgrounds need to see themselves reflected in their fiction. Admittedly, my particular part of it always involves someone being hypnotized and brainwashed, but hopefully I’m providing enough material that at the end of the day nobody thinks that this is a fate I reserve especially for certain genders, orientations, or ethnic groups. We are all equal in the eyes of the Hypno-Toad, right?

Jennifer Lost the War: I can’t count the number of times this title leapt out at me before I finally decided to do something about it. There’s just something so instantly evocative about it when you contextualize it as a mind control kink title, a suggestion of a long and wearying struggle that finally wore someone down into helpless defeat. I knew that part of it, but everything else took a little while to come into focus.

I think it started to gel when I realized that Jennifer wasn’t the protagonist. Jennifer was an object lesson, someone the other characters talked about but who no longer had the agency to influence events on any kind of level. That meant that the protagonist had to be someone who knew Jennifer, but who was now a target of the controller herself. That kind of ruled out ‘lover’ or ‘relative’, because I didn’t want it to be someone who was already suspicious of Jennifer’s behavior (and because again, no incest) so she was one of Jennifer’s friends. Not so close that she would instantly spot that Jennifer was acting weird, not so distant that she wouldn’t be an immediate target. (I papered over the joins here with Maura’s line about her being a lousy detective.)

The ‘detective’ part came during the writing, as I was finding Shelly’s voice; it seemed like an easy way to short-circuit all the “hmm, something’s funny about this” and get right to realizing that Jennifer had broken into her apartment. And I like giving my characters active, interesting professions that require study or expertise or specialized training, especially if the protagonist is a woman. Just because they’re going to wind up brainwashed, that’s no reason to suggest that they’re not bright, competent, and capable in every other aspect of their life, right? (And yes, it’s also a lot sexier to see someone bright and capable reduced to a masturbating, whimpering mess. But that’s not the only reason I do it.)

And the mechanism… I knew I didn’t want it to be hypnosis, because I genuinely wanted it to be 100% believable that it would be irresistible, even when the controller wasn’t in constant contact with their victim and even when they weren’t able to manipulate them through other means. (I do not believe you can hypnotize someone into doing something they don’t want to do. I do, however, believe you can manipulate someone into doing something they don’t want to do, and that manipulation can include hypnosis.) This was, essentially, straight up superpower bullshit, and that meant the villain needed a straight up superpower. Tactile telepathy fit the bill, and I love the veneer of plausibility that nerve-to-nerve contact provides.

Plus, it’s a great excuse to include finger-banging in a story, which is just one of my hugest hot buttons ever.

And that’s pretty much all I have to say about this batch of stories! See you next week for another post, and next month for another set of Liner Notes!

Early Bird Sneak Peek: “Like a Broken Record”!

September 25, 2019

Hi all! It’s time for another Early Bird Sneak Peek, where I share a glimpse at the story my lucky Early Bird patrons will be enjoying next Saturday thanks to their pledges at my Patreon page! Of course, if you’re not an Early Bird patron, you’ll still get a story next week–“Jennifer Lost the War”, teased previously, has already been submitted to the EMCSA. But the Early Bird patrons will be getting “Like a Broken Record” (MC MF MD)!

Geoffrey’s got a new trigger he wants to demonstrate to Joyce, one her eager and compliant subconscious doesn’t quite remember him implanting. She doesn’t know it, but she’s going to spend quite a while showing it off for him… even if for her, it’s going to feel like time is standing still. Here’s a taste:

Joyce blinked heavily, suddenly realizing that she’d simply been staring vacantly into Geoffrey’s eyes for almost a full minute. “Sorry, Master,” she said, giving him a sheepish little smile and a tiny shrug. “The more I try to think about it, the more I just get…” She struggled to describe the sensation of slipping away into the memories of trance, her efforts to remember only tugging her mind deeper and deeper into that same sweet, drowsy state of relaxation all over again. But big words and complicated thoughts felt too much like work right now, and she finally settled for, “…confused.”

“And skip,” Geoffrey said, his smile growing wider with anticipation.

“…confused,” Joyce said, her tone slightly lost and distant. The effort to resist the pull of trance seemed to exhaust her groggy mind, leaving a bewildering fog that settled over her consciousness. It only deepened as she tried to find the right word to describe the fog settling over her consciousness, until at last she gave in and settled on the simplest word that she could manage to think of.

“…confused,” Joyce said, her voice sounding mazy and befuddled in her ears. She knew there were better ways to describe what she was thinking about, that twisting feeling of disorientation that happened whenever she tried to remember a trance and got pulled right back into Master’s hypnotic spell. But her head felt too foggy to think properly, too drowsy and, and… and…

“…confused,” Joyce said, clinging to the word as her thoughts grew increasingly sluggish and slow. She knew something strange was happening to her, something above and beyond her growing inability to articulate her thoughts properly, but she couldn’t think about it because she couldn’t think. And she couldn’t think about that because she couldn’t think, and she couldn’t think about that because she couldn’t think, and…

“…confused,” Joyce said, the word becoming her entire world as her thoughts narrowed down and down and down to the single recurring moment.

Hope you enjoy it!

My Favorite Things: Brainwashing Mantras!

September 22, 2019

(This post has been brought to you by the efforts of my 118 infectiously enthusiastic Patrons! Visit my Patreon page to learn how to become one of them.)

When I first decided to write about this particular aspect of mind control kink, I honestly had to go back and look over my older material just to make sure I hadn’t already written about it. Because if there’s one thing I love more than anything else, both in stories and in play, it’s when someone is very deeply hypnotized and has a single, simple phrase or sentence implanted in their head with the suggestion to continue repeating it while experiencing intense sexual pleasure. To me, this feels almost like the essence of the fetish, a distillation of all the tropes of control and power and obedience into a single potent draught.

The phrase is usually selected for its simplicity and ease of repetition, like, “I love being empty and obedient.” Sometimes two or three phrases are chosen that lead into each other in a loop, like “The more I obey, the better I feel” and “The better I feel, the more I obey”, with each phrase intended to intensify the other. The general idea, though, remains the same; this is a sentence that both a) conveys the pattern of thought and behavior that the brainwasher wants to instill, and b) is simple enough that the subject can remember and repeat it even at a point where trance diminishes their mental capacity almost completely.

(Having said that, there’s a nice effect you can get with a more complex mantra where it genuinely becomes difficult for the subject to remember it properly when they start going very deep into trance. This acts as a convincer, deepening their hypnotic state by reminding them just how little they’re actually thinking.)

There are a number of reasons why this is very effective (and very hot). First and foremost, it’s a hypnotic focus in and of itself. If you’re concentrating on repeating a sequence of words, over and over and over to the exclusion of all else, you’re effectively deepening your trance state because trance is a state of relaxation and concentration. This is especially true when the subject is very deep and begins to have difficulty remembering the mantra; they wind up concentrating even harder on it as a result.

Second and probably most obvious – repetition is one of the building blocks of learning. Brainwashing is essentially a form of teaching, and there’s no substitute in teaching for repetition and memorization as a form of instilling knowledge on a deep and instinctual level. Anyone who can still recite their times tables without even needing to do the underlying calculations involved will tell you that once you repeat something enough, it sticks with you good and hard. And that’s true whether it’s “seven times nine is sixty-three” or “obedience is pleasure”.

And third… there’s a subtle but very real convincing effect in getting the subject to recite the mantras themselves. Human beings tend to want to believe that their actions are consistent with their beliefs, a phenomenon called “cognitive dissonance” that causes us to rationalize justifications for seemingly incongruent behavior. (Smokers, for example, will come up with all sorts of logical-seeming reasons not to quit, because they don’t really like to think about the fact that they’re deliberately doing something that’s bad for them.) So when the subject hears themselves saying, in their own voice, that they love to be blank and obedient, they’re more likely to believe it than if the hypnotist tells them that. There’s a power to that speech, even if it’s compelled, and it’s good to lean into that.

(Obviously, in real live play, the mantras should all be enthusiastically consented to as well as the intent to brainwash with them. I know I shouldn’t even need to say that, but it’s always good to get it out there.)

Because mantras and brainwashing are so fundamental to mind control, a lot of my stories feature it as at least a minor element, but if you want to see it developed as a major theme, you could do worse than look at “Opal Mantra”, “Lost in the Echo”, or “Exercise One”. Each of them in their own way focuses on how the repetition can be an inherently sensual and erotic experience in and of itself, as well as deepening the control that’s very much at the heart of this particular interest. It’s definitely why this particular trope is one of my most favorite of favorite things.

Early Bird Sneak Peek: “No Homo”!

September 19, 2019

Hi all! It’s time for another Early Bird Sneak Peek, where I share a glimpse at the story my lucky Early Bird patrons will be enjoying next Saturday thanks to their pledges at my Patreon page! Of course, if you’re not an Early Bird patron, you’ll still get a story next week–“Naked in Front of the Computer”, teased previously, has already been submitted to the EMCSA. But the Early Bird patrons will be getting “No Homo” (MC MM)!

Look, Andy and Blake know what you’re thinking when you see that “MM” in the story description, but it’s not like that, okay? They’re just dudes being bros, bros being guys, guy dudes having a little bromance in a totally straight kind of way. Sure, they hang out together, and sure, they hug it out, and sure, they crash in the same bed at night, and sure, they’re comfortable with each other’s bodies. But that doesn’t… y’know… mean anything. Right? Here’s a taste:

They got inside, and Blake set down the luggage next to the door. “Here, dude,” he said, moving quickly across the living room to scoop up an armload of clean clothing from the sofa. “Let me just find a place for the clothes on the couch, and you can go ahead and crash.” He started to look around, trying to find a place to deposit the outfits that wouldn’t wreck his system. The recliner had dirty clothes on it, and he didn’t want to mix the clean stuff with the dirty stuff. The kitchen table still had some residue on it from the spill at breakfast this morning, and he knew he couldn’t set anything there until it was wiped down. The kitchen chair wouldn’t hold everything, and–

“Nah, nah, don’t worry about it,” Andy mumbled, looking weary and haggard. “I don’t want to put you to all that work. We’ll just share your bed tonight, okay? No homo.” He scrubbed at the stubble on his cheeks with his fingers, almost as if he was surprised to find it there, and gave Blake an expectant look as though he thought his friend was going to argue the point.

But Blake had shared plenty of beds with other guys before. “No homo,” he said with a shrug, heading down the short hallway to his bedroom. It wasn’t a big deal–back in their college days, Blake and Andy had wound up crashing together in all sorts of weird situations, from road trips to overnights for track to just being too fucking drunk or tired to find the right bedroom. It wasn’t a big deal, not for a dude as secure in his heterosexuality as Blake. He could sleep next to Andy and not worry about what it ‘meant’ like some other guys did. It meant they were friends, that was all. Buds. Comrades. Amigos. Bros in arms.

Hope you enjoy it!

Is It Hypnosis? – Part Twenty

September 15, 2019

(This post has been brought to you by the efforts of my 111 delightful and diverting Patrons! Visit my Patreon page to learn how to become one of them.)

Yes, it’s time for another installment of my ongoing series that revisits old stories to look at the hypnosis both from a practical standpoint (could you make someone do this with hypnosis in the real world?) and an ethical standpoint (should you be allowed to make someone do this in the real world?) Sometimes even if the answer to the former is no, that doesn’t make the latter irrelevant; not many people, even explicitly hypnokinky people, enjoy it when you try to do non-consensual hypnosis things to them. So, with that firm “don’t do that shit” in mind, let’s look at the stories, shall we?

X-Ray Specs: This one is probably a believable application of hypnosis, albeit possibly not in the timeframe depicted in the story. A skilled hypnotic subject can experience visual hallucinations, and anyone who’s done public speaking has probably heard the advice about picturing the audience in their underwear often enough to know that it’s a thing human beings are capable of doing. The only question is how long it would take to implant the suggestion, and we don’t know how long Ruth and Jon have been working on this (and on visual hallucinations in general).

Is it ethical? Weeeeelllllll… certainly Jon is a consenting subject, and we can make a reasonable assumption based on his reaction that he’s previously given enthusiastic consent to having suggestions implanted without his conscious awareness. It’s probably a bit of a RACK situation, especially if he’s given enthusiastic consent to have triggers and anchors put into his head without discussing them first, but I think we can give it a pass due to their long-term relationship. (This is a sequel to a much earlier story, “Take My Breath Away”.)

But Ruth and Jon are not the only participants in the scene. He’s doing a lot of staring at women who did not consent to be stared at, and even if his eyes are hidden beneath sunglasses and he’s making a conscious effort to hide his erection, there’s a non-zero chance that someone on that beach felt very creeped out at being looked at that way. This is very much the subject of heated debate when doing public play, not just with hypno-kink but with any kind of kink – how much consent do you require from bystanders to your scene in a situation where being present cannot be assumed to be consent by the nature of the venue? There aren’t easy answers, but if I was doing this in real life, I would err very much on the side of caution.

The Tide Is High: This one, on the other hand, is much simpler. It is both entirely feasible (pretty much the only hypnosis being performed is a simple reinduction with some triggers helping the process along) and entirely something that should only happen between two fictional characters. If someone comes to you and says, “I am feeling a ton of emotional conflict about our consensual hookup last night,” you should absolutely not dismiss their concerns and attempt to hypnotize them so you can have more sex.

What should happen in a situation like this is a mature, reasonable conversation about what hypnosis can and can’t do, about Cindi being allowed to enjoy the previous evening’s events guilt and obligation-free, about it being okay to explore sexual orientations and kink without it changing your identity as a person, and about what kinds of expectations the two of them might have for their relationship (not necessarily a romantic one) going forward. And honestly, some of it probably should have happened the night before. Drinking isn’t the only thing that can impair judgment, and while it’s fun to imagine a fantasy of “seeing where things lead” by starting with vanilla hypnosis and moving on to the fun stuff as the subject gets more into it, that’s not really a good idea in the real world.

Mother’s Milk: This one is surprisingly popular, as I may have mentioned in the past – on Literotica, it’s got easily 150,000 more views than any of my other stories. I’m assuming that’s because if you have both a hypnosis fetish and a lactation fetish, there aren’t many stories that combine the two, so you tend to return to the ones you have found pretty frequently. But how easy is it to combine them? Let’s just say, “Probably not this easy.” Even with roughly nine months of doctor’s visits, Lamaze classes, et cetera to help implant the suggestion, it involves some heavy amnesia triggers and a lot of social taboos to overcome, and I don’t think it would be possible with an unwilling subject.

And of course, ethically it’s a total clusterfuck. Unless we’re to assume a shit-ton of facts not in evidence (“Kylie, there are a lot of babies who need milk, so would you enthusiastically consent to being pumped daily here in our offices?” “Oh, gosh, I mean… only if we could then have sex and I was hypnotized to forget it afterwards…”) then we can take it as read that this is a huge violation of bodily autonomy and not something you should ever even contemplate trying to think about considering doing to another human being. This one is strictly fantasy-only.

Closer to the Heart: This one, on the other hand, falls in line with the other Lynn and Michael stories in being both plausible and entirely ethical between two consenting hypnokinky adults as depicted in the story. Michael is having visual hallucinations, which is again totally doable for a skilled and experienced hypnotic subject, and he’s clearly enjoying everything about the experience and is enthusiastic about it. This is something you and your partner could reasonably expect to do, so long as everyone was on the same page about it.

Angel Eyes: The consent in this one is admittedly very much implied; there’s never a scene where Jill explicitly mentions that she and her husband are in a consensual hypnokink D/s relationship and that she has triggers and suggestions that her conscious mind isn’t aware of and that she’s very much okay with that because it’s one of the things that turns her on. But that said, I don’t think it’s at all a stretch to see that in the story as written, and I certainly think that anyone who is using hypnosis to overcome the objections of an unwilling partner isn’t going to get the kind of genuinely joyous response that Jill gives in this story. I don’t know how much control you can truly achieve with hypnosis, manipulation, brainwashing, et cetera, but I am strongly of the belief that your partner wouldn’t be happy even if they were compliant.

And of course the hypnosis in the story is just a very simple visual reinduction trigger with a little amnesia slipped in, not at all out of the realms of believability. I would suggest that if you were trying this particular trigger, you should consult with your partner to see if they have any body image issues that might make them uncomfortable staring at themselves for long periods, because a) that’ll make it harder for them to achieve a truly deep trance, and b) they’ll enjoy it less and why would you want to do something with your partner that doesn’t make them happy? But of course, you’re all consulting with your partners about all your triggers and suggestions in general, so this advice isn’t even needed, right? Right.

And that brings us to the end of another group of five! See you next week with another blog post, and {shrug emoji} with another installment of this series!

Early Bird Sneak Peek: “Joy of a Toy”!

September 11, 2019

Hi all! It’s time for another Early Bird Sneak Peek, where I share a glimpse at the story my lucky Early Bird patrons will be enjoying next Saturday thanks to their pledges at my Patreon page! Of course, if you’re not an Early Bird patron, you’ll still get a story next week–“Yesterday Was Just a Dream”, teased previously, has already been submitted to the EMCSA. But the Early Bird patrons will be getting “Joy of a Toy” (MC)!

As previously mentioned, I’ve started to try to gear my induction pieces to people who want to use erotic hypnosis for specific goals and purposes, as I’ve already got plenty of nice inductions for people who just want to get naked and masturbate. This one is aimed at people who enjoy erotic depersonalization and disassociation, with the intent of making it easier to reach that state when safe and comfortable. Here’s a taste:

“It’s important to understand as we begin that many people are strongly attracted to erotic hypnosis precisely because of the inherent appeal of objectification. Society often places a high value on independence and autonomy, which can make it uncomfortable at times to admit an attraction to surrendering your agency and sense of self, but it’s not that unusual at all. You can value the right to make your own decisions, and still honestly say that sometimes it feels a little too much like work.

“It’s okay to say that. We all feel that way sometimes. Just look back on your day today. From the very beginning, when you had to decide whether to get up or hit the snooze button on your alarm, you were faced with a host of decisions. Some large, some small; some easy, some very very difficult. But every one of them required your conscious, active input, from the clothing you selected to your meal choices to your plans for your daily activities. Each one of them used up mental energy as you weighed the pros and cons, considered each alternative, and forced yourself to accept the responsibility of your irrevocable choice.

“It’s almost exhausting just thinking about it. All those decisions, all those options, and every single one of them relying on you. The more you go back through your day, the more you notice how much work it was to make all those choices. They seem to weigh heavier and heavier the more you consider them, the more you examine each alternative and wonder whether you could have done better. Could you have worked harder? Did you need more rest and relaxation? Was that the right outfit, was that the best meal, did you need to go to work today, did you have to stay home? It’s all important, and that very importance is what makes it such a burden on your weary mind.

Hope you enjoy it!

The Gothic, Grandparent to Sex and Death

September 8, 2019

(This post has been brought to you by the efforts of my 108 loyal and supportive Patrons! Visit my Patreon page to learn how to become one of them.)

I’ve threatened to talk about this at least a couple of times, I know, but I’ve decided that it’s finally time to talk about the way that you can trace the history of both romance and horror, two of the major pop culture genres out there – and arguably erotica and several others, because of the way that literary influence reverberates back and forth between authors – back to one guy, an 18th century art historian and MP named Robert Walpole who had an idea to prank the fuck out of the literary community.

Walpole had a thing for Gothic architecture, the kind of style that was used in medieval cathedrals (if you’ve seen Notre Dame, you know what Gothic architecture looked like) and he actually built himself a castle that used the Gothic style. And as you’d expect for a guy with a huge thing for medievalism, he got into the literature of the time. Which is super-religious, and highly symbolic, and features people getting their supernatural comeuppance pretty much straight from God without any explanation or foreshadowing. Because everyone just kind of understood back then that these were meant to be allegories and not taken literally. (Or maybe God was just really direct and smitey back then. Who knows.)

So here’s Walpole, looking at the contemporary literature of his day, which was trying to be somewhat naturalistic, and he kind of rolled his eyes and said, “Oh come the fuck on. Romance isn’t sweet and gentle and full of fluttering doves and little i’s dotted with hearts, it’s a huge scary deal and one wrong move could see you married to some asshole for the rest of your life and the Church won’t do shit about it unless you’re a rich white dude and oh by the way pregnancy is horrible and women die in childbirth and kids are born with all sorts of terrible health problems due to our poor understanding of nutrition and woefully inadequate health care system and frankly, romance would make more sense if you wrote it like one of those weird old medieval novels where curses were real and life was one long goddamned nightmarish ordeal!”

(I’m paraphrasing slightly. Although he never did get married or have kids. If he were around today, he might just possibly have identified as ace.)

And taking all that, he wrote this big, bewildering, over-the-top parody of medieval literature called ‘The Castle of Otranto’, claiming that it was a story that dated back to the Crusades and he just translated it into English. And it checks all the fucking boxes for Gothic literature right out of the gate. There’s a big crumbling castle in the Gothic architectural style, there’s a family curse that’s totally inexplicable and very doomy, there’s a creepy lech of a dude who wants to marry a woman for reasons that are so obviously wrong and who has the power to force it to happen, there’s a female protagonist whose main goal isn’t so much “finding the right man” as it is “avoiding the oh my fucking GOD wrong one”… there’s lost heirs, there’s secret children, there’s random supernatural demises, this is basically to the Gothic what ‘Lord of the Rings’ is to high fantasy. Generations have imitated it without even knowing it.

And everyone loved it. It sold massively, to the point where Walpole’s hoax was discovered and his later editions had a preface where he explained why he presented it as a much older work, and imitators came crawling out of the woodwork. And as they do, imitators became subverters and subverters became innovators as everyone tried to put their own stamp on this particular genre. And they tended to go in one of two directions.

One group of authors developed the relationship between the male and female leads. The obstacles between their eventual romance were still present, and often still supernatural (or if not, at least presented with the same tonal resonance as in the Gothic) but the emphasis became more and more focused on who these two lovers were and why they wanted to get together despite all their hardships. Those weren’t any less convoluted than in the original Gothic – characters would ship out to the Army and be declared dead, they’d be imprisoned in basements or shut up in attics, they’d have secret wives and secret husbands and secret kids (one Neil Gaiman Gothic parody was entitled, “Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire”). But the horror element gradually diminished, if not dissipated entirely.

The other group decided to amp up that element of inexplicable, supernatural dread. The crumbling castle that Walpole had put in mainly because he loved Gothic architecture became de rigueur, along with ghosts, vampires, ghouls, curses, a general atmosphere of doom, deaths occurring at intervals throughout the story as a kind of narrative spine, and oh yes a heaping helping of Satan as a metaphorical and sometimes literal antagonist because when you’re drawing from medieval religious allegories it’s hard not to drag at least a little of that along. Again, these Gothic stories didn’t jettison the romantic angle – virtually every one of them had a romance between two lovers who were kept at bay by the horrors of the world they moved through – but the emphasis was on an atmosphere of terror and fear.

I’m sure you can see where this is going. The modern romance novel, while it’s certainly nothing like ‘The Castle of Otranto’, nonetheless has roots reaching all the way back down to that crumbling ancestral home. Every modern romance acknowledges the dangers and risks of making the wrong choice about who to spend your life with – there’s almost always a partner who represents the mistake and all the potential consequences it could bring for personal independence and security. And, of course, even when they don’t go full-on supernatural (and often they do – the “paranormal romance” is huge these days) there’s still all sorts of complications and obstacles that aren’t naturalistic and aren’t intended to be.

And likewise, looking at modern horror movies like ‘Saw’ or ‘Insidious’, you can see that a lot of the same boxes are still being ticked even today. You’ve got your ghosts, you’ve got your family curses, you’ve got your decaying and crumbling architecture (heck, the ‘Saw’ movies seem to take place almost exclusively in dilapidated and abandoned buildings), you’ve got your messed-up relationships, you’ve got your general atmosphere of dread and terror… it’s almost a straight line all the way back to Walpole. (I say “almost” because another genre, mystery, began to slowly converge toward horror in much the same way as the Gothic until the two merged. Ever wonder why so many horror movies have a surprise reveal of the killer in the third act? Thank Agatha Christie.)

At the end of the day, these two genres are tied together by their common ancestry. Sex and intimacy can be absolutely terrifying. Fear gets the blood pumping and the heart racing and makes you want to cling to someone tightly until it goes away. Those two feelings are forever intertwined, and you can see it in my work as well. It’s never easy to separate love and fear, and now you know why.

Early Bird Sneak Peek: “Obsession Is Such an Ugly Word”!

September 5, 2019

Hi all! It’s time for another Early Bird Sneak Peek, where I share a glimpse at the story my lucky Early Bird patrons will be enjoying next Saturday thanks to their pledges at my Patreon page! Of course, if you’re not an Early Bird patron, you’ll still get a story next week–“Our Lullaby”, teased previously, has already been submitted to the EMCSA. But the Early Bird patrons will be getting “Obsession Is Such an Ugly Word” (MC MF MD)!

Professor Philip Wedgewood has a new favorite graduate student. He’s welcomed her into his confidence, charmed her into spending more and more time with him, and singled her out for all sorts of special attention. And as someone who’s seen this particular drama play out before, Professor Julia Horne has decided to put a stop to it. Here’s a taste:

Julia glared right back, her deep brown eyes offering him a challenging stare. “You’re assisting your way into something,” she said sardonically, “but I don’t think it’s anything professional. Or do you really think none of us noticed Ava Kittridge? Or Marissa Chang? Or Callie Davenport, or Mina Carriger, or Ebony Cartwright, or Blanca Castillo or Olubunmi Babatunde or Kyung-Sook Park? It’s the same thing every time with you, Philip. You find some pretty young girl, someone vulnerable and eager to please, and you twist her around your little finger until she’s emotionally dependent on you for every single decision. And then, when you get bored with her, you freeze her out of your life completely and leave it to someone else to sweep up the pieces. I’m not going to let it happen again, do you hear me? Not with Anika, not with anyone. This bullshit ends now.”

Professor Wedgewood simply stared back at her, his face an impassive mask of innocence. “My dear Professor Horne,” he replied, in tones of wounded dismay, “I simply don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve always been fully professional–“

“You mean you’ve always been careful,” Julia cut in, her own voice doing a bit of surgery on his excuses. “I’m sure you coached your little conquests very well–nothing in public, nothing in texts or emails, nothing that would leave behind any evidence. Your victims are all bright, they’re all very good at following instructions, and your specialty is the psychology of emotional manipulation. I have no doubt that you convince them that it’s in their own best interest to keep your secrets for you. And by the time it’s all over and they’ve lost their luster, you’ve managed to convince them that getting dumped is their own fault.”

Hope you enjoy it!

Mind Control Alert: “The Love Witch” on Shudder!

September 3, 2019

(This post has been brought to you by the efforts of my 107 heroic and amazing Patrons! Visit my Patreon page to learn how to become one of them.)

Hi all! Kind of a short entry this time out, but I did want to mention that the generally excellent streaming horror service Shudder has added ‘The Love Witch’ to its list of titles. I’ll probably talk more about it in a future post, but the main thing you need to know is that it’s a horror movie done in a consciously retro style, using older filming techniques (and shooting on actual film rather than digital video). And oh yes, in case you hadn’t guessed from the title… and its inclusion here on this blog… it’s about a woman who uses love spells to draw men into her sexual spell.

Shudder also contains the excellent ‘Dead and Buried’, which I’ve mentioned here before, and ‘The Stuff’, which would be a great mind control movie if not for the unfortunate habit of the titular mind-controlling substance of hollowing people from the inside out and wearing them like suits. (So much of my job is really just taking away the “and then you die” parts from the horror genre. Which makes sense, because as I’ve mentioned before, I could probably do a blog post on the common ancestry shared by horror and romance.) They’ve also got ‘Oldboy’, which does have some mind control aspects even if it is the absolute fucking opposite of sexy, and a cult film from the Seventies called ‘God Told Me To’ that features a villain who mind controls people into spree killing and is eerily prescient.

Oh, yes, and an undeservedly obscure indie film called ‘The Void’, which isn’t exactly mind controlly but is at least tangentially related, featuring as it does a cult whose leader controls them with drugs and orgies and uses them to carry out his dark purpose. You don’t get to see the drugs or the orgies, but it’s nonetheless an extremely good movie. All of which is by saying that if ‘The Love Witch’ alone isn’t enough to entice you, there’s some very good squicky mind control content there along with it.

If, you know, you’re into that sort of thing.

Liner Notes for August 2019

September 1, 2019

(This post has been brought to you by the efforts of my 109 inventive and fascinating Patrons! Visit my Patreon page to learn how to become one of them.)

Hello, all! Another month has gone by, taking the summer with it, and now it’s time to look back on August and the stories it brought. Let’s get started, shall we?

Warm Fuzzy Feeling: When I saw this title, I remember getting the emotional resonance before I got the actual sequence of events. I knew it was going to be about that happy, carefree, pleasant emotion that comes from being with someone you love and being totally lost in them. (In polyamorous relationships, it’s called “New Relationship Energy”, or NRE.) I immediately got the idea that if someone could induce that in another person, if they could make them feel that emotion just by willing it, then they’d have a virtually irresistible tool for total control.

From there, little details emerged, like ordering food/drink for someone (a thing most women don’t generally find charming) only to have happiness overwhelm the annoyance, and a sudden escalation from “coffee date” to “fucking like bunnies” that seemed perfectly natural in light of that pure and perfect joy. Escalating, eventually, to a complete makeover of the victim’s personality. I wanted it to skate that line between “this utterly horrifies me” and “oh god, this is so fucking hot”, and judging by the responses, I think I found the sweet spot there.

Girl Talk: This is a story I’ve had in mind for a while now, because there’s a question I’ve been begging for a while in the Girls stories – if they use seduction as a tool of control, and they’re (benevolently) subjugating the entire human race, what happens with the kids? They must wind up with Girls of their own, because the goal is eventually for the ratio of Girls to humans to be 1:1, but they’re not controlling the kids the same way they are the adults because EEEEEWWWWW. So what do they do?

Even after I came up with the answer, it took me a long time to find a way to express it that didn’t feel like it was tiptoeing up to the EEEEEWWWWW Line. I didn’t want it to feel like the Girls were grooming young people for sex, I wanted it to feel like they were building an ethical framework and an underpinning for a mature understanding of sex, which would help them when they were finally ready to engage in sexual activities. (While brainwashing them, because while the Girls are all about respect and consent in all other ways, they still view us from a fundamentally alien worldview and would no more respect our right to engage in harmful thoughts and behaviors than we would respect our computer’s right to say no to defragmenting the hard drive.) Judging by the lack of responses, I’m assuming I didn’t mess things up too badly.

Black Reign: This is actually a story I wrote a long time ago, probably back in 2016 or so? It was a commission from a video game designer, who was planning to launch a fundraising campaign for an erotic video game they were making and wanted an original story as a backup reward. They asked for something science fiction-y with a female submissive protagonist, and described just enough of the idea for the game that it sparked my imagination to run with it in an entirely different direction.

Their game (which sadly appears to have failed to come to fruition) involved a cargo ship full of aliens as well, but not a defunct one and definitely not one as horrifying as the Acharius. Those aspects came from ‘Alien’ and ‘Resident Evil’ (“defunct ship contains lethal alien threat” and “callous biotech corporation sees humans as an ultimately expendable resource compared to extremely valuable discoveries”) with, of course, the twist that it’s mind control/subjugation rather than death that’s the ultimate fate of the victims. Rhea was very strongly influenced by N.K. Jemisin’s Afrofuturism, and the name of the ship is a specific homage. I like to imagine that future generations will remember her fondly as one of the great writers of the 21st century.

(Oh, speaking of ship names, all of the BioHarvest ships are named after famous scientists, with Erik Acharius himself being a pioneer of the study of lichens. Fungal symbiotes. See what I did there?)

Let You Win: Immediately on seeing the title, I knew that it was going to be about Person A challenging Person B to yet another “can you resist hypnosis” test, and Person B trying to salvage their pride at losing so frequently by claiming they only lose because they let Person A win, and Person A using that against them by twisting their mind around into once again wanting to lose the hypnosis challenge and sink into blissful hypnotic oblivion. The only minor thing that happened between inspiration and writing was me realizing that the entire dynamic between the two characters was one I’d already come up with for an earlier story, “Temptation Dice”, and that it really made more sense to reuse it than to reinvent it. Bam. Done. Easy peasy. Sometimes it’s nice to have a story like that.

Kiss and Control: One of the most frequent requests I’ve gotten as a writer is for a rematch between WildRose and Sangria (whose somewhat one-sided rivalry was established in an old story of mine called “Kiss”). But I didn’t want to do something that just felt like a redo of the previous confrontation, so I needed something that provided a new angle on the concept. And since Sharpe has almost always been the one to save WildRose, and usually has been someone that WildRose’s enemies can’t get to and don’t even know about, it seemed like an exciting way for Sangria to get to her old enemy.

And it also allowed me to do a few other things, like work Shadowstryke into the dynamic between the two of them a bit more, and hint a little at the mysterious figure who’s causing trouble for my universe’s heroes (it’s the same person who awakened Silas the Somnomancer to his full potential). But mostly I just really wanted to match Sangria and WildRose up again in a way that didn’t involve Sangria getting punched in the face two seconds into the fight and collapsing into a heap.

And that’s August in the books! Join me next week (if not sooner) for another blog post, and next month for another Liner Notes!