A Heart of Darkness: Why I like writing Dark Romance (No I'm not crazy)
SAMPLE FROM MAXIM
“Do you want to stay?”
My throat ignites as I swallow. No. “Y-yes,” I tell him. “I need the money.”
He frowns, stepping back enough that I can make out the door to the suite behind him.
“Give me your hands, kotyonok.” His own go to his waist, tugging something free from the belt loops. A strip of leather. Dark…thick… “Your hands.”
They shake as I raise them from the floor, as high as I can. They barely go above my chest. Maxim has to bend down in order to wrap the end of his belt around them and tug, tying them together.
“Stand up,” he tells me next, watching as I crawl to the wall and lean against it to find enough leverage to haul myself upright. Inch by goddamn inch. Sweat breaks out over my forehead, gluing my hair to it and basting my skin. “Look at me, kotyonok.” I follow the direction of the cool fingers that nudge my jaw. “Up…up…good.”
Black eyes watch me without a shred of empathy. Mercy.
“Do you want to stay?” he asks me again.
I just nod. I don’t know why. It’s the pain—it sucks away my common sense. It drowns my fear.
“Then stay here, just like this. All night. Until I come for you.” He pets me just once, his fingers lingering in my hair. “You move so much as an inch…and when I’m through you won’t be able to walk for days, kotyonok—” His thumb caresses my cheek, the nail grazing the skin. “Do you understand?”
It hurts to suck in enough air just to reply. “Y-Yes.”
“Good.” His thumbs traces my mouth before he pulls away. With one hand he yanks open the door to the suite, just enough so that anyone walking by would catch a glimpse of me. Just enough for me to run. “Goodnight, kotyonok.”
He returns down the hall, heading deeper into the maze of rooms. Minutes later I hear a door open and shut.
At least ten minutes of silence pass before I realize that he’s serious. Stay here, standing, all night. Just because he said so.
I leave, he’ll let me go. I think it’s what he really wants me to do, anyway.
I stay and…
The kids are probably sleeping. Melanie probably crawled her way back into the house. Money. Money. Money. It makes the world go round. It makes my world stop spinning.
I stay there, like that, for money.
Not because of the pain. Not because of the fact that, even with my knees knocking together and my body weak with abuse and exhaustion…I can think. I can feel. Everything.
I submit to him for the money.
Romance is great! Romance is fun. It's probably the only aspect I truly REQUIRE in order to enjoy a story, be it a novel, manga, anime, short story, movie, tv show ect. Love is one of the most primal, hard-to-explain instincts that humans are capable of expressing. We'd die for it. Fight for it. I feel that any story with an element of romance (even platonic) is just instantly elevated above any other. Not everyone thinks this way, but that's me.
I think what sets me apart from most people however, is that the love doesn't have to be fulfilled, logical or even sane for me to be totally 100% invested. Forget the sappy HEA. Give me pain. Give me twisted, terrible people incapable of being together. Give me any variation of my favorite literary couple in existence...
Rhett Butler and Scarlet O'Hara. They taunted each other. Hurt each other. Wounded each other, and yet you can't image a better half. They're selfish, downright AWFUL people sometimes, and yet that is why they belong together--even if, realistically, they don't. They understand each other without judgement and I feel that's a dynamic magnified by a million in a dark romance.
My idea of dark romance isn't some mild kink or BDSM. It isn't even straight up darkness or torture or taboo subjects. For me a dark romance could be totally twisted in a contemporary setting without any sex at all. To me, dark romance is: pain. Pain that two people inflict upon each other because it's the only way they know how to coexist. It's the only way they know how to communicate and it's the ONLY way they can feel some semblance of normal emotion. They need to hurt and be hurt.
Hence, some of my more twisted couples like Frankie and Maxim from Maxim XXX. Maxim is a dark, twisted character who is so used to being alone and rejected that he sees people (especially women) as mere tools to fulfill necessary urges. Until Frankie comes along. She corrupts his warped idea of normalcy which makes him angry, and bitter and vengeful.
It makes him love, as terrifying as that emotion can seem when he expresses it, lol.
Frankie on the other hand is so used to being neglected and used that when someone is willing to inadvertently give her what she craves (attention, investment, sensation) she...well she looses her damn mind. I probably get the most questions about this couple (Right behind Dante and Danny from Crescendo) even though the story isn't even published yet (in fact, you can read the draft right here!).
Most of the questions center around why they do the things they do and honestly? There is no real answer. They've developed their own twisted ways to cope with their emotions or lack of them, so when another human comes along who speaks their fucked up language, they can't help themselves. They become obsessed, and a little scary.
That is the aspect that I love tackling with a dark romance. It's ugly and maybe a little wrong. It's unhealthy and vulgar and twisted. Maybe in it's own sick way, there's something beautiful about that, but let's not look into that too closely. There's nothing glorifying about it or normalizing violence. It's brutally honest and leaves no doubt: this isn't healthy...
But it's all they know.
Now, that's not to say that there's nothing wrong about watching two normal, well-adjusted people find other normal, sane and well-adjusted people to make that sparkly HEA. Not at all! But I tend to secretly love two broken, corrupted souls find their match in ways they don't expect or even want. There's nothing wrong with sparkles, but sometimes you need some ugly dark splotches to really show the contrast between light and dark.
Are you a fellow dark lover and know of any stories I need on my list? Post your rec in the forums!
Interested in reading more about Maxim and Frankie?
Check out the draft, and be sure to catch the alternative ending/bonus chapters I plan on posting soon. ;) Here's a sneak peek:
My eyes blink, flooding with moisture as Maxim circles around to where I stand. Gently, his thumb prods my chin, lifting it. The moment I make eye contact he hits me again. Harder.
And be sure to stay tuned for more of my weird musings on writing, romance and all things weird. Want to suggest a topic? Head on over to the forum and leave your suggestion in the "general" category.