Not that long ago snark was far more likely to make me think of the nonsense creature from the Lewis Carroll poem than of attitude. Since writing a book with Leia Shaw, and reading some of her stories, I now know the true meaning of snark, that is, sarcasm plus.
Strangely enough, Lust Plague, my steampunk adventure with zombies, BDSM, and romance has a heroine with some snark in her. Kaysana can’t stand Sten, my Frankenstruct hero (he’s a type of clone) and spends much of her time making dry remarks about what he’s doing wrong – which isn’t quite everything he does, but it is close. He soon takes her by the hair, ties her up and convinces her that some of him at least is functioning well above average. But then it IS a BDSM romance.
A few hundred yards of walking and they emerged from under the tree line into the night sky. Only stars above. No burning airships despite the faint smell of smoke. He felt relief. So many odd things had happened.
“Don’t suppose you want to give me a weapon, Sten?”
“We’ll be meeting zombies. I promise not to shoot you.”
“I’ll consider it.” She expected a weapon? Heaven and hell. He wasn’t that nuts. Maybe when indignation wasn’t coming off her in waves every time she looked at him.
She snorted, turned away. “Fool. Come on. Looks like a farmhouse up there.” She pointed. Up a slope, through a field of some tall crop, the silhouette of a building showed at the peak. Light flickered across the crop, washing the field in yellow and orange as if it were some strange golden sea.
“I’ll watch your tail. Just keep wriggling it like that.”
“I’ve been known to gouge out the eyes of men who ogle.”
He grinned, then followed her into the crop. The stalks rustled and scraped against them as they pushed through. Squeaks and chitters from foot level told of some small nocturnal critters. Kaysana didn’t balk. Tough woman. After all that had happened, here she was taking point, armed only with her gorgeous body.
He sighed. So many curves, so many angry words. He’d fix that somehow. Once he decided on something, it happened.
I’ve since decided that snark is an almost essential characteristic of kick-ass heroines. Or at least it is for the good ones. So I’m aiming for more snark per kilo in future. Leia is teaching me. I teach her how to write sex and she teaches me SNARK 101. So you see we are doing a trade. I’m not sure who is winning. If I have to read one more sentence of hers where the hero’s tongue swoops…arrrgh.
Back to Sten and Kaysana. I may be wrong about snark of course but to me it definitely enhances the disagreements and colors their interactions. Of course Sten is pretty good at snark too, I think. Or is it true snark? You decide.
Sten grabbed a pair of goggles from the front seat and brought them up to Kaysana’s face, casually fastening the buckle behind her head and checking the fit…as if he did this for her every day.
“Good girl. Sit tight and we’ll be there in no time.”
She glared at him. Good girl! “I’m a woman, fool!”
“I think we already proved that one together. You’ve got a pussy. I’ve got a dick.” He grinned, bent to pick up the haversack.
“You are so crude. Typical of a frankenstruct.”
“Oh? I so love teasing you.” Then he grabbed her hair again and kissed her until her ears rang.
When he stopped, she found her chest heaving, and her snappy answers had fled. His hand moved lightly down to her neck. Little creases appeared at the corners of his eyes like he’d found something amusing.
“Much better. Maybe I should remember this way of closing your mouth. More fun than a gag.”
So is Sten being snarky or sort of witty in a gross way? Whatever it is, that’s how he comes. Take that away and he’s a pale imitation of himself. The crudeness is pure unadulterated Sten and sometimes he throws out a word just to annoy the heck out of Kaysana. It makes for so much fun in the writing of the story when two people play off each other like this.
Now I simply have to inject some more snarkism into my latest heroine Sofia in Steel Dominance, the third book in my Steamworks Chronicles series. Lust Plague is number two in the series.
If I have managed snark at all it’s only the lower levels. To me you start out using snark in ordinary conversation and then maybe you get them at it while they ride a bicycle or drive a car. Finally, when you’re really really good, you are a Master or Mistress of Snark. That’s when you can have the two of them blowing away the evil Murg Demons from the depths of Hell (throwing in a free invented monster for you there) while at the same time they are trading snarky insults and toasting cheese sandwiches over the burning remains of their deceased enemies. When I can do that I’ll get a diploma and a gold trophy. Yay! Though being a snark trophy it’ll no doubt be of a pig with a typewriter or something equally obnoxious.
Just to tide you over, here’s a last bit of Sten vs Kaysana, though this is more him making an awful joke.
“I need you absolutely committed to coming with me. It’ll be dangerous.”
She’d been opening a few desk drawers as she spoke and found a packet of gobstoppers. Well, well. So much better than beef jerky. Though she’d asked the question, now she knew she didn’t want a no. If he left her, she’d feel odd, bereft. So strange. She needed her head examined really soon. She popped a gobstopper into her mouth.
“I’m coming with you.” Sten paused, smiled, then grinned. “Maybe in you.”
The gobstopper nearly choked her. By the time Sten had thumped her on the back and she’d spat the sweet out onto the desk, watched it roll around in sticky, slobbery circles, she’d gotten her breath back. “Bad joke,” she grumbled.
Yep, told you it was awful.
What do you think?
Is snark an essential for kick-ass heroines?
Cari will be giving a $20 gift card to one lucky commenter. Winner will be selected using random.org on 4/3.
Blurb for Lust Plague Saving the world should be easier. When airship captain Kaysana meets Sten the last thing she wants to do is have mad rough sex with him while bound by ropes and clamps…but fate pencils in their appointment. The lust plague strikes. From her infected crew, zombies arise.
With her ship gone, she must rely on Sten, a human clone, a man who has fought all his life to master himself. She despises his kind and detests Sten’s growing hold on her. Though he never takes no for an answer, surely it’s the plague that makes yes slip from her tongue like melted butter? Or should she blame her own traitorous heart?
Hordes of slavering zombies await them. Sten and Kaysana unlimber weapons, don goggles, and set a course for the origin of the plague. Yet victory will be hollow if they cannot also solve the puzzle of their hearts.
Another little excerpt from Lust Plague, only this one shows a sexy side and also the effects of the plague.
Here’s your clothes.” Sten emerged from the aisle between the clothes racks and held up a skimpy leather outfit on a hanger.
“No way.” She shook her head. “Nothing that jeopardizes my air fleet standing. Walking around in that” — she backed away — “would do so and therefore end our agreement.”
“Uh-uh.” Sten grabbed her elbow. “It won’t. Who’s to see? Zombies? Wear it, and this.” He had a tan half mask hooked on the hanger — with little catlike ears pricked up at the top and gold tabby markings striped across the leather. “Nobody’ll know it’s you.”
She opened her mouth to speak, paused, caught up in trying to figure out their agreement. “No. There may still be some normal humans. Hell, Sten. We have a world to save, and you want me dressed up like a cat?”
“A big, lickable pussy cat, yes.” His voice was hoarse. His eyes gleamed with lust. “Obey, remember?” He tossed the clothes onto the counter. “You can’t do this every time I come up with a new twist you don’t like.”
“Sten, this is just one of those sexual urges. Block it out. You can’t be making up new –”
Without giving her time to react, he pulled her to him, then picked her up around the waist.
“Hey!” She struggled, but his big hands grabbed hers and gripped them tight at the small of her back. “What are you doing?”
“I’m going to spank you.” He hooked a timber chair with his foot and sat with her across his lap, head down.
“What? Why?” She spluttered, still thrashing, but the hand at her back pushed her firmly onto his lap, held her easily. Awareness of their size and strength difference left her suddenly floundering. She was small, and he was so damned big. His other hand pushed up the shirt, smoothed across her bottom. Toes shoving at the floor, she tried to rise. The first blow fell with a whack, reverberated through her, sent a liquid message into her flesh. Shocked, she stiffened.
“No,” she said in a hushed voice. “You can’t do this.”
“No?” In quick succession, he struck her again and again, alternating from one ass cheek to the other. His large hand gripped and pressed her wrists into the small of her back.
Kaysana made one last frantic squirming effort to free herself. If she moved her legs, he hit harder. If she stayed still…
Warmth built, turning hotter and hotter. Panting, hair falling across her eyes, she stayed put — half-afraid to move, half anticipating the rush of the next blow. Each smack seemed to force a louder gasp from her mouth. Her bottom, of its own accord, rose up to meet his hand.
“Good.” Sten’s spanking hand slid down her cleft, and his finger dipped inside her just enough to make her close her eyes. “You’re very wet, Kaysana.”
She could hear the wry amusement in his tone but didn’t care, too lost in the mesmerizing slip and slide of his fingers between her folds and the stir of heat whenever a finger forged in deeper.