October 27, 2013

The Devil You Know … Still Can’t Make You Do It

By Alexa Day

It’s the time of year for celebrating all things dark and scary! My favorite holiday, Halloween, is Thursday, and this year, I find my thoughts turning to Eternal Bad Boy #1: the devil. He’s not my usual fare. Sure, the devil brings lots of cerebral heft to everything he does, but that’s because he is pursuing his own agenda at the expense of everyone else’s. And he’s, you know, the devil. I do respect the occasional moral boundary from time to time.

He might be problematic as a hero, but the devil has a lot to offer the fictional world of erotic romance as a complicating factor. He’s been around long enough to be jaded and unimpressed with the “piece of work” that is mankind. He lives outside the moral code that seems to bind the rest of us. He enjoys the sensual fruits the world has to offer without consequence. And why not? He can afford to live like there’s no tomorrow because he answers to no one, and he wants us to live that way, too.

The devil’s only power is seduction. Despite the popular saying, he can’t make us do anything. He can only make us choose to do things. To do that, he has to make certain choices seem very, very attractive. He has to make wrong look oh-so-right.

Sometimes the devil just makes expensive look right. It just depends.
Sometimes the devil just makes expensive look right. It just depends.

To do that, he’ll use his vast worldly expertise. He knows what we on Earth want in our mouths or in our hot little hands. He knows where the black and white lines of our conscience blend together in spectrums of gray. He’ll pit his sexy strength against our personal weaknesses, and he’ll wait.

Before long, the world is consumed by the pain of not having our heart’s desire, and we’re starting to think the way the devil wants us to think. Just one time. Who would ever know? Why shouldn’t I?

The prospect of forbidden pleasure, the anticipation, and finally the moment when temptation turns to reality – it’s all part of his diabolical world. And it’s all so much fun to write! I love exploring how far a character is willing to go to get what he wants. I love testing them with things they shouldn’t want in the first place. Most of all, I love making all this torture worth their while. In erotic romance, the wages of sin can be downright delicious.

So who’s making bad look extra good these days on the big and little screens? What would make you sit down for an infernal negotiation? I don’t care how intently Willem Dafoe gazes at me, he’s not getting my signature in exchange for a Mercedes. I’m looking hard at a student loan — for starters. Think it over in the comments, and be sure to surrender to the temptation to follow Lady Smut.

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  • Post authorMadeline Iva

    Love what you have to say about this — I feel the same way. Those moments are SO much fun to write! In fact, I was looking at a free sample the other day. He was hot for it, she was hot for it, they were in a hotel room together about to do it…and I was bored. There was nothing more to it than that. Somehow that itchy anticipation to do the deed isn’t as satisfying to me if there’s not hell to pay for it later…

    Meanwhile, what you wrote made me think about how much I loved that movie Devil’s Advocate where Al Pacino as the devil says his favorite vice is vanity. Using vanity he was able to suck in his victims over and over again.

    I also think pride is often our huge failing. How often we think we can go it alone, because we’re so strong—when we really need help. When we’ve underestimated the struggle ahead. And I say that not as someone who thinks women are weaker than men — it’s the same for most of us, man or woman.

    Reply to Madeline Iva
    • Post authorAlexa Day

      The Devil’s Advocate is such a great devil story! My favorite part is toward the end, when Keanu’s character accuses the devil of forcing him to ignore his wife’s physical and mental distress. But that’s not what happened at all. Al reminds Keanu of the afternoon he all but begged him to look in on his wife. Keanu blew her off, of his own free will.

      Al does take it all the way to scenery-chewing madness at the end, but that’s why I love him so. 🙂 I think the filmmakers believed the devil needed some larger mission, like the conception of the Antichrist, to justify the film. I’m not so sure. I think he gets by just fine on a person-to-person basis, pulling one person and then another away from the light. I think that *is* the mission, so far as he is concerned.

      Pride is slippery, isn’t it? For the most part, it just doesn’t feel dangerous until it’s too hard to escape. And it’s definitely unisex.

      Reply to Alexa Day
  • Post authorElizabeth Shore

    When I’m thinking of the devil, I have to say that one of my favorite movies involving that diabolical being is The Ninth Gate with Johnny Depp and Frank Langella. Yes, I know it was a dreadful movie, but nevertheless it’s one of my guilty pleasures. First off, there’s just nothing wrong with some Johnny Depp. He’s great, and I love the fact that he’s a rare book dealer. And then there’s Frank Langella, collecting books about the devil. It’s not a romance, but when it’s the Halloween time of year, I’m thinking I just might have to re-watch it.

    Fun post, Alexa!

    Reply to Elizabeth Shore
    • Post authorAlexa Day

      I like that movie, too! Johnny Depp and alllllll those books. You’re right — nothing could be wrong with that! 🙂

      I also love Frank Langella. His Dracula *is* Dracula. Plus he has the best line in The Ninth Gate: “Boo!”

      ETA: It’s coming on at 2pm on SyFy!

      Reply to Alexa Day

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