Sunday, September 4, 2011

Character Evaluation: Captain Val

Character Evaluation:  Captain Val
What if cloning wasn't creepy?
              There are characters and stories I love that I want other people to love as well. One of those characters and stories is Captain Val in Of Pirates and Politicians found in Lesbians in Space: Astral Liaisons. The long story made short about where the entire story idea came from was I needed a clone story for the science fiction book and I was kind of into group sex fantasies at the time. From this kind of banal beginning, the story exploded in my head (no pun intended) and all of a sudden I’m thinking this could be a book, or a series of books even! There’s this cool, cult following for the story that I didn’t quite expect. Someone even made “Captain Val’s Girl” their login for Barnes & Noble (totally flattered by the way). It was one of the reasons I brought this idea to a pitch session.
            Pitch sessions (play on words for bitch sessions—and yes, that’s my term for it, publishers call it something else entirely, but I like pitch session) is when you take a bunch of ideas for your next project and you hurl them all at your editor’s desk and they tell you which one they like for your next project. Parlaying Of Pirates and Politicians into a book was one such idea, which they tossed out immediately. Astral Liaisons is the lesser selling collection of mine and a traditional space opera about a lesbian space pirate and her clone girlfriends seemed too antiquated/fan fictiony/cross-dressing Han Solo to my publisher apparently. Whatever. Someone named their website logins after one of my book characters—they can’t take that away from me.
            The one they ultimately ended up picking, which was ironically source materialed of Astral Liaisons as well, was The Gunfighter and The Gearhead. This I pitched with sample chapters and agreed to the promise that it could be done well in advance of Cowboys and Aliens. I kept up my end, but the movie flopped, and the publisher didn’t have the book ready for a coinciding launch anyway.
            The next project after that they approved is going to be Fabled Fang Girls, which is going right back to lesbian vampires. After that’s done, it’s back for another pitch session in which I plan to pitch Of Pirates and Politicians again. If you like Captain Val, and you’d like my October pitch session to go differently, you could give me a hand on the sales figures with a plug or review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Hard sales numbers and money always appeals to for profit companies.
            Anyway character evaluation stuff:
-                     I love Captain Val because she’s uncertain about her course, but she’s a captain so she should always appear certain, which gives her some great moments in misplaced confidence.
-                     The sex was fun to write, but I also wanted to write a clone story in which the clones weren’t carbon copies of each other (nature versus nurture) and where a polyamorous relationship seemed just as loving and normalized as a coupling.
-                     If I were to cast Captain Val in a movie, I’d pick Kristin Kreuk. The clones would probably have to be played by Grace Park with Meryl Streep’s brain.
Enjoy the excerpt and hopefully you’ll fall in love with Captain Val as well!

            Captain Valentina Dex was lost in thought. It was a remarkable thing that she could be lost in thought considering what was being done to her. She was reclined on her bed, propped up slightly by a few pillows. Jesse was kissing her in a soft, loving way. Jane had pushed the front of her shirt up and was licking her breasts while stroking fingertips up and down the flat of Val’s stomach. And Jill was between her legs, flicking her tongue over Val’s clit and slowly working a whirring, vibrating toy in slow, deliberate passes in and out of her, tilting it on the way in to vibrate along the underside of her clit. It really was just about the most amazing sexual act Val could envision for herself if she wasn’t completely preoccupied.
            Jesse seemed to pick up on her distraction first. She pulled back from the kiss and grimaced a little. “You’re not enjoying yourself,” she said. Jesse was special, after a fashion, being the only blond clone to date that Val had found.
            “I thought you liked this,” Jane added. She was one of two redhead clones.
            “I did, I mean, I do,” Val said quickly.
            “She’s thinking about her,” Jill said, slipping the toy out of Val and turning it off.
            “I think it’s romantic,” Jane said.
            “You would,” Jill huffed.
            “It’s not a romance thing,” Val said.
            “So you keep saying,” Jill said.
            Their personalities were all so different. Jill was the dark haired beauty with a propensity to brood. Jane was the sensitive romantic type. And Jesse played the peacemaker in all things, sacrificing her own comfort for anyone around her. If Val didn’t know better, she would assume they were sisters. Of course, they didn’t treat each other like sisters; in fact, with the exception of Jennifer and Jesse having one brief introduction at a marketing conference three years ago, none of the six clones had even met before Val brought them together. The three clones with the longer names—Jennifer, Jasmine, and Josephine, incidentally the three older clones, were all straight and not remotely interested in the fun and games Jesse, Jane, and Jill enjoyed. The seventh clone Val had found, also the youngest by seven years, was in the ship’s infirmary, pulled off a derelict ship the day before, and hadn’t awoken from her coma yet. The name tag on her flight suit had identified her as Joey, and the ship’s log indicated she was fourteen, which was about all the information they’d managed on her thus far.
            “We could do something else,” Jesse offered, “maybe play a game on the computer.”
            Do you need something, Jesse?” the ship’s computer chimed in.
            “She was speculating on potential activities using the word computer as the indirect object,” Val snarled at the glowing blue eye set in the wall that was the computer’s primary sensor in her bedroom. She hated the ship’s artificial intelligence. It went by the name of ‘computer’ and so any reference to comp, CPU, or computer would immediately trigger its name recognition software. Plus, the default voice was set to incessantly-cheery, slightly-effeminate, British male.
            “If it bothers you so much, why don’t you just change its name?” Jill asked.
            “When I stole the ship, I didn’t exactly have time to ask the previous owner how every little thing worked,” Val said.
            “Screw it,” Jill said, “I’m going to go take a shower.”
            Val dove across the top of the bed, managing to snag Jill’s wrist before she could escape entirely. Jill regarded the sprawled out Val coolly. Aside from a few, minor alterations, all the clones had the same face that looked slightly reminiscent of Pacific Islander with a flattish, round nose, semi-slanted eyes, smooth cheeks, and a cute little chin. Jill tended to narrow her eyes a lot more than any of the other clones though, and had given herself tiny lines in the process.
            “I owe you,” Val said.
            Jill’s frosty demeanor melted some. She tucked an errant strand of her straight black hair behind an ear and smiled down to Val. “Pass mine on to them,” she said, nodding in the direction of Jesse and Jane.
            Val released her wrist. Jill walked out of the room via the j-shape entryway. That was one of the other peculiarities about the ship Val couldn’t quite understand:  there were no doors, anywhere. Privacy was accomplished by having curved or cornered entries into rooms without so much as a curtain anywhere. Val looked back over her shoulder to Jesse and Jane who were cuddled at the top of the bed, on the pile of pillows Val had formerly reclined on.
            “What did you two have in mind?” Val asked.
            “Exponential decline,” Jesse said quickly.

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