Oh, Red and Bad, Red and Bad.
Little Red and the Big Bad didn’t exactly start out as a story. It started out as one of the funny little tales I tell to myself while falling asleep, or out for a run, or–back when I lived in a place that had street lights–during nighttime walkabouts.
First, though, I have to tell you a little bit about Lucy Martinez.
I’ve got a lot of rules. One of which, dating back to my mid-teens, is that I’m not allowed to use “real” characters from “real” stories as fodder for my silly little musings. The real characters from real stories, that is to say the ones with endings, were not to be so cruelly pedaled about for my own amusement. Hugh gets a pass, but only when I’m actually going to write him down; he still doesn’t get free reign in my imagination to do whatever he likes. (Oh, he wishes.)
But Lucy. Lucy goes everywhere without asking permission. I’m not sure if a character can be a muse, but Lucy’s fired-up brain embraces all things in a way I can only attempt to approach, and thinking inside her head is a great deal of fun.
One night, my mind played out this scene, in which Lucy had a young woman tied to her bed and was torturing her with stories (and, all right, a few other devices we don’t need to go into). This young woman, I realized, was a lesbian, and she was desperately ashamed how hot she found the idea of two men having sex. It felt dishonest and also somehow wrong, as if she wasn’t a very good lesbian, and Lucy knew all that, so Lucy, of course, told her stories about men.
In one of these stories Lucy related having been in a security booth at a university, and having witnessed the most fascinating relationship develop on one of the screens. The screen that portrayed, in grainy grayscale, the mail room.
(Why was Lucy in the security booth over the course of many weeks? One assumes she either made the story up or cribbed it from someone, but it hardly mattered to me, or to the young lady fighting her physical and mental responses to stimuli.)
The first scene Lucy narrated went down very much as The Mail Room goes down, but without the Lucy-frame. We see a big brute of a man use a younger, smaller, more submissive man, and we aren’t certain if he’s truly as crude as he appears, or if it’s a playlet they’re staging for each other. (Or, as it happens, a little of both.) The next scene I saw in my head was The Wannabe, and I knew there had to be a great many pieces in between them, because the relationship had developed significantly by then.
My favorite part of writing this serial was the format; it allowed me to do what I never do, which is build a story from the sex outward, filling in the relationship as it progresses. Could Red and Bad’s delicious twisted romance have occurred over the course of a novel? I suppose. But it would have lost a bit of its urgency, a bit of its rhythm. The way I formed the wire frame for this story was to imagine the two of them in a variety of places doing a variety of things, then shade in all the necessary bits that allowed for those things to happen.
It all sounds rather mechanical when I put it that way, but it wasn’t. Because Red is as far from mechanical as you can get; any scene with Little Red in it is a tapestry whose warp is deeply emotional, even where Bad’s weft is dry and cold.
God, those two are fun to play with. I’m starting the second serial in a few weeks, and oh boy, they’re in for it, y’all. Sometimes I just do not play nice. Grown men may cry. I’m just saying.
(This is why even OCD people like me, who invent rules for all occasions, sometimes benefit from breaking them. Lucy Martinez, spinning a story for her shame-faced lady friend, introduced me to these two fellows and their adventures.)
Naturally, if you’ve not picked up Little Red and the Big Bad, I’d encourage you to check out The Mail Room, which is offered in its entirety in the excerpt on the book page. If you’ve already joined Red and Bad, tell me your predictions. What happens next for the two of them? HEA or HFN? Does Bad get his dream business? What does Red do after graduation? Now is the time to plant ideas in my head, people!