Thursday, March 22, 2012

Darn accidental babies!

I know readers probably get annoyed when authors blame some outside source (my muse! my characters!) for the whack things that happen in their books. To an extent, I understand that frustration. It certainly sounds like the author is passing off responsibility, but I'm here to tell you. It really happens. Stories can really take shape beyond your intention or your control.

For instance, right now, three of my works in progress are coming up with accidental babies. Believe me, I'm not happy about this! I know babies don't have a place in BDSM fiction for a lot of readers. One of the books is a mainstream, vanilla romance, but even in a mainstream happily-ever-after, babies can seem too retro a plot device in this day and time.

So where are all these dang babies coming from all of a sudden?

Accidental babies aren't unheard of in my backlist. Lucy and Matthew had one hell of an "accident" in Mercy (one that enraged nearly as many readers as it titillated). Wednesday and Daniel have an accidental pregnancy in Owning Wednesday, and Dave and Sophie have one in Deep in the Woods.

In those stories, the babies were part of the couple's stories. They had to be there, and the fact that they're accidental adds more drama. (Newsflash: I love drama. No one is surprised.) For balance, I also try to create stories with couples who aren't thinking about babies for the time being, and even stories with characters like Constance in Odalisque and Molly in Club Mephisto, who are quite sure they don't want children.

Still, I'm back to babies again. Of course, all the stories and circumstances are different, and the genres are different, but there they all are. Part of me is afraid of getting slapped with some baby-agenda label. Every Annabel Joseph book ends with a baby! Blech! But part of me wants to be true to the story that's unfolding in my head between my characters. I would have preferred not to have three babies in succession, sure, but maybe they just belong there. Or maybe some of them will end up getting edited out. (ohh, poor babies!)

I don't know. I suppose I'm torn between trying to be "commercial" and please my audience, and trying to just write what's in my heart. In the end, I guess it's a balancing act.

How do you feel about babies as part of a couple's happily ever after? Yes? No? Depends on the book?


  1. I like babies as part of an HEA with the caveat that, especially in books with BDSM relationships, I think it is very important to point out that the healthiest order in a solid, long-term partnership is that the relationship is of primary importance. That doesn't mean to neglect the child, but that nurturing the relationship is absolutely essential.

    No man wants to be relegated to second potato behind a small being in a dirty diaper, and no woman wants to be perceived as having been a useful baby carriage. And when hardwired for BDSM, a person really NEEDS to be a Dom or sub; it isn't something that can just be set on a shelf.

    You have handled this issue beautifully previously, and if a reviewer is going to use that as a point of contention, they would have found something else to use, if not this.


  2. I think babies (whether planned or "accidental") are a part of life. Even though these stories are fiction, they are based on what could happen in real life, unless they are paranormals for example. Real people who enjoy BDSM do sometimes have children. And even real mothers, who may not actually participate in the lifestyle, enjoy BDSM stories. I personally as a reader only do not have any problem with characters having children. I think that as long as anything written about the woman takes the pregnancy into consideration (nothing extreme that would risk harm to the child) then it is fine.

  3. It doesn't bother me for a couple to have children. However, in my opinion, it really has to go with the storyline. I don't want a baby thrown in there just for a HEA. So, if it happens, it happens, but if it's forced in there, the reader can tell and some may not like it.

    And sorry, but I had to laugh at babies being edited out. I picture the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld saying, "no baby for you!".

  4. I think it depends on the book... or rather, the characters.

    Most people who plan to stay together for the rest of their lives do end up having kids. Not all of them, but most. If the book shows us far enough into their relationship, it's probably going to come up.

    Are the parents capable of being good parents? Is the relationship going to be enriched or hurt by the addition of a child? I've read a few romances where I was horrified at the thoughts of a particular couple having a child, and it didn't work for me at all.

    Like it or not, the Dom is going to have to back off for a while - infants are a lot of work. If I think the Dom is going to have trouble seeing to the child's needs before his own, or if I think he's going to make the sub/mom feel torn between having to give both of them her time and attention, it causes problems for me.

    Sometimes the sex stuff has to fade into the background for a season or two, and then can come back again. But once you have kids, it can't ever really be a 'round the clock thing again - at least not to the extent it is before kids. If I don't think the Dom is going to be okay with that, then the whole baby thing just makes me sad.

    But, if I can see that both are going to be great parents? It makes for a nice HEA.

  5. It completely depends on the story.

    In my own life I have nothing against children, but made a decision early on that I didn’t want any of my own. So sometimes it’s nice to read a HEA I can relate to. But then some characters NEED that baby to make their story complete.

    It can work to point out that “regular family-types can do BDSM too”.

    Definitely up to the story. But yeah, I think if an author (not you!) feels a book isn’t complete without the stereotypical ending, then they might have an issue there!

  6. LOL, I'm so not the person to chime in on this one, Annabel. Ironically, all my stories end up with babies... whether through birth or adoption. In my mind, considering the scientific research and the statistics about conception, I actually view babies, especially unexpected ones as evidence that the couple were destined to be together, if only for a while, in some cases.
    It's important that the addition of a child be relevant to the story and the characters' growth, otherwise the story doesn't work right.
    At least you're cognizant of the addition of the baby event to your stories. And the fact that they weren't planned that way, in my mind, only proves that the story has truly taken on a life of its own.