A cursory Internet cruise can lead the sexually curious to information and discussions focused on any predilection one can imagine. For many, the exploration isn't for explicit pictures or lurid online conversation, but for crafted prose that finds familiar characters in a fictional, steamy situation of the writer's choosing.
Welcome to the world of erotic fan-fiction, where exploring the what-ifs of famous sex lives makes for sometimes sensual, often hilarious original works shared among lovers of the genre. If you can think of it, chances are you can find a sexualized story about it online. In fact, Fifty Shades of Grey began as sexually charged Twilight fan-fiction.
This year's Get Lit! festival features writers creating some erotic fan-fic of their own about mythical monsters, like those found in Lord of the Rings and Where the Wild Things Are.
"We want as many genres to be represented, as many styles, as possible," says Festival Director Melissa Huggins. "We always try to mix it up from year to year and try to have something that's really unusual and different. This was a really fun, lighthearted way of doing that."
At last fall's Montana Book Festival, Huggins was one of the featured authors taking an erotic approach to characters from Nancy Drew and The Baby-Sitters Club books. Writing was a challenge in terms of how far to take her story of Nancy Drew's dad sleeping with the housekeeper, she says, but the event, held at a Missoula dive bar, was a blast. And as part of the broader festival full of readings and panel discussions, erotic fan-fiction served as an addition worth bringing to Get Lit!
"We definitely don't want to be in a mode where everything has to be really serious," Huggins says.
The Get Lit! panel is a collaboration with the Montana Book Festival, where it will continue this fall with a new batch of groovy ghoulies getting busy. Poet Rachel Mindell, director of the Montana fest and writing for Get Lit!'s session, says the inaugural edition elicited a "combination of really different, weird, sexy stuff" from its sold-out panel loaded with Spokane talent, including Huggins, YA author Kris Dinnison and poet/essayist Aileen Keown Vaux.
"People just laughed the whole time," Mindell says. "It's sort of delicate when you're dealing with teenage girls and writing sexy stuff without making it inappropriate, so it was a lot of wordplay and innuendo. It was more playful than anything."
After writing her Baby-Sitters Club piece for the Montana Book Festival, Keown Vaux thought to herself, "That was the most fun I've had writing the last five years," after deciding, "I'm going to push this to the nth degree and see how ridiculous and absurd I can go with it." But, she notes, erotic fan-fiction can provide an outlet to explore more serious inner emotions.
"For some people, it's a really important outlet," Keown Vaux says. "There are a lot of queer narratives to it as well, which I think is really pivotal for some people who want to see some stories they haven't had access to."
And if the stories can serve fans while also entertaining the crowd at a literary festival — as she fully expects it will as she moderates Get Lit!'s panel — all the better.
"Whatever you're expectations are, they're going to be disrupted in some way," Keown Vaux says, "because it's a high-wire act where people come out and have interesting, hilarious takes on this genre." ♦
Sexy Beasts: Erotic Fan Fiction featuring Mythical Monsters • Sat, April 16, at 8 pm • 21 + • free • nYne Bar & Bistro • 232 W. Sprague