Marcella Burnard and the Asexual Heroine (and #Giveaway)


Today, join me in welcoming author Marcella Burnard to the blog. Marcella’s here today to talk about her new paranormal romance, DAMNED IF HE DOES, which was released on July 19.

ABOUT MARCELLA: Marcella Burnard graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a degree in acting. She writes science fiction romance for Berkley Sensation. Her first book, Enemy Within, won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award for Best Futuristic of 2010. The second book in the series, Enemy Games, released on May 3, 2011. An erotica novella, Enemy Mine, set in the same world as the novels was released as an e-special edition by Berkley in April 2012. Emissary, a sword and sorcery short story released in the two-volume Thunder on the Battlefield anthology in the second half of 2013. Nightmare Ink, an urban fantasy novel from Intermix came out in April of 2014 and the second in that Living Ink series, Bound by Ink, came out in November 2014. Damned If He Does, a light paranormal romance, came out in July 2016. Marcella lives aboard a sailboat in Seattle, where she and her husband are outnumbered by cats.

Find her at her website, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, or on Goodreads.

marcelaABOUT DAMNED IF HE DOES: Rejected by heaven, twisted by hell, what’s a damned dead man to do when he stumbles upon a life and love worth fighting for?

Though damned for his earthly sins, Darsorin Incarri likes being an incubus. Prowling women’s dreams to siphon off their sexual energy for Satan’s consumption has its perks: an array of infernal power and a modicum of freedom. Sure, Ole Scratch holds Dar’s soul in thrall, and Dar has to spend a few hours recharging in Hell every day, but it could be much worse. All he has to do is hold up his end of his damnation contract – five women seduced, satisfied and siphoned per night for eternity. So when he encounters gorgeous, bright, and funny Fiona Renee, it’s business as usual. Deploy the infernal charm and rack up another score. Except it doesn’t work. She’s immune. He has to find out what’s gone wrong or face Lucifer’s wrath.

Fiona Renee has the life she’d always wanted: a career, a home, a cat with a bad attitude, and peace. Fiona’s dated. Had boyfriends. And hated every minute of it. She’s reconciled to being lonely. So when a man shows up in her bedroom in the middle of the night demanding to know why her dreams turn to nightmares every time he tries to seduce her from within them, Fiona winds up negotiating a contract with a demon that allows him access to her life. She never anticipated that it would also give him access to her heart. If she’s going to fall in love at all, something she never thought would happen, shouldn’t it be with someone who’s alive? If Fiona wants to hang on to Darsorin, she has to find his true name—the one he’d been given at his birth over a thousand years ago. But Satan, himself, stands in her way. Even if Fiona can dodge Lucifer, she and Darsorin have to face the question neither of them can answer: What happens to a dead man if you manage to wrest his soul from the Devil?

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Now, let’s hear from Marcella!

Greetings! I’m Marcella Burnard. I’d like to thank Suzanne for hosting me and my paranormal romance Damned If He Does.

When the idea for this book popped into my head, the hero, Darsorin showed up first, but it was the heroine, Fiona, who walked in and presented the bulk of the story to me. She also informed me that she was asexual and the plans *I* had for the book simply wouldn’t work. It wasn’t a complete surprise to have an asexual heroine appear. I have a number of asexual people in my life. One, a lovely, accomplished young woman, had noted in passing one day that while she loves the fact that fiction is becoming more diverse, asexuals are still invisible. I guess I’d been internalizing her observation, along with the conviction that she deserves a happy ending. I can’t make that happen for her, but I could try to make it happen by proxy. With Fiona.

Fine. Asexual heroine. Check. That was the point at which I had to admit how little I knew. AVEN (Asexuality Visability & Education Network) provided a primer. My asexual friends and loved ones were particularly generous with their experiences and were quick to point out where I’d gotten details wrong.

I was taken aback, then, when one of my critique partners mentioned being disappointed that Fiona was still asexual at the end of the book. Of course she’s asexual at the end of the book! It’s not something you cure or that requires a ‘cure’, right? Which only points up the confusion I think some people have about asexuality. That crit partner was confusing asexuality with celibacy. Celibacy is a choice not to engage in sex. Asexuality is at-your-core hardwiring. It isn’t a choice. Maybe the difficult part is the ‘sex’ portion of asexuality—because the term ‘asexuality’ doesn’t actually address sex at all. It’s a descriptor of attraction. Heterosexuals are attracted to the opposite sex. Homosexuals are attracted to the same sex. Bisexuals to either. Pansexuals to anyone regardless of gender identity. In the preceding cases, it’s easy to conflate ‘attraction’ into ‘has sex with’. This leads to the conclusion that asexuals simply don’t have sex, which is not necessarily the case.

It’s more accurate to say that asexuals do not experience sexual attraction or desire. (Though, please note, that’s a gross generalization. Asexuality is a spectrum that encompasses a wide range of experience – the AVEN link is a great place to start if you’re curious.) So while some asexuals can have sex, some cannot stomach the thought or the experience.

Fiona can have sex, it just doesn’t do anything for her. Because she doesn’t experience sexual feelings the way other people do, modern, sex-obsessed society can be a little bewildering. She, like my friends, has absorbed the subtle ‘you aren’t okay’ messages sent by the people around her. That’s why, when I finished writing Fiona and Darsorin’s story, it jarred me to hear someone say, “There’s something wrong with those people (asexuals)! Humans weren’t designed that way.”

From the privileged position of being an author merely writing about an asexual, my heart hurt hearing that, but it was a tiny window into what my asexual friends live with every day of their lives. So if an asexual heroine can provide a moment’s respite or sense of recognizing themselves reflected from the pages of a story about accepting and being accepted, maybe I’ve done an okay job. Though, I’ll admit. I didn’t know what to say to “There’s something wrong with them!” so I registered the hit and said nothing. What would you have done?

Thanks, Marcella. That is fascinating, and I don’t know that I’d have said anything either because it’s something I’ve never quite been aware of, I’m ashamed to say. I’m intrigued about writing an asexual character in a romance genre. How about you guys?

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

15 thoughts on “Marcella Burnard and the Asexual Heroine (and #Giveaway)

  1. I think I’d try to say that just because a person isn’t like you, that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with them.

    Damned If He Does is a beautiful story and I hope lots of people will buy and read it, and enjoy it as much as I did.

  2. i’m amazed some though she needed to be cured, she is different taht doesn’t mean something is wrong with er and i think very interesting that author researh that and create characters like Fiona

    • You hit on a point I wanted to be very careful of when I wrote Fiona, Miki. I wanted to be sure I never treated the heroine as sick or broken – someone who needed to be fixed in any way. Lonely? Sure! But yeah. No treating her like a broken doll that could be glued back together somehow. Thank you so much for stopping in today.

  3. What an interesting concept for a book. I also think our society spends too much time discussing other people’s sex lives. Absolutely loved Enemy Within and Enemy Mine! Thanks for the contest too!

  4. This sounds very intriguing. I haven’t read a lot of books with asexual characters, but I think greater visibility is an awesome thing. I am particularly interested in seeing how it plays out in a romance. I think there has traditionally been more room for male asexual characters like Sherlock Holmes (whom I read that way), kind of the way a single man could be a “confirmed bachelor”, but a single woman was an “old maid”. So having more representation of female asexual characters is especially important.

    • Oh, now that’s a great thought – and one that hadn’t occurred to me. I adore Sherlock Holmes and it never once entered my mind that he was asexual. It makes complete sense. I may have to see if I can write an ace hero without making him Sherlock. 😀

  5. Fascinating idea for a story! I’ve never read a book with an asexual heroine before, but I’m intrigued by all the different varieties of people in our world. Congratulations to you on the book’s publication.

  6. this sounds like a very unique and intriguing story! I’ve met and were great friends with several people that fit the “asexual” spectrum. Makes me feel so much for them when they were constantly “harangued” about not being in a relationship. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the characters were asexual
    looking forward to what sounds like a fun read