Saturday, April 30, 2011

Author interview - Claire Thompson

I am massively excited today to be hosting an interview with prolific and award-winning BDSM author Claire Thompson. Claire's books never lack in originality and intensity, and I was thrilled to get some insight into her writing process.

Annabel: How long have you been writing, and what genre did you first begin writing in?

Claire: I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, but nothing you’d want to read about (copious journals full of self-absorbed expounding and teenage angst). I started writing fiction for publication in 1996, before ebooks were even a twinkle in someone’s eye! I began writing my darkest BDSM fantasies and my dreams of love within a D/s context. I pretty much have kept on doing that these past fifteen years, while throwing in some m/m vanilla erotic romance along the way (not too much, BDSM remains a strong draw for me, so my fictional heroes are into it too. It’s good to be queen).

Annabel: I know over time you've expanded into more types of genres, such as m/m and paranormal. Was this a natural evolution or something you did intentionally to broaden your audience?

Claire: Each time was intentional to attract a broader audience, and was suggested/encouraged by my editors at the time. My leap into m/m BDSM with Golden Boy and Golden Man was a huge success, and I had so much fun doing it, that I just kept right on. I enjoy the process of getting into the head of someone different from myself in certain key ways. This is also true when writing a het male character, but the dynamics are different when the men are gay, and interacting with one another. The dialog and the way they relate are different than in a m/f story, and I find that quite challenging and exciting.

I’ve tried my hand at some paranormal (my vampire series, my warlock story) to less success, so I have moved away from that. I think I do best in a contemporary setting, where I can focus on the characters and what they are going through, without any extraneous trappings to confuse me!

Annabel: Yes, I've always loved contemporary too, for the same reason. Now, you're a very prolific writer, and you're also very linked in to your readership. Is it difficult to balance the demands of promotion and still ensure there's time to write? What does your daily writing routine look like?

Claire: Alas, at this point, I am still tethered to a day job, due to the need for benefits. So my daily routine during the week is the 9-5, or in my case, the 7:30-4:30 grind. After dinner, errands, occasional exercise (never enough), I do try to find time to answer emails, perhaps visit my chat group, write a blog entry, check out facebook, open the tweetdeck and try to figure out twitter (I am old), but I rarely write then, because I am too tired from the day to focus.

The weekends, however, are my special time to write, and when I make it happen. I will generally get up between 4:30 a.m. and 6:00 (6 is called sleeping in, in my book). I will get my coffee, boot up the laptop and hit the ground running. I will spend most of the day writing, usually a block of four hours or so in the morning, then off to do errands, eat something, finally go pee (I get so caught sometimes I forget!) and then return to work some more until my eyes are crossing and my fingers are tired. I strive for at least one chapter a weekend, and am lucky if I can make it two. That is the first draft, mind you, as my wonderful betas usually make me write them three times a piece (three times is the charm). I actually don’t mind the rewrites, because at least we have something solid to work with, “words on paper” as an old pal of mine used to say.

Regarding the balance of promo versus writing, I spend 95% of the time writing, 5% on promo. I find that writing a new novel and getting it out there is the very best promo there is!

Annabel: You won the coveted NLA Pauline Reage prize for fiction in 2010 for Submission Times Two. That is great promo! Can you tell us a little about the book, and the experience of being recognized by the NLA?

Claire: It was a huge honor to win that award, and I was delighted with it, doubly so since Submission Times Two was my first m/m indie book (Accidental Slave was my first m/f). I went indie, doing my own publishing, about two years ago, and so every aspect of the work was mine. There was no editor telling me to add more sex or delete this entire chapter, or, “no, you can’t call it that, we have too many titles with the word ‘submission’ in it, oh, and we have too many of your books in the pipeline, so release will be pushed back ten months, and we may or may not ever take it to print, so don’t hold your breath.” Ah, are you getting a bit of a sense of why I went indie?

As to the NLA award, I actually flew down to Oklahoma City (Why couldn’t they have had that event in San Francisco or New York City? Oh well.) to accept it in person. The response was fantastic, and my cheeks hurt from so much grinning. I brought a couple of dozen paperbacks with me, and sold out within minutes, which was quite gratifying. Most of the folks at these leather events had never heard of me, so it was great exposure and a lot of fun.

Annabel: Thanks so much for being our guest today, Claire. I read and enjoyed your books when I was still struggling to put words down on paper, so it was a real thrill to talk to you author to author. I wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors!

Claire: Hey, thanks, Annabel, for this great chance to chat with folks. I do love to connect with readers. I answer all emails and love to hear from my readers and friends. I include my social media links below, and encourage anyone who would like to, to sign up for my newsletter. Just drop me an email at so you can be included in contests, and hear about the latest releases and work in process. I never stop. Fifty novels under my belt to date, but I still have ideas, projects and things that need to be said, so stay tuned! And thanks again for this chance to connect.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Good Morning Everyone

I'm honored to be asked to hang out here with these very talented ladies.

Sindra's post yesterday definitely caught my attention. I like the idea of switches. Really, it makes sense to think there are some people who have to experience something to truly learn it. This comes, not from a background in BDSM, but from both my Bachelors and Masters degrees in Education. Learning is about experiencing, applying relevance to actions, not rote memorization of information. Each person learns differently, therefore experiential memories, concepts accepted based on 'doing' form more concretely, for some, than any amount of reading or discussing can provide.

How does this all relate to what I write? Well, in my world (yes, I have to admit, I do tend to spend more time in the world of my characters than in the actual world where my physical body resides) all of my Doms have experienced life as a sub. Like Sindra pointed out, what rationale can a Dom base his selection of a particular toy on unless he (I use the masculine here since the majority of my Doms are male) has 'hands on' experience with it. Unless he's felt the sting of the tails on a flogger, or the rub of leather cuffs on his wrists, how can he know what sensory element he's attempting to enhance with his sub?

I write very strong female characters. Submission for them comes only with a specific man, otherwise they don't knuckle under. They can't, it isn't in their genetic make up. And the submission isn't based on power or strength or sheer force of will from the Dom. It is based on trust. Knowing that the person they selected to guide them into a world they've been curious about but never dared to explore until now, is knowledgeable in what they are about to experience. They trust him to make the right choices and to understand why a specific task is a deal breaker.

Sindra mentioned the image that started her thinking. A picture of a man, bound and submerged in water and forced to stay afloat. I've seen that image. I've watched films on BUDs training for Navy SEALs as well as SERE (Survive, Evade, Resist, Extract) training for not only SEALs, but Force Recon and Special Forces units in the Marines and Army. I have the utmost respect for every person who goes through that training.

But in real life, the picture Sindra mentioned would be a deal breaker for me. I. Don't. Do. Drowning. I won't play sexy games in water. At least I haven't found the man yet who can make me think of doing that. That's why my Doms train the way they do. So they can understand the breaking point not only for someone else, but also for themselves.

Knowing the person you're with has been through what you have can intensify the emotions connecting you. That's what I strive to convey in my stories.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sexy Switches

In my book Pushing Limits, my hero’s story involved having recently been in a full time same-sex D/s relationship as a submissive. I was pleased with myself for writing about a Master who wasn’t straight out of the alpha male cookie cutter machine, and my editor wanted me to curb my enthusiasm a little. The essential parts of that still remain in the book, with a little less emphasis, and part of what lets Samantha get past her reluctance to submit to Arthur is knowing that he’s been there, done that -- from both sides.

I saw a picture that brought this back to me recently. It was a picture of a guy, tied up, submerged in water, just his face poking out really. Just floating there. Unable to move. Completely at the mercy of the person who was ordering him to float in the pool. Intense scene, right? Maybe too intense for some? No real domly dom would let someone do that to him? Except it wasn’t a scene, exactly, it was a picture of Navy SEAL training. They call it military service for a reason. Even the highest officers are ultimately expected to submit to an elected civilian. I don’t think it takes one little bit away from their manliness, either. Special Forces guys have been popular romance alpha male heroes for a long time.

From a safety point of view, at least a limited kind of switching makes sense. A dom should know what it feels like when the ropes are too tight. They should know the pain curve of clamps. They should know exactly what you mean when you say that flogger thuds, and that other flogger stings -- and they shouldn’t have to have their sub tell them which flogger is which. A dom who knows is sexy. A dom who doesn’t, not so much. And if you’re a dom doesn’t want to find out, well -- let me just add that to the list Annabel posted of “You might be a domling.”

Getting tied up and flogged doesn’t make a dom a switch, of course. So what about doms who really do enjoy it both ways? Maybe I’m strange, but I find that sexy too. It opens up some extra possibilities for kinky play, obviously. But getting back to great dom traits, and how experience is sexier than ignorance, a top that knows what ropes and floggers feel like is a good start, but I think a top that knows what being in subspace is like can be even better.

It’s not for everyone. Not all doms are built that way. Not all subs want to deal with the possibility that they might end up on the other side of the flogger, either. I had a friend who was seduced into a relationship by a “Dom” who wanted to switch places and be a 24/7 sub after they’d been going out for a few weeks -- and that was probably what he intended all along. Deception is definitely not sexy. But I do think there’s room for a few more sexy switches in books. What do you think? Switches -- turn-ons, or turn-offs?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Welcome to Sindra van Yssel, Qwillia Rain, and Fallon Blake!

Wow, it seems like only yesterday (March 12, actually) that we were throwing that first post out there and hoping readers and kink romance fans would find us here. In the last couple of weeks, Kinky Ever After seems to have exploded in activity. We are enjoying your comments and participation so much, and many thanks to everyone who's helped spread the word.

Along with that new activity, we are so pleased to have added three new authors to our kinky fold. Ms. Sindra has been with us for a couple weeks now, and you will see posts by Qwillia and Fallon coming up very soon.

That makes six Kinky Ever After authors, and we hope to keep the fascinating (and titillating) conversations about kink rolling for many months to come.

And if you haven't checked out the books of Sindra van Yssel, Qwillia Rain, and Fallon Blake yet, we hope you will. You can find links to their latest releases over on the sidebar.

We are so excited to have their voices on the blog!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kink Monday - Domestic Discipline

Domestic Discipline is a kink near and dear to my heart. My husband and I practiced DD for years. Basically, domestic discipline is a kink where a partner submits to the discipline of another partner (often called the HOH or Head of Household) for purposes of self-improvement, behavior maintenance, or basic kinky thrills.

The nice thing about this type of lifestyle is that it takes away of lot of the power struggles that vanilla couples deal with on a day to day basis. In most DD households, rules and responsibilities are very clearly defined -- as are consequences. The dominant partner is secure in knowing that chores will be done, rules will be followed, and that their partner will behave reasonably well. The submissive partner has the security of knowing what is expected and what will take place if they fall short of expectations. There are no arguments about who does what, who's having a bad day, and who isn't pulling their weight around the house.

In our case, we even wrote up an elaborate document (we called it a marriage contract) outlining each other's duties. And it wasn't me doing the contract my husband (our HOH) had responsibilities too. In the best DD configurations, the partners work together like clockwork. When things in the clockwork break down, there is a system in place to get things back on track.

Some couples use corporal discipline like spanking, while others use journals, corner time, lectures, or any other system that works for them. If rules have been broken, a discipline session takes place, grievances are aired and worked through, and after a successful session, put to rest. No stewing, passive aggressive sniping, or escalation of moodiness until both partners are calling a divorce lawyer. Nice, huh?

If you want to see a couple doing domestic discipline really well, or you have more questions, check out Christopher and ella's Domestic Discipline blog. They are a DD couple who are very thoughtful and loving in their approach. If you're interested in playing around with DD, it's fine to start slow and just see how it works for you as a couple. You may be surprised at how peaceful things become around the house!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Signs You Might Be a Domling...

Yes, yes, I know it's Kinky Haiku Sunday, but as a special treat, I asked my good friend Strictest if I could post his hilarious and informational piece on the signs of a domling. What's a domling you ask? I'll let him explain it.

I coined the term domling to describe an inexperienced, usually young, and often clueless "dom". Domlings rarely recognize themselves as such, so here are a few signs to help you determine if you are one:

•If you call yourself "Master Sardo Numspa, Dark Lord of the Netherworld" and expect everyone else to call you by that title, you might be a domling.

•If you use capital 'M' each time you write Me or My, you might be a domling.

•If half the toys in your BDSM collection have been used at most once, you might be a domling.

•If your FetLife profile contains the pictures of every reddened ass you ever spanked, you might be a domling.

•If you ever started a sentence with the words, "Well, a real slave should...", you might be a domling.

•If a sub has ever fallen asleep while you switched floggers for the eleventh time during a "gradual warm-up", you might be a domling.

•If submissive women walk behind you only when walking downwind, you might be a domling.

•If you order your sub to butcher the English language by referring to herself in the third person or by using lowercase 'i', you might be a domling.

•If your sub had to untie herself and revive you when you fainted after seeing a few drops of blood during a needle-play session, you might be a domling.

•If, when talking about you, people actually take their hands out of their pockets to indicate the air-quotes around "Master", you might be a domling.

•If before leaving for a fetish party you recite passages from Chronicles of Gor in front of a mirror, you might be a domling.

•If you ever looked for a "kink-friendly" lawyer to review the slave contract you wrote, you might be a domling.

•If after an OTK session your sub has to put your hand in ice until the swelling goes away, you might be a domling.

•If the only time you ever heard your sub scream was when you accidentally whipped her glasses off the nightstand, you might be a domling.

•If, when you talk about your "dungeon", you mean the basement at your parents' place, where you spend your days sleeping and watching porn, you might be a domling.

•If the reason you prefer "older women" is that they can legally buy booze, you might be a domling.

Hahahahahha. I love it. Thank you, Strictest, for this handy guide to recognizing domling-ness. Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Guest Blog: Master, Sir or… Daddy

Today we have a guest blog from Fyn Alexander, author of Precious Jade, Angel and the Assassin, and Angel and the Assassin 2: Be Brave. Fyn writes M/m BDSM, and does a really good job showing how power exchange relationships can work on a day to day basis.

Master, Sir or... Daddy
by Fyn Alexander

I have known women who called their husband Daddy. Many women/girls like the idea of the powerful, loving, but exacting father figure. The iconic Daddy. I’ve even wanted one myself a few times.

But a grown man wanting to call another man Daddy? How does that work?

In my first book, Precious Jade, the submissive young man, Jade, calls his Dom Sir or Master. Jade is 18 years old and his Master is 40. The age gap, together with the maturity of the older man, makes him a natural father figure, and whenever Jade is terribly upset, (he’s often a bit upset, being naturally histrionic) he instinctively calls his Master Daddy. In the final scene Jade tells his Master, “You are my father, my mentor, my sun and moon.” Jade’s Master is a dominant alpha male, but he can be a Daddy on occasion when Jade needs him to.

When the idea for Angel and the Assassin came to me I wanted to further explore the concept of the Daddy/boy relationship; the loving, supportive yet very dominant man and the boy who needs his guidance. A man whose sub trusts him with his life. Kael Saunders, MI6 assassin, is not the ideal Daddy type. He is selfish and single-minded. He not only kills people for a living, but he kills people who get in his way. Kael meets a boy who desperately wants a Daddy and as the story progresses he attempts to rise to the challenge.

A Daddy is a Dom who delivers strong discipline tempered with kindness and lots of support. Angel defines a Daddy for Kael like this, “A daddy means acceptance and kindness and protection. Stuff like that. Teaching me things. Making me smart.”

Daddy as mentor.

I love the interplay of the older, experienced man nurturing the younger, inexperienced boy along the path to manhood. And doing it well. Kael has his faults, but he loves his mum, and he always opens door for ladies. If he was a pig with women he would be a bad example to his boy. A father is supposed to show his son how to behave in the world. He gives him the tools to be a real man. It’s a bit like the knights of old and the code of chivalry; bravery, courtesy, honour and gallantry toward women. In his own way, Kael teaches Angel these things. He fulfills his role as a Daddy, mentoring his boy with love and kindness to take his place in the world.

When the reviews for Angel and the Assassin came out, people either loved it or they didn’t. There wasn’t much in between. What surprised me was that those who didn’t like it were uncomfortable with the Daddy kink. Knowing it is a popular dynamic in the BDSM community, I was genuinely surprised that anyone took offense at it. Daddy/boy is not about age play, or AB/DL. It is about a man helping a boy become a man.

For me a Master/Sir is like Marcus Wynterbourne in Precious Jade. He is exacting, uncompromising, demanding, and has little patience for mistakes, yet his love for Jade always shines through. A Daddy is what Kael Saunders becomes. He disciplines with love and understanding, teaches with great thought and care, and loves unconditionally.

When it is suggested to Angel that his calling Kael Daddy is a kink, Angel responds, “It’s not a kink. It’s a mark of respect.”

That sums up the Daddy/boy dynamic for me.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Anneke’s recent post about Carrie’s Story reminded me of the books I read when I was first discovering BDSM. They mostly aren’t the books I’d pick out now, but I can still remember the intensity of them. Pat Califia’s Macho Sluts. Laura Antoniou’s Marketplace books, and her collection No Other Tribute. Mr. Benson, by John Preston. Susie Bright was editing the Best American Erotica series and Masquerade Books Inc was printing huge amounts of erotica of widely varying quality, some of it very literary. It seemed like a preponderance of the best stuff was being written by GLBT authors, and even though the orientations weren’t mine the emotions were real and the sex incredibly hot. And none of it, at least none that I was aware of, was being marketed as romance.

By the time Masquerade Books folded around 1999, there were other places to get my erotic reading from. Cecilia Tan’s Circlet Press was publishing lovely anthologies. I was collecting lots of rejection notices; frustratingly, my first acceptance letter was for an anthology of BDSM stories to be printed by Masquerade, and that anthology died with the publisher.

Black Lace books, a line of erotica for and by women, overlapped the Masquerade era. No publisher ever received as much buyer loyalty from me as Black Lace did in the late 90’s. A friend of mine was buying them too, and we would swap them at work. Some of them were romances, and some weren’t, I guess, but they weren’t marketed that way. She also convinced me to read a Johanna Lindsey book. The first one I read was a bodice ripper of a kind that was on its last legs, one of those with the “rape until she likes it” kind of plots. But wow -- romance could be sexy, and involve power imbalance that was a lot sexier than those old Harlequins that always featured a nurse and a doctor.

Then, a few years later, Ellora’s Cave had a booth at a Science Fiction convention I was going to with my family, and I found the world of erotic romance, and BDSM romance. I decided that was what I wanted to write, and now I do.

I’m curious as to where some of the readers of this blog first discovered BDSM literature, and what made you decide that was something you wanted to keep reading.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Psychology Today meets kink

A friend recently brought an article to my attention. "I read it in Psychology Today," he said. I thought, hmmm...this will be a snoozer. But I gave it a read anyway and I'm glad I did.

The title of the article was Why Feminism is the Anti-Viagra. You can click the link to read it yourself, but I will outline the basic gist of the article.

Gender equality inhibits arousal.

I know in my personal life, I don't get turned on until my husband starts sending some dominant cues my way. I don't want to go to bed with an equal. I want to be conquered! I've always felt guilty about I'm setting womenkind back a few centuries. Then when I started writing books where women actively enjoy being dominated, even degraded for a man's pleasure--my God. It doesn't help that many of my friends, and indeed, my own mother, are card-carrying, raving feminists.

I've never considered myself much of a feminist. I'm more along the lines of women being free to act in whatever way is most rewarding to them. If this means submitting to the will of a man or looking up to a man as a superior, it's all good. If it means being equal out of the bedroom and inequal between the sheets, that's good too. If it means being equal all the time, even in the bedroom, go for it.

But I know for me, I need that power imbalance to really get to that nasty, dirty, horny orgasmic place. Thanks to Psychology Today, I have it on some authority that I am not alone in those desires.

The article has a couple more segments too, about the difference between dominance and rape, and why sexual prejudices and fears are bad for humanity. Many thanks to my friend Rebelicon for sending me the link!

Check it out for yourself--I'd love to hear the thoughts of other kinky women on the subject!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Trip to the Zoo

I am a huge fan of urban fantasy. I've written one book about a kinky vampire, and there will be shapeshifter books in the future. My trip to the zoo has promised there will be a jaguar shapeshifting Dom, and possibly a coyote hanging around somewhere in another book.

My daughter's class had a field trip to our very small local zoo last week. The jaguars were pretty active and we spent some time hanging out and watching them. A few interesting things happened while we were there, all of which made me write things with a pen and paper on the bus on the way back to school. Which never happens -- I type, I don't write.

First, one of the jaguars came right up to the glass and stood and looked at me. Right in the eyes. From about six inches away. It was powerful, and I definitely knew if the glass weren't there that I was the one who was prey, and the jaguar was the predator. It was a beautiful moment, though, and the kids were all awed by it as much as me. We were traveling around the zoo with smaller groups of the kids, so it was two adults and six kids in our group. At one point we had 12 kindergarteners there, and one of the kindergarten teachers was there at that point as well, pointing out cool details. Like how the jaguar's spots had spots in them. That pretty much settled it for me, I've got a jaguar shifter in my head now, just waiting for me to write him and make him real. I picked up so many of those small details while sitting there... I've already written the section of the book where the woman will first see him as a jaguar. I don't have any of the rest of the book written, but that part is on my hard drive waiting for the rest of the story.

The other thing that happened? Jaguar sex. Five feet from the window, plane as day, the male jag mounts the female and starts pumping. Without missing a beat the kindergarten teacher says, "Oh look, they're wrestling". The female tries to get away and the male grabs her by the back of the neck so she can't move away from him. They fall to their left, so they are both laying on their sides -- the male still pumping away, the female still trying to get away. The male has her trapped with his paws, and he's still holding her by the back of the neck. She's trying to turn her head to bite at him, but she can't reach him. She doesn't want to be there. He doesn't care. The whole thing was over in less than two minutes. When he finally let her go he tried to get as far away from her as possible as quickly as possible, but she got one good swipe of her paw in at him that sent him sideways a few steps. Good for her.

Later we spent some time at the coyote's enclosure. She was pretty interested in the kids for a while, and I'm pretty sure she would have had at least one of them for dinner had she been able to get at them. They thought she was playing with them, I was pretty sure she was trying to get through the glass to eat them. Once they got through "playing" with her they ran around in a meadow across the walkway from her for a bit, and I sat on the fake rocks with my back to the glass to watch the kids running around, making sure none of the six kids in my care ran off where I couldn't see them. We had enough parents in a semicircle around them that they seemed safe, but I still found myself counting down my six a few times. I heard and felt something behind me, and I turned my head to look behind me. The coyote had jumped up so her feet would have been on my shoulders had the glass not been there. I turned a bit farther and we did the "look into my eyes" thing for a few very long seconds. All I could think about while sitting there was that Patricia Briggs must have spent a lot of time with a coyote. Oh, and the idea that the coyote is the trickster. This coyote knew she would startle me. She was trying to get a reaction out of me. I could see the devilment and mischievousness in her eyes. I don't know if I'll write a coyote shifter into a book as a main character, but I've got an idea of how to write one in as a secondary character, part of the supporting cast of characters. It gets tricky though, to not write the character to be similar to Mercy Thompson. I'll have to play around with that idea for a bit, let it percolate in my head for a while.

Yesterday was just one of those days, I think. I spent thirty minutes in front of the wolf enclosure at the Nature Center last week with the kindergarteners and I didn't get any writing inspiration at all. Now that I think about it though, the huge eagle's nest example they had should have given me some ideas. I had no idea eagle's nests were so big.

My daughter's class is visiting two more zoos in the next two weeks. I'm going to take a notepad and pen so I can take notes easier, and I'm also thinking that maybe I'll experiment around with an app for my phone that will let me use it as a voice recorder so I can give myself some notes that way.

Now I just need more time to write all of these stories and characters that are in my head.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Learning from Carrie

I was glancing through Carrie’s Story by Molly Weatherfield for a quote the other week, and realizing all over again just how well it’s written. Carrie’s voice and personality are so strong: rapt and ironic, young and cynical. She’s totally turned on by what she’s doing, but examines every angle with the insight and curiosity of an academic studying the perversely erotic arts for a dissertation.

Carrie and Jonathan have a deal. She comes to his house on a regular schedule, does whatever he says, goes by his rules, and takes whatever he inflicts on her. And she hones in on the essence of their relationship. “No matter what happened between us it was all consequence and actualization of his utter monopoly of power. …now I knew, consciously knew, that there was no second-guessing him. It was a relief in some ways, a letting go. I simply relaxed into it, as though I were beginning to dream in a foreign language – a language of beatings and humiliations, of rare, extravagant pleasure, of rituals and formalities. It was a complicated and mysteriously involving language, but for all that it was based on only one deep syntactical structure, one rule once again, the rule of his saying, ‘I want.’

“And – I’ll confess it to you here – I loved to hear him say “I want.” …Once, during my last weeks of school, I had to go to the women’s room of the library to jerk off, just from thinking about how exquisitely, consistently unfair it all was. “

Carrie is also a person entranced with narrative. She’s both an observer and an actor in the story, (though more often acted-upon). “I want to see what happens next. I want that more than anything.”

I think one of the many reasons I like the book so much is because it matches so many of my own fantasies. The negotiation happens without details. He stays ahead of her; she doesn’t know what’s coming. The only safeword is that Carrie can choose not to show up. She trusts Jonathan to keep her safe; he’s a very rule-driven individual. And he has Carrie’s number right from the start.

“’…I do know what you want,’ he continued, ‘in essence if not yet in all its particulars. I can recognize it in your eyes and in your open mouth. You do like to be looked at: admired or belittled, adored or punished. You want to be done to, by a desire that’s more selfish and more specific than your own. You want that blank, floating moment of release, of submission, of knowing that it’s useless to resist. Free-fall, happening faster than even a motormouth like you can describe it.’”

Oddly, I picked this book out of a catalogue, years ago, because it had some ponygirl content, something I get off on. What a piece of luck, to find something of such quality! And it hit a number of my other kinks as well: animal-role type humiliation, objectification, consensual non-consent. Oddly, Carrie’s viewpoint is sometimes so disengaged that these items are mentioned in passing, with the emotional content at one remove: the chamber pot Jonathan makes her use, the dish on the floor she eats out of, the many people he allows to use her, all mentioned at an ironic distance. She talks about her humiliation, but in the narrative, rarely inhabits it.

When I started writing, Carrie’s Story and its sequel Safe Word were the books I circled around, looking for clues on how to do it right. Humour, first of all – Carrie taught me not to take myself so seriously. Full, rounded characters who also don’t take themselves all that seriously, with lots of ideas, viewpoints, pasts, non-kink preoccupations. People, in other words. Layers of meaning for readers to explore, perhaps finding more than was intended, because not everything is on the surface or explicit. In other words, a real novel, not just a vehicle for kinky porn.

I also had to look for what was different. Weatherfield’s field is literature; that’s clear. She captures the psychology of the relationships in wonderful language that can’t be equalled. My own knowledge of psychology was going to have to be brought to bear in some other way. Like her, I was interested in the power relationship; for me, that had the most meaning. The psychology of consent, of submission and dominance. I knew I'd focus a lot more about the feelings in the moment. I wanted to know about them, from both sides. Safe Word has more about Jonathan’s point of view, but I don’t much like Jonathan. He’s rich, entitled, full of himself, all of which makes me discount him and his viewpoint.

I tried hard to capture the dom’s point of view in As She’s Told, from the perspective of a man whose power comes from neither wealth nor entitlement:

“Anders stroked her head and smiled; she was whimpering again. Another plea from the null side of the power differential. How he loved that sound! Wordless, needy; the language of abjection. In that one little plaint, the distilled quintessence of helplessness. He could close his eyes and bask in that music, were it not for the straining erection it gave him.”

I don’t know if I ever could have written my two books without having read Weatherfield’s work. Or if I had, they would have been very different. I wish Weatherfield had continued to write bdsm erotica, but she switched to her (presumably) own name of Pam Rosenthal and began writing romance. There are some references to romantic fiction in Carrie’s Story; perhaps it was inevitable. And she's done well, and won prizes. But for bdsm literature, the loss of that ironic, insightful voice is sad indeed.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Kink Monday: Medical Play

When you go to the doctor, especially when you're younger, the doctor is all powerful. Your mom has told you that you must do as the doctor says -- you don't really have a choice in the matter. When you're young that usually means swabbing your throat and making you gag, massaging his fingers into your stomach to feel your internal organs, or delegating power and having the nurse give you shots. Whether you want to have these things done or not isn't relevant. Your mom or dad is there saying you have to let him do it. For us girls, that first trip to the gynecologist is a nightmare.

At its heart, that's power play. Power exchange. Especially when we're in our teens and early twenties, before we are writing the checks to the doctor. And then even after we are writing the checks, we have to grow self confident enough to learn that we're paying the doctor and we can stop things if we want. Or that we can find another doctor. But in the first half dozen or so times we submit to a gynecological exam, we have zero power. We have been convinced we have to submit to whatever the doctor does. Our bodies and minds get programmed to react a certain way in these medical settings, and that can make medical play more interesting as an adult.

When we're older we kind of have a choice, but not really. We can choose to just not go, but if we have people who love us and depend on us then that's not really responsible of us. So, we go. And we let the doctor feel of our breasts, pluck at our nipples, and insert cold things into our most private parts.

My gynecologist is an older woman who is a vegetarian like I am. She's a grandmotherly sort of figure and she has never hurt me. I don't get into the actual visit. If I did then I'd find a hot looking young male gyno - LOL.

My husband enjoys medical play though, and he's got lots of tools to play with. He has vaginal speculums, anal speculums, a whartenburg wheel, more enema equipment than I care to list here, and even catheterization stuff. (Boring safety warning: The latter doesn't get used often, and he's been taught how to safely do it by a kinky RN. Don't play around with catheterization unless the Top knows what they are doing. Urinary tract infections are nothing to mess around with.)

In the 'before kids' portion of our relationship, my husband and I played in Atlanta at a place that had rooms set up for different kinks. There was a medical room, complete with a table from a gyno's office. Stirrups and all. He loved it. And while it wasn't my favorite, I loved that it turned him on so much, so it was still good for me. Plus, I think it brought back some of that fear and trepidation and loss of control I felt in those first visits to the gynecologist. But more so. Having your feet not only placed in the stirrups, but restrained to them... it sent a large shot of adrenaline (or something) into my system. Sometimes fear can be a wonderful seasoning on top of everything else.

The largest contradiction of all of this in my mind is the cath procedure. I hate it, and yet it is kind of the epitome of power exchange, so it is also too big to do away with. Once the cath is in then the Dom controls something so basic, something all of us just automatically assume is supposed to be under our own control. And if it's something the Dom only does occasionally... say once a year, then it's something the submissive will never have a chance to get used to. It's... overwhelming and scary and just huge.

One of the biggest differences in medical play and normal everyday D/s is the attitude of the Top, who becomes the doctor or nurse in this scenario.

The anal speculum keeps getting wider, and wider. Slowly, ever so slowly, it is opened until it seems the spreading will never stop. You gasp at the sensations flooding your mind, the feeling of muscles that are usually clenched closed being opened, being forced to remain open, and inexorably being expanded wider than you ever thought possible. The doctor says, "Yes, I know it is uncomfortable, but we must have room to work. We'll go slowly but we still have a ways to go."

It's clinical, cold. Power exchange at its most basic. When you walk into the doctor's office you know you won't be harmed, but you know it's likely to be uncomfortable, and very well may end up hurting. When your husband dons his white coat and ties you into position at the edge of the bed, with your legs tied up in the air at ten and two o'clock and your wrists restrained to the outside of your thighs, you know it's going to hurt, but you also know you won't be harmed.

Do you enjoy medical play? Is there a particular activity you enjoy, or is it the sum total of the whole experience?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Kinky Haiku Sunday

After a short hiatus, I'm back with some kinky haiku for you. This week it is the conflicted author edition.

Master, Dominant
Owner or hot Alpha Male?
What do you prefer?

(heh heh, yes, post spinoff!)

Oh, work-in-progress!
Sometimes I love you so much.
Sometimes I hate you.

Kink can be too hard
Or sometimes not hard enough.
Writing kink is rough.

Really? Are you sure?
That is my book's new cover?
I need a tissue.

No! No more writing!
I'm done! This time I mean it!
Okay. One more book.

Whew, that was kind of fun. LOL.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fantasy or Realism?

Hi, Kinky Ever After readers. First I want to thank Annabel, Anneke, and Candace for inviting me to join them here. What an impressive, thoughtful, and entertaining set of posts they’ve been making! I’ve been catching up reading them and it’s been a lot of fun. I held back some comments because if I went that route, I’d run out of time for writing a post of my own.

I’ve been mulling lately about the line between fantasy and reality in BDSM romances. I’ve generally tried to stay realistic, and part of what I mean by that is that play in my books is usually very safe, sane, and consensual. The relationships develop a bit fast, because of the limitations of a book, but even in the two books I wrote with vampires everyone has a safe word. The Doms are Doms you might meet in a club, or at a play party. They feel like people I know -- not like any individual, but they’d fit in with people I’ve met in the BDSM scene. A few reviewers have called my books good introductory BDSM books, and I’m pleased by that. There’s at least more good information in them than misinformation.

My next book coming out doesn’t really fit that mode. It’s a ménage, and that alone doesn’t necessarily cross the line. I have seen relationships with more than two people work. I don’t remember seeing a relationship with two dominants and one sub work past a scene or two, but I wouldn’t rule that out. However, my dominants are twins, and that, from my point of view, is verging into pure fantasy territory. But it’s hot, and it lets me do some fun things with the plot. The book coming out after that is a fantasy in the Lord of the Rings sense, so the hero doesn’t come from the kind of society that can debate the virtues of SSC vs. RACK. Or safe sex. If anyone is getting their ideas about what BDSM is like from those two books -- well, hopefully people won’t take them that seriously, and just enjoy what I hope is a pleasurable ride.

So what are you looking for when you pick up a BDSM romance? A book that shows the real world of BDSM, or a flight of fancy?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Alpha Males vs. Doms vs. Masters vs. Owners

I've been thinking about the men of kink lately.

Okay, here's the deal. I need a hero. I DESPERATELY need a hero to inspire me to write his story. My choices are so overwhelming though. What really turns me on?

A master or owner is kind of the most extreme "D" type. At least I think of them that way. They tend to have the intricate rituals, the protocols, the demands for extreme submission.

Then you have a dominant, which is more a description than anything else. I've always been drawn to writing dominants, just because there seemed to be more latitude about what kind of person they could be. They could be any type of person in real life, but put on this dominant persona and become "Sir" or "Master" or whatever floated their boat. I tend to shy away from writing masters and owners, just because it seemed like such a rigid role. have a little leeway.

But lately, I've become interested in writing an alpha male. Not a Master or Dominant or anything BDSM related. Just a very demanding, intense, sexually voracious male who may or may not do BDSM-type things to his woman depending on his mood. He may or may not negotiate in a traditional BDSM way. He most certainly would not scene down at the local club. A lot of what's been going through my mind lately has been men like this.

I don't know though. It seems like the alpha male is the least delineated hero-type of all, and thus most likely to disappoint readers who expect a BDSM-defined hero. In the end though, I guess I have to write whatever hero comes to me...when he comes to me.

Do you have a preference in what type of kink hero you read? Why or why not?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When is it Sadism and when is it Abuse?

I stumbled upon a conversation recently where people were debating the difference between Sadism and Abuse. They were using a scene from one of my books as a discussion point, which is perfectly fine, I'm flattered that enough people had read my book it could be discussed this way. I didn't enter the conversation because I didn't want to agree or disagree with anyone. I know my intention for that scene - but however they read it is the way they read it, and that's the correct answer for them. A squick for me is a turn on for someone else, and a squick for them might be a turn on for me.

My definition of consent allows for there to be no safeword under certain very defined circumstances. I don't think that can happen overnight. In real life, my husband and I were together for years before we began playing around with periods of time without a safeword. When we first started playing around with it I was very specific as to what he could do that I could not safeword out of. We put it in writing to make sure there were no misunderstandings about it.

We've been together for 15 years now (married for 13 of them) and we rarely use a safeword. There are certain bits of edge play where we use a safeword, and if we try something new then I have a safeword. Otherwise, if there is a problem I tell him the problem - my arm is falling asleep, my leg has a muscle cramp. He usually knows something is wrong before I say something, though.

In any relationship there should be give and take, so both parties get what they want. In a vanilla relationship that probably means both parties go down on each other. Or perhaps one gives massages and the other gives blow jobs. Whatever makes them happy.

In a kinky relationship sometimes that means one person might enjoy medical role play more than the other, while the other partner enjoys sensory deprivation more than the other. So perhaps the Top will provide sensory deprivation for the bottom even though he's not that interested in it from his end... and the bottom will submit to medical play more than she'd prefer because she knows it's a huge turn on for her partner. If the rest of their kinks match up then making concessions for these two kinks isn't that big of a deal in the bigger picture.

In Safeword: Rainbow we see one scene where Tyler spends a lot of time working a flogger on Viv's back, getting her to sub space in an extremely pleasurable way. He's focused on her pleasure in that scene, thinking of what he can do to make it good for her. Later we see him putting her through a very rough scene -- one designed to feed his own sadistic needs. He tells her at the beginning of the scene that, "Some nights being my property means you get pleasure beyond your wildest imagination. Tonight it means pain." During this scene he employs a trick that deliberately keeps her out of subspace because he wants to see her hurt. He doesn't want her to float off into subspace where she can turn the pain into pleasure.

I've heard from so many people about this scene. Some loved it, telling me it was perfect and that it hit all of the right buttons for them. Some people were incredibly uncomfortable with it, but still appreciated it for showing them how something they have no interest at all in doing can be a huge turn on for other people. It's something they hadn't considered, and they appreciated the idea behind it, even if it made them squirm. Others see it as abuse and draw a line in the sand with that scene, saying it went too far. And that's okay. There is no right or wrong answer to how someone reacts to that scene. All reactions are an honest reaction.

Does consent always mean it's not abuse? No. I can think of instances where I feel something is abusive even when there is consent. For instance, I am uncomfortable with situations where someone with no education and no marketable skills and no way to support themselves feels they have no choice but to consent, for fear the person will break up with them and ask them to move out.

What about you? Where do you draw the line? If there is no safeword and the submissive has agreed to that, do you still consider it abuse? If the Dom is only concerned with his own pleasure in a scene every once in a while, does that make it abusive to you?

I think perhaps we're reaching the edges of SSC versus RACK. But this post is long enough so that will have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Significant Sensation

Do your tactile senses have fantasies of their own? Moments that touch your consciousness without words or visuals? A sensory moment, complete and whole, as if something has touched that instant in your memory. Whether it’s ever really happened to your body or not.

Perhaps you feel a hard hand around your wrist. A tongue forcing past your lips. Your ribs attempting to expand against constriction. You feel it, and your breath comes short for just a second. And then life goes on.

I think those sense-memories that come up again and again are the ones with meaning. Of course they’re the most arousing; that’s the simple answer. More complicated is the significance they carry. When you’re on the sub side of the d/s continuum, they mostly represent control of your body by someone else. Control accepted or resisted; sweet or rough, pleasurable, painful, in person or by proxy. But control. A sensation of one’s body ruled by the will of something other than oneself. Not fully under its own command. Sending feedback to hampered muscles: messages perhaps of calm and security, or fear and frantic struggle. Plus arousal. Lots of that.

Sensation is core to our experience, but it’s not easy to convey. Still, what other genre should be more about sensation than erotica? We need to take wordless experiences and find words for them. Words that draw readers into a sensory moment, a moment which resonates at the level of body, not brain. And if it’s done well, emotions and meaning engage, integrate, resonate together.

I find myself trying all sorts of techniques to convey tactile experiences. Pure description, brief moment-by-moment minutiae of sensation, metaphors:

…His hands were around my thighs, and his movement into me seemed slow as seasons, as if he meant to introduce each of our separate nerves to each other, one by one. Each moment seemed to stretch and distend, full of its own distinct sensation. I quivered and waited, held in place like something planted in the earth, at the mercy of the elements; at the mercy of the gardener most of all, and of my own helpless unfurling. Welcome. Please invade me.

Clashing or intersecting images can convey the shift away from the rational, toward the sense of the body taking over:

…He lifted me off my feet and took my mouth over with his own. My blood was turning to thick, hot magma, weighing down my limbs, slowing my thoughts. And yet I was being handled as if I was no weight at all: a duality strange enough to give me vertigo.

I think the approach I use the most is the sound of the language itself. I’m pretty auditory; I “hear” the words on the page. As any poet knows, you can do all sorts of things with rhythm: Steady, mounting, jarring. Repetition works as well, as do sentence fragments or alliteration.

“Up on the bed, hands and knees. We’re going to find out just what makes you come, my little hunhund. And what doesn’t.” The deep voice had downshifted, was warm, hypnotic, in rhythm with the stroking of his fingers. Sensation was fed by the heat of spanked flesh: fed, amplified. His hand tickling, sliding through hot wet folds. He was touching, moving away, touching again… tension building, building…. Then the fingers were gone. Sensation now at my nipples, circling and squeezing, on and on…. And a hand rubbing round circles on my ass, pressing the arousal deeper, deeper…. I crouched there for what seemed like ages, clutched the bedspread, moaning low in my throat.

All excerpts are from As She’s Told.

What are the best sensory passages from your favourite books, or your own writing? Care to share?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Kink Monday: Teasing and Denial

I get a lot of flack from readers of As She’s Told, indignant with Anders for “denying Maia pleasure.”

Does anyone else get off on the word “No”? As in, “No, you’re not allowed to come.” Said in an offhand tone, as if any urgency is immaterial and the date of release is so distant as to be not worth considering.

That’s power.

I personally go for the offhand tone. But some verbal emphasis could work, too, if you play it right.

As for being “denied pleasure,” teasing and denial are anything but. The pleasure is drawn out, prolonged, intensified. No routine sexual experience here. The episode doesn’t end, it goes on. Through the evening, through the weekend, through weeks or months…. “Never!” I hear you say. “I could never wait that long!” Each to their own. No matter what the delay -- the teasing, excruciating delay -- an hour or a month -- the orgasm when it’s finally granted will be shattering.

This kink can run the gamut from equal-partner experimentation all the way to total power exchange, as in As She’s Told, where Maia has to wait long, and wait hard, for Anders to grant her some mercy. While he, of course, gets off whenever he wants. “It’s not fair!” some readers have said. No, it’s not fair. It’s not supposed to be fair. Is it possible to get off on just how unfair it is?

Here are Maia’s streetcar thoughts:

He had me. My god, he really had me.

You would think that it would be orgasms, that summit of purest pleasure, that would tie me to him. A conditioned response bringing me always back for more.

But after fulfilment one can move on. Make weekend plans. Read the paper. Go out for sushi. Or at least get on with one’s slavegirl day. Not me. I stood, trapped at that barred threshold, unable to see any other path, much less take it. In the absolute grip of the gatekeeper.

Imagine being more or less continuously aroused. Going about your day unable to think for long about anything else. Imagine being teased to incoherence, teased to the point of begging.

If that strikes a chord, there’s a great site called, with all sorts of contributions from people engaged in teasing and denial at every kind of level. Except for stories, the readers’ contributions seem to be entirely consensual. (And mostly based on willpower. Not for me; my preferences is for metal and keys; more on that in a later Kink Monday.) This kind of play makes for a subtle and fine-tuned partnership, based on trust and deepening mutual enjoyment.

As a fetish, teasing and denial has generated a fair amount of paraphernalia. Dildos, vibrating clips, even remote control vibrators for sneaky public fun. But a simple bit of rope harness might do as well.

Play it any way you like: in or out of the bedroom, short- or long-term, by mutual agreement or unequal and gorgeously unfair – as an erotic intensifier, teasing and denial can’t be beat.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fresh and New versus Ritual

Once you've been with someone a while, you have to find a balance between the comfort of ritual, of your body knowing what is about to happen, with the unexpectedness of new things and pushing boundaries.

The action in most romance books happens at the beginning of a relationship, when everything is still new. In a power exchange relationship you can often see the Dom laying the foundations for a particular ritual even in the first couple of scenes-- usually in the way a scene starts. That's helpful, as it helps the submissive begin to get into the right headspace. If you are only writing a few scenes for this couple then that's fine, but for a lot of scenes it would present more of a challenge.

In real life I prefer ritual at the beginning and end of scenes with the stuff in the middle an unknown. Sometimes I get a ritual that lets me get ready in my head before the scene starts, sometimes I don't. In my writing it depends on the characters, I think. A more hard core sadist working with an experienced masochist quite possibly won't always want to give the starting ritual just to keep the submissive that much more on edge for a scene. But in a relationship with less S&M in it, or one with a less experienced submissive, that ritual at the beginning can be pretty important.

Sometimes a ritual can be as simple as kneeling or being bent over something while the Dom collects the tools that will be needed for the scene. Other rituals can take much longer - the Dom who gives the submissive an enema in preparation for a fisting scene, for instance.

In that particular scenario - let's say the Dom has a huge ritual around the enema that includes a small enema, then a large soapy enema, then a rinsing enema. This is followed by a sports drink and a nap, then spanking or flogging to subspace while plugged, and finally being bound a particular way before the fisting portion of the evening begins. I could write a wonderful scene around that. However, if the Dom sticks to that exact formula every time he wants to fist her, at what point does it leave the comfortable ritual feeling and become the same old thing. Even if it only happens three or four times a year, I think that a few years down the road it will lose most of the excitement factor. The key, I think, would come in finding ways to mix things up. Cold water versus really warm water enemas, possibly skipping the nap without warning, and certainly in finding different and creative ways to tie her up. And perhaps most importantly, doing things other than fisting after the ritual, so she's not sure what will happen later, only that it will likely involve some kind of ass play... an anal speculum perhaps, or a figging scene.

I've discovered that the world of fantasy doesn't always relate to the real world as closely as one might think. My stories so far haven't included much ritual, because too much ritual in books equals a pacing problem. So far I've only included ritual when I've skipped forward a bit in time and I show how comforting it can be to go through an already established ritual.

How important is ritual to you in real life? At what point does a ritual become the "same old thing"?

How about books? Is it important in books? Do you appreciate it? Or would you prefer that each scene be fresh and new from beginning to end?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sweating the Small Stuff (and Who Cares, Anyway?)

This writer gig is tough in so many ways. And it feels tougher to me sometimes because I am neither fast nor prolific. (Case in point: this is about my twelfth start to this piece, and I still don’t know if this one will stick.) I so much admire the fluency of those who can pour out a story or a novel and move on to the next. They end up with increasing numbers of eggs in multiple baskets, while I’ve got only two over which to brood, darkly maternal and a little obsessive, like an over-invested mother plotting her toddler’s career path.

With this kind of attitude, every word and phrase matters. The damned thing takes so long to write, it’s got to last and be read, not disappear into that bottomless limbo of lost efforts.

So I sweat the small stuff. The touches intended to make the characters multidimensional, and the settings palpable. Everything from the smell of her skin to the backstory that drives him. (Okay, the backstory isn’t exactly small stuff, but I’ll get to that.) Fleeting thoughts, not only sexy but mundane. Ironic moments and private jokes.

Not that these things are separate from the plot. If they’re done well they add depth; done badly and they’re nothing but padding, mechanical and jarring. Too long, and they spoil the flow. Just a touch here and there is what works. Hands turning a salt shaker in a very small circle, conveying discomfort and difficult thoughts. Old leaves skittering along the ground, providing the only movement between two characters suspended in a frozen tableau of guilt and anger. Sunlight shifting from carpet to wall, marking the passage of time, as a slave waits. I love this stuff. It’s part of what makes writing worthwhile for me. Whether anyone notices it or not is another question. I hope it provides something like the bass line in a piece of music; you may not notice it but you’d miss it if it wasn’t there.

From the comments I’ve seen, when it comes to erotica, readers’ focus is almost entirely on the plot; commentary on the writing comes down to a word or two at most. And that’s just the sexual plot trajectory; non-sexual elements are ignored entirely. I have it on good authority that such scenes are often skimmed, skipped and given short shrift in the hunt for the next sex scene. Which is understandable, as long as no one complains that the characters lack depth! I integrated an important piece of backstory for Anders in As She’s Told that illuminates his struggles and makes him fallible. Perhaps readers don’t want him fallible; not one comment or review has ever mentioned it.

So is providing depth worth the effort? Does it come through? I don’t know. But I know I can’t write any other way. So expect my next novel – a few years from now.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Kink Monday - Shibari

Today, for Kink Monday, our topic is Shibari, and I am SO happy to have a special guest with us today -- MaillerPhong of Interwoven Images! Mailler has distinguished himself as an artisan of rope and eroticism. He was kind enough to answer all my nosy questions about rope, models, art, and his new book, Interwoven Images, Vol. 1.

Annabel: First of all, what came first for you? Photography or Shibari? What led to your interest in these areas and how long did you have to practice to get so good at it?

MaillerPhong: They essentially grew in tandem. When I was growing up my mom was a semi-pro photographer, so I was always around photography equipment, and picked up a few concepts by osmosis. But I didn’t get involved in shooting seriously until I became involved in bondage, in the summer of ’08.

A couple friends were in the kink scene and told me about rope bondage. I was pretty vanilla at the time, though I always had an interest in unusual artistic mediums (and of course a healthy appreciation for the female form). I looked at the different bondage sites that were out there and liked some of what I saw, didn't like some of what I saw; and figured that as I was a reasonably artistic guy, I could do as least as well as what was out there. So when I started my own journey it was pretty squarely from the artistic, photographic side. (It was only after several months that I started investigating the scene itself and exploring that side of bondage)

When I started I had plenty of spare time, so I just threw myself into it. I got several how-to books, and was intrigued by the more decorative work of Two Knotty Boys in particular. I liked the more unconventional, freeformish approach of western fusion bondage over the more traditional, standardized ties of ‘real’ shibari. After a few months of getting proficient in handling the rope and practicing the ties in the books, I branched out and started tying my own designs and was off to the races.
Because I’ve been shooting and tying both for less than three full years, I’m still very much in the learning process. I would say that after 6 or 8 months I felt proficient with the ropes; on the photography side, I’m still largely flying by the seat of my pants. Each photo shoot produces better images than the last, both from a technical and an artistic point of view.

Annabel: Can you explain the concept of Shibari for those who aren't familiar with it?

MaillerPhong: Shibari is a form of rope bondage that has its roots in Japanese culture. It can be done sensually or sadistically, to please or to punish; but has definite confinement and aesthetic components. The style of bondage I do for my photography isn’t shibari as such; mine is more stylized and primarily decorative, without much regard for confining or restraining the model. It’s more suited for wearing as fashion, than incorporating into a bondage scene.

Annabel: Can you describe a typical session? How long does it take to do some of your more intricate ties?

MaillerPhong: *shrug* My photo shoots are just like any other art nude photo shoot, that happens to involve rope. The model arrives, we do some bookkeeping, I tie her up, take some pictures, untie her, wait for marks to fade, do the next tie. When we’re done, we do some more bookkeeping, she leaves and I start editing.

The length of the tying process can vary quite a bit. Simple ties can be done in 5 minutes; more complicated ones, up to an hour. For an elaborate, knot-heavy tie, I could spend a half hour working on it, then look at it when it’s done and think ‘hmm that’s crap,’ and start all over again. It’s not uncommon for me to have only part of a design worked out beforehand; much of what I tie is improvised during the shoot. I do try to have the fancy centerpiece knots tied prior to the shoot, but other than knowing that I want to do a tie with such-and-such knot in the center, the rest of it falls out of my brain as we go.

Annabel: Have you ever had a shibari mishap? What happened?

MaillerPhong: When I was first starting out I agreed to rig for a friend-of-a-friend’s photo shoot. This was when I was still vanillish, and had little concept of ‘negotiations.’ So I did a simple wrist binding on one of the models, and it turned out she was claustrophobic; something she hadn’t disclosed to me or the photographer. So after a few shots she had a panic attack, and I had to get her out of the ropes.

A few times more recently models had not eaten before the shoot, and became faint when tied up. In those cases we were able to get them down and untied without serious incident.

Though none of these resulted in injury, they do underscore the importance of discussing health issues with prospective models and knowing as much about their needs and concerns as I can, so we can work around any possible issues before they become problematic.

Annabel: Is it different tying someone you're in a relationship with, versus tying a model hired for a shoot? How difficult (or easy) is it to find people to tie up?

MaillerPhong: It is different tying someone up you’re close to. There is the emotional connection, and presumably you’re more familiar with how they react to being tied up. With models there’s a very clear demarcation of roles – she’s there to model, I’m there to rig and shoot. With a girlfriend things can get, erm, more personal. And there’s always the possibility of an ex-girlfriend demanding her pictures be taken down after a messy breakup; professional models have a much lower chance of that happening.

I’ve been fortunate to have worked with many excellent models. Sites like ModelMayhem, and later Fetlife, have connected me with women of incredible talent and beauty. Models who are in the scene enjoy being tied up for its own sake; both kinky and vanilla models really appreciate the artistry of the ties I do and the style I present the models in. People have told me ‘I don’t like bondage, but I like what you do’; there are a few models who will shoot bondage only with me. I take that as a tremendous compliment.

Annabel: How much rope do you actually own, and where do you store it? Is there a particular type of rope you prefer?

MaillerPhong: I have far too much rope. :-)

I started out, much like many other people, with nylon and MFP rope from Home Depot, because it was cheap and readily available. I then moved to hemp, because of its superior feel and appearance over synthetic rope, and accumulated about 7-800’ of that.

I’ve now largely migrated to using jute, because of its appearance and weight savings compared to hemp, and have 5-600’ of that. I like using 30’ and 15’ lengths, with a few 45’ lengths on hand if I need cover a lot of area with a single rope. I find it much easier to use multiple, shorter lengths of rope than one huge, ungainly length.

Annabel: Wow. That is a lot of rope. I notice most of your work involves women. Have you ever tied a man or considered doing so?

MaillerPhong: I’ve not shot any men, though I have tied a few as part of scening. My own personal taste is toward shooting women, so I've largely trained myself to have that eye; some future projects in the pipeline will involve men. So don’t worry, there will be male eye candy coming soon. :-)

Annabel: *blush* Erm...yes, we kind of like male eye candy here. Okay [shuffles through questions] Oh yeah... Are there any big organizations or conventions for shibari enthusiasts?

MaillerPhong: There certainly are! The biggest in the US is Shibaricon, Memorial Day weekend in Chicago, IL. I’m actually teaching a couple classes at this year’s Shibaricon, as are many other very talented riggers and kinksters.

There are many other events across the US, as well as Europe and elsewhere. A couple that immediately spring to mind are Boundcon in Germany and the London Festival of the Art of Japanese Bondage. is an excellent site to find out about these and other events.

There are also several websites that focus on shibari. Fetlife has a strong contingent of riggers. and are two others.

Annabel: Tell us about your book. What made you decide to publish a collection of your photos? How long did it take to compile the book?

MaillerPhong: Well, I knew that there was a dearth of art bondage books in general. And the books that were out there were of varying styles and quality. In particular I thought my work would stand out because it isn’t shot in the ways that most other bondage photography was shot. It isn’t overtly sexual; the women aren’t minimized or made helpless by the rope; it isn’t shot in a dingy hotel room or a hardcore fetish club. Instead I use the rope to accentuate the model’s own strength and beauty.

My photography combines fetish, kink, art nude, glamour and fashion into something unique that could be left on a coffee table without being ashamed that the neighbors might see it.

Making the book took a year and a half. I shot most of the photos from May ’09 to October ’09, finishing up in August ’10. Then a few months of layout and preparation; I released the book in January ’11. I’m already well underway with content for Interwoven Images Vol II; I’ve also plans to release some how-to books.

If you'd like to see more of MaillerPhong's work you can find his book, Interwoven Images, Vol 1, here. (click!) You can also visit his website to learn more about his work, buy prints, and read a more indepth bio.

I would like to thank MaillerPhong for stopping in today and making our Shibari edition of Kink Monday something really special.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kinky Haiku Sunday

Haiku Sunday, the rough play edition...

He grabs my chin hard
I feel myself growing wet
Good girl and bad girl.

I don't understand
The allure of real rough play.
But, I am a wuss.

Roses are scarlet
Violets are black and blue
No limit flowers.

White walls and curtains
A warm, softly blowing breeze
Bliss in aftercare.

Don't be shy...add your own.