Wednesday, November 21, 2012

She comes in words

I’ve been asked to write an introduction to a new edition of Safe Word, by Molly Weatherfield. Asked by Pam (aka Molly) Rosenthal herself, no less, which is quite amazing in my little world. After all, I think the Carrie books are about the best in the genre. I turned to them to try to get some idea of how to write bdsm fiction. Not that I can write the same sort of book as Pam Rosenthal, of course. She so clearly majored in English literature, which I did not, and she has a way with words, narrative and dialogue that I will never match. But I learned a great deal from those books, and without them my own would have been much less readable than they are.

I contacted Pam and tried to convince her to read the manuscript of As She’s Told way back when, but she turned me down, saying she hadn’t the time, and who can blame her? But when I agreed to do the introduction for Safe Word, I suggested that she return the favour by reading AST and giving me feedback, and she agreed. Woo hoo! This is something I’ve fantasized about for years! I might not be an English major, but I do have Pretentions of Literature, and damn, after all the work I put in I want some actual literary criticism by someone who specializes in the field! (All right, I’m a total geek.)

Anyway, I get her take on AST after I send in my intro. After four years of waiting for it, I’m more or less on the edge of my seat.

Writing the intro is my little bit of literary criticism. It’s easy in some ways, because the book lays out its themes, plot and literary devices so openly, almost self-consciously. Carrie, the heroine, is herself an English major, who loves narrative and gets off on words. She comments wryly to herself that life is only real when she’s made it into a story. And sex, for her, is like a story. In this book there are stories within stories. Carrie and Jonathan tell each other stories about their sexual exploits in the year they’ve been apart, like a kind of two-person Canterbury Tales. The stories relate so closely to their own relationship, make them so hot and tip them into sex so quickly, that the action, past and present, is deeply intertwined.

The link between language and sex is made in all sorts of ways. Not only does language become sex but sex becomes language. “Those slaps – they’re not punishment, after all. They’re communication – simple syntax in the pidgin of dominance and submission.” Wow, is this ever bdsm for smart girls!

We’re all story-lovers here. Carrie says she “comes in words.” Can anyone else relate?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Sexually Voracious Heroine

I can tell already this is going to be icky. Sorry for any gender-inappropriate offense.

I started writing a new book. It's a BDSM erotic romance like most of my books, and one of the cardinal rules for romance, I suppose, is that the heroine should be someone that the (overwhelmingly female) reading audience can identify with. Small problem new heroine is sexually voracious. She wants it all the time, she loves c*ck, can't get enough of it. She loves f*cking and pursues the hero as boldly as he pursues her. She's not indiscriminate about it (at least once she hooks up with the hero) but hmm...this gal likes her c*ck.

One side of me says, "Don't worry. The romance reader of today is sexually liberated. They won't judge a character for liking a lot of sex. As long as the heroine's sexual appetite is fixed on the hero, it will be okay."

But another side of me is already dreading the bad reviews.

Sometimes I think we haven't evolved as much as a gender as we pretend we have. If we did, I wouldn't be thinking of this character as unusually sexually voracious in the first place, and worrying what the reading public will make of her. I'd just be thinking of her as a normal woman. After all, her drives, desires, and sex-positivity would be normal in a man.

But see what I did there? Instead of letting her sexuality be normal, I had to liken her to a man, because of course, they're the real sex maniacs, right? Gah.

Biologically, I suppose, there is some imperative in women being the more thoughtful and controlled of the two sexes. After all, if a man enjoys fucking 24/7, nothing really happens. If a woman does the same, she'll end up pregnant. Even with birth control, the chance is always there, whereas it is never there for a man. For a male there are no personal biological consequences for sex. For a woman, there's always that chance, unless she's had a hysterectomy.

Perhaps that's why there will always be some part of us that quakes at the sexually voracious female, be she the heroine of a romance novel, or our best friend, or ourselves. As much as we evolve mentally, as much as we embrace kink, sex-positivity, and pushing our sexual boundaries, for women there is always that burden of responsibility...the thing that could happen that men don't have to worry about.

What are your thoughts on the sexually voracious heroine? A fresh type of character? A turn off? A nightmare? Perhaps it's old news and you've read many books with sex-crazy heroines. Can you personally identify with a sexually voracious heroine and become invested in her happiness over the course of a novel? Or do you think a heroine needs to have more disciplined sexual appetites to earn the respect of today's romance reader?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Book club gig

I was a guest at the Arizona book club that I mentioned (via Skype) the other day. Interesting experience. It was rather late for me because of the time zones, and I’m not sure I was entirely coherent, but it was amazing having all this attention focused on me. I could only see three or four of the (approximately) ten participants, and those only just barely well enough to read expressions and reactions. I think they were all doms, the ones who got the prime seats (of course), and those expressions tended toward the sternly impassive. All in all, hard to know how I did, although the feedback was great.

I got to read a couple of bits from AST, which was fun. And then I had to respond to a lot of questions they’d thought up, many of which were about how viable such an extreme scenario would be in real life. My answer being, not very! I didn't write AST as a blueprint on how to do bdsm or m/s, after all. It’s pure fantasy.

Here’s a sample question: This story is an exploration of deep enslavement – there are many methods for achieving this, such as service, obedience, direction and structure – why did you choose objectification and severe, unapologetic punishments, instead of service & obedience?

Let me try to remember what I said. And perhaps organize it a little more coherently.

First, I get off on objectification and severe, unapologetic punishments, far more than I do on service or obedience. And let’s face it, the book is about what makes me hot. As I’ve mentioned before, Laura Antoniou said that service makes her hot, which is why there is such an emphasis on service in the Marketplace books. Other people find loving bdsm play makes them hot, so they read books full of that. When it comes to fiction, it’s all a matter of taste. When it’s about actual relationships, I can easily see that structure, direction and service would be a lot less strenuous and stressful for all concerned.

Second, there’s a lot of punishment in AST, because when I did some hard introspection about what would make me obey, what came up was consequences. Genuine consequences that I couldn’t avoid. Perhaps I underestimate the impact of disapproval or disappointment coming from a dom. But somehow, for me, if there’s nothing to back it up, then I can still choose to be an equal partner – to say, “To hell with it. I’m autonomous; I’ll do what I want.” It’s possible that I am way more stubborn than the average sub. (Well, more than possible.) But it takes some fairly serious domming to make me feel like I’m not in control.

Third, there is actually quite a lot of service, obedience, direction and structure in AST. It’s just overshadowed by all the kinky sadism. I think these things are very important to an m/s relationship, and in the long run they are probably what makes it work. But they may not make the easiest novel material.

They also asked me what scene I found the hottest. Three guesses? First to jump to mind was the gearshift scene. But perv that I am, the pony and cage parts resonated even more.

If I had the book to do over again (another question), I’d make Maia’s enjoyment of her situation more evident. And I’d reveal more irony and less guilt in her mental musings. But that’s hindsight.

Any more bookclubs want me to Skype in? I’m all geared to go now.

Thursday, November 1, 2012's release week...

Hi All!

Sorry I don't have some great words of wisdom to share with the kinky universe today. My newest book came out yesterday and I'm frazzled to pieces!

But I wanted to post a link and a blurb for those of you who have read the first three books in my Comfort series. Here's the fourth one, Command Performance!

Mason Cooke has it all: fame, wealth, and a wildly successful film career–until tales of his kinky exploits break wide. An anonymous source describes swinging parties, a secret BDSM club, and lurid kink activities, outing his friends and naming Mason as the ringleader of the raunchy cabal. Overnight, he’s embroiled in a public relations nightmare, his ex-wife Jessamine’s silence feeding the flames. To save his stock as a top Hollywood actor, he needs emergency image repair.
Enter Miri Durand, a former child actress once known for her shiny blonde curls and sitcom antics. She’s all grown up now, acting a small but edgy role in his latest film. Mason squires her around town in an attempt to sanitize his image, only to discover there’s more to Miri than her girl-next-door smile. Their relationship of convenience soon transforms into something deeper and more authentic. They hide away in his Malibu mansion, burning up the sheets and acting out their deepest fantasies. It’s no longer about the PR–Mason and Miri realize they’re falling in love.
But the Hollywood odds are stacked against them. Between career conflicts, family problems, a meddling ex-wife, and a media onslaught that just won’t quit, the couple become confused about what’s true in their fledgling relationship and what’s just for show. For Mason and Miri, what began as a command performance becomes a poignant struggle to understand the real-life complexity of their love.
I hope you'll put it on your reading list. You can learn more about my other Comfort series books (Comfort Object, Caressa's Knees, and Odalisque) at my blog. Just click the Books tab!