This is the final part to my three part autopsy of my interactive erotica book, Taken by the Aliens. Part One is here while Part Two is here. Spoilers abound so don’t read until you have read the book.
Before I wrote my first word in Taken by the Aliens, I had to make important decisions on the tone of the book. I was writing about alien abductions, which by their definition is a non-consensual situation. Other erotic works in the genre focus quite a bit on the lack of consent and derive a great amount of tension from the sinister power of these alien beings.
That is not the kind of book I wanted to write. The greatest appeal of interactive fiction in my mind is the power inherent in making choices. YOU DECIDE is what countless interactive books say but if the story lacks the consent of the reader’s character, how much are you really deciding? There is a wicked appeal in letting the reader make choices only to have those choices countered, but again, that isn’t the kind of book I wanted to write.
It goes back to my Amusement Park approach to this book. What does the reader want to happen? If the reader doesn’t want something to happen, then how do you accommodate their experience?
The answer has already been worked out by centuries of sexual role-playing, particularly in the BDSM community. When a dominant and a submissive play, they agree on a safeword that when spoken, pauses or ends the scenario. This allows the submissive to enjoy/endure the experience until the point where it is not longer wanted.
I decided to give the reader a safeword. The trick was doing it in such a way that the reader didn’t know they had one. The simple solution was that in every encounter, I have them the option to run away or avoid the encounter. If they took the escape option, it always works. They might get captured and put in a different situation, BUT they always left the situation that they wanted to run from.
When the reader ‘escapes’ the final sex scene that I had planned for them, I would put them back on Earth. If they avoided having sex with the last alien, I would put them in a less than ideal location on Earth. This included places that were common in horror fiction like cabins in the woods, midnight carnivals, creepy motels and so on.
In my first draft, some of these places came across as certain death. I decided to keep the tone of the rest of the book and respect the reader’s decision to avoid things they didn’t want to do. The less-than-ideal endings were rewritten so that they read like the beginning of a thrilling book, as opposed to the implication of certain doom. That is why I often included the line, “What happens next would take another book to explain”. It was my way of telling the reader they had left this interactive story and entered another one.
Will I write those books in the future? Probably.
While on the subject of consent, I have to say the hardest part of the book for me to write was the section where the reader gets to play with unconscious people. That was really hard to write in the two year period that Bill Cosby’s rape stories came to light. I debated trashing the whole section but in the end I decided that the choice to play the captor in an alien abduction scene was too vital to the genre to pass up. If I started the project today I think I would have skipped having human subjects and have you probe an alien instead. I don’t judge anyone who enjoyed that section of the book, I’m just saying that it was hard for me personally to write and I doubt I will do something like that again.