Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Bliss of BDSM Romance Erotica

You read a book one day that wowed you.

In the past, you’d discovered the romances you liked best were hot. The hotter, the better and you sought them out. Pored over back cover blurbs and flipped through the pages to spot “those” words. You know the ones. The ones that rang your chimes. Some of those books were sensually and romantically erotic. Others? Just down and dirty raunchy romance.

Then one day the book you picked up had some other words. Words like Dominance and submission. Kink. Master/slave. Words like flogger, butt plug, bondage, discipline, paddling, spanking, sadist and masochist.

And your little heart went pit-a-pat, didn’t it?

And something else started up to throb and tingle, too, didn’t it?

‘Fess up.

What you discovered next was that this book wasn’t one of a kind: There were dozens and dozens, nay, hundreds of these kinky romances out there. Not just hot vanilla love scenes. Not just the always titillating ménage romances. No, these books were totally populated with ladies and gentlemen getting their kink on.

So you began to devour them. As you read, however, you began to notice that the quality varied. Sure, there was lots of well-choreographed BDSM action going on. But sometimes it felt like the characters were being put through their paces by an author who just didn’t quite . . . get it?

And those books didn’t have quite the same oomph factor as some others. Those others that really stirred you - where the characters’ psyches and emotions were all woven together. Their kinky desires didn’t spring from nowhere. They weren’t just “playing”. Those dark needs and cravings were all part of the heroes’ and heroines’ personalities. And those needs and cravings caused conflict. Those needs and cravings were part of a journey to an emotional and physical understanding, and acceptance of self. The acts these characters engaged in were not casual. They were part and parcel of the romantic exploration the lovers undertook together as their loving relationships evolved.

These are the books that truly mesmerize me. I want the souls of these characters laid bare for me (along with their bodies). I want to understand, be aroused and seduced, and take the journey with them.

I want to read about their feelings and the physicality of their play. Don’t just tell me he spanked her …. I want to experience her reactions. Not just physically, but how does the act she is indulging in make her feel – emotionally? How does He feel when she kneels in submission? How do the complexities of the lifestyle challenge them, both physically as well as emotionally?

Getting the full picture is what makes a BDSM erotic romance pulse with life for me, as a reader.

And as a writer of BDSM and erotic romances and erotica, I want to be able to give my readers, too, exactly what I crave: Specificity, authenticity, reality.

I have learned a great deal about BDSM over the years, both as a person, and as an author. But it wasn’t until I attended the BDSM for Writers Workshop in 2013, where a small group of authors explored further aspects of BDSM together, that I realized just how much more I needed to know.

So this August’s 2014 BDSM For Writers Conference turned out to be one of the most awesome experiences I could have had, as an author AND as a reader and fan, of this smoking hot genre.

Grandly expanded, it afforded the opportunity to meet so many new people in the lifestyle. In addition to panels and presentations, we visited a local NYC dungeon, Paddles. We watched dozens demonstrations of activities that you can read about, but can’t fully grasp until you see them unfolding right in front of you.

A beautiful young woman being bound and punished by a powerful, dominant man. Hearing her moans. Watching the expressions on her face as he put her through her paces. Seeing her body in all its spanked and bound rosy flush. The memory of these sights, and her sighs, now fuel my own writing.

And that couple who gave a flogging demonstration?

Watching her strip. Watching the focus as the two of them began their scene. Hearing the sounds of the floggers, hearing their whispers. Hearing her shrieks. And then watching her lazy smile as she checked out the marks he’d left on her ass.

And incredibly, watching the pair as they essentially shut out the rest of the people and withdrew into a world where it was just the two of them. Cuddling, stroking, holding one another in the afterglow.

There were tons of other opportunities to chat with authors and lifestyle participants. Good, dirty fun at the “Kinky Confessional” panel. Witnessing a spanking. And the array of implements we got to test out – How can I spank thee? Let me count the kinky ways!

Fire play.

Electric play by a very creative – and funny – Dom and his traveling array of violet wands and kinky accoutrements.

Of course, everywhere there were books with BDSM-themed covers. There were giveaways and raffle baskets filled with naughty toys. There were paddles and floggers that left marks. Nipple clamps and blindfolds for sale. And books, books and more books. By iconic authors like Laura Antoniou and Joey W. Hill and many authors unknown to me (of whom I am now a rabid fan), who were all generous and informative about their books, their writing, and their own personal kink.

And best of all, there were readers galore. Readers who’d come from near and far to celebrate their favorite sub-genre of romance: BDSM erotic love stories.

So I was in heaven for those four days. Surrounded by kinky toys, kinky people and kinky books, I was able to learn a great deal. Experience a few new things, get a more in-depth understanding of the variety that exists in the lifestyle - from the sublime, to the legally precarious moments lifestyle practitioners may encounter. Still, we all laughed so hard it was ironic, given the many chats on sadism and masochism we had!

Dr. Charley Ferrer, author, lifestyle teacher and spokesperson, lecturer and creator of the Conference, provided us all this chance to wallow in the warmth, humanity, humor and insight of the world of BDSM. To network with others of like-minds, and to uncover great new details for our own writing that, I, for one, can attest will ensure I have the knowledge to craft a richer portrait of my kinky characters.

And here’s the best news of all for you readers and authors of BDSM erotic romance and erotica! You, too, can get your kink on, meet some great authors, mingle with some fellow fans, and if you’re feeling adventurous, volunteer to be a subject in a demo!

BDSM Conference for Readers and Writers 2015 is already open for registration! http://bdsmwriterscon.com/

See you there!

Lise Horton is an avid reader of BDSM erotica and erotic romance, and a writer of same. Under her erotica pseudonym Lydia Hill, her short story, “My Master’s Mark” in the 2014 “Slave Girls: Erotic Stories of Submission” anthology edited by DL King, earned Library Journal’s praise in its starred review as “surprisingly poignant”. Her short story, “A Simple Tryst of Fate” will appear in the upcoming Violet Blue edited Cleis Press anthology, “Best Women’s Erotica 2015”. As Lise Horton she writes erotic romance, including Words of Lust (Carina Press, 2013). For more of her kinky creative musings, visit her blog http://blackrosediaries.blogspot.com/

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What's YOUR Favorite Romance Trope? All That Glitters Is Not Just Her Hoo Ha!



When it comes to the romance trope, I am especially fond of the “glittery hoo ha”, for the name alone. However, I consider it less a trope, than a de rigueur requirement of the genre. No matter the heat level, once the hero has, er, experienced the heroine’s “hoo ha” (or her lips for the chaste among our genre titles), he will be blind to any other woman’s non-glittery type hoo ha (seriously, a tarnished hoo-ha? I think not!). The heroine’s will remain his be all and end all go-to hoo ha, romance-wise.

So, while I chuckle over the term, I don’t consider it a trope, unlike the myriad others from enemies to friends (always good for conflict), to the ‘meet sweet’ trope (not one of my faves). There’s a trope out there for every taste, naturally, but if forced to choose, I am especially fond of what I’ve seen called “the broken bird” trope. (Though it trespasses a tad on the Beauty and the Beast trope, for in that case, the heroine must heal the hero’s psychological wounds and accept his scars, be they emotional or physical – in fact many of the tropes can be found in blended forms, and there are multiplicities of tweaks on all these tropes.)

The broken bird trope actually figures into my own writing quite heavily (perhaps all that misplaced maternal energy to heal and protect one of my characters, along with my tendency for melodrama?). Probably for the same reason that I enjoy suspenseful elements in my writing, and erotic romance – because the broken bird trope offers an opportunity for immense conflict, both internal (the broken character), as well as relationship-wise. It’s always a major uphill battle to heal the broken one and get that character to succumb to love.

However, I’ve most often seen this trope used in stories where it is the hero who is the broken one, and the heroine’s love that heals him. Because we love the tortured alpha bad boy, don’t we?

That’s the essence, in fact, of my recently completed BDSM erotic romance MS, Hold Tight. My billionaire hero (no, money doesn’t heal all wounds!) has been kicked in the teeth by life on a number of occasions. He now lives in his ivory tower, untouched by a woman’s love, and scarred by numerous past betrayals. And it is my average, every day heroine who comes along and recognizes the wounded little boy, and heals him with her love (and her tenacity and willingness to submit to his sadistic domination and mastery of her glittery you-know-what).

But I love seeing the broken bird trope turned upside down. It may be a bit more unusual to have your alpha hero be the strong, supportive and nurturing type who becomes the healer to a broken bird heroine, but I think it offers a wonderful opportunity. You get to create a hero who isn’t tortured or tormented, and who can be the lover to bring his heroine into the healing light. (And at the LIRW luncheon, and in several reviews I’ve read recently, the dearth of the “nice guy” hero was lamented…Voila! I have the answer!) (Keep reading…)

My second Stellato siblings novel, Hot In the City, is an example of this. My heroine is as dark a heroine as I’ve read lately. Not only was she abandoned by her father, and the father of her son, but now she’s smothered by her responsibilities, and her fears for her special needs son should she be unable to care for him. At first, what Berto offers her is hot sex – her only distraction from an anxiety-filled life. Alice sees her future as a bleak and demanding one, until Berto proves to her that he can give her more than momentary, distracting pleasure. He can protect her, provide for her, and love her – but he can also be a partner in life who provides the shoulder she’s never had.

I love my heroes dark and tormented. Mad, bad and dangerous to know. The strong, silent type hiding his wounds behind his muscles. The primal man unleashing his inner demons only to have them tamed by the heroine (and her glittery lady parts).

But it’s wonderful fun to also craft the solid, Gary Cooper, Atticus Finch, Mr. Smith hero who recognizes the humanity beneath a heroine’s tortured persona (and the allure of her glittery vajayjay) – whether she is using sex to block out reality, or cutting herself because of a trauma, or hiding behind an ice maiden shell to avoid pain, or a heroine battered by fate, going down for the last time – as she reaches out for the helping hand of the only one who can save her. When her white knight rides to her rescue, he may be a billionaire, or a boxer. A Regency spy or a WWII officer. A blue collar guy or a once-a-month shifter. But he’s the one who’s whole, and this time he’s doing the healing.

He is the hero broad of shoulder, compassionate of soul, with a heart of gold.

And he’s the proud possessor of the perfect complement to her glittery mound of Venus:

His “Golden Gun”.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How Do I Love Thee? HOT That's How! Let Me Count the Ways . . .

Despite the popularity of kinky, BDSM erotic romance, replete with whips and chains and paddles and ball gags, it may not be for everyone. Don’t lose sight of the variety available for writers and readers of erotic romance. Here’s an overview of a few of the delicious options:

PRO: BDSM erotic romance, to start with, has the heightened plus of edgy sex play and the power exchange dynamic to augment the emotional relationship. From Master/slave, Dom/sub or Top/Bottom roles for heroes and heroines, to S&M paraphernalia, pain play, erotic humiliation, slave auctions; kink allows for an author to ramp up the sexual heat, tension, exploration and growth in a blended role with the emotional relationship. BDSM can also provide another layer of external conflict for characters who have to deal with societal biases against the lifestyle, and personal conflicts over these darker desires.

PRO: Like the kink but shying away from the heavy-duty stuff? Read a wide spectrum of BDSM erotic romance and you’ll see the breadth of coverage of this type of sexual activity. It can run the gamut from the serious scenes in an Eden Bradley, Roni Lauren, or Maya Banks novel to a tamer version that travels the middle road of kinky copulation.

PRO: Then there is what I call “BDSM light” (not a reference to the derogatory comments made about FSOG, BTW). I think of it as kinder, gentler BDSM. You can have an emotional BDSM relationship with the Dominance and submission emotional and psychological elements without the pain play, or the other edgier aspects like erotic humiliation. You can have mild physical “domination” such as being held down, and sexy mind play. This category allows you the opportunity to Alpha-up your hero (they don’t come more Alpha than a Dom, after all!) or heroine (I don’t write Female/male submission so I tend not to refer to it; but all aspects of BDSM can be F/m, M/f, F/f, M/m or any other permutation your kinky little heart desires.)

CON: BDSM, no matter the intensity or scene play specificity, requires a firm grasp of both the technical logistics, as well as the emotional and psychological mind-set of the participants. The more the reading public knows about the scene, the easier they’ll spot errors in your presentation if you don’t know what you’re talking about, S&M-wise!

But there are options, too, for writing smoldering hot ero-rom wholly outside the BDSM/kink realm. Here are two:

PRO: Ménage and polyamory. Here’s the sub-genre of ero-rom where no holes are barred. Any combination of heroes/heroines goes here. (Granted, you can have BDSM ménage, and it’s an incendiary sub-sub-genre all by itself.) Options abound. You can have a pair who bring in a third friend for a 3-way fling, or you can have a committed triad. Lora Leigh is the queen of multiple partner polyamory with up to 3 men per gal where all the men love the woman and she loves all the dudes. It works great with M/M/F, too, as illustrated by Lauren Dane. Whether your male partners are together first, or come together (pun intended) in a bisexual triad while also loving a woman, or whether it’s the M/F/M variety where there is no gay sexual aspect, it can be a super-intense, dramatic and sexy scenario. For one, you’ve got all those extra body parts to play with (and the object of this physical affection is really getting an overwhelming experience). But additionally this ero-rom choice heaps on the conflict. Society frowns on multiple lovers. There’s no legal “marriage” possibility. And there’s a third (or fourth) personality fraught with jealousy and personal issues in the mix that can ramp up conflict, both internal and external. But it’s the orgiastic couplings that are the real treat in this sub-genre.
CON: It takes a skilled hand to avoid falling into the orgy or gang-bang scenario (unless that’s what you’re going for, of course, you naughty thing!).

CON: Writing multiple-partner ero-rom also requires an in-depth exploration of your characters’ mind-sets to ensure that there is a viable emotional relationship and connection among the parties. Just tossing in an extra set of cojones for the fun of it won’t enhance the romance; which, of course, if the bottom line, regardless of the XXX rating. Make sure all your characters are engaged in the relationship (in and out of the boudoir).

CON: Ménage is NOT about cheating lovers. While your triad may have sex independent of one another in some scenes, they are all aware of the actions and no one is lying to another or cheating on an unsuspecting lover.

PRO: Perhaps the most obvious of erotic romance tropes in what I call “hot vanilla”. This is where erotic romance actually started (as far as my experience is concerned). The hottest of the hot couplings of an M/F couple (which now happily also encompasses the M/M and F/F couples). No dominance, no chains, no taking turns with a third, just two loving people having super-hot sex. It’s the nature of the graphic depiction of the love scenes that pushes the vanilla couple into the erotic romance sphere. Simple, straightforward, but hugely satisfying to the reader who loves the sex scorching, but shies away from the wilder side of lovin’.

PRO: One particular thing that can make a vanilla ero-rom smokin’ is that delectably taboo raunch: Anal sex. You’ll definitely find anal in BDSM and ménage (and obviously even in an erotic vanilla M/M). But inclusion in a hot vanilla allows you, the author, to push that envelope to the breaking point. Back door Betties are your friend! One happy way to include it and use it to cement a vanilla M/F relationship? The vaginal virgin is pretty much an anachronism these days (unless you’re writing historical), but your heroic fella can still be her “first” if she’s an anal virgin. Ass play allows for a wider variety of sexual activity and you can mix it up for hotter and hotter scenes.

PRO: Naturally, the good-old graphic BJ is less prevalent in the borderline sexy romance, but it’s a staple in erotic romance along with its “cunny” cousin. So don’t forget to have some give-and-take 69 action in your hot vanilla tale!

PRO: A couple of other ways to turn up the heat for your vanilla couple? Sex toys, mutual masturbation, phone sex, and fantasies. It’s all about exploration, and pushing those intimacy boundaries.

CON: As with any other variety of erotic romance, writing graphic sex scenes when you don’t feel it, or get squirmy (not in the good way) using all those hot 4-letter words, can be problematic. Using euphemistic language doesn’t fly with ero-rom readers. And they’re savvy when it comes to the sex scenes. Toss in a few because you need the heat but they’re not progressing the story or moving the characters’ relationship? They’ll call you on it. And be cognizant that an EROTIC ROMANCE has that requisite erotic plot line that is woven into the others (whether it’s a single romance plot line, or a story with an additional one, such as a romantic suspense plot line). It’s about the erotic, sexual relationship that grows and evolves alongside the affair of the heart.

Clearly, we have a delightful array of combustible possibilities for crafting erotic romance on the writing menu. Be it schtupping in a galaxy far, far away, fornicating in a gazebo in a country manor in the Regency, or doing the mattress mambo in the Big Apple, your options for writing erotic romance are breathtaking!

Can YOU stand the heat?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Slave Girls: Erotic Stories of Submission - Blog Tour!


Desires.

They can be simple and vanilla.

Roses before a pleasant interlude of love-making.

Holding hands.

Kissing beneath a full moon.

A sweet endearment whispered in the ear.

Sweetheart.

Or they can be a very, very different sort of desire.

A craving.

A hunger to be possessed.

Roughly.

A yearning to be subsumed by a . . . masterful man.

And be used in oh so many decadent ways.

To feel the bite of teeth on the ear.

To hear a different sort of endearment.

Slut.

A submissive’s craving.

A slave’s hunger.

To please her Master.

Within the pages of “Slave Girls: Erotic Stories of Submission”, these cravings are revealed.

These dark desires are explored.

Hungers are sated.

The wickedly good authors in this torrid collection feed their passion – and yours – for Masters and Mistresses and the slave girls who serve them.

“My Master’s Mark” is one such story. It is a kinky duet of raunch, and rabid appetites. Allow me to share an appetizer:

The continued steady application of the tattoo needle kept the sensations ramping up. The endorphin glow had begun. The pain was throbbing now, the way it did when Master used his hand on the same spot, again and again until my muscles quivered with the effort not to squirm away, to not use the word. The word. My safe word. During all the years I’d been his “slut slave”, I’d never needed to use it. I’d been tempted. And he’d always let me know how much he enjoyed the challenge of pushing me and he often vowed that, before he died, he would break me.

But I’d never used it because I wallowed in everything he did to me. I craved seeing that look of heated pleasure in his eyes.

Sick? Some might say so. But Master M and I made beautiful music together. The counterpoint between sadist and pain slut. The whish of the paddle, my hiss at the blows. His basso-profundo chuckle as my ass turned red, and my moans rising and falling as he forced me to the limits of my endurance. Then that expectant moment – the crescendo when the very air hummed - those times he waited for me to say the word before, with a grunt of satisfied lust, he’d let me have one last, blistering smack. When I punctuated our virtuoso duet with a shrill scream, it was like applause for his rousing performance.


I hope this morsel has whetted your appetite for more.

Why not give in to temptation?

Haven’t you ever craved a little . . . sting?

A smorgasbord of delights awaits between the covers of this torrid collection, gathered together for your pleasure by editor extraordinaire, D. L. King. Each one delectable. Mouth-watering.

Why not indulge your . . . tastes?

Go ahead.

Feed that kinky passion of yours, ladies and gentlemen.


* * * *


You can still visit the prior posts of the anthology contributors here:

June 1 D. L. King
June 2 Rachel Kramer Bussel
June 3 Alison Tyler
June 4 Valerie Alexander
June 5 Nina Fairweather
June 6 Sommer Marsden
June 7 Evan Mora
June 8 Victoria Behn
June 9 Donna George Storey
June 10 Teresa Noelle Roberts
June 11 Erzabet Bishop
June 12 Lisette Ashton
June 15 Giselle Renarde
June 16 Lisabet Sarai
June 17 Graydancer
June 18 Deborah Castellano
June 19 Nym Nix
June 21 Lydia Hill

“Slave Girls” is available, in print and digital formats, at all major distributors & bookstores, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple.

For more Lydia Hill/Lise Horton erotica (free reads!) you can also visit my blog, Lust In the Afternoon at http://blackrosediaries.blogspot.com/ .

Friday, June 6, 2014

One Stop Shopping! Blogging with the authors in "Slave Girls: Erotic Stories of Submission"



We are having a blog hop to celebrate the release of our Cleis Press anthology, edited by the marvelous DL King. So that no one misses a moment of the scrumptiousness that is this collection, and the insights of the authors, I'm posting the list of all the participants here on my blog. You may indulge one at a time, or all at once - a veritable smorgasbord of titillation of the stinging variety:

June 1 D. L. King http://dlkingerotica.blogspot.com
June 2 Rachel Kramer Bussel http://lustylady.blogspot.com
June 3 Alison Tyler http://alisontyler.blogspot.com
June 4 Valerie Alexander http://www.valeriealexander.org
June 5 Nina Fairweather http://ninafairweather.com
June 6 Sommer Marsden http://sommermarsden.blogspot.com
June 7 Evan Mora http://dlkingerotica.blogspot.com
June 8 Victoria Behn http://kdgrace.co.uk
June 9 Donna George Storey http://sexfoodandwriting.donnageorgestorey.com
June 10 Teresa Noelle Roberts http://www.teresanoelleroberts.com
June 11 Erzabet Bishop http://erzabetsenchantments.blogspot.com
June 12 Lisette Ashton http://ashleylisterauthor.blogspot.co.uk
June 15 Giselle Renarde http://donutsdesires.blogspot.com
June 16 Lisabet Sarai http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com
June 17 Graydancer http://www.graydancer.com
June 18 Deborah Castellano http://deborahcastellano.tumblr.com
June 19 Nym Nix http://nymnix.wordpress.com
June 21 Lydia Hill http://lisehorton.blogspot.com

My naughtier alter ego, Lydia Hill, will be stopping by on June 21! It will be an eye-opening visit, I guarantee!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Spank You Very Much!



The masochistic heroine is tough enough to write. Delight in pain, for the endorphin “sub space” glow, or to please her Dom, can be difficult to write convincingly and sympathetically. She needs to be strong of spirit and true of heart and to meld that with submissive desires can be tricky.

But even harder? Crafting the romantic, loving, sympathetic sadist hero.

He’s the possessive guy who cherishes his lady, nut also loves inflicting pain on her. That it is “erotic pain” helps differentiate him from the sadistic villain, but in order to capture the reader’s heart, this hero must be perfectly drawn.

The author crafting such a character walks a fine line, allowing him to indulge his carnal appetites on the willing heroine’s flesh, yet be strong, loyal, loving and tender, by turns. If you don’t want to end up with a kinky Dr. Jekyll/Mr Hyde scenario, you need an exploration and deft explanation of his desires, plus exposing just how awesome it feels when the heroine is swept into the maelstrom of “pleasure/pain” (as it’s often referred to these days in BDSM erotic romances).

And on top of the issue of doling out pain, I’ve noticed of late a new and darker flavor being added to the S&M romances already being done so masterfully, and that is erotic humiliation.

Having a hero call his loving heroine a “slut”, or putting her in a position to be exposed in a position of humiliation as an aspect of the “play” – or punishment, can be a high wire act. The readers who get it are already on board (I’m one of them). But names like “slut” or edgier, and humiliation play, that can be interpreted by some in a derogatory way (as has happened in recent years when critical public statements have led to the term “slut shaming”) can be startling at best to the unwary reader, and offensive at worst.

So this is yet another element of a razor sharp sub-genre whose potential is great for the most swoon-worthy uber-alpha sadistic Dom character to ever singe the pages; but if ineffectively done, for the most cringe-worthy misogynist douche bag to ever come down the pike.

Still, edgy romance of this sort is an “eye of the beholder” thing and full-disclosure is always your best bet when talking about a character. And read, study, and craft your raw romance hero with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel.

Examples of some authors who have beautifully mastered the art of the loving sadist? Maya Banks in her “Sweet” series, Roni Loren’s “Loving On the Edge” series and Eden Bradley/Eve Berlin’s “Edge” series.

I love writing edgy, kinky heroes who love masochistic heroines beneath their hands. Of my short story "My Master's Mark" under my erotica pseudonym, Lydia Hill, [Cleis Press’ May 2014 Slave Girls: Erotic Stories of Submission], Library Journal’s starred review said “surprisingly poignant”. For free, naughty reads stop by my Lust In the Afternoon blog, http://blackrosediaries.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 24, 2014

MY WRITING PROCESS

My thanks to the lovely and talented Jess Russell (http://jessrussellromance.com) for "tagging" me and allowing me to participate in this fun blog tour this month. It has been terrific cheering Jess through this process and watching her book The Dressmaker’s Duke come to fruition!


What am I working on?

My debut erotic romance for Carina Press, Words of Lust, was the first in the Stellato Siblings series. Set in NYC, each of the 5 Stellato brothers and sisters enjoy his or her own tumultuous romance (Book #2, Alberto Stellato’s Hot In the City is with my editor now!) and I am currently deep in Book #3, (working title) The Fire Down Below, on tormented middle brother, Vincenzo Stellato. Vin is an FDNY Lieutenant, still dealing with the trauma of 9/11, which occurred during the fall he began his rookie year. He's closed himself off from love and only "plays" the BDSM games he craves with women who aren't looking for permanence. Then he encounters Nell Grant. Daughter of a theatre family, she comes from a long line of actors, but the new show in which she stars, "Decadence" threatens to upset more than just the critics. Its dark themes speak to her own desires - desires she has not yet explored. When the two meet, it's a sexual conflagration the two agree to enjoy. Without entanglements. But these two intense souls make a connection that soon leads them to a much deeper emotional relationship even as danger threatens Nell from an unscrupulous developer who is determined to force the Grants to sell their Broadway theatre.

Vincenzo is the darkest of the 3 Stellato brothers, and he evolved wonderfully as I wrote his brothers' happily ever afters. Now I'm thrilled to be giving him his very own naughty lover in Nell. This is the kinkiest of the Stellato books so far, and I'm enjoying the darker elements of their story, including addressing the often divisive issue of society’s view of the BDSM lifestyle.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write erotic romance that pushes the envelope. By its very nature, erotic romance is more graphic, and the sexual evolution of the characters parallels the emotional evolution of the romance. But I write no-holds barred, gritty erotic romance, utilizing the more extreme vocabulary that I don’t often read in other erotic romance. Also, my stories all contain at least some BDSM acts whether it’s a spanking game for fun, or a soupcon of submission and dominance. In The Fire Down Below, for example, Nell enjoys the debauchery of submission and erotic humiliation and Vin is a willing participant in bringing her to ecstatic states she's only ever fantasized about. I’ve explored and investigated these elements to ensure that my portrayal is both a genuine one, as well as a positive one that conveys the consensual nature of the lifestyle.

This is not to say that I don't write heightened and intense love stories. I am a true romantic at heart and I find the two are mutually beneficial. Intense sexual levels drive, and are driven by, intense emotional states. Vincenzo's own emotions and psyche as a first responder during the horrific attacks on NYC are inextricably entwined with the darkness of his sexual yearnings. Nell may appear to be a cool and sophisticated career woman who has it all together, but what she wants from a man is diametrically opposed to the image she presents to the world - and that the world expects! Nothing about my characters is ever simple, or easy. They fight for everything they desire - in bed and out!

Why do I write what I do?

Because I love it. Plain and simple. Humans are sexual beings. Even from some of my earliest adult readings as a teenager (Kate Millet, Erica Jong) I’ve loved seeing sexuality expressed in so many ways - from vanilla to kinky and every shade in between. I've read romance for decades, and have always been drawn to the more sexually explicit and intense love stories, be they historical, contemporary or paranormal. When I discovered there was an actual genre of erotic romance that pushed all those lovely boundaries, penned by authors like Thea Devine, and later Eden Bradley, Lora Leigh, Jaid Black and more recently Maya Banks, Shayla Black, the awesome Jeffe Kennedy, as well as the terrific Stark trilogy by J. Kenner, well, I was a thoroughly happy camper! I continue to cheer the growth of the genre and its acceptance by the reading public.

Even before I knew there was a genre like this, in my first attempts at a novel (which is still languishing in a file somewhere), my characters kept ramping up the sex and getting naughtier as the novel progressed. My own research, including attendance at Dr. Charley Ferrer’s “BDSM for Writers” workshop, as well as further readings, led me to the erotic romance genre which I get a tremendous satisfaction in writing. I also write erotica under my pseudonym, Lydia Hill, and get a thrill out of delving even further into the realm of erotica stories that do not always have a happy ending. My short story, “My Master’s Mark” will appear in the Cleis Press anthology Slave Girls and is a bittersweet BDSM tale. As mentioned, I find that heightening the sexual relationship serves to also heighten the romantic one. I adore conflict and I never stint on putting my characters through the mill - I make them work for every orgasm as well as their happy ending. My characters may fall into bed before they truly know each other, but they are always drawn to one another from the word go with a visceral intensity I hope is palpable.

How does my writing process work?

I'm what writing folks often call a "pantster". I write from the germ of an idea, a vision of two lovers, and the incredible setting that I work and live in - Manhattan. They say there are a million stories in the "naked city", and I've tweaked that to say there are a million naked stories in this city. My story ideas can be prompted by a news article, someone I see in passing, and dozens of other places. I'm very much a "what if" plotter (as Stephen King has made famous!) and as a former actress, I am very character driven. I refer to myself as a “method writer” - What would my heroine do if she finds herself in a particular situation? How would my alpha hero react if such and such were to happen? I love crafting complex characters and then I take the journey with them. As I evolve as a writer, I've discovered the benefits of plotting out a bit more than I originally did, but I am still not a major outliner and I enjoy the flexibility of allowing my characters to find their way to the various milestones in their romance. In other words, I give them the stops they’re going to make, but there’s no GPS. The journey is their adventure!

Once I've completed a novel (and mine tend to run long - I enjoy complex sub-plots, social issues, and investing in a cast of supportive and reflective secondary characters to populate my lovers' lives), I then begin my own editing process and have specific things I work on in each re-write pass. For example, one draft may be focusing on the characters’ emotional relationship. Another on the nuts and bolts – grammar, spelling and so on. Generally 8 drafts or so later, I have a book ready for submission.

With each book, I learn more and more about the process and am enjoying each aspect of it that much more, as well. For me, the editing process is one of discovery. It is a challenge that I love meeting and when I read the finished book I can see where all my efforts paid off in crafting a complex, rich, lively and rewarding love story.

Next week (31st) check out:

Del Carmen – She writes hot, kinky, satisfying erotica. Visit her at www.mydelcarmen.com
Bronx-born wordsmith Larry Benjamin is the author of the gay novels Unbroken and What Binds Us and, Damaged Angels, a collection of short stories. -
http://authorlarrybenjamin.blogspot.com/