I have often been asked why I write most of my stories in the BDSM genre. The answer would be because it’s interesting, sexy and a little edgy. Certainly, it is not for everyone, but the people who love it REALLY love it. I was writing in this genre before I ever heard about Fifty Shades of Gray. I know. I know. My head must have been buried in the sand.
BDSM is something different that people are interested in. You never know. Your neighbors may be living the lifestyle and you have no idea. Jim and Mary Jane next door may have a dungeon in their basement. I have to say that this genre is very popular even among people who are not actively participating or interested in the lifestyle or would even ever consider it. People have all kinds of unacknowledged fantasies—many of them very private.
I know that when I stumbled upon a couple of BDSM ebooks, I loved them, read more, and decided I could write them. While I am not currently a participant in a BDSM relationship, I wouldn’t rule it out. I might be interested if I had a partner I trusted to that degree. That’s the thing. It’s all about trust. In my opinion, if you don’t trust your partner, you would be insane to let him handcuff you to a cross, blindfold you and then paddle your butt!
As I am sure most of you know (but some may not) BDSM stands for Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission and Sadomasochism, or some other scramble of those ingredients. Some people also refer to it as the ‘lifestyle.’ Some prefer to refer to it as a “community.” It includes Dominance and submission, role-playing, bondage, orgasm denial, breath, knife, impact play, and things like that. The participants are a very accepting, non-judgmental group of people. What floats your boat may not float mine. The only hard and fast rules are that play must be “safe, sane and consensual” and safe words are sacred.
Dominance and submission or D/s is a category of relationship under the BDSM umbrella. It is basically a power exchange. One party (the submissive or bottom) gives over their personal power to the other party (the Dominant or Top) who is then in charge of the relationship. These relationships can come in any flavor and degree of commitment—heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian, polyamour. It is often said that the submissive drives the bus and has the real power because what they are willing to agree to governs the relationship. It is completely consensual, and all parties must get pleasure from the exchange. The pleasure also comes in many flavors and is specific to the individuals. Hard limits are negotiated beforehand and safe words are used. This is not abuse.
Like in anything else, people are different. Some just want to play in the bedroom or have a Dominant/submissive vibe to their relationship, while some want to live full-time Master/slave relationships.
I have met and talked with many of these people. I recently attended a writer’s conference where I met many couples who actively engage in the lifestyle. There were classes, round table discussions and live demonstrations put on by actual participants in the lifestyle. Naked butts were getting paddled everywhere, there was suspension bondage, vampire gloves (oooh – loved them) and violet wands were in use. We were able to ask questions (nothing off the table), handle the equipment and get an up-close and personal view of what is actually happening. I got to try whips, floggers, paddles, wooden spoons, and every nature of impact “toy.”
What was interesting to me was that although they may have been of different flavors, you could see the love in these relationships. Some couples were more “high protocol” than others, and some were actually in Master/slave, or M/s, relationships. The women (and a couple of men) who were the submissives were not downtrodden, weak or spineless. They had jobs (some very responsible and high profile) and went out to earn a living and contribute to society every day as well as run their households and raise their children. They were not weird, scary or anything like that. They were not all lingerie or male models. They were people who have a few sexual interests that might raise eyebrows is some circles, but they are happy, healthy and love their partners. I went to the conference to learn more, and I was very happy I did. I was able to bring a lot back to my writing and had a great time.
My books are on the light side of the BDSM spectrum. My heroines (while submissives) are spunky and don’t take any guff. They are accomplished women who have minds and hearts of their own and choose to give the gift of submission—or not (witness Paula Greenley in Paula’s Commitment who is always topping from the bottom). They do not all have perfect bodies or lives. Anne in Anne’s Courage had body image issues due to scars from her breast cancer surgery, and Jamie had to break through some serious barriers. My heroes are not all perfect either. They are all handsome and successful. Come on now. This is Romance with a Capital “R,” but they have their own issues to overcome. It’s just like real life—only better.
There is a great quote that I would like to pass along: One word will stop a BDSM scene, while a thousand words will not stop abuse.
Skye Michaels, Erotic Romance With a Dark Edge.