1) What was your inspiration for Deep In The Woods?
I spend a lot of time on BDSM sites and forums talking to kinky people about their experiences and fantasies to get ideas for my books. But in doing so, I’ve learned a lot about the “seamy underbelly” of the BDSM scene. Deep in the Woods was perhaps my attempt to make sense of some of the sadder situations I was learning about.
I think in BDSM romance books especially, everything always seems to work out perfectly…the Dom is always a responsible gentleman who respects limits and adores the sub. The sub is always a strong heroine with a lot of self-respect. But what I was finding was that sometimes, in reality, there are Doms are not Doms at all, but predators, and there are subs—no matter how strong—who are taken in by these types. So I suppose some part of me wanted to explore that “less perfect” side of the lifestyle. I wanted to poke a little at the controversy of limits and consent, and the growing trend in BDSM circles to “outkink” others by playing harder and doing more and more outlandish and risky things.
I also really wanted to show a person coming back from such a relationship. I wanted to write a book about a survivor. I wanted readers to have a window into what that descent into abuse feels like, but also to see the heroine overcoming her past and making more careful choices the next time. And of course, I wanted to show what a caring, responsible BDSM relationship looks like by comparison. Hopefully I accomplished all of that while also producing a really hot, sexy, and romantic book.
2) You write contemporary BDSM. Why do you think so many readers - and writers - find BDSM such a fascinating subject?
I think when you introduce dominance and submission into a relationship, there is just that extra level of trust and passion involved. I mean, in vanilla romance, of course you have trust, love, passion, all those things. But when you are offering yourself to someone in a BDSM arrangement, all those aspects ramp up. It’s one thing to trust someone to take you out to dinner and come home and make love to you. It’s another thing altogether to trust someone to tie you up, render you powerless, and be in complete control of you. I think it just lends that extra intensity and depth that can be very thrilling if it’s done right.
I also think so many of us have fantasies of really letting go of everything and giving ourselves up to another person’s will. I think some things women would never consider appealing in a vanilla relationship suddenly become attractive when they’re ordered by their Dominant to do it. So I think a lot of readers and writers are drawn to that sort of “boundary-pushing” that takes place a lot in BDSM.
3) There are lots of "shoulds" and "have tos" in this business. What one piece of advice would you advise an unpublished author NOT to follow?
Oh, what an excellent question. Being rather new to publishing, I’m finding there are a lot of “shoulds” and expectations that are not really negotiable. But one “should” I personally didn’t follow was the suggestion that you need to read widely in your genre in order to produce publishable work. I mean, I think you need to know what audiences are looking for in *general* terms, but I think the more you read others, the more danger that you will begin to write to a formula or style that is not your own.
I would advise writers to spend their efforts developing their own original style and voice and to actually try NOT to mimic the work of other writers in their genre. In the end, it’s your own originality and fresh outlook that will make a reader say, “Hmm, this is something new and exciting. I’m going to tell all my friends about this book.”
4) What keeps you at the keyboard when you're not sure if you should keep going?
For me, I think it’s the characters in my head. I fall in love with these characters I create, and their stories begin to take on such importance to me that I feel I have no choice but to see the story through to the end and share it. I’m a very character-driven writer. Once a character is in my head, it’s like I can’t silence them. Haha. That makes me sound slightly loopy.
Readers’ positive comments also keep me at the keyboard. There’s no feeling on earth like a reader telling you that your story touched them. It’s like a high, and once you feel it, it’s something you want to keep searching for. And there’s only one way to do that—write more books!
5) Do you have a "dream" genre or book of your heart you'd love to write?
To be honest, my “dream” genre would be writing for the screen. I love the challenge and peculiarities of it. In prose, you can say exactly what you want to communicate right there on the page, more or less. You have a lot of flexibility. But in screenwriting, you have to communicate everything through outward appearances and dialogue, which takes a lot of planning and a metaphorical touch. At the same time, there are really rigid timing and story arc conventions you have to hit. It’s a deceptively complex form of writing, and it can be very addictive once you get hooked on it. I used to do a lot of screenwriting, but so much of what Hollywood is producing right now are sequels and comic book adaptations, so it began to seem fruitless. It is a great way to hone your chops as a writer though.
6) Any other upcoming releases you can tell us about? What are you working on right now?
I’m currently in the editing stages with Fortune, which is the story of Ryan, one of the secondary characters from Deep in the Woods. He’s a shibari and origami obsessed Dominant who is very methodical about everything, but then falls for a very flighty club girl. I’m always interested in bringing people together whom, on the surface, might seem a terrible match for each another. It’s just that much more satisfying when they find common ground.
Along those lines, I’m also working on a Regency-type kinky romance that brings a rich marquis into a relationship of necessity with a common flower-seller. I just love helping characters find that least likely connection and then discover that it’s what they needed and wanted all along. Isn’t that what BDSM is all about sometimes? Taking those risks and sometimes even a lot of pain—and finding you love it more than you ever knew.
Want to find out more? Buy Deep In The Woods here: http://www.jasminejade.com/ps-8500-50-deep-in-the-woods.aspxOr visit Annabel’s website: http://annabeljoseph.wordpress.com/
Deep in the Woods blurb:
Sophie finally finds the courage to re-enter the Atlanta BDSM scene after extricating herself from an abusive relationship. At a local munch, she meets Dave, a funny, laid-back erotic photographer who’s new in town. When she sees him again later at the dungeon, Sophie is surprised by her strong feelings for him. Although she’s nervous about starting a new relationship, Dave takes her home and eases her fears. They embark on a sexy, thrilling D/s relationship and Sophie finds healing and fulfillment in Dave’s arms.
But Sophie is haunted by nightmares of her past. On a dark night in the woods with Dave and his friend Ryan, frightening memories overtake Sophie. She knows she must uncover the tragedy that haunts her subconscious to move on. Her quest for answers brings her face-to-face with her old tormentor, and Sophie finds herself not just fighting for answers, but for her life. Will Sophie ever make it out of the woods and find the peace she seeks?
He placed a fingertip against her lips. “I’m not assuming anything. I am telling you that if I kiss you…if I touch you tonight the way I want to…”
The way he was staring at her made it impossible to concentrate on his words. Her eyes dropped to his lips, full and sensual. His bottom lip was perfection, something to lick and nibble. Before she could stop herself, she drew her tongue across her own lips. His hand cupped her chin and his gaze forced her to focus. “Listen to me. If I kiss you… Sophie…” He leaned forward and she parted her lips with a sigh.
The moment his lips touched hers, she felt relief. She felt a peace that had eluded her for months, perhaps years. He held her face in his hands as his mouth possessed hers. The kiss quickly intensified and his tongue pushed into her mouth. He moved closer. His hands grasped her shoulders, then ran down her arms to pull her against his chest. The entire time, his lips never left hers. He tasted her eagerly, and his kiss was demanding. She felt possessed, challenged. He could master her and she knew it. He was letting her know he could master her if that was her desire.
Oh god. One hand moved up her back to twist in her hair. He pulled hard, sending thrills of stinging pain down the back of her neck and around to her flushed face. She arched her spine and moaned against his lips. It was not in her nature to beg, although she wanted to at that moment. She wanted to plead for what she wished. She wanted to prostrate herself before him. She wanted to surrender to the intensity and fire of his touch. His touch, his touch…his fingertips were trailing back down her arms, then to the hem of her dress. She broke away and looked around. The light. Not in the light. She pushed at his hand and he stopped and pulled back.
“I…can’t we…the light is so bright and…and your dog is staring at me. It’s kind of freaking me out. Can’t we…? I’m sorry…”
“Turn out the lights?”
She blushed, feeling like an idiot. “Can we please?”
“I would like to see you, Sophie. Your lovely body. Your beautiful eyes.”
She bit her lip, hating this moment, hating everything about it. She could run. She could just run out the door and… No. She didn’t want to run. But she couldn’t show her body to him, not at this moment. Later. She would deal with it later. And if he rejected her when he saw the scars, at least then she would have had one night to be with him.
“Please, Dave. I’m just shy. It’s been so long and…” She looked over at Cerby again, who was helping her case by gawking at them from a couple feet away. “Your dog is sweet but—”
“You’re telling me you’re embarrassed to get naked in front of my dog.”
“Yes.” Yes, and please believe me. Please just go along with this.
Dave sighed. “That’s really the problem? It’s not that you don’t want to get intimate tonight? Because hey, we just met. I’m fine with waiting. Really, Sophie, I am.”
Nooooo. “No, I want to. I’m just… I’m weird that way.” I’m weird. I’m weird. Don’t make me show you just how weird I am. “Maybe…maybe the first time would be better in the dark. So we can really feel each other. You know?”
He nodded, his fingers caressing her hip. “Depend on our other senses?”
“Well, you realize I’m a photographer, that I’m very visual. We can always shut Cerby out of the bedroom. In fact, it would probably be a good idea.”
“I guess. I mean, we could. But something about me is that I really… I really like the dark. I really, really like darkness, especially when I’m feeling…”
“Scared?” he supplied when her voice got too tight to continue. “Are you feeling scared right now, Sophie?”
“Nervous,” she whispered. “Because I really want to be with you.”
He looked down at her trembling hands and then back at her face, and something in her expression must have caused him to relent.
“Okay. Only because the first time is always slightly scary. My bedroom is really dark with the lights off, you’ll like it. We can get to know each other by touch alone.”
Thanks so much for being here, Annabel!