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Annabel Joseph on writing femdom BDSM erotica

Here's our latest Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 3 interview, with acclaimed erotic romance novelist Annabel Joseph, who you can follow @annabeljoseph on Twitter and subscribe to her newsletter via her website. In case you missed our first one, check out our Q&A with August McLaughlin on why women's sexual pleasure is also political.

Annabel's BDSM erotic story "Making It Feel Right" closes out the anthology and has been listed by many readers already as one of their favorites. Library Journal wrote that her story "is a beautifully brief exploration of power and vulnerability, in which a switch-up with a hired Dom helps Myra awaken her long-dormant BDSM desires." It's one that explores both the sexual fantasy of a woman submitting to a man, one that's so strong Myra decides to hire a stranger to dominate her, as well as her growing realization that what she really wants is to be the dominant woman in charge of him. Here's what Annabel had to say about the inspiration behind her story and her thoughts on writing various types of BDSM erotica.

How long have you been writing erotica? How and why did you get started?

I started writing erotica in the early 2000’s, for my own enjoyment. When self-publishing came around, I was able to get some of my early stories out there, and the reaction was so positive that I continued writing and seeking publication. My first book, Comfort Object, was contracted by Loose Id in 2009.

What was the inspiration for your story, “Making It Feel Right,” in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 3?

The idea kind of came out of nowhere! I went to a conference with all these amazing, muscular male models walking around, and I thought, wow, there’s so much erotic power there. What if I, little old Annabel, could control that power, and make them do whatever I wanted for my pleasure? Like Myra, I wouldn’t know what to do in that situation, but it would be a fun adventure to try.

What were the most enjoyable and most challenging parts of writing it? How does your story fit in with your larger body of writing (if at all)?

The fun part was working through my own feelings on dominance and submission through Myra’s spunky personality. The challenge was writing a woman’s perspective from the “other” (dominant) side, which was new for me. In that way, I guess it’s different from all my other work, but also kind of the same, in that there’s a lot of rumination about the complexities of power exchange and the roles we inhabit, and finding the fit in a BDSM relationship that works.

What’s your favorite line or paragraph from your story?

Near the end, the gigolo says, “You know how to tell if you’re doing it right? Ask yourself if it feels right. That works for everything, by the way. Not just sex.” I love that this Dom-for-hire has this life knowledge he’s gleaned through the practice of sexuality. He shares his advice with Myra because they’ve bonded during this mutually vulnerable scene.

In your story, Myra differentiates between her desire to dominate a man and being a “Domme” with a capital D. You write, “She didn’t want to put a label on her sexual desires. She just wanted this man, right now, to be her captive plaything.” What do you see as the difference for her between the label of Domme and her own interest in kinky play?

One thing I’ve struggled with during my years in the lifestyle is the issue of labels, and people putting themselves in boxes in order to be sure they’re “doing BDSM right.” In Myra’s case, the idea of playing the stilettoed, latex-clad Domme is too intimidating for her, too much to live up to. Instead, she creates her own form of the dominant partner as she goes, the one that works for her and her scene partner. Their roles ebb and flow to keep the scene running smoothly. To me, that’s the magic of kink, that’s the dance of really making it “right.”

You specialize in writing BDSM erotic romance. What drew you to BDSM, and based on the feedback you get from readers, what do they like most about it?

My BDSM interest goes so far back in life, I don’t know where it came from! I know it’s rooted in power differences, specifically (for me) the man taking over the woman and forcing her to his will. God, I used to love those skeevy 70’s romance novels with all the raping and kidnapping. So wrong, but so right for my lady parts. I could go on forever about biological urges, fantasy, my Catholic upbringing, the political incorrectness of human desires, but based solely on my readers, I’d say the thrill of BDSM comes in the letting go, and the trust. Yes, my bad boy heroes are going to bind the heroines up so they can’t get away, hurt them and scare them, but they’re going to love it because they want it, which is totally okay.

You’ve written both contemporary and historical BDSM erotic fiction. How do they differ, and how are they similar?

With historical romance, you have to be careful to get the settings, manners, and speech right, as well as the varieties of kink that were practiced at that time. You have to make sure the history is accurate too, because the readers will ping you for any mistakes.

Otherwise, the two genres are very much the same. Dominant and submissive desires are timeless, as well as the drive to seek emotional connection and love. I find most of my readers cross happily between my contemporary and historical books.

What are you working on next?

Right now, I’m in the midst of my contemporary Dark Dominance series. They’re three full-length novels that stand alone, each couple’s story revolving around a BDSM club called The Gallery, where the members practice consensual non-consent. It’s been fun delving into the psychological minefield around that! I love to give my readers ideas to chew on—but I also make sure to put “don’t try this at home” warnings in my front matter.

After that, I’m starting on another Regency-era spanking saga. I’m excited, because my last Regency series, the Properly Spanked series, was very well received.

What’s the hottest erotic scene you’ve ever read?

I’m sure it’s something in one of Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty books, or maybe her Mayfair Witches series. I can’t even pin one down. For real, I find the entire Claiming of Sleeping Beauty book unbearably arousing. Time for a re-read!

Read "Making It Feel Right" by Annabel Joseph now in Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 3, available from:

Ebook

Kindle (all countries) - download free sample erotic story

Nook

Google Play

iBooks

Kobo

Print

Amazon (print - all countries)

Barnes & Noble (print)

Powell's (Portland, Oregon independent bookstore or mail order - free shipping over $50)

Books-a-Million

IndieBound (find your local independent bookstore)​

Best Women's Erotica of the Year
bweoftheyear@gmail.com

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