Please welcome Annabel Joseph to the blog. Annabel is the author of BDSM romance novels Comfort Object, Mercy, Owning Wednesday, Firebird, and Cait and the Devil. Thank you for agreeing to answer my nosy questions and share them with everyone visiting today.
A: You are very welcome. It’s my pleasure!
Q: To begin, please share which genre(s) you write in…
A: I write BDSM contemporary romance, and most of them contain some aspect of the art world. I love the arts and I love creative people, so I find almost all my stories end up being about dancers, painters, photographers, actor and performers, etc. I also try to write characters that you might know or meet in everyday life, characters struggling with the same relationship ups-and-downs my readers might face.
Q: How long did you write before you received your first contract for publication?
A: Oh wow. I’ve been writing for quite a while, and even worked with some writers in collaborations and screenwriting projects before I took the leap into trying to write and publish a novel. But I was lucky I suppose – or maybe all the previous experience just paid off. The first book I submitted to a publisher, Comfort Object, was picked up.
Q: Out of all the stories you’ve written, which is your favorite?
A: This is kind of weird, but I would have to say my favorite is Cait and the Devil. I say it’s weird because it’s the only non-contemporary story I’ve ever written, and really a strange mixture- BDSM set in Middle Ages Scotland. I just decided I wanted to write about some of my favorite long-time fantasies — the helpless but plucky damsel-in-distress, and a strong, surly Scottish warrior in a kilt. I created this story of Cait and her “devil,” a reclusive much-feared Scottish baron that she is basically forced to marry sight unseen. He turns out to have dominant tastes, and Cait of course, is submissive to the core. I created a wonderful little story for them with humor, love, a great villain, a bit of a “domestic discipline” dynamic between them, a little mysticism, and a highly satisfying resolution. I love it because it’s so romantic and because the heroine’s innocent misconceptions are really hilarious in parts. But I also love it because it’s different from everything I’ve ever written or read.
Out of all my BDSM contemporaries, I would have to say Owning Wednesday is my favorite. People wrote to me and said, Annabel, I cried. I sobbed. I cry too when I read it. It’s not a sad ending, just really poignant. Firebird is a close second for the same reason. It’s just really emotional at the end.
Q: Do you need to be in a specific place or atmosphere before the words flow?
A: I used to be better at writing on the fly. When I first started, before I showed my work to anybody, I could churn out page after page anywhere, anytime, with kids hanging off me, people interrupting me. It didn’t matter, I just wrote and wrote. But now that I write for an audience/editor, I’ve become so much more careful that I usually don’t do good writing unless I have some extended quiet time. Sometimes I wish for those un-self-conscious writing days back!
I will say that I do some of my best writing when I’m comfy and cozy in bed.
Q: What’s the strangest source of inspiration you’ve found for a story?
A: I get my inspiration from so many diverse places, I had to think about this for a while. But I think the strangest, weirdest, most awkward source came about when I was writing Owning Wednesday. I was struggling to flesh out the character of the heroine’s first, more detached dominant. I happened to be working on a screenwriting project at the same time, collaborating with a much older man who was a college professor. I started to think about how hot the professor/co-ed fantasy could be — and believe me, this had nothing to do with this other writer, because I wasn’t physically attracted to him at all. But I decided to make “Vincent,” my character, into a college writing professor and I gave him many of this other guy’s characteristics, including the way he talked. It was pure laziness, and now I regret it because when I read Owning Wednesday, he is there in that book in a highly sexualized version, when he was more like a fatherly mentor type to me. Ick. Even worse, we had a terrible falling out a few months afterward, and now I really despise him. So be careful who you base your characters on, because they’re there forever in the pages of your book. And I certainly hope that writing partner never learns my pen name! He would recognize himself in that character in an instant, and I would never live down the embarrassment. Really, I would just die.
Q: If you could offer one tidbit of information for new writers, what would it be?
A: I would say to talk to every writer you possibly can. Befriend writers, email writers, even just to tell them that you enjoyed their work. Sometimes these types of interactions can develop into really helpful friendships. It is priceless to have other writers and editors on your side rooting for you.
Q: Do you have an evil day job or do you write full time?
A: My evil day job is taking care of my four kids under the age of ten! And keeping house and giving time to my husband. I love my life, but I certainly don’t have time to sit down and write whenever I wish. However, I have more freedom and flexibility than someone with a “real” job, and for that I’m grateful.
Q: Name one thing readers would be surprised to learn about you.
A: I have a Masters degree in early childhood education and taught kindergarten for six years. I loved it. When my youngest is in school, I’ll probably go back. Have to pay for four college educations somehow!
Q: What’s your favorite dirty word?
A: You can’t go wrong with the classic “fuck.” I love everything about it. The various ways you can use it, the nice harsh sound of it, and the nasty hot sex it brings to mind!
Q: Do you have any tattoos or piercings?
A: I have an ancient protective symbol tattoo’d inside my right ankle. It’s about an inch and a half square. I found it on the cover of a book called The Kalevala and took it into the tattoo parlor. The guy copied it freehand, right onto my skin! I still love it, even twenty years later.
Q: If you could be intimate with three people (not necessarily all at one time *g*) without getting in trouble with your significant other, who would they be?
A: Daniel Craig, Daniel Craig, and hmm…Daniel Craig! He was the most recent James Bond, but I just find him a very talented and amazing actor. And his Bond is so Dom, which inspires my writing for sure! The joke is that my husband actually looks a lot like him, blond hair and amazing blue eyes. And it just so happens that a great number of my heroes have had that same hair and eye color. So the big question is, am I writing about hubby or Daniel? Actually, it’s probably an amalgamation of both.
Q: If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you spend the money on?
A: I’d pay off our mortgage, invest some money for the kids’ college, and spend the rest enjoying life, really living it, really making it count! Traveling, starting charity foundations, sponsoring artists, trying to make a difference in as many people’s lives as possible. I try to do what I can even without winning the lottery, but money makes it easier!
Q: Which household chore do you abhor and why?
A: I hate emptying the dishwasher. I don’t know why, since it’s probably one of the easiest things to do. But it just always has to be emptied and filled up again. It’s like the mail, it never stops. Actually, I guess the laundry is that way too. Dishwasher and laundry. Bleck!
Q: What’s your favorite comfort food?
A: I love fried zucchini. And boiled peanuts. What can I say? I’m a southern girl.
Q: Do you have a favorite book or movie?
A: I love the romances of Laura Kinsale. Flowers From The Storm is my favorite but I love all of hers. I love that she makes her stories and characters so complex. It adds to the hotness of the sex and romance for me. I try to write my books the same way, with characters you can really get attached to and really start to root for.
Q: If you don’t mind sharing, would you tell us about your latest work in progress?
A: I have two I’ve been working on that are kind of related. The first is called Deep In The Woods. The heroine, Sophie, is just coming back to the local BDSM scene after being caught up in a terribly damaging relationship. She’s skittish, and afraid of revealing the awful secrets about what went on in her last relationship. Which is unfortunate, because the first man she meets happens to be a photographer who is very out in the open about everything. It is sort of a play on exposure…as in, photographic exposure, but also having to expose yourself to a new lover & dominant when all you really want to do is hide. It’s pretty dark in places, but the upshot will be that he helps her bring her secrets to light and move past them. I think that’s the thing about dominants. They can really damage their sub, or they can really build up their sub. The choice is up to them. There is also that eternal BDSM mystery…how can a Dom who is generally, usually, actively “hurting” his sub also help and nurture his sub? But they can. It’s really cool.
The next book, Fortune, takes up the story of one of the secondary characters from Deep In The Woods. So sort of a spin-off, I guess. It’s about a surgeon who’s obsessed with shibari and origami, and a flighty club girl looking for some direction in life. They form this really sparky D/s relationship and have a lot of ups and downs while they’re trying to figure out whether they belong together or not. There’s a really touching subplot involving senbazuru, or one thousand origami cranes having the power to grant a wish. I really love how it’s shaping up.
Q: In closing, tell us a bit about your latest release (& share a yummy excerpt for those who aren’t yet familiar with your work)
A: My book Firebird is slated for release at Loose-id.com on June 15. It’s about a shy, perfectionist dancer who gets picked from the back of the corps de ballet to star in Stravinsky’s Firebird. But the choreographer she’s working with is so sexy she can barely concentrate, and he harbors his own kinky thoughts about her. Through a twist I don’t want to give away, they end up revealing all their fantasies to each other and starting a sexy secret Dom/sub relationship while they continue to work together on the ballet. But Prosper, the sub, has trouble overcoming her perfectionist fears and starts to unravel at the end. It has a really wonderful finale. Let’s just say her Dom helps her learn to “fly” just like the Firebird role she plays. Here’s an excerpt from one of the…ahem…MANY hot encounters they share. *g*
Foolish of her. When he’d said, “Let’s sit for a minute and have a drink,” she had imagined actually sitting somewhere, perhaps on the plush textured sofa he’d just beaten her over or at the table over by the kitchen. But no. She was tied spread-eagle to his iron headboard and footboard while he had a drink and occasionally had her lick some drops from his fingers. She wasn’t much of a drinker, so she didn’t know what it was, and she was too mindless with lust to ask.
She had never in her life given a successful blowjob. She’d tried, but invariably the guys had stopped her, given up, and decided to try to come another way. Honestly, her heart had never been in it. She’d thought it gross, icky. Dirty. Well, she had before. Obviously she felt differently now. She had sucked him off eagerly and enjoyed every moment of it, driven on by his insistent hands in her hair.
She looked at him now, and he gazed back at her with a lazy smile. She looked away, blushed. He dipped his fingers into the amber liquid for her to suck on, then brought an ice cube to her lips. “Hot, girl?”
Damn it. She was burning, while he was calm and satisfied. The agitation, the intensity he’d greeted her with had disappeared with his convulsive orgasm. Now she was the one who was agitated, while he seemed perfectly content to play.
“Lick it nicely,” he chided when she tried to bite the cube he held to her mouth. “Toy with it like you toyed with my cock before.”
Half-embarrassed, half-aroused, she tongued it, using the tip to swirl around one pointed end of the cube. She opened wider, stuck her tongue out, and lapped at the broad icy surface.
“Mmm, that’s right. Very fast learner. Inborn talent. But I knew that already about you.” He replaced the cube in the glass and looked down at her, tracing his finger along the stays of her corset. “I bet your mother was a siren, wasn’t she? A total slut.”
“My mother was Amish.”
Jackson did an exaggerated spit take that started her giggling.
“I know — it’s weird. She’s not anymore. They shunned her when I was just a baby.”
“It came out that I…I wasn’t my father’s daughter.”
She saw understanding dawn. He reached for a lock of her hair.
“Next-door neighbor was a redhead?”
“Something like that. My mother and the man she had…sinned with…were driven away. But he went back to the People before long. He left her, and they took him back. My mother married again and…” She waved her hand. Jackson played with her locks, twirling the curls around his fingers.
“I can’t imagine hiding this hair of yours away under one of those staid white caps. Criminal. Thank God she didn’t return when he did. You’d be sitting somewhere reading a Bible right now.”
She shrugged. “It was never the life for my mother. She was a dancer too. Well, she wanted to be. When she was little, she would hide away and dance in secret because it wasn’t permitted. She had to make up her own songs to dance to. She was a free spirit, though, all her life. When I started to dance, I was very little. Two or three. She was overjoyed.”
She fell silent. He looked at her expectantly, but she didn’t go on. He took another drink, and while she wanted his fingers in her mouth again, he gave her more questions instead.
“You said she was. Is she still alive?”
“Oh yes. She is.”
“Still overjoyed that you dance?”
“I guess. I don’t see her very much.” Her voice wobbled. She felt the familiar agitation that overcame her whenever she talked about her mother, her family. She knew he noticed, but mercifully he let that line of questioning drop.
“So Prosperity is Amish in origin, I suppose?” He drained the last of the drink and then set it on the table beside the bed. She watched the muscles of his stomach shift and contract as he bent and straightened, watched the perfection of his outstretched arm, his wrist, his hand. He resumed his seat between her thighs, pinching the tender skin above her stocking.
“No, Sir,” she said, tearing her gaze from his thickening cock. “My Amish name was Mary. My mother changed it after she left.”
“In a fit of optimism for her new life?”
“Yes. Maybe. I don’t know.” She was finding it hard to concentrate on the conversation as his hands ran up both her thighs. She tried hard to be still, to not buck and fidget the way she wanted to. She wanted to lift her hips and thrust her throbbing clit right against his hand. Please touch me; please touch me; please touch…
“Hot, Prosper?” He knelt over her so his eyes were inches away from hers. The expression on his face told her he expected her to answer this time.
“‘Yes, Sir, I’m hot,’” he prompted.
“Yes, Sir. I’m hot.” She practically whimpered the words.
“I can see that you are.” He moved one hand to her breast, pulled the cup of the corset down so her nipple was exposed, taut and pointed. “Hot indeed.” His fingertips brushed across her nipple, making her breath stop. With each light stroke, the fire in her clit flared. Then the fingertips clamped down, hard, harder, twisting. The pain became excruciating, shocking. Her plaintive groan rose to a cry. “Ohhh! Please!”
“Shh. I’m just getting started with you. You’re not very good at sex, remember? I think I’ll need to work on conditioning some appropriate sexual response.” As he spoke, his fingertips moved to torture her other rock-hard nipple. Then he took both firmly between the pads of his thumbs and forefingers and squeezed.
Oh God! The pain in her nipples and the throbbing in her pussy became one crippling ache. She needed more; she needed less. He was making her lose her mind. She panted, throwing her head back.
“You seem to like that well enough.” He released her and slid one cool palm down the length of her smooth black corset to where her hips arched, searching for contact, searching for release. “Let’s see how you like this.” His palm stroked over her mons and stopped, one dexterous fingertip brushing once, twice across her clit.
She gasped and strained at the bonds.
“Please, again! Please, again, Sir!”
He pretended to consider it. “Okay. First I want to hear you say you like sex.”
“I like sex!” she babbled immediately.
“‘I’m good at having sex –’”
“I’m good at having sex!”
“‘I’m a slut for cock.’”
“I’m a — I’m a –”
He stroked her again, the lightest touch to tease. She whined and twisted her hips as he withdrew his finger, aching to feel the pleasure again.
“I’m a s-slut for cock.”
“Like you mean it.” He held her hips still and leaned over her to pull a taut nipple into his mouth. He nipped at it with his rough lips, then bit down on it.
“Oh God!” she cried. “I’m a slut for cock!”
“Yes, you are.” He licked the beating pulse in her neck. “And you’re going to come for me like the sex-starved, cock-loving slut that you are. Do you understand me?”
He put his hands on his thick length, stroking it before her eyes.
“If I give you my cock, you better let me know how much you like it.”
“Yes, yes, please — I will –” She watched as he reached for a drawer in the side table. He pulled out a condom and ripped open the package. The five seconds he took to put it on seemed an eternity. She wasn’t able to move more than a few inches in any direction. She felt helpless and trapped, which only made her pussy ache harder.
He gentled her with a hand on her shoulder, a firm kiss on her hair. She steeled herself not to shift, not to fidget. He hadn’t told her specifically not to, but she was pretty sure by now what was expected of her at times like this: pure, still obedience. The concession that she was his. That every sound, every movement, every gasp or sigh was to be the result of his own hand. His palm stroked down to rest on her pubic bone. She shivered as he aligned himself even more closely to her. Now truly they would be joined in every manner of the word.
She felt the unforgiving steel of his muscles press against her front, felt him positioning his cock at her entrance. She just thought over and over:
Please…I don‘t care what our relationship is. I don‘t care.
I don‘t care if I get in trouble; I don‘t care if everyone knows.
I don‘t even care if you hurt me.
Please. Please. Have sex with me now.
Amanda, it was so fun to answer these questions for you. Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog!
To learn more about Annabel Joseph’s BDSM romance novels, please visit http://annabeljoseph.wordpress.com/.