A Quickie from Kathleen Eagle
Author Kathleen Eagle, upon reading Issue #31 of Laurie’s News & Views, wrote in asking, “The debate over what is seduction, forced sex, rape is interesting, but I’m more curious about your statement: ‘What is acceptable in fiction is not the same as what is acceptable in real life.’ Just wondering what you mean by that.”
LLB responded: This one’s easy! Take Jill Marie Landis‘ Day Dreamer, where the hero allows the heroine to be arrested for murder and nearly hanged before he realizes what she means to him and saves her. Could I love a man in real life in this situation? Never. But I cried buckets over the book.
Same goes for forced seduction. If my husband ever forcibly did anything to me, I’d divorce him in a second. Would I ever hit him in the face w/a silver tray? Never – he’d divorce me. But Christina Dodd’s characters did that in A Well Pleasured Lady and I loved them, and the book.
Kathleen Eagle on Fiction versus Real Life: Where suspension of disbelief is concerned, I never say never. A good writer can suspend almost any disbelief. Slapstick humor does this – we know that a real human hand/nose/toe would be broken if this really happened, but we accept the parameters of this form of comedy. But I do believe that all good fiction must “hold the mirror up to nature.” Must reflect human nature truly and honestly, reflect truths about life and the human condition, and it that department there is no difference between life and fiction. Acceptable and believable are two different things. I think that’s why there’s so much dissention over the rape/”forced sex” issue.
Some writers and readers want to say that the fantasy is acceptable because it’s fantasy; others say that it’s never acceptable.
As a reader I want to be able to believe in the truth of the characters; I reserve the right to make my own judgment about whether their actions are acceptable in terms of my own sense of what is right and wrong. They make mistakes, there will be consequences. If the characters are well drawn and sympathetic, I might disapprove of what they do but still accept the validity of the story. However, if the characters’ behavior doesn’t ring true to human nature and human emotion (doesn’t matter whether it’s “acceptable” behavior or “unacceptable” in my book, mind you, but whether it’s realistic), my disbelief will no longer be suspended, and I’ll probably put the book down.
Maybe it’s just semantics. I hesitate to get into these discussions, but I’m very much interested in the variety of opinions, especially from readers.
Thanks for providing the forum.