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?


  1. ooh, I've never read her, but now you've piqued my interest.

  2. If you do, start with the first book, Carrie's Story. Safe Word is the sequel.

    They are not only hot but thought-provoking and so well-written. Not romances, mind you, but don't let that stop you.