I've asked each the same set of questions which were suggested to me by my beta readers. It's amazing how different the answers are, but each shows the depth and dedicaton each has to portraying the scene as well as they can.
Today, I’m thrilled to be chatting to J.P. Barnaby.
JP: My next BDSM novel, entitled Painting Fire on the Air, shows how a man uses physical pain to mask his emotional pain:
His entire life, Benjamin Martin’s parents drilled into his head to take care of his little sister. One horrific night, he failed. Now, the pain he endures at the hands of his Dom blocks out the terrible pain in his heart. When Ben’s latest Dom, casts him aside like a broken toy, he manipulates his best friend, Jude, into picking up the pieces. Jude Archer has been in love with Ben for years, but his fantasies about his friend never included whipping him. Can Jude find that strength within himself to be the Dom Ben needs? When he’s forced to trade the marks upon his soul for the pain that ravages Ben, Jude learns the real definition of submission.
Some of the BDSM scene elements include fire flogging, electrostim, gang bangs, bondage, and gags. The story is told from a unique perspective, in that a lot of BDSM novels have a wise, almost omniscient Dom who takes care of the new fledgling sub and ushers him into the lifestyle. In Painting Fire on the Air, Ben has all of the experience, and he more or less pushes Jude off the high board into the lifestyle to be his Dom.
JP: BDSM novels are kind of like an Easter egg hunt – you go through and look and look until you finally find some real gems. Sometimes, you find some that are just rotten. I look for strong, but imperfect characters, ones who grow throughout the book. I like Doms who are human and make mistakes, because Doms are human and make mistakes. I like strong subs who know how to take care of themselves. Vulnerability is fine, but a complete lack of self isn’t. My personal preference is more of a sensory experience than pain, and trust than fear.
JP: One of the main themes that I try to convey in my work is that practitioners of BDSM aren’t just looking to beat the crap out of someone, or make them feel degraded. The tenet we live by is “safe, sane, consensual” – there are others, but that’s the one that is the most widely recognized. The best players, both Dom and sub are safety conscious. The sub needs to be just as aware of their safety because scenes are a two way street. If the sub doesn’t feel comfortable with a scene, or something goes wrong he (or she) needs to be able to communicate that with their Dominant.
What I want to show people is what it’s really like to live the lifestyle rather than just watch it from the outside. I’ve been a sub for about 15 years. I still make safe calls when I play with someone new. I still have a safe word (usually the standard red/yellow/green), and I still meet them in a public place first.
People try what we write in our books, the sheer influx of new people on Fetlife in the last year because of the success of Fifty Shades of Grey proves that. I feel that I have a responsibility to portray the lifestyle accurately, and maybe with a bit of education so that people wanting to try can be safe.
JP: I’ve not read Fifty Shades of Grey, to be honest. I started reading Master of the Universe – it’s fanfiction incarnation, but wasn’t all that interested, so I quit. So, the answer to your question will come from the surrounding hype. I think that the media circus around the series made it the “in thing”. Someone will go out and buy Gucci loafers or a Prada bag simply because it’s the “in thing” and it has nothing to do with the actual content.
AB: Has “Fifty Shades of Grey” helped the BDSM genre or harmed it? Is kink coming out of the closet?
JP: It’s a mixed bag. It’s certainly made things more difficult on sites like Fetlife and Recon. Now, when we approach someone, we have to determine if they’re more of a wannabe or someone with experience. On the other hand, I think it may have opened up the lines of communication in couples more. Partners who may have been afraid to discuss their fantasies can be more comfortable approaching the topic.
AB: BDSM usually gets classified as erotica or porn regardless of the amount of sex present. Do you think this is fair?
JP: I can’t speak for all players, but for myself, the BDSM aspect of my life is sexual. However, I think well written BDSM, just like any story, is far more layered and complex than just sex. BDSM and erotica are not mutually inclusive, but categorization is only as effective as the knowledge of the categorizers.
JP: A lot of the emotional aspects, and some of the scene work I can do from experience. For things I have not experienced personally, I discuss the granular detailing with professional Doms and subs that I have made friends with in the adult entertainment industry.
For example, the detailing for the fire flogging scenes in Painting Fire on the Air came from Dire Callahan, head of Steel Mill media, Derek da Silva, and Drake Jaden who was the sub in the scene they screened for me at IML.
JP: While rape, abuse, and dubcon do get marked as BDSM, they certainly aren’t – that bothers me. However, for taboos, just like in real life, as long as the players both consent and are being safe, I can’t think of anything that should be forbidden in fiction.
There are, however, things I don’t care to read. I’m not a big fan of water sports, blood play, sounding, or a few other fetishes. But, just because I don’t enjoy reading them doesn’t mean they should be considered taboo.
AB: What do you think of the proliferation of abuse fiction doing the rounds that gets perceived as BDSM? Do you see that as a problem?
JP: I think the miscategorization of rape and abuse as BDSM perpetuates a dangerous perception of the lifestyle and encourages the devaluation of subs. People outside of the lifestyle don’t generally understand that the sub has power in the relationship. By utilizing their safe word and limits list, they set the boundaries just as much as the Dom with his requirements. To portray the sub as having no power, it encourages new subs coming in to the lifestyle to give up their free will. That’s not what it’s about. Both partners always have a right to stop or to say no.
JP: BDSM is only one focus. I also write other contemporary fiction. However, I like writing BDSM, especially M/M BDSM because it turns me on. I write my fantasies within the bounds of each story. When I write BDSM, I write lifestyle players because it’s what I do, and I write from experience.
Thank you so much for having me on the blog. If readers are interested in my BDSM work, my titles are:
M/M/F – The Forbidden Room & A House of Cards
M/M – Mastering the Ride & The Perfect Tree
Good luck with the upcoming release of Painting Fire on Air
The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.
Web site: http://www.JPBarnaby.com