.Forbidden Fantasies: Author Scarlett West

I had a question for local paranormal romance author, Scarlett West—a question about monsters. Not, why we want to fight monsters—that’s natural enough, but why we want to uhh… you know, with monsters.

It’s a question with relevance for our dating lives, and for the toxic attraction our society has to dominance and power. West is the author of multiple romance series that star sexy wolfmen, sexy fae and sexier vampires. Despite being fantasy, her books are getting at something very grounded and very real.

CH: Scarlett. Why do we want to, uhh… date monsters?

SW: It’s a very layered question.

CH: Like a delectable cake!

SW: Definitely like a cake! We humans have a part of our psyche that is fascinated with “the forbidden.” Things for which old taboos were put into place to “protect us.” We fear the forbidden, but still there is the desire to transgress. Combine that with the dominance and power that monsters have over us, and you have something that we can’t help being attracted to. It’s very human. Beginning with Dracula, 19th century Victorian literature began to reflect that tension with humanized portrayals of traditional monsters that were charismatic and sexually dominant.

CH: I’m getting a bit heated here! Bram Stoker’s Dracula seems to have set a template for paranormal romance then?

SW: Yes! Another element laid down there was the universal fantasy of being whisked out of a ho-hum life. The young woman in Dracula did have money, so it wasn’t quite a Cinderella story, but she was suddenly taken out of her ordinary repressed life by the arrival of this supernatural being.

CH: The dark stranger. A PG version of that would be what happened in Harry Potter. A sad and drab, abused little boy received a magical letter informing him he is actually a rich, wizard-saver and set free.

SW: It’s a master trope of fantasies. We are no longer Victorian, but we are still largely puritanical, and much of our sexual fantasy remains forbidden. Books are a safe place for people to explore sexuality and dark fantasies. Although it’s imaginative, the catharsis people feel while reading is very real. It’s healing and whole making. It’s also sexy and fun!

Continue the conversation with us—this interview is taken from a longer audio interview available at ‘Sonoma County : A Community Portrait’ on Apple, Google and Spotify podcasts. linktr.ee/cincinnatushibbard.

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