Everything in fiction is a trope. Everything. We’ve got the formulas mapped out to a science. Just like we have a scant twenty-six letters in the alphabet to work with (unless you borrow a few from other languages), there are only so many plots, arcs, archetypes, and character traits.
When it comes to the choice of combinations, however…the sky’s the limit.
There are some common fiction tropes that I promised myself I would never use, either because they’re overused in my genre and I can’t stand them anymore or because the usage of them feels too easy and cheap. Or I just don’t like them because they don’t connect with my interests.
This is, of course, a personal opinion. Many of these tropes are common because other people like them so much. And I’m well within my prerogative to choose the tropes I prefer and avoid the ones that aren’t right for me. I’m pretty sure some of the ones I use on a regular basis drive other people up the wall too. The main love interest selecting a girl out of a group of choices (and often the choice is made for atypical reasons), multiple partners, fluid sexuality, age disparity, extreme power imbalance and fighting for dominance in spite of it, apocalypses, gothic melodramatics…I can’t get enough of them.
But there are other tropes that I told myself never to touch, the ones I’m not crazy about in most other people’s stories (not all—some people manage to overcome my inherent dislike if they do it right). It’s a good thing I have an appetite for words, because I’ve had to eat quite a few of them.
I promised myself I would never get any of my characters pregnant. In the third Sanctuary novel (WIP), Britt wants a baby.
I promised myself I wouldn’t do any of that ‘all-powerful’ crap. In the second Sanctuary novel, Kelly’s pretty darn powerful—albeit beyond her ability to completely control it. And the demonic circus owner, Bell, in the Arcanium novels (coming out in April) might as well be omnipotent, though he gives himself limitations because it makes things more interesting for him.
I promised myself after writing Wolf Girl (which will be coming out at the end of the year) that I wouldn’t write another main character with memory loss.
Then I had a vision of a scarily skinny, bruised woman in white clothes, stained with blood, no clue whose or how it got there. And from that vision, Bloodbound was born.
There is a certain amount of attraction to this trope. It’s an easy form of wiping the character slate clean, creating the Ignorant who needs to be introduced to whatever world she finds herself in, the excuse for explanations. But it’s not as easy as it looks.
The hardest part of dealing with memory loss is walking the line between how much of your character’s traits are learned or innate. In the case of Wolf Girl, that slate was truly wiped clean, little more than cloudy residue of memory and personality left behind. The main character becomes an essentially different person.
In Bloodbound, Julia is introduced at the start of her fugue state. It can take days, months, or years to bounce back from a fugue state, but the old memories aren’t truly lost. They aren’t damaged from physical trauma, although they can manifest from psychological trauma—in that way, it’s kind of like dissociative identity disorder, fracturing intended to protect the prime personality.
At the start of Bloodbound, we’re introduced to a woman who doesn’t even know her own name and has to depend on a receipt to know what to call herself, since she doesn’t have any other form of ID. In that way, she was lucky. Not everyone who experiences fugue state figures out who they are after they wander away, lost in more ways than one.
Bits and pieces of the puzzle, each more disturbing than the last, begin to emerge. There are hints that this fugue state isn’t a persistent one—old habits die hard and burst out at bewildering times, reactions that she doesn’t understand. Her mind won’t protect itself forever—mainly because she doesn’t need protecting forever. Just long enough.
Did I say that the hardest part is walking the memory line? No, the hardest part is the pronouns, especially when there’s another woman hanging around with your main character, and neither of them know each other’s name.
Tired trope or not, it was a challenge, and one that I enjoyed and that felt right to me at the time. I hope it feels right to my readers as well. If you’d like to give it a try, Blood Lost, the first book in the Bloodbound serial, will be completely free when it comes out February 14. Valentine’s Day. A coincidence, I assure you. And each subsequent book will be released every two weeks, concluding mid-April.
I don’t think I’ll write another story about a main character with memory loss.
Blurb for Blood Lost (Bloodbound Book 1)
As if wandering the streets in bloody clothes after losing her memory isn’t bad enough, Julia’s been kidnapped by vampires and presented to Nathan, high priest of Dominion.
Nathan’s not interested in a bleeder, perfectly content with fellow priest Lucas as his companion, lover, and willing servant. However, when Lucas offers her to him, Julia’s endearing confusion and lack of fear intrigue him.
With nowhere else to go without her memories, Julia accepts his proposition and embarks on a sensual but deadly journey into the world of Dominion and its arrogant, esoteric elite…as well as the darkness of her own desires and the mystery of her past.
Bloodbound Release Schedule
Blood Lost (Book 1) – February 14 (FREE!)
Bleeder’s Ball (Book 2) – February 28
Blood Pool (Book 3) – March 14
Blood on the Moon (Book 4) – March 28
Bleeding Heart (Book 5) – April 11
Bloodbound, the Complete Serial Novel – May 9
Excerpt from Blood Lost (Bloodbound Book 1)
Julia tightened her grip on his shoulders as he maneuvered her to the edge of the bed. She stiffened her legs when they pressed against the drawn sheets.
“Now is not the time for fear, my broken angel,” Nathan said.
“I’m not afraid.” She just wasn’t ready, didn’t know enough of what to expect, didn’t know what was to come. The future was as empty to her as the past.
“After you taste my blood and as I taste yours, the rest will fall into place,” Nathan said. Against her hips, claws dented and pricked the flesh. “Our lack of clothing will make sense to you then. You won’t be afraid anymore.”
“I’m not afraid.” Julia didn’t know why he kept saying that.
“Show me.” Nathan took a short step back and brought his hands between them, exposing a beautiful, vein-tinged wrist. With his eyes fixed upon hers, he drew one claw in a shallow cut across the vein threads. The blood rose red, stark against the pale flesh, dimensional across the exquisite plain, but threatening to drip down the terrain of his palm. “Drink. When you do, you promise yourself to me. You can never turn back. You are mine. Drink.”
Julia took his forearm to guide the bleeding wrist to just short of her lips. Then she lowered her head and closed her mouth over the wound, running her tongue along the line to drink.
Nathan released a groan like a sigh, but Julia barely noticed. The second she swallowed, she understood why he’d told her the rest would handle itself. She also understood why they were naked.
Julia latched onto his wrist, sucking the blood out to coat her tongue with its indescribable taste, savory yet sweet yet heady all at once. The lust that had been a mild distraction before—her body’s whisper among the more pressing turmoil in her mind—suddenly flared up within her like a fireplace with too much kindling. She twisted her mouth over him to coax more blood out, biting when it couldn’t go down her throat fast enough.
Fingers fisted in her hair and yanked her away from his wrist. Unbeknownst to her while in the thrall of his blood, he had reclined against the pillows on the bed, and she had straddled him again, her clit pressed against the base of his cock. With her access to his blood denied, she was gasping and whimpering like a hungry dog, his blood dripping down her chin, her cunt desperate, trapped on the keen edge of orgasm.
Nathan laughed at her, at her desperation, at her need. He encircled her waist with his bloody arm and, still firmly grasping her hair with his fist, he leaned in and licked the blood before it could slide down her neck. He followed it to her mouth, where he gave her something else to consume, something else to lose herself in, because she suddenly wanted nothing more than his mouth where it was—tasting his blood on her tongue.
Aurelia T. Evans is an up-and-coming erotica author with a penchant for horror and the supernatural.
She’s the twisted mind behind the werewolf/shifter Sanctuary trilogy, demonic circus series Arcanium (publication starts April 2015), and spiritual gothic/urban fantasy series Meridian (publication TBD). She’s also had short stories featured in various erotic anthologies.
Aurelia presently lives in Dallas, Texas (although she doesn’t ride horses or wear hats). She loves cats and enjoys baking as much as she dislikes cooking. She’s a walker, not a runner, and she writes outside as often as possible.