Sep 8, 2017

Guest Post and Interview with Rothford

Rothford’s Rules for Bangin’ BDSM Books

“Love me like you do, it hurts so good!” It seems these days you can’t swing a paddle without hitting ten Billionaire BDSM erotica titles. What is it about kink that appeals? Is it the forbidden nature, the idea of prying into something that not only isn’t talked about because it’s sex, but isn’t talked about even when sex is the topic? Or is it the play of opposites, the knife-edge between pain and pleasure?

Whatever the reason, there’s as much bad BDSM out there as there is good. As a domme, trust me, I understand the appeal of a well-written yet morally dubious fantasy. And yet, many of the scene ideas I did when I was starting out were patterned on the fiction I read. So I challenge myself to produce works that are as ethical as they are enjoyable. It’s even the motto on my website: Ethical slut writing ethical smut.

Here are some guidelines I’ve crafted to help me stay classy while my characters get nasty:

1. Safety First
When I first started getting into BDSM, the slogan I was made aware of was “Safe, Sane, Consensual”. There were three legs to that stool: in order to scene with someone, you both had to be practicing safe sex and safe kink; you both had to be in your right minds and able to consent; and you had to be actually consenting (even if you pretended not to be). Nowadays, the tide has turned in favor of “Risk-Aware Consensual Kink” (or RACK): knowing the risks, consenting to take them, and minimizing them where you can.

In fiction, of course, nothing happens to my characters that I don’t intend. If I don’t want them to be HIV-positive, or I don’t want them to accidentally tie the wrong kind of knot or lose control of the fire they’re playing with, they don’t. But I like to show them going through the motions anyway. They don’t know they’re in the hands of a loving yet sadistic goddess, after all. 

2. Consent is key
The ten-page contract has become a bit of a trope in BDSM fiction, but it’s one I don’t employ. Instead, I try to portray people consenting bit by bit. Maybe they’re okay with being spanked but not paddled, or okay with ropes but not blindfolds. For me, going through lists of every possible thing ahead of time is boring, and BDSM shouldn’t be boring. I prefer to negotiate new ideas as time goes on.

One of the main tools for doing this is the safeword -- or safewords. Many people have two safewords: one for “slow down, I’m not comfortable with this” and one for “We need to stop now”. In my story “Master’s New Kitten”, Master falls back on the classic stoplight safewords: yellow for slow down, red for stop now. When the scene stops feeling safe to Katherine, she calls yellow; Master gives her a behind-the-scenes peek, reassuring her that he’s being safer than he seems, and the show resumes. The thrill comes from the idea of danger, not actual danger.

3. Write the realities
There’s fantasy, and there’s fantasy. Sometimes things are uncomfortable or just don’t work the first time. Sometimes there’s miscommunication. For me, I enjoy a book more if it shows those rough spots, navigates them expertly, and goes on to have a great scene. I know some of that is personal preference; you don’t want to be jarred out of a good scene too often, but I tend to hit a quota of unbelievability if everything always goes smoothly.

One thing that really needs to be shown is aftercare. After an intense scene, it can be hard to immediately go back to normal life, especially for the submissive. There’s a mode your brain goes into as a sub, where you shut off a lot of your higher thinking and surrender to what’s happening. As that higher thinking comes back on, and the nagging self-critical voices start up again, you can find yourself in a vulnerable place full of doubt and fear. Any good dom knows this, and will be right there with cuddles and reassurance until you’re feeling more yourself.

4. Character first; scene second
When I was first learning to write sex scenes, someone told me, “people don’t stop being themselves when they take off their clothes.” The same is true for BDSM. Every scene comes from the people in it. They might be portraying a fictionalized version of themselves, but they’re still themselves. The little touch points of humanity, the reminder that you’re with your partner whom you trust and not actually in grave peril, add spice and flavor to a scene that would otherwise be stereotypical. After all, these people chose each other for a reason, right?

5. Abuse isn’t kink
This is a big one for me. There are ways in which humans are honestly crappy to each other. We sometimes try to manipulate or control each other, pushing the envelope to get more from the other person than they’re honestly willing to give. We lie to each other, cheat on each other, and generally treat each other poorly. That’s not BDSM, and it doesn’t lead to a happily-ever-after in any of my stories.

You can’t have BDSM where there is no trust. The dom has to trust the sub to be honest about their experiences and their needs, and to negotiate with their best interests in mind. The sub has to trust the dom to respect their boundaries, to honor the results of the negotiation, and to stop when and where the sub draws a line. Anything the characters do to undermine that trust is detrimental to kink.

So that’s Rothford’s Rules. Have I missed anything? You can see these rules in practice in my debut series, Becoming His Pet; the first story, Master’s New Kitten, is out now, and the second is up for pre-order. If you’d like to be the first to know when new stories come out, you can find my newsletter at Until next time, have great sex!

When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?
I’ve always loved writing, and sharing what I’ve written with others. Back in highschool, I used to amuse my friends with short pieces and fanfiction. I kept writing and honing my craft through college, and now I’m excited to be sharing my erotic works with you all.

Is being an Author all you dreamed of, or did it just happen?
 I’ve had a lot of dreams in my life. Honestly, what I want most is to bring some joy to my fans.

What was the very first thing you ever wrote?I
don’t know if it was the first, but I remember back in grade school I wrote and illustrated a little book called “Penelope’s Peril”. It was about a young woman being kidnapped and finding her way back home on her own.

What was the inspiration for your book?
For this book, I really wanted to write something accessible to people outside the BDSM community. I know a lot of people really liked 50 Shades of Grey because it gave them a glimpse into something they were previously unaware of; I wanted to do something similar for the Pet Play sub community, and maybe help some people discover a new kink in the process.

Who is your literary hero?
 Gosh, I’m not sure. You know, it’s not literary, but I really admire the comic Sunstone by Stjepan Sejic. It’s so well-written, and very well illustrated to boot. You really feel for the characters, and I found myself cheering them on.

How much of your characters are based on your traits or someone you know personally?
All of them! I’ve written a lot of characters over the years, and the more I write, the more I find that every character is just another aspect of myself. In this series, you have Katherine, whose experiences and reactions as a “kitten” are very much grounded in my own, and Alex, whose compassion and playfulness also come from my experiences as a Domme.

Describe your main character in six words.
Lonely, insecure, and deserving of better.

Describe the world you’ve created in six words.
Secret BDSM community inside San Francisco

What scene was your favorite to write?
 I think it’d have to be the first sex scene. That’s when you get your first taste of what Alex is into, and for me, that’s when the story really took off running. I love the interactions between these characters; they’re so much fun to write.

What scene was the hardest for you to write?
There’s a bit where they’re having breakfast that I just couldn’t get my head around. I rewrote it a few times; the dialog I’d intended for that scene just kept coming out too clunky and awkward.

What are you working on now?
I’m finishing out the trilogy, and the end of Alex and Katherine’s story. After that I have some ideas for other short-story trilogies I plan to do.

Goals? Accomplishments? Improvements?
 I’m always working to improve myself. As soon as I finish a book, I’m asking myself how I can do better. When the second book comes out, I hope you’ll be able to see the improvements I’ve made already.

Are there any authors or books you recommend?
 I read a great short-story collection the other day called The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

What's your favorite thing to do when you're not writing?
Probably reading; you can hardly pry my kindle out of my hands these days. I also enjoy video games, but I rarely have time for them these days.

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