Welcome to another day of 50 Shades of Sensuality! We have the talented and informative Joey W. Hill here today to give us a more in depth look into the erotic romance genre. Joey joins us along with Madison from Naughty Bits for one very steamy interview. Naughty Bits was originally released as four novellas but the complete paperback edition is available now from Berkley Romance.
*Enter for your chance to win a free ebook of the reader’s choice from Joey’s current titles and a $15 Amazon, ARe or B&N gift certificate!*
Dark Faerie Tales: Love them or hate them, the 50 Shades books have done a lot for the erotic genre. What influenced you to write novels with graphic sex scenes? Has writing these scenes been more freeing in your own love life?
Joey: I grew up reading the 80s bodice rippers. While I loved them, I wanted the authors to take the eroticism even further. In hindsight, what I wanted them to take deeper was the Dom/sub dynamic between the hero and heroine, because so many of those bodice rippers were thinly disguised Male Dom/female sub stories. Even when I was writing non-BDSM romance, I tended to take the sex scenes to a deeper level than mainstream romance at that time. However, it was when I wrote Make Her Dreams Come True, my first erotic romance, that I started to explore the Dom/sub dynamic directly (rather than just incorporating nuances of it).
That first erotic romance put me in touch with my submissive orientation, and ever since, my husband and I have explored that together, so yes, it definitely helped expand and enhance our love life!
DFT: Does your own sexuality come into play when you are writing a particular sex scene?
Joey: Certainly. If an erotic scene doesn’t engage me emotionally and arouse me physically, then I can hardly expect it to do the same for a reader. But that doesn’t mean the scene has to be something I would do in reality. I have a lot of scenes I’ve enjoyed writing that I indulge as fantasy only. For instance, the emotional intensity of a scene between a sub who truly craves more pain, and a Master who likes dispensing that can be very arousing to read, but I’m the world’s biggest wimp. I have a lower pain threshold than an exposed nerve (lol). But that’s the pleasure of exploring all different kinds of erotic scenes in romance. You can develop a very prolific fantasy life completely in your comfort zone!
DFT: How did you learn to write good sex scenes? The descriptions and the positions? Was there a lot of research involved? More importantly, did you apply these techniques off the page?
Joey: I don’t know exactly why, but I’ve never had any inhibitions about exploring sex on the written page. I pretty much will go wherever my imagination takes me. Going back to question #2, if it intrigues me, or my characters, I’ll explore it in-depth in their scenes. And since my husband is an adventurous and loving man, if I’m unsure of logistics or need to “figure stuff out”, he’ll lend a hand.
The psychology behind Dom/sub relationships and the eroticism is pretty much driven by my intuition and my sense of what the characters need and want. Mostly what I research are the mechanics, toys and terminology of the BDSM world, because that is a VAST subject area. I’m always learning new things, and the Internet is usually my best source for that. It’s amazing how much information you can find simply on a BDSM supply site, because places like Extreme Restraints and The Stockroom include informational pieces on the equipment, as well as detailed reviews from users. However, over the past few years I’ve also made more friendships with those in the lifestyle and had the opportunity to attend BDSM conferences, private parties and visit more clubs. That’s opened up other story ideas and character motivations, expanding the emotional/psychological range of my stories as well.
DFT: Why do you think people flock to erotic? Do you think sexy stories sell?
Joey: Humans are very sexual beings. We’ve had a fascination with sex since the beginning of time, though I think it depends on the mores of each culture and time period as to how overt our explorations can be, and which demographic has the freedom to do that. For instance, we know in past decades (in U.S. society), it’s been less acceptable for women to explore their sexuality. However, erotic romance (what I think of as “sexy books”) started to gain traction with the invention of e-books. I think this traction happened for two reasons. First, women had the opportunity to indulge their fantasies in written form in privacy, without judgment. Second, publishers like Red Sage, Black Lace and Ellora’s Cave began to offer erotic romance instead of the traditional fare of dark, dysfunctional “literary erotica” and adult porn novels whose market is more male-targeted. Women could now have spicier stories that were still the quality relationship stories they’d always enjoyed in mainstream romance.
The very cool thing about this trend is the evolution in women’s attitudes about exploring their sexuality. They’re being more open to what they want and seeking out erotic material in far less furtive ways. These books are now out on the shelves of bookstores, and women are talking about them with friends, and the dialogue is reflected in mainstream media as well. So yes, I think sexy books are selling well, and will continue to do so as long as that trend isn’t stifled.
DFT: What’s the difference between erotic fiction and porn? Do you think people get the genres mixed up?
Joey: Erotic fiction/Erotic romance has to meet the same requirements that any well-crafted fiction does. Character development, story arc, good pacing, etc. The erotic component needs to be well integrated into those elements. I also believe, for the most part, erotic romance is focused on a female audience, where there must be emotional intensity and/or a satisfying love story. While still intended to arouse the reader, it assumes that reader desires much more emotional depth as well as more aesthetically pleasing mental images to be stimulated.
Porn or “adult books” as we called them growing up, is focused on purely physical stimulation. Beginning and end, it fits the definition of the “one-handed read”. It’s like the X-rated movies where the hero and heroine show up in the same place under some fabricated pretense (the infamous “copy repair guy scene”) and in a blink, they’re going at it like rabbits. There’s no attempt to develop a backstory, relationship dynamic, etc. In fact, for that genre, when they try to do so, it’s just annoying (lol). It remains a much more male-driven market. Not a thing wrong with that, or with porn itself, despite the negative connotations the word has. It just has a different purpose and target demographic.
As far as whether I think people get the genres mixed up, absolutely, all the time. People will always get them mixed up. One, the media prefers to cast anything sexual in a deprecating pornographic light because it bumps their ratings to depict it that way. It took them like two blinks to dub 50 Shades “Mommy Porn” rather than correctly identifying it as erotic romance, right? When I do interviews, often the interviewer starts with the assumption that I write “dirty books”. I remember a radio interviewer who, after she was finished and we were off air, said “Wow. That was a lot less ‘low brow’ than I expected it to be.”
The other reason has to do with readers themselves and their level of comfort with sexual material. For some readers, anything that takes them beyond the bedroom door is “porn”. For others, it’s any book where genitalia is referenced in less flowery prose.
DFT: How do you market your erotic titles? Do you find it difficult?
Joey: I think most of us writers would prefer to be like authors depicted in TV shows or movies—sitting up in the widow’s tower of our oceanfront beach house, writing for hours at a time while our agent waits eagerly for us to send in the manuscript (at our leisure, of course). After which the publisher sends us a huge check and handles all the marketing for our billion-selling books. Ahem. Yeah, right. Talk about fantasy…lol.
It’s a necessary evil of the industry that we have to handle most of the marketing of our books ourselves, so while it’s not my favorite part of being a writer, it’s a necessary aggravation. The most aggravating part of it is how much time I spend on it when I’d rather be writing! Fortunately, I have some of the world’s MOST wonderful readers, and they help spread the word about the books in ways large and small, with reviews, recommendations to other readers, etc. As you gain a backlist and a following, readers become the most important, genuine and lovely part of a marketing strategy.
As for my own part in the marketing, I’m the first to say I’m nowhere near the savviest author when it comes to this. I mostly pursue an eclectic strategy, a mix of blog, forum and FB appearances and maintaining some level of presence on Twitter and Facebook (I’m sure not enough). I do some advertising, send out review copies, do interviews and workshops at conferences. Networking is also important, and I’ve cross-promoted with other authors through some bundled book offerings and the very rare co-authored piece. I also write free vignettes revisiting my characters. Initially, I posted those on my website, but I had a wonderful lady who started a yahoo fan group for me, which has evolved into a fan forum run by three other ladies, and I post them there.
All those things help, but going back to the first issue, the readers, I’ve found the most important and enduring marketing strategy is writing a quality story they want to read. Ultimately it’s the readers who decide if you will succeed in this industry over the long haul.
DFT: Could you please tell us about the very first erotic story that you wrote?
Joey: Make Her Dreams Come True started out as a spicy romance. I had no intention of it becoming my first BDSM romance, but within the first few pages, it took an unexpected turn. Writers often talk about how characters take over a book and send it in a direction that an author doesn’t expect, and Daniel and Meg definitely did that. The entire book takes place in a mall. A mysterious stranger (or is he? Da-da-dum! Dramatic music ;>) takes control of the heroine, helping her embrace the pleasures of submission with the resources available to him in that more public environment. As I noted in an earlier question, the more I wrote about the Dom/sub power exchange between them, the more it opened up a lifetime of cravings in me, and I realized I had a pretty deep submissive orientation. All of my BDSM romances explore the multiple facets of Dom/sub relationships, and each one gives me the opportunity to explore that psychology more deeply for myself and my characters.
DFT: Can you please describe your characters from Naughty Bits and what your book is about?
Joey: In Naughty Bits, Madison starts out a complete mess, no other way to put it. I didn’t even like her at first (lol). She has a terrible track record in relationships and up to now has had a life without risk or passion. When her sister Alice passes away, Madison leaves her colorless job in Boston to come to North Carolina and settle her estate. She finds out Alice has set things up so Madison can spend the next year running Naughty Bits, her erotica shop, if she’d rather do that than return to her blah life in Boston.
Alice always insisted Madison was a submissive who should embrace that orientation. In death, apparently Alice is engineering things to make that happen, because Madison quickly finds out Logan Scott, the owner of the hardware store next door, is a dedicated Dom. The first time they meet, he reveals the outrageous statement that Alice “gave” her to him:
She would have fled if it she could have, but she maintained her dignity with a decorous pace. As a result, she had time for a few thousand thoughts before she reached the doorway. She stopped, bit her lip. “Logan . . . when you said, ‘At last we meet,’ it felt significant. What did my sister say about me?”
“She gave you to me.”
Her face must have conveyed her startled jolt, because his lips twisted in a wry expression. He lifted a hand, staying her what-the fuck-reaction.
“She said . . .” He paused, his expression serious. “‘I’m giving her to you, Logan, but you might just give yourself to her, too. For the first time in your life.’ What man could resist a challenge like that?”
Logan learned a lot about Madison through Alice’s eyes, but now that he has a chance to meet Madison face to face, he recognizes the submissive orientation in her pretty quickly and wants to help her embrace it as well. He’s a charismatic and confident Master with a compassionate streak that calls to Madison and has her agreeing to an unlikely set of sexual adventures with him.
You can read the official blurb and an excerpt from the opening to the book here.
DFT: What is your most outrageous/crazy sex scene and where did you get your idea? (This can be from any book you have written.)
Joey: In my second Vampire Queen series novel, Mark of the Vampire Queen (a book which has one of my all-time favorite covers), Lady Lyssa and Jacob attend a Vampire Council gathering. In the vampire world, the servants are the property of the vampire, and vampires compel them to participate in sexual games and performances as part of their social occasions and political maneuverings. Since the Council gathering is one of the biggest political affairs for vampires, the sexual performances are quite elaborate. My imagination went a little wild during one of them. I had four servants up on a dais in a daisy chain of sexual penetration, a female servant being penetrated anally and orally, while the male servant who was having anal sex with her was likewise being impaled by another male servant. As if that wasn’t enough, a double ring of servants were around the bottom of the dais – a circle of males entering a circle of females from behind. When the men were all about to climax (simultaneously, the way they’d rehearsed – I’m sure a LOT of practice went into that), they pull out and simulate a fountain, a la Ethel Merman.
Ahem. Yeah, it actually reads a lot less ridiculously than that, I promise, and there’s a whole intense emotional interaction happening between Jacob and Lyssa during it, but trying to “sum up” makes it come out a little silly. And as far as where I got the idea, again my imagination just built it one step at a time. “Hey, that would be cool, but then what if this happened as well…and then this…”
DFT: What are your thoughts on the 50 Shades movie and do you plan on seeing it in theatres?
Joey: Probably not, though that has less to do with the movie and more to do with the fact I don’t see many movies in the theaters any more unless they’re one I really want to see where the big screen adds to the experience (like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Avengers – those kind of films). People talking, discourteously putting their feet on the seats and especially all the phone light screens from people texting and doing whatever crap they’re doing other than watching the movie just kills the experience for me (and yes, it can be seen even if you have it down in your lap). Makes me want to bring in one of those things that fries everyone’s phone chips permanently. Yeah, no strong feelings on that (lol).
As far as whether I’ll put the movie on my Netflix list, I think the book had a lot of compelling and promising elements, but the way the Dom/sub relationship was portrayed wasn’t really my cup of tea. Plus I’ve yet to see mainstream Hollywood have the guts to depict a Dom/sub relationship as it really can be. 9 ½ Weeks made a great attempt, but of course in the end chickened out and made it a morality tale about self-destructive behavior. Secretary has come the closest, and even in that, they felt it necessary to depict James and Maggie’s characters as extremely dysfunctional. So I likely won’t see it unless I hear a lot of strong recommendations on it from my readers or peers who are going to see it.
Madison of Naughty Bits agreed to fill out this questionnaire. She loves to talk about Logan, after all…
DFT: Describe your lover in three words.
Madison: Overwhelming, kind and incredibly…focused.
DFT: What does your lover do to instantly turn you on?
Madison: He has the “Dom look”. He can look at me in such a way that I automatically want to go to my knees at his feet, feel his approving touch on my face. I feel that way no matter where we are, so I fuss at him if he tries it out in the grocery store (lol). But when I respond that way, it feeds the Master in him, and things become even more intense. All that comes from just one look.
DFT: Where is the most unique/crazy place you have had sex?
Madison: So far, Logan is pretty private about our sessions. I don’t know if that’s because I feel most comfortable that way or not. When I get him to try and talk about his needs, how publicly he’d like to play, he tells me that exploring my submission is his primary focus right now. I think about him taking me to his club sometime as his submissive, and I admit it intrigues me. But I guess he is right, what he’s saying by not saying it. (He’s good at that. Makes me want to hit him sometimes, but it works.) This is still all new to me, and honestly, I just love being with him, nothing distracting us from each other.
So…it probably sounds a little boring and not all that unique, but for me the most adventurous place we’ve had sex has been in the grass out behind his house, under the stars. He lives out on a farm property, so it’s private, but for me, it was so thrilling to do it that way. Making love outdoors, under the stars and moon, was so freeing. All the restrictions, worries and fears melted away, no shame or worries left inside of me. At least that night.
Now as far as foreplay, there’s no stopping the man when he wants to touch or kiss me. Under the table at restaurants, up against the wall in the storeroom, in the car while he’s driving. Though he hasn’t yet pursued public sex with me, he has so many arousing ways of implying he has a Master’s right to take me wherever he wants, whenever he wants—despite the fact he does it in ways no one else notices. When he does that kind of thing, by the time we do get to a private place, I just want to eat him alive. Or be devoured by him.
DFT: If you could have your lover dress in anything you want, and we do mean ANYTHING, what would choose?
Madison: He’s surprised me by taking advantage of my Naughty Bits stock a couple times. One night I came into our play room at home in a harem girl costume, only to find him dressed as a pirate, so we sort of spontaneously role played a story out of that which left me barely able to walk in the morning, in a really good way. It started a trend. If he tells me he wants me to choose a costume for a scene and not tell him what it is, when I arrive wherever he’s designated, I’ll find he’s chosen a role as well. One day I showed up as a nurse and he was a vampire. For that one, I surprised him in the blood bank room and he decided he’d rather have it fresh from my throat…
So it’s hard for me to choose one, because I’ve seen him in various costumes that make my knees weak. He claims he’s never done any theater, but I guess because he’s been a mentor and teacher to a lot of those in the BDSM world, he’s so comfortable role-playing. It doesn’t come off silly at all—in fact, just the opposite. The man can make me yearn for the high seas or beg to be turned to one of the living dead (lol).
Hmmm…okay, if I can only choose one, I’ve got to say my personal favorite is still his Army uniform. But even better than that is when he’s just stripped to those snug camo pants with a belt but no shirt. My imagination runs away with me in a million different directions when he wears that. I see him interrogating me like I’m a prisoner, locked away in a hut in a sweltering jungle, where sweat is gleaming on his skin. He closes his hand on my throat like he’s threatening me, but his eyes are studying every inch of me, and the kind of threat he’s really emanating is one that’s getting me all hot and bothered…
DFT: Leather or lace?
Madison: Lace. I have a nightgown Logan bought for me. It’s pure black lace from throat to knee. Long sleeves and high neck that clings so it looks inaccessible. He told me to scrape my hair up in this tight little twist on my head and put on a harlequin style mask. Before he came into the room, I was to take a seat in a straight chair, the only piece of furniture in the play room that night, and remain motionless, as if I was an inaccessible doll. The things he did to me while I sat there had me crazy in no time, but what cinched it was when he tore the lace away from strategic places and made it far more…accessible.
DFT: What is your idea of a romantic date?
Madison: With Logan, he never runs out of ways to romance me, as noted in the next question. I used to be terribly practical and cut off from that part of myself. He and Naughty Bits have opened me up to so many possibilities. Honestly, any time I spend with him is the best romantic date. However a personal favorite was one day where we had a picnic lunch at the Mint Museum. We went walking in a butterfly garden afterward, and I fell asleep in his arms in front of the late night movie marathon the Mint has on the front lawn. I dozed off in the car on the way home, but he woke me up by carrying me to the bed, just like Rhett Butler. Once we were there, he tied my wrists and ankles and put his mouth on every inch of me until I was begging and wet. Then he made love to me, so slow and easy, until I think we were both about to die from the pleasure of it.
DFT: What is your lover’s idea of a romantic date?
Madison: He’s much easier, of course. Candles, chocolate and rope. He’ll tie me down with the rope, decorate my skin with the candle wax, then melt the chocolate in other places and suck it off. After he cleans me up, he’ll stretch us out on the couch (keeping me naked of course) to watch a guy movie, eat popcorn and cuddle. Usually by the time the movie’s over, he’ll have gotten me all hot and bothered again with his mouth and hands, but he’s got that Dom sadist side. He won’t do anything about it until the final credits roll.
DFT: What is your favorite body part on your lover? (#8)
Madison: His hands. He can do amazing things to me with his hands. Light stroking that wakes up all the nerve endings. Just the right pressure or squeezing of a nipple or between my legs. The flat of his palm spanking me. His grip when he closes it on my throat, holds me still so he can suckle my breast or kiss my lips, while using his other hand to thrust his fingers inside me, rub his thumb over my clit… But some of the most erotic things he does with his hands never touch “those parts”. He has this way of skimming his hands over me–my arms, my back, my thighs, my throat–that gets every part of me tingling. Hell, he doesn’t even have to be touching me some days. I can watch him build furniture or chop up vegetables for dinner and get aroused, watching how flexible and skilled his hands are and thinking how they feel when they’re touching me.
DFT: Foreplay or roleplay?
Madison: Really? Do I have to choose? As you can tell from #8, he’s very good at foreplay, but I also love to role play. He brought to life one of my favorite fantasies, a submissive slave being auctioned, and he stepped into the role of a Sergeant Major for the winning bid. I’d always fantasized about having a soldier as my Master, and since he’s an Army vet with that rank, Logan can pull out the stern voice and barking orders in a heartbeat.
With Naughty Bits having a wealth of costumes, I can pretty much dress up year round. Despite that one fantasy, and our spontaneous “stories”, I think like it best when he decides what I’ll be, rather than me engineering it. He comes into my store, flips through the costumes, pulls one out and hands it to me. He doesn’t say a word, just goes back to our store after giving me that potent “Dom look”.
Once we’re home that evening, I’ll change into the costume, whether it’s harem slave, Victorian maid, police officer, nurse, what have you, and then I’ll come find him and let my imagination fly with it. For instance, when I did the police officer, I had so much fun pretending to get rough with this bad boy criminal, making him spread his legs and acting like I was going to cuff him. Of course he turned the tables on me, cuffed me with my own handcuffs and did fabulous things with the baton.
DFT: Yes or no to being tied up?
Madison: Seriously? Lol…absolutely yes. Please with double knots and multi-colored cotton rope, and throw in a dose of suspension.
DFT: Underwear – Yes or no?
Madison: Depends. I have access to a marvelous inventory of panties, bras, teddies, what have you. But it’s always a pleasure to go out on a date with Logan and have him order me not to wear panties so he can put his hand up my skirt at unexpected times and play with what’s his.
DFT: Between the sheets or on top?
Madison: I’m cold-natured, so often I like to start beneath the covers, and then as I get warmer, the sheets get stripped away.
DFT: My lover tastes like ____?
Madison: Salt and heat.
DFT: My lover smells like _____?
Madison: Sawdust and wood oil, as well as outdoor things. He loves to work with his hands.
DFT: The sexiest noise my lover makes is _____?
Madison: This one is difficult, because I could listen to him read a phone book and get turned on. He has this half growl, half-hum sound when he has me tied up and is exploring my body with his mouth. It makes me tremble, because it’s a little threatening, but it’s also an indication of how turned on he is as well, and all the things he’s going to do about that.
DFT: My lover’s sexiest article of clothing is _____?
Madison: A pair of Army pants he wears when he’s working out on his property. They hold his ass and groin in such a nice, snug way.
DFT: The hottest thing my mate has ever said to me is _____?
Madison: “It takes a hell of a lot to defeat me, Madison. So you can get afraid and retreat as often as you wish. It just means every line you back across, I’ll follow you, until I’m so deep inside of you, you’ll never get rid of me.”
DFT: Porn movies or magazines?
Madison: Not so much of either. I like reading erotic romances, and I gravitate toward such film makers like Zalman King, Candide Royale and Petra Joy, who I feel are more erotica than porn.
DFT: Hot Summer days or cold Winter nights?
Madison: Impossible to choose. If you’ve ever seen Logan out doing yard work on his property in the summer, stripped down to nothing more than jeans or those Army pants, you’d just love, love, love the hotter months. Last time that happened, when he came in and sat down, told me to bring him a glass of ice water, he let me straddle him and run ice along his neck, his shoulders, down his chest, and so on. What seemed to get him the most aroused about that is after the heat of his body half melted the ice, I put the rest in my mouth and kissed him, keeping the ice playing between our tongues.
DFT: The quickest way to turn my mate on is _____?
Madison: Wow, not sure how to answer that. It seems that he gets turned on by a lot of things I do, which is incredibly flattering and overwhelming at once. Sometimes I don’t even know what I’ve done. I’ll be on a lunch break at Naughty Bits and he’ll come in, turn my sign over to Closed, pull me to the back room and take me against the wall. I tease him, ask him if he was worked up by a new shipment of power tools.
However, I did ask him once what I could do to turn him on. He asked me if I considered myself his, if I thought of him as my Master. When I said yes, he gave me this lingering kiss, stroked my face and said “Then you never have to worry about what turns me on.”
Winner of the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement award, Joey W. Hill has over forty contemporary and paranormal BDSM erotic romances, including six series. Her emotionally-intense love stories offer everything from vampires, mermaids, witches and angels, to boardroom executives, cops and simple housemaids.
Free excerpts from all her works are available at her website. Additional vignettes, character interviews and graphics inspired by the work are at the fan forum site, accessible through www.storywitch.com/community.
You can visit Joey around the web here: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Want to read more from Joey W. Hill?
This giveaway is provided by Joey W. Hill!
One lucky reader will win a free ebook of the reader’s choice from Joey’s current titles and a $15 Amazon, ARe or B&N gift certificate
Available January 6, 2015 from Berkley
About this Book:
To better serve the customers of her lingerie shop, Madison must explore the pleasures of giving up control…
After inheriting her sister’s North Carolina lingerie shop, Naughty Bits, Madison jumps at the chance to dump her boring finance career and try her luck down South. But even before Madison can settle in, she catches the attention of the owner of the neighboring hardware store. Sexually dominant Logan Scott recognizes a submissive when he sees one. And what he sees, he wants.
He presents her with three very tempting gifts—handcuffs, erotic cards, and an open invitation to start her sexual training. She has to accept. After all, how can she hope to sell fantasies to lingerie customers without embracing her own? Now, she’s about to discover just how far her fantasies can take her—and how far Logan will go to make every one of them come true.
Click HERE to read an excerpt
Read the rest of this entry »