The Lotus Eaters

This post was originally written for Stephanie Draven’s blog.

One section of The Duke and the Pirate Queen would not exist if not for revisions.

When writing the synopsis for the novel I knew I had to visit an island, and if possible my protagonists needed to be taken captive by islanders. Since this was an erotic novel, the islanders would force them to compete in a sort of sexual display contest. It wasn’t until I’d had a little break from the manuscript, though, that I realized I’d completely missed an opportunity.

Luckily, around then I received the manuscript back with a request for some minor revisions. I checked in with my editor, told her my idea, and received permission to revamp the island scene by making it an homage to The Odyssey.

Here’s a brief excerpt from Odyssey IX, from a translation I found online:

“…on the tenth day we reached the land of the Lotus-eaters, who live on a food that comes from a kind of flower. … the Lotus-Eaters gave [the crew] to eat of the lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened to them, but were for staying and munching lotus with the Lotus-eaters without thinking further of their return; nevertheless, though they wept bitterly I forced them back to the ships and made them fast under the benches.”

Some historians suggest the plant meant was Ziziphus lotus, which is related to the jujube, though I suspect there’s also an element of fantasy in the description.

The idea of islanders who subsist mainly on drugging flora fit in well with an erotic novel. I could thus easily force the protagonists into the otherwise unlikely situation of a sex competition, which led to new revelations about their characters. The drugged islanders added not only an element of humor but also of dystopic fear, resulting in a chapter that was much more gripping than before the revision.

I knew my liberal arts education was good for something.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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