Disrobing Suspense: Nick Alimonos on Aenya

A few weeks ago, fellow author and naturist Will Forest reached out to me for a blog series he was doing, cleverly titled, “Disrobing Suspense.” He wanted to know how other writers deal with naturist themes in their work, and he had already interviewed some high profile names I greatly admire, like Loxie and Zoot creator Stephen Crowley. It’s always flattering to be interviewed, I think. Back when I was known more for my fan fiction, I was interviewed on a He-Man fan site for my original Aenya novel, The Dark Age of Enya, which you can still find here. Jump ahead fifteen years (!!!) and I am answering the same types of questions, but from a nudist/naturist angle. Forest was even kind enough to let me re-post our interview here, which gets me off the hook for having to write something this week. To return the favor, I’d like to recommend his book, Co-Ed Naked Philosophy, which (in all honesty) I keep on my Kindle; it’s a good read for anyone who is a nudist or really interested in becoming one.

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This series of interviews called “Disrobing Suspense”* is about the idea that writers of naturist fiction (and writers who may not identify as naturists but who nonetheless write about social nudity) deal with a particular set of recurring tropes or motifs that are necessary to the subject matter. In the same way that if you are writing a vampire novel, there will be blood, and maybe garlic – or if you’re writing a thriller set in 19th-century London, there will be footsteps echoing in the fog, etc. – naturist writers are often depicting confrontations between clothed and unclothed characters, and consequently building suspense around the act of disrobing. In the interviews I ask fellow writers about content, about technique, and specifically about portraying social nudity and/or conveying naturist philosophy. 

Nick Alimonos is a writer of fantasy. Over the course of a decade and a half of careful planning and plotting he has created the world of Aenya, where the naked heroes Xandr and Thelana, last of a long-gone race called the Ilmar, team up to save the rest of the planet. Nick explains that the heroes “are from a culture where clothes do not exist. In the Ilmarin language, for instance, there is no word for ‘naked.’ However, I realized early on that having a ‘nude planet’ would be boring from a storytelling perspective, so naturally the Ilmar encounter civilizations where nakedness is taboo. A lot of the tension is derived from this clash of cultures.” The world of Aenya is “a tidally locked moon of a giant gas planet, so one hemisphere is perpetually frigid while the other is scorching hot. When the Ilmar cross into the desert region, or Emma’s home town in the snowy mountains, they dress to survive.”

From a naturist perspective, o
ne of the very interesting ways in which Nick maintains the importance of the heroes’ nudity to the plot is that it is something like a superpower for them; the heroes “don’t mind other people wearing [clothes], but they do have a very acute sense of touch, which has a spiritual dimension to it. They believe in a kind of pantheism, where all living things are part of a singular body, known as the Goddess. So, feeling the wind and the grass and the rock on your skin is partly communing with their deity.” This aspect of their nudity means that the narrative voice can highlight sense perceptions that are more traditionally ignored: “I’ve never believed naturism to be about ‘seeing nudity’ so much as ‘feeling nudity,'” says Nick, “and this is where I put my focus. And from a literary standpoint, I find it interesting, because most writers focus on just the two senses: sight and sound. So, there’s a lot of me talking about how gravelly the ground is underfoot. Of course, there’s also other characters’ reactions to the nudity, which is fun. What I try never to do is talk about body parts. I just don’t think it adds much to the story and it gets old fast.”

Nick’s drive is the creation of a worldview that, while promoting the benefits of nudity, forms just one part of the independent world of Aenya. In fact, Nick’s current novel, The Princess of Aenya, “though set on Aenya, has no real nudist characters.” Nick clarifies that with the world of Aenya, “the characters are naked, and there is plenty of pro-nudist philosophy, but the story and the world can stand on its own even without those aspects. Nudity is a powerful metaphor for many things and has been used for ages in literature. One of the primary themes in Ages of Aenya is the dehumanizing effects of civilization. Nudity represents, in this framework, a departure to simpler, more innocent times, to a time when we were more in tune with nature.” 

To give a sense of Nick’s excellent writing and world-building for his naked heroes, I’ve chosen a sample from his work in progress, The One Sea (below). In this passage there is a fundamental contrast between the nudity of the arriving heroes and the rich robes of the royal court that receives them. The inherent emotions at play, the competing senses of strength and vulnerability in nudity, and a surprising turn of events are all portrayed convincingly here in Nick’s writing.

 

*Links to the original series of “Disrobing Suspense” interviews in 2012: 


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