Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Truth

I’ve started to think about the panel I’m going to be on at the end of August, One of the themes is likely to be the question of truth in M/s literature. David Stein, who organized the panel and will be on it himself, asserts that M/s fiction is more authoritative if it is firmly rooted in experience with actual master-slave relationships. Without that experience, he believes the novels will tend to exaggerate, mislead and misrepresent the M/s lifestyle, possibly to readers’ detriment.

I’ve mentioned that he first invited me to join the panel and then found out I’d made it all up. However, he liked AST enough to keep the invitation open.

We’ve touched on the “reality vs. fantasy” topic more than once, so I’ll try not to go over old ground. What I’m searching for in this blog (while simultaneously getting a head start on my conference remarks) is an idea of what does constitute “truth” in our kind of fiction. Is its foundation lived experience, as David Stein suggests? And if so, does there need to be an actual collar around your neck for you to know what a collar feels like?

As we’ve said before, fiction is – well -- fiction. An invention. The challenge is to write it powerfully enough that it conveys some form of truth to the reader. How do we do this? Is it contemporary settings and believable plots? Realistic, layered characters? Natural-sounding dialogue? What about a finely-drawn texture of detail to ground the tale? Detail that never distracts with inconsistencies or absurdities? What about language that says what it means, conveying images or sensations that burst in your brain?

Or is it emotional truth we’re seeking? Perhaps a character’s feelings that chime with your own, or a sense that the author has dug deep and brought something to the surface, articulated something meaningful and rare?

All of these suggestions would apply to any genre of literature, of course. But how do they apply to M/s? Well, accuracy when it comes to the bondage details, that’s for sure. No suspension from handcuffs. Layered characters whose responses and relationships rise above the usual bdsm clich├ęs, and who can talk about what they do with some intelligence and wit.

I’ve never been inclined toward philosophical abstractions; I’m more likely to discover meaning after the fact than to search for it beforehand. Whatever truth there may be in my own writing is likely based on a deep sifting of my own emotions, as well as empathy and extrapolation when it comes to the emotions of others. I don’t discount the rest of the writer’s reality toolkit; it’s all important. But emotional truth is, for me, the core of truth in fiction. As long as I can dredge that up, someone is going to read what I write and say “yes.”

What about you? Tell us about a moment of d/s literary truth, and how you knew when it hit you.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The allure of being shared

I have a long standing fantasy, one I've experienced a few times in my sexual journeys. It's the fantasy of being loaned out to another person temporarily as an object for sex.

I often wonder about the source of this desire. It doesn't seem "normal" to want to go off with what might be an unappealing or unattractive stranger at the behest of your partner. Aren't we supposed to be possessive of our partners? If you're shared by your partner, doesn't that mean they must not love you very much?

In the kink world, no. I've been shared exactly three times. Each time it was with a friend of my partner at the time. In one case, I knew the friend well. In the next case, I knew him only vaguely, and in the last case, it was someone I'd never clapped eyes on before, and somehow that was the sexiest encounter of all.

I suppose it's the fact that, in being shared with someone you don't even know, you truly become a sexual commodity, a gift to be given by your "owner" "master" "whatever", at will. As such, you perceive yourself to have a certain value. After all, your top wouldn't give you to someone else to enjoy if he didn't think they would enjoy you. My partners stayed to watch me in all three cases, and that's hot too, because in a way I wasn't just serving the third party, but my partner's pleasure too. It would have been just as hot to be sent off without my partner. Well, probably hotter, but I can see why they would want to stay, if only for the visual candy.

Another really nice aspect of being shared is when you return to your own partner. Best case scenario, there is a lot of "good girl" and "I'm proud of you" and a reward if you pleased the other party. What could be hotter than pleasing your top and being rewarded for it? Need I explain the type of "rewards" I'm talking about?

There's a lot of sharing in my books. It's never as punishment or for humiliation, but more of a pride thing. Isn't my submissive/slave wonderful? Would you like to have a go? But I'll want her back of course, so take care. In Mercy, Deep in the Woods, Fortune, Cirque du Minuit, Comfort Object, and Odalisque, the sharing is just a short term thing. In Club Mephisto and Molly's Lips, it's a whole week away. In Burn for You and Owning Wednesday, the bottoms aren't just shared...they're passed on to another--in a loving way of course.

I know it's not for everyone, but there's something about acting as "sexual currency" that is hot and kinky, and yet very safe and affectionate if you're in the right hands. It's an edgy type of play but if you are with trusted partners, it can be very fulfilling too.

Friday, July 20, 2012

On Vacation

I have temporarily stepped out to enjoy some time away, which is interesting because it's not like I don't take my work with me. As a writer I always have the ideas buzzing in my head so a vacation doesn't necessarily equate a rest from my day job.
But at least on this vacation, because I actually planned it, I can just chill. Relax. Kick back. I can hit a movie with my friends. Go to the mall. Surf the Web for research. No need to be anywhere at any specific time.
Which got me to thinking...and that can be a very bad thing...what kind of things would an individual or a couple in the lifestyle take into consideration when going on vacation? Would they select their destination based on the clubs available in the area? Or maybe they'd choose a location for more voyeuristic reasons -- you know, a place to watch and be watched. Perhaps, an event is the draw, like the World Series, Super Bowl, or LeatherFet.
I have to admit, I still kick myself for not taking the time while I was in New Orleans to visit a club I'd heard about there, but that particular trip was for business not fun.
I'd love to know how others plan their vacations, maybe it'll help me be a bit more organized for my next one.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Characters you've known and loved

I’m reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon at the moment. Opinions on these books are bound to vary, but I imagine that most people – most women, anyway – love Jamie Fraser. And I’m no exception. There’s something about the combination of strength and vulnerability that gets me. A tragic, honourable figure who would do anything for those he loves, including teaching his small nephew the fine art of not peeing on his own feet. Cracking wit, smart as hell, always knows what to do…wow. And it doesn’t hurt that he adores the heroine unconditionally. All this, and of course he’s gorgeous, too. What’s not to love?

What makes a hero irresistible? Which characters have touched you and continue to live in your mind after you close the book? What is it about them that gets you?

I ask because I’m developing my next hero, and I’m thinking about what will convey the essence of the man. I’m also about to go on vacation and so this is going to be brief. If you have time, share your thoughts.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Kinky celebrity crushes--do you have any?

With all the celebrity hubbub going on this week--Tom and Katie divorcing!--and all the rumors flying about certain movie stars and their sexuality, I thought it would be fun to visit our kinky celebrity crushes.

Of course, we don't really know if any given celebrity is kinky, unless they come right out and talk about it, and I can't think of any off the top of my head who have done much more than hint and wink in pop songs. At the same time, I'm sure there are at least as many kinky celebrities as there are kinky normal people, and I've heard that number hovers around ten percent. Actually, the celebrity kink percentage is probably a bit higher.

I would rather not speculate on who is and who isn't...because it would just be gossipy, and this is a post about fantasy rather than reality. In your personal fantasies, who's domming you? Who are you topping? Who would you like to spend a whole night with switching D/s roles, if, say, the celebrity just happened to be kinky?

It doesn't have to be limited to real life celebrities. What about characters in your favorite books? I always tell people that Leo Kovalensky of Ayn Rand's We the Living was my first dom, and this at a regrettably young age. Rhett Butler too... I've always had a thing for the commanding bad boys.

As for movie stars, for me it's Daniel Craig all the way, at least the James Bond/Daniel Craig characters.Whew nelly. Just tell me what to do, Daniel. Whatever you want. In my writer's group, the ladies swoon over Gerard Butler, Clive Owen, Michael Fassbender, and Robert Downey, Jr. On the female side, it's Angelina Jolie and Jessica Alba.

And oh, I had a really kinky fantasy thing going on with Jason Momoa's Khal Drogo character in HBO's Game of Thrones. *blush*

So who do you fantasize about in a kink way? Does it affect your fantasy if you think they're kinky in real life? For better or for worse?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Pleasure and Plain – different sides of the same coin

For me, most pleasure and pain are merely sensations – neither good or bad, just different kinds of input. I’ve tried to explain this numerous times, but one of my characters managed to explain it better than I’ve been able to, which is bizarre, since I wrote what my character said... but I guess that’s the way it works out sometimes. Here’s a short excerpt from Safeword: Davenport.

When her arousal level was manageable again, she looked at Zach and said, “The line between pleasure and pain is so narrow, sometimes you can’t tell them apart.”
He shook his head, smiling. “I’ll have to take your word for it; I’ve never had that particular problem.”
“Maybe you haven’t taken either to extreme? Think of it as the face of a clock. Imagine the six, pointing down, is no feeling at all. A three is what most people consider intensely pleasurable, and a nine is what the majority would deem exceptionally painful.”
She paused, letting it sink in, and he said, “So what’s twelve?”
Smiling, pleased he saw where she was heading, she said. “Let’s go back to three and nine – if you can power past either of them, the closer you get to twelve the more bleed-over there is from the other side. So when you’re at five minutes after the top of the hour, which is way beyond normal pleasure, there’s a touch of pain involved. When you’re at five minutes till, it’s agony beyond comprehension, with a little bliss mixed in. If you can power past pleasure you get to pain, and if you can endeavor beyond pain you eventually get to nirvana. At twelve exactly, it’s merely sensation, you can’t tell which you’re feeling. It’s both, but neither. If you’re played just right you can hover between pleasure and pain… No, on top of them, or maybe swimming in both. Yeah, awash in them – feeling every extreme of bliss and agony at the same time.”
Jacob looked up. “That’s perfect. I’d never thought of it that way, but you’re right.” He looked over at Zach. “Just after you come, when your dick is super-sensitive and it hurts to touch? That’s sort of what she’s talking about, when it feels so good it’s a little painful.”

Do the lines of pain and pleasure merge for you?

If you want a more titillating excerpt, you can go here, where I give a more carnal example of the fuzzy line between pain and bliss.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My Brain is About to Explode!

Which is appropriate for Independence Day, I guess, but not so cool when I'm supposed to be posting a blog. Or maybe it is. Candace was nice enough to switch days with me and I promptly froze on what to write. For three solid days I had every intention of getting the post together and getting it up, then "phhttt" nothing, nada, zip, zilch. My mind is blank and I haven't a clue what to say about kink.
My issue, unlike characters, isn't being without words (because lord knows I can talk forever about abso-lute-ly nothing and its cousin, pointless) it is focusing on what to say. Whether I should talk about my characters, my stories, my research, heck, even my recent obsession with making homemade jam and how, in my mind, it reflects elements of the lifestyle -- the preparation for a scene, the establishment of a safe word or action, and the satisfactory conclusion (bet you never thought of jam making that way, huh?)
So, I'm keeping it short and sweet today. Here in the United States, we're celebrating our Independence from Great Britain, the establishment of our country, and we do it with fireworks as a symbol of the battles fought for our freedom. In my books, my characters celebrate their alternate lifestyles and the respect from their peers and loved ones, kinda appropriate, I think.
If you're in the US, enjoy the fireworks and picnics. And for those outside the US, have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What do characters talk about when they’re not talking about sex?

I’m writing at less than my usual snail’s pace – but at least I’m writing. Unlike previous books, however, it’s entirely possible that I’m going to throw out a lot of what I’ve done, because I don’t much like it.

Owned and Owner had virtually no conversation except between fellow owners discussing their slaves and their kink. One of the reasons Garid kept Etrin silent was that I couldn’t think of a natural way for the two of them to talk together.

By the time I wrote As She’s Told, I thought I’d figured out how to do dialogue: character-revealing content, lots of sentence fragments for the sake of realism, and judicious dollops of humour and self-deprecating irony. It seemed to work. A certain number of readers (all male) complained about an excess of character development, which they had to skip to get to the dirty bits, but that goes with the smut writer’s territory. (At least they liked the dirty bits. As an aside, AST just got its first review entitled “Sick.” God, I wish non-perverts wouldn’t read my books.)

Anyway, this time, I figured writing dialogue would be a snap. The problem is, I’m writing dialogue that comes before the couple ever approaches anything to do with sex, much less bdsm. They have to talk about normal things like their lives and interests. And they have to do this without boring my erotica readers to death.

What do our characters talk about, when they’re not talking about sex? I don’t know about other authors, but mine have a (possibly fatal) tendency to talk about social justice and the environment. Could anything be less sexy? “Oh my god,” I hear you say, ”we read erotica to get away from that kind of thing! How could you inflict it on us in your fiction?” I know, I hear you. Problem is, that’s what I’m passionate about. I don’t care about movies or contemporary music or fashion. Political machinations and Machiavellian intrigue (think Kushiel’s Dart) leave me both cold and irritable. My plots, such as they are, are very low-key. What on earth are my characters going to talk about over coffee?

Perhaps they need to be remarkably shy and tongue-tied.

It’s not that my own conversation consists only of social justice and the environment. I can gossip with the best of them. But gossip requires some world-building, which feels like such an overwhelming task that I’d rather read someone else’s book instead of writing one of my own. I’ve been reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series; now there’s a level of incident and drama that simply cannot be surpassed, except possibly in a Tintin comic. One such incident and its repercussions would be enough for most novelists. But there’s sure plenty for the characters to talk about!

Perhaps I need a shipwreck or two to liven things up. Do you think it would help?