Exploring an erotic Christmas fantasy
The debut novel from Leon Mauvais is Sugar Plum’d. A dark, erotic fantasy, Mauvais describes the story as a combination of Rudolph and 50 Shades of Grey meets Mad Max at Santa’s workshop.
At the centre of the story is Pembroke. As a young weredeer, all Pembroke has ever dreamed of is being harnessed to Santa’s sleigh. Yet his world comes crashing down when Santa’s slain. A war erupts in the Arctic Circle – pitting elf against reindeer. Pembroke is sent on a perilous mission. If he fails, his herd will be lost. When the mission goes awry, the stag-shifter must put his trust in an unlikely ally. Where does one turn in a land of ice and blood? What happens when the enemy infiltrates your heart? What begins as a wavering alliance, takes both stag and elf farther than they both could ever imagine.
I caught up with the author for a behind-the-scenes look at the story.
What was your inspiration for this story?
I find as we grow older, sometimes we want our stories to grow up with us – The Cursed Child on Broadway and the West End is a great example of that. Especially now, with all the controversy surrounding the fresh look at the claymation, Rudolph – different groups are throwing their narrative spin on the red-nosed reindeer, and Sugar Plum’d is mine. However, in my retelling, Rudolph is old-guard – the protagonist is his protege, a new generation of weredeer, leaping through the Arctic.
Have the stories of Christmas and Santa always had a sexual edge for you?
If you want to get right down to my stockings, I definitely have a bit of a Zaddy thing. So, the cherished holiday tradition of waiting in line to sit on a magical bearded man’s lap and tell him your truest desires – as a budding youth, how could I not beg my parents to take me to the Mall’s North Pole?
Even as an adult, I’m still sometimes caught off-guard when I see a Zaddy’s smudged leather boot. My stag tongue flops out – it’s probably due to childhood fantasy run-off. I have a few friends who confessed the same when they read the parts about being harnessed to Santa’s sleigh.
What was the creative process that you followed for this story. Was the narrative clearly mapped out or did you let the characters guide you through the story?
Sugar Plum’d originated as a much smaller piece. It was for a collection with very specific parameters. They were looking specifically for m/m holiday tales and one of the male-presenting characters had to be able to shift into a reindeer and – on top of that – he had to teleport! Immediately a shifter-stag’s transformation dance came to me like a blizzard, and then the rest was just about polishing and lengthening, and giving it time and space to grow into something much bigger.
What draws you to shapeshifter erotica?
I think it’s the possibilities of it! You can’t neglect the bestial side of shifters – every shifter has their humanoid and animal form. If skin turns to fur, how much of the mind is also turned when the skull elongates into that of a sabre-tooth?
With shifters, it just broadens your scope, in and out of the bedroom. If you have wings, where do you fly? If you’re in love with a man who is also a tiger, what’s it like to feel those claws on your inner thighs?
Who are some of your literary heroes and inspirations?
Anne Rice. Anne Rice. Anne Rice. Not only a Queen of Erotika, but she also redefined what a vampire was! She literally is Akasha, the Queen Vampiress.
I’m also obsessed with Ursula LeQuin, Kim Stanley Robinson, Nnedi Okorafur, Kurt Vonnegut, Victor LaValle, Woodrow Dismukes, Samuel Delaney, Octavia Butler, Jeff Vandermeer, Cameron D. James, and Sam J. Miller.
Hail the the magical realists – Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salmon Rushdie, Ben Okri, and so many more to fill Zaddy’s Clause’s nice list infinite!
I’m currently savouring Brooke Bolander’s The Only Harmless Great Thing. It’s Dumbo on a super cycle! Buy it.
What do you hope that people feel when reading this story?
I hope readers leave Sugar Plum’d feeling uplifted and empowered. Hopefully their own personal holiday desires are stretched and sated.