Interview with M.Q. Barber
Featured author &
Golden Flogger finalist
What got you started into writing, in particular about a subject as controversial as BDSM?
I started writing stories as a child; that creative urge has always been part of me.
Of course, writing stories about people involved in BDSM was something I grew into. The D/s aspect drew my attention first. All relationships are about power dynamics. Most of the time, the mechanisms are hidden. But in a D/s relationship, they’re spelled out explicitly.
The building energy and excitement of those initial D/s overtures are as compelling and thrilling as falling in love. Combine the two, and you have a heady cocktail to send you mind, body, and soul into a blissful wonderland.
I choose to write about characters involved in BDSM because their desires are fascinating, yes, but also because they’re no different from anyone else’s: to be accepted, to be understood, to be loved for who they are and the things that move them.
I enjoy writing about regular people with extraordinary interests. In my Neighborly Affection series, Alice is intrigued by her sexy neighbors, Henry and Jay, but she has no idea of the amazing love waiting for her when they invite her into their world of kink. How well do you really ever know your neighbors?
Do you conduct “life” research for your BDSM novels?
Absolutely. I think it’s important to get the details right in any genre, but with BDSM especially because readers might try it at home once their curiosity is piqued. So safety is one area where I do my homework. If I ever write about a dominant who refuses to meet a prospective sub in public, or who insists the first introduction include a caning session to see if they’re a good match, you can be sure he’s the villain of the piece.
Beyond the safety concerns, I believe getting the sensory details and psychology right are a huge part of helping readers understand the appeal of BDSM. We need to be in the minds of the Dommes and Doms as they’re setting the scene, checking the goodies in the toybag, and pouring their loving care into being fully prepared to create that magical experience for their trusting subs. We need to be in the minds of the submissives entering that space and transforming from the self the outside world sees into the perfect pet or sub or slave that only a lucky partner will witness. We need to be with them as they kneel, whether they love the soft comfort of a pillow or the stiff boards of a hardwood floor, and as they sink into the rapid heartbeat and soaring chorus of anticipation at the click and thud of approaching footsteps.
With all of the scenes in the Neighborly Affection series, I treated my preparation for writing as if I were the Dominant. So even though several of the books are told from the perspective of Alice, the novice submissive, the reasoning behind everything she sees and experiences is grounded in what her Dom wanted to create for her. In that way, I can be sure I’m not forgetting the basics while we’re floating untethered in subby bliss with Alice.
Writing BDSM, like writing anything else, involves a lot of behind-the-scenes work and research that readers never see. If a book feels real and true to you, it’s because the author has done her homework.
What is it that you love most about this genre?
The raw honesty, hands down. A good scene strips the players down to their core and shows them at their most naked and vulnerable — and “naked,” here, has nothing to do with what they’re wearing. In real life, the experience is akin to staring into someone’s soul.
In fiction, I believe the goal is always to come as close as possible to sharing that truth. By the end of the book, I want to feel so deeply with the characters that I know what it is to be them. I want to know their truth.
And the most wonderful thing about the BDSM genre is that there are endless paths to the truth. Every practitioner’s journey is different, and all of them make for fascinating stories.
Please tell us a little about being named a Finalist for a Golden Flogger Award.
Okay, you caught me: I cried.
I’m incredibly honored by the judges’ recognition for Becoming His Master in the LGBT category. Writing the book, living in the Dominant headspace for months, was intensely emotional.
Henry, the Dominant, is a loving and principled man who wants only the best for his submissives. But he’s a bit of a masochist — he pours his energy into strengthening his subs, giving them the tools they need to navigate the world — and he keeps almost nothing but the beauty of the memories for himself. So when Jay, a wounded sub who is absolutely perfect for Henry, enters Henry’s life, he’s reluctant to follow his heart. The book centers on two struggles: Jay’s struggle to heal and learn the importance and value of saying “no,” and Henry’s struggle to accept the gift he’s been given and to finally, and for always, say “yes.”
If you could be any BDSM toy or equipment which would you be and why?
Wow. Do I have to choose just one?
A flogger, held fast in a powerful hand, my handle braided and weighted to make the swing of two dozen falls effortless. My leather well-tended, snapping out in a wave, striking willing flesh and leaving stripes behind.
A pair of clamps, strong metal with gentle rubber tips, tightening around nipples already swollen and aching from the kiss and pinch of a teasing Dominant. Shifting with every breath, waiting for the right moment to slide free and remind my wearer of how beautiful pain can be.
But most of all, the embrace in the aftermath. The long moment when time stops for the fierce and restless souls who have earned their respite from the world. A holiness rises in that moment, a love beyond tools and toys, beyond bodies and bruises. I would choose to be that sacred embrace, the reward for the honesty of need and desire.
What can readers expect from you at BDSM Writers Con?
Good conversation and plenty of fun, I hope! I’ll be attending several workshops to freshen up my skills in the areas I know and to expand my knowledge in new directions. I’ll also be signing books and giving away some swag at the book fair Friday, so I hope folks won’t be shy about saying hello. 🙂
And for the readers who’ve asked or quietly wondered if I’m in the lifestyle and whether I’m a Domme, a sub, or a switch like Alice? Come meet me at BDSM Writers Con and find out for yourself!
About M.Q. Barber and the Neighborly Affection series:
The D/s journey of Henry, Alice, and Jay that began in PLAYING THE GAME (Neighborly Affection #1) continues in CROSSING THE LINES (Neighborly Affection #2) and HEALING THE WOUNDS (Neighborly Affection #3). Henry tells the origin story of his relationship with Jay in BECOMING HIS MASTER (Neighborly Affection #4). The trio deals with the last of the obstacles holding them back in FINDING THEIR BALANCE (Neighborly Affection #5).
USA Today bestselling author M.Q. Barber likes to get lost in thought. She writes things down so she can find herself again.
Often found staring off into space or frantically scratching words on sticky notes, M.Q. has a soft spot for romances that explore the inner workings of the heart and mind alongside all that steamy physical exertion. She loves memorable characters, witty banter, and heartfelt emotion in any genre.
The former Midwestern gal is the author of the Neighborly Affection series and the Gentleman series. Pick a safeword, grab a partner or two, and jump in.
Keep up with M.Q.’s projects through her website (http://www.mqbarber.com), Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/mqbarber), Goodreads profile (http://www.goodreads.com/mqbarber) or Twitter feed (http://www.twitter.com/mqbarber).