Jean Johnson joins us as one of our Featured Authors in Everett Washington where she will be signing autographs and teaching a workshop for writers on how to create realistic sex scenes. Check out what she has to say below and join us to share some personal time with her during the conference.
What got you started into writing, in particular about a subject as controversial as BDSM?
I can’t quite pinpoint the moment I realized various different aspects of my sexuality: higher than average sex-drive, bisexuality, interested in certain kinks. It just sort of evolved over time. Writing, I knew I wanted to write even when I was underage, but it wasn’t until I started reading rather tame romances when I was sixteen or so, went looking for more books at the library and found some really racy stuff, that I realized hey, I find this stuff appealing.
I didn’t think I could *write* it, however, until I was nineteen or so…but what I did try to write back then was crap. I didn’t realize for a couple of years that it was indeed crap until after I’d done a lot of research into lovemaking and written lovemaking scenes—I’m a bit of a research junkie. By then, I’d edged toward some of the kinkier materials out there, including finding some Victorian era written pornography. They were quite inventive back then.
After I finally took a lover in my early twenties, I realized how crap my writing was, because what I’d first written wasn’t all that accurate to what was really happening in actual lovemaking. It annoyed me as a reader, not just a writer, that I was writing inaccurate information. So I went back over my research, started comparing notes, and was lucky to have lovers from time to time who don’t mind me experimenting on them. Writing a believable sex scene, particularly when you get into kink like BDSM, requires having actual knowledge.
This is triply important not just because you don’t want to annoy members of that kink community, but because inaccurate information can cause actual physical harm in people attempting to replicate it. I believe authors have a responsibility to put out safe accurate information.
What new writing projects (or home projects) are you working on?
I’ve been ill the last two years, so I’m still working on some science fiction and high fantasy projects. Book four on my waiting list is the big one, though; it’s a fantasy romance with BDSM in it, specifically sensation play for its erotic content. The two main characters are both dominants in nature, but one of them ends up in a situation where their sexuality gets accidentally tied via magic to pain as well as pleasure. The other character is a professional disciplinarian who, when thrown together for other reasons, helps guide them through this strange new world they’ve entered, because the first character doesn’t want to give up their sexuality, but doesn’t know what’s safe and what’s not safe in this new way of life for them. And yes, I’ll run it past a few others in the kink community before it goes to print.
Do you travel to different destinations when writing a story or conduct “life” research for your BDSM novels?
A lot of what I write takes place in a fantasy non-Earth or futuristic off-world setting, but whenever I’m out traveling, I try to absorb the look and the feel, the food, the architecture, so on and so forth of each place as points of inspiration. The rest of the time, I do a lot of exhaustive research online.
One of the scenes I’m going to try to remember for that BDSM romance is something that moved me while I was visiting Cologne this last spring—my mother brought me with her on a cruise down the Rhine—and the great big 24-tonne bell, Fat Peter, started ringing since it was Pentecost Sunday. It rang right through my body, the vibrations just all through my flesh and blood and bones, and in a way it was an almost orgasmic experience, it was that total-body a feeling. Since a lot of the story takes place at a temple, I’m going to try to remember to include a scene with big bells ringing, and try to write out that whole-body sensation.
What is it that you love most about this genre?
Sex is one of our most basic drives, but sexuality can be expressed in a gazillion different amazing ways. Some of it I personally find disgusting, such as scat fetish or more fantasy, but others I find highly enticing, spanking, flogging, and so forth. Yet someone could be the opposite, or they could enjoy shoe fetish and consider foot worship to be the highlight of their arousal needs. And what’s fantastic is, I don’t have to write just to my own kinks, because when I’m telling a story, I’m trying to connect with a reader, give them a little bit of an escape
Where can I see you next?
Well, my schedule this year has been busy. The week before BDSM Con was Norwescon, the big regional science fiction & fantasy convention, with thousands in attendance. The weekend after BDSM, I’ll be in Las Vegas attending RT Booklovers Convention. I’m grateful the first two are so close to home, since that’ll be three weekends in a row. After that, the next scheduled event is Worldcon, the World Science Fiction Convention, which will be in Kansas City this year.
If you won a Golden Flogger Award or were nominated or a Finalist for one, please tell us a little about it.
I’ve been busy with the science fiction side of things, so it’s been a while since I was free to write an erotic story. I’m hoping the next novel will be approved of and accepted by the community—sensation play, as I said. As for what I’ve already put out, I’d have to say the last one in my anthology Bedtime Stories, the short story called “The King Who Heard A Joke,” would be my favorite…but as I said, I’m partial to spanking, so I’m probably a little bit biased.
If you could be any BDSM toy or equipment which would you be and why? (for instance: I’d love to be a Whip, so I could wrap around my partner and draw him to me, awaking his flesh to my every touch, making him moan and cry out with that delicious mixture of pleasure and pain…) Here’s a great opportunity for you to do a paragraph of your sensual writing.
Oh my goodness, a BDSM toy or piece of equipment…
I think I should like to be a full body pillory. Finely carved wood sanded to a satiny finish, gently lacquered so that liquids of assorted natures can be easily wiped clean, and of course padded wherever I touch my submissive captive’s body—this is not about pain, unless that is specifically requested. This is about freedom, struggle, and control. Exquisite control, for a full body pillory anchors the ankles in place, usually spread so that the legs cannot ever close. This leaves the captive’s thighs parted, either just enough to catch a glimpse of sweet charms, allowing a touch of blushing modesty as fingers slither up into place, or spread lewdly wide, exposed in humiliation and invitation to grasp and grip boldly, invasively.
The neck would be angled just so, and the hands, each placed at a good height to be used by flesh, by toys, whatever Master or Mistress desires. Perhaps to serve them with tongue and fingers, or service their friends. And if my captive is female and suitably endowed, then perhaps even holes for breasts to be placed on display, accenting nipple clamps, chains, suction devices or other toys. But mostly, my job as a pillory would be to hold my captive still, so that their heart pounds in anticipation, blood rushing to genitals and to extremities, to the well-blushed skin where palm and paddle and flogger have been laid, and cannot have escaped. Because I will do my job well, holding the bottom firmly in place.
What else would you like to share with readers?
We have a responsibility as writers when it comes to what we tell our readers through our stories: that responsibility is to enlighten and educate as well as entertain. Kink in particular requires immersion in the story to help thoroughly entertain. Anything that breaks that immersion, any flaw in how the action is presented or how the sensuality flows, makes it harder for the reader to accept what is being written. There will come a tipping point where they just reject everything and want to throw away the book because it’s lost its appeal. And if they do that, how will you get the information to them?
As we have seen, a lot of people get introduced into BDSM and other kinks through fiction writing. Some of it is clearly fantasy writing, but where that borderline sits between fantasy and reality can become nebulous. Particularly if someone is inspired to want to replicate what they’ve read in order to get better in touch with their own sexuality.
This means that while a lot of my writings are set in fantastical or improbable locations—outer space or a world with magic—I still try to write my sex scenes in believable ways. Yes, they might use zero-gravity to float around having sex in the million-mile-club, or they might have a spell that causes someone to float, allowing for some interesting inversion play scenarios that don’t require nearly so many anchor points for safety reasons. But they will have realistic sex that will connect these fantastical settings and situations with real life things which my readers may have already encountered. I will try to make the whole scene believable so that the reader feels connected and immersed and invested in what’s happening.
I do want my readers to find my writing to be one of their go-to pieces for getting off, but I don’t want to feed any false information, or make a scene too perfect and thus too forgettable, too unrelateable.
I invite you to join me in Everett for BDSM Writers Con March 31 – April 3, 2016.