Release Party Like Fire Through Bone: tackling the tough issues or writing about slavery

September 13, 2013

All right, one last post on a really tough issue before we call it a night.

In general I don’t go in much for non-con or rape fantasies.

I will admit though every once in a while I like indulging in the fantasy of sexual slavery. There is something about having total control over a person, being able to bend them to your will and take what you want without care for their feelings or their desires that can tap into the very darkest parts of my sexual appetite when played out in the safety of my mind or on the pages of a good piece of erotica.

As a historian though I am all too aware of the real world history and cost of slavery.   Owning humans as chattels degrades not just the people who are held in bondage but also the ones who hold them. A society which allows slavery is a society which will allow for a certain level of cruelty to be normalized. For in a society where it is acceptable to buy and sell humans like cattle it also often becomes acceptable to abuse, maim and murder them as well.

As Ira Berlin states “In saves societies by contrast, slavery stood at the center of economic production, and the master-slave relationship provided the model for all social relations: husband and wife, parent and child, employer and employee, teacher and student.”  This is a chilling world view but it does highlight the ways in which the mindset that allowed one man to own another outright affected everyone within that society.

During the editing process my editor mention that several of the characters are referred to as “good master” even though they do thing we would see as terrible or abuse.  They have slaves beaten, solid off to people who will abuse them further and subject their slaves to a thousand tiny acts of degradation daily.

This was very intentional on my part because in the grand scheme of things these characters are “good masters” but they are still people who see nothing morally wrong with owning other human beings and treating them like objects.


It is easy to condemn the beating, mutilation and forced rape of slaves. I think though the fact that Vasilios has to go to his knees every time he enters a room and cannot make eye contact with his “betters” and this is seen as so normal that no one questions it, is more indicative of the kind of damage slavery does to a society at large.

The elephant in the room while writing about Vasilios’ time in captivity is rape. Slaves are not capable of consent. They can not say no especially to their masters but to any free person. For a slave to say know would be to risk severe punishment and would go totally disregarded anyway. A table does not consent, a horse does not consent and in a slave holding society slaves have no more right to consent than a table or a horse.

One of the things that was important to me while writing Like Fire Through Bone was to portray slavery as corrupting and degrading as it historically was and still is.

Vasilios has had sexual encounters with his master but I want to be clear that he in no way consented to them. He submitted to them out of a sense of self preservation and because he knew as owned property he could not say no to his master’s demands.

Further he and Markos can not further any kind of relationship with each other as long as Vasilios is held as a slave. As Markos points out if they were to become involved romantically or sexually before that neither could be completely sure that where wouldn’t be cohesion involved at some level. Markos is an extremely powerful man and business partner to Vasilios’ master. For Vasilios as a slave it would be almost impossible for him to say no to Markos if Markos where to make a pass at him and Markos knows this.
Stories that deal with slaves are a huge part of the romance genre but often these stories do not deal directly with issues like a slaves inability to consent. On the other hand the fantasy of sexual slavery is a potent one. Going into writing Like Fire Through Bone though I wanted to do something more realistic.

So what do you think? Do you prefer a more historically accurate portrayal of slavery? Or do you like like the fantasy better, where the pretty slave falls for his sexy master? Why or why not?

2 Responses to “Release Party Like Fire Through Bone: tackling the tough issues or writing about slavery”

  1. Andrea M says:

    There’s room for both but I prefer accuracy. Also, just wanted to let you know that I’ve enjoyed this today. It’s nice to learn more about the author and it makes the book more interesting.

  2. E.E. Ottoman says:

    oh I definitely think there is room for both. I’ve loved getting to talk to readers today too, and getting to hear all of your answers.

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