Elle Danielson

Elle Danielson Golden Flogger Award Nominee
speaks out on writing BDSM Erotica 

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing works.
I feel like I’m living two lives. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I’ve done fiction writing off and on since I was very young. But I’m also fascinated with other languages and cultures. I have a PhD in Comparative Literature, and I’m fluent in French and Spanish. After several years of focusing on academic writing and teaching, I found myself drawn to fiction writing again. Virgin Forest was my first novel in the erotica genre. I had these characters in my head, and this idea of how difficult it would be for two people who desire a BDSM relationship to get off to a good start when neither of them have any experience in the lifestyle. While I was writing, I got pretty attached to these characters, and wanted things to work out for them in spite of all the obstacles they faced, most of which stemmed from their own shortcomings. When I was writing Virgin Forest, I thought it would just be a one-time thing, but as soon as I finished, I got the idea for the Reunion series, and now I’ve got several other projects in the works. I’m enjoying this burst of creativity, and I really hope it lasts.

What was the hardest part of writing your novel?
Letting my characters make their own mistakes. I think a lot of writers would agree when I say that fictional characters have free will. They’re like children. You create them, you have plans for them, but in the end, they do their own thing, and if you try to push them in a different direction, the story falls apart. In this particular novel, I realized I was trying to impose too much maturity on characters who were in their early to mid-twenties. Not only were they very young, they were also inexperienced with BDSM and with romantic relationships in general. That’s the source of the conflict. I wanted to explore whether they could learn from their mistakes and grow into the relationship. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but I have to admit, when I was writing it, I wasn’t always sure what was going to happen next.

Where would you like to see the BDSM genre head? How will it get there?
I’ve had a few people tell me, “You write really well. You should consider writing other types of fiction.” I’m sure they meant it as a compliment, but to me, remarks like that just illustrate the fact that the BDSM genre doesn’t get the respect it deserves. I think it’s a very sophisticated genre, especially if an author is willing to go deep and explore the emotion, vulnerability, and creativity of a BDSM relationship. People who are drawn to this lifestyle are psychologically complex, and that’s fertile ground for creating memorable characters. There are good writers and bad writers in every genre, and I think it’s a mistake to dismiss an entire category of fiction without taking the time to examine it. I do think things are moving in a positive direction. We just need to keep writing quality works, not apologize for the genre, and promote the literature and lifestyle at events like the BDSM Writers’ Conference.

Do you conduct advocacy work in this lifestyle or is it strictly fiction-based for you?
I don’t do anything outside of fiction writing, but I do believe fiction can be a powerful force for social change. When you get absorbed in a good book, and really connect with a character, you understand her point of view, her problems, her dreams, and what makes her tick. Writers and readers connect at an emotional level, and I’m convinced politics are more about emotions than anything else. I’ve met the most prim-and-proper churchgoers who privately confide in me that they love my books. If I could just get them to tell their friends, I would sell a lot more copies.

Do all of your novels have a BDSM theme?
Everything I’ve been writing lately is in the erotica genre, but not all of it is BDSM. I write a lot of menage stuff, and I’ve noticed a theme emerging in a lot of my stories. A character thinks he or she is straight or gay, but then makes a deep emotional connection with someone, and realizes they’re bisexual, at least in that particular relationship. That happens in Virgin Forest. There are also characters making the switch between Dom and sub and vice versa. I know a lot of people lean strongly toward certain sexual preferences, but we shouldn’t be too quick to define ourselves as all one thing or all another thing. There’s nothing wrong with being open to exploring and seeing where things go. I’ve never regretted taking a chance and trying something new, and I’m not just talking about my sex life.

About Elle Danielson:
Elle Danielson is a small-town girl who speaks four languages and loves to travel. She has climbed a volcano in Guatemala, explored the catacombs of Paris, and stood on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. She enjoys a good hike, the smell of a campfire, a long soak in a hot tub, and anything related to sci fi. She lives with her sweet husband, smart son, spoiled cat, and a slew of imaginary friends, many of whom end up in her stories. She is the author of Virgin Forest, its companion novel Deep Woods, and the Reunion series.

Website: elledanielson.com

Email: elle@elledanielson.com

Twitter: @ElleDanielson


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