"Boys in Our Books"…

…we're keeping our name but expanding our offerings!

BDSM WEEK – GUEST POST: Anna Martin

We asked some authors who write BDSM about BDSM.  Here’s what Anna Martin had to say:

None of this is real.

So, here’s the thing. All D/s (domination and submission) play is about power. We dress it up in all sorts of shapes and colors, give it funny names and titles, create a whole world of rules and clubs and websites, but the basics that underpin it all remains the same.

To go back right to the very basics, a D/s relationship will consist of one or more Dominants, and one or more submissives. For a pre-arranged period of time, the sub will agree to hand over control of their body to the Dom. And then it gets a bit more complicated.

Some people in the BDSM lifestyle keep a list of activities that they’re happy to engage in (an example list can be found HERE) that they can hand out or email to a potential partner in advance. This serves the purpose of firstly finding out if the two people are compatible, secondly setting up expectations for the potential session.

And I suppose, writing about BDSM stems from that point. You’ve got your participants, your list of activities, and away you go! There are some relationships that thrive on those sorts of push and pull exchanges, others that can’t cope with the pressures they bring. Some couples can completely separate their romantic and D/s relationships, and others blend the two aspects into one. For me, as a writer, the appeal of this genre is that there are hundreds of possibilities on how two characters can come together and interact.

Why is it, then, that there are so many tropes?

I’ve read a fair number of books where either the Dom or sub character has had some kind of traumatic past. Abuse, rape, incest… sometimes all of the above. And yet, in my real life encounters with the BDSM community, I’ve found precious few people who have experienced this, to the point where I actually sat in on a seminar a year or so ago to discuss why this seems to be such a prevailing stereotype.

We drew a lot of conclusions from that discussion, but the one that resonated most clearly for me was that a “troubled history” does a lot of the work of filling in a backstory for the writer. I think that in society as a whole, we like to play the amateur psychologist and solve the tangled web that can be the human mind. The conclusion of “he likes to tie people up and beat them because he was hurt when he was a kid, and this is his way of taking control of the situation” is such a neat one.


“How did you get into all of this?” I asked.

“You’ll laugh at me,” Will said petulantly.

“I won’t,” I promised, with no intention of keeping it.

“Porn,” he muttered.

There was about three seconds of silence before I laughed. “Seriously?”

“Yes, and I hate you.”

“How much porn? Can I watch it too?”

“A lot of porn, a lot of leather, and yes. Second drawer down in the closet.”

“You keep your gay porn in the closet.” I snorted.

Another Way by Anna Martin (published by Dreamspinner Press, September 2011)

I think that interaction is probably one of the most true-to-life conversations I’ve ever written.

My own submissive roots took shape a long, long time before I ever ventured into a BDSM community and yes, I’m pretty sure that erotic fiction helped me to figure that out. It also gave me the tools to do my own research online and build up the courage to seek out people in real life who have the same interests as me.

In that same seminar (with a group of local people involved in the lifestyle) we opened up about how we came to be involved or interested in BDSM. The prevailing theme was porn, closely followed by a friend who was already part of the community. I got permission from some of these friends to use their own experiences as inspiration for the backstory of my characters – so I do!

So, due to the number of people who are introduced to kink via porn/erotica/pop culture, you’d think that there would be some kind of self-policing in force, to make sure the information that gets out there is accurate.

Yeah, that doesn’t happen.

Unlike, say, the shifter genre, where readers are anxious to point out the flaws in the writer’s imagined world, and all the ways the shape shifting just couldn’t happen, ironically, in the BDSM genre the more unlikely the scenario, the more interest it seems to get. There’s very little standing up to say “Um, it doesn’t happen like that”. And if you do, you get shot down with an eye-roll and someone telling you it’s “fiction, duh.”

My own theory is that reality of BDSM is, like so many things, decidedly less sexy than the fiction around it.

I don’t know anyone with a dedicated playroom in their own house, yet loads of fictional Dominants have one of these (including Will in Another Way. I’m guilty, your honor!). A lot of people play in clubs, where someone else has already invested in all the kit, and a great deal more play in their bedrooms. Or kitchens. Or in the cupboard under the stairs (kinky people are weird, yo.)

The reality is a bit messy, a bit stilted and awkward; it revolves around dropping the kids off at their gran’s for the night and buying equipment from the internet or the seedy local sex shop (every town’s got one!) and remembering to put talcum powder on your legs before you try to squeeze yourself into those ass-less leather pants.

The first time I discussed the BDSM genre with other writers was at the UK GLBT Fiction Meet in Brighton, where I sat at a table with (among others) Daniel Kane, KC Wells, Blaine Anderson and the delightful, gorgeous, and utterly batty Kat and Agnes Merikan. Needless to say, it was an interesting conversation.

It was here that Kat and Agnes told me delightedly about the BDSM novel they were writing, where a sadistic man captures a younger boy and forces him to be his human pony. At the time, I completely (internally) bristled at this. This, I thought, this is what’s wrong with the genre. It’s total misrepresentation of BDSM. It’s what I’m fighting against.

You know what, though? I’m yet to read a book which I feel does represent what BDSM is like in the real world. And that’s okay. This is our fiction and we’ll do what we want with it. Like many other genres, realism isn’t necessary to make a good story.

In the three years since I wrote Another Way, my opinions about BDSM fiction have evolved a lot. I’m not such a sanctimonious little shit, for one. And I’ve accepted that for every ‘abused sub’ story out there, there’s a story that wickedly weaves the D/s power exchange in a way I hadn’t thought of. So I’ve embraced the pony boys and (some of) the abused subs and the dark, twisted, completely implausible plots as great storytelling. Because like I said before, there really are hundreds of ways those relationships can be imagined.

Even if the Dom is filthy rich in all of them.

Anna is currently writing the third book in the ‘Another Way’ series. Currently titled ‘To Say I Love You’, the novel is due to be released by Dreamspinner Press in May 2014.

9 comments on “BDSM WEEK – GUEST POST: Anna Martin

  1. Josephine Myles
    November 24, 2013

    I’m going to be writing a Dom who isn’t filthy rich next, Anna. It’s got to be done!

    Great post. I do roll my eyes at some of the glitterkink settings in BDSM books, but it can be very entertaining. The reality isn’t anywhere near as glamorous (although it can potentially be even more entertaining, written well…)

    Like

    • Steve Craftman
      November 24, 2013

      Will I beat you to it? Inspired by you, I picked up the porn pencil again and my central character is perhaps middle class at best. Content is likely to be “difficult” and I’d appreciate your advice. Should you care to offer it, my full name is my facebook ID…

      I always swore I’d never buy xmas books (being a good pagan) but I ended up buying Merry Gentlemen… The trouble with Kindle is that is hides the size of your to-be-read pile! ;-)

      Steve Craftman

      Like

      • Anna Martin
        November 24, 2013

        I think there’s definitely scope for a Dom who is… economical? I’m thinking clothes pegs and sock gags and climbing rope from ebay… damn. It should be fun!!

        Like

      • Josephine Myles
        November 26, 2013

        Hi Steve! I don’t have much spare time for offering in depth writing advice at the moment, but if it’s just general plot points/issues, you’re very welcome to email me at josephine_myles at yahoo dot co dot uk :)

        Hehe–I swore I’d never write a Christmas book either! I’m more of an athiest than a pagan these days, but I still love all the midwinter festivities.

        Like

  2. Kat Merikan
    November 24, 2013

    Aww, it’s nice to see you’re on the pony-side of things now he he ;D
    Even though it’s a capture-slavery fantasy book, I like characters to go into a lot more complicated relations and the further into the story, the more BDSM, the less forced it becomes. We wanted to create a crazy, kinky ride, that does actually deal with serious power exchange, so I hope you’ll like it in the end :)

    The thing about prim and proper, safe, sane and consensual BDSM for me is that is totally what I approve of in real life, yet find mostly boring to read. In fiction, I can allow my characters to take a level of risk that I never would in real life. And I think that those actions may not be ‘reasonable’, but they sure as hell are realistic. It’s realistic that there are people around engaging in risky sex and dodgy relationships. That’s why I watch TV shows about mafia, zombies or all sorts of problems. I don’t wanna watch a show about people making tea and talking about how nice and safe their life is ;).
    I like seeing these horrible, messed up people come together and work out their problems. Even if they hurt each other on the way. Nobody’s perfect, but they can be perfect for each other :D <3 <3 <3

    Like

    • Anna Martin
      November 25, 2013

      Oh, Kat… I wish you wouldn’t write so eloquently. You’ve just totally ruined my whole post. How dare you sound better than me.
      Seriously, though, I totally agree with you. Well, almost totally. It took me a while to get there and yeah, 50 Shades and how badly BDSM was being misrepresented really got to me for quite some time. I needed to do some wider reading and look a bit deeper at my own hang-ups and I’m so fucking glad I did! Can’t wait for your book to come out. Hope it fucking storms through the genre ;)

      Like

  3. clarelondon
    November 26, 2013

    Umm… I’m writing a story at the moment, and my Dom is a salesman for commercial kitchen equipment. How exciting and lucrative is that??!!! *lmao*. What a great post, and a marvellous overview of the canon vs fanon, if you’ll forgive the fanfic analogy. Thanks for sharing! :)

    Like

    • louharper
      November 26, 2013

      Hehe, my dommiest guy was a cook in a diner. The book was very BDSM lite, mostly D/s, no heavy machinery. And the sub had crippling psychological problems to be cured.

      I love the idea of D/s, all the delicious possibilities for interaction, but I stopped reading the BDSM books because I couldn’t take the tropes anymore.

      Like

  4. Marte
    November 25, 2015

    Interesting post, Anna! :)

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on November 24, 2013 by in BDSM and tagged , , .

Follow Us On Twitter

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Categories

Archives

%d bloggers like this: