We have another sizzling author cage for you. Today author Brantwijn Serrah joins us for an Only The Brave interview. Thanks for being here Brantwijn. I know I know, you want to start already, so….
Are you ready??
Writing adult fiction isn’t for everyone, how did you end up writing for the toughest audience?
Well, Lotus Petals was actually my inspiration to get into erotic fiction. I already knew my character Rhiannon found her first love in Japan, and that Aijyn was a geisha. I decided to make their story an erotic romance, though, after reading another erotic novel about geisha, which, frankly, was terrible. It became sort of a challenge to myself to write a better story.
Most of the intimidating parts of being an adult fiction writer is the steamy scenes, how did you overcome the “stage fright”?
It was a bit tough at first. I almost felt like a little girl again, sneaking a peak at the Skinemax after midnight and hoping my parents didn't come downstairs! Like someone might peek over my shoulder and see all the naughty words. It grew on my though, over time, and felt more natural. One thing that helped was a short story I wrote called Life Drawing, one of my first forays into erotic writing and also kind of a personal reflection on my own feelings about women.
Which fictional character would you like to go on a date with? Why?
Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I know, she's dark, scary, troubled and good God does she look amazing in tight gothic clothes. Drinks and some close sexy dancing at The Bronze? Sign me up.
Your favorite adult fiction book is-?
We all know what a hard question this is to answer! I'm going to go with two: Affinity and Fingersmith, both by Sarah Waters. Affinity is so rich and haunting and beautifully sensual...but it ripped my heart out and crushed it under an iron heel, then mounted it on a trophy wall. Fingersmith has its own darkness but is overall kinder to the romantic heart.
Do you think adult fiction has reached its full potential yet, or are we still in for a huge surprise?
I don't think I'd ever say any genre of fiction has reached its full potential. There are literally an infinite number of ideas out there and so many, many talented writers to pluck them from the cosmos, shape them and sculpt them and deliver them to the world in something beautiful. I see novels like 50 Shades topping the charts, bringing more and more readers into erotic fiction... and 50 Shades just isn't that good. Its biggest contribution to the genre will probably be giving the rest of us a bit more exposure and helping erotica become more acceptable in the mainstream. As that happens, though, we're going to see much, much better gems getting the spotlight they deserve. Now that we see more readers are willing to give BDSM novels a chance, imagine the kind of exposure we can get for things like Dom/sub stories, polyamory, transgender erotica. No, I don't think adult fiction or erotica have come anywhere near reaching full potential. I'm excited to see what comes next!
We all have a treasured possession, what is yours?
I adopted a calico cat my first year in college, and she was very, very special to me. Anya helped me through a lot of very tough emotional times as I dealt with clinical depression, self-injury, and later on learned I was bipolar. She became a kind of muse to me, and would sit beside me as I wrote and tried to "help" with all my stories—usually by lying on my arms while I typed, but it’s the thought that counts, right? We had to say goodbye to Anya last year, though, as she developed cancer in her bone marrow. It was like saying goodbye to a part of me. My partner arranged for her ashes to be returned to us in a cedar memory box, and a portion of them put into a necklace for me. When I wear that necklace, it's like having Anya with me again.
Are your characters based on real people or did you create them from scratch?
Some are created from scratch, and all of the characters in Lotus Petals are. Others, though, are based on people in my life. My current project, Goblin Fires, includes several characters based on my friends. I'd list them, but then if the book ever gets published they'll all be embarrassed!
Do you think adult fiction helps improves relationships?
Something like that depends on the relationship, but I recently read a review on The Big Book of Orgasm where the writer mentioned he or she liked to read aloud from the collection to their partner before bedtime. That seems super sexy to me. I would find it not at all surprising if lots of couples discovered a new means of communication and connection, not to mention new ways to be ambitious with one another, through erotic fiction. It seems like it could open up more between them than visual pornography could, as well, as they might find more courage to speak out loud if they couldn't quite verbalize them before.
If you have to pitch adult fiction to someone that’s too shy to read it, what would you pitch?
I'd suggest one of the Mammoth Books published by Cleiss Press, or their Best Erotica anthologies. Anthologies are a great way to immerse in the genre at your own pace, as well as get a variety of stories which might appeal to them. Cleiss Press has a great way of showcasing all sorts of lifestyle erotica, especially. Breathless Press, the e-publisher behind Lotus Petals, has a very nice selection of anthologies as well, themed for various tastes in fiction. If I had a friend with a particular liking for vampires, shifters, or other sorts of genre plot and setting, I'd point them toward Breathless for sure.
What is your motto?
Et ignotas animum dimittit en artes ~ "And he sent out his spirit into the unknown arts". Originally from Ovid's Metamorphosis, I came across it when I studied James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It's always stuck with me... it's how I feel about writing fiction, especially genre fiction, paranormal fantasy or adventure.
You have a few steamy moments in your novel. Were they created from fantasy or is there real life experience behind it?
Lotus Petals is a work of pure fantasy, in terms of how the sex scenes go, but when I say fantasy I don't just mean I dreamed them up from scratch. A lot of my personal preferences and desires shaped the course of the lovemaking, sort of self-indulgent, I guess.
Well, I'll take it back. There is one scene shaped from personal experience. But I won't tell which one...
Why did you choose a more experienced woman rather then a virgin?
In Lotus Petals, both Aijyn and Rhiannon come into the story with sexual experience. Aijyn is a courtesan for a vampire daimyo—serving the needs of his bed came with the territory. Rhiannon has always had an existing relationship with her bodyguard, one which did a lot to shape her character and expectations of love. It makes things... complicated for her. I didn't exactly choose to make these women one thing or another; they came to me this way, with their pasts already formed.
I will say in some ways, Aijyn comes to Rhiannon a sort of virgin: she has never been with a woman before. Again, this was more a product of her background than a conscious choice on my part, though.
Foreplay, some say it’s just a waste of energy, others feel that it’s a must. You’re opinion?
I think it's a waste of energy not to include it. Especially in erotica. You're trying to appeal to the senses, if you're not investing the time and thought into indulging your readers' every sense, you're wasting your time writing a sex scene to begin with. Foreplay isn't just a bedroom act, either: in erotic fiction, it makes up the spine of the sexual plotline. I read so much erotica where the author seems to think they need to establish in instant and permanent bond by some deus ex machine in order to justify the characters getting it on. I find it childish. It cheats the reader of the build-up, the sense of curiosity, the discovery.
That being said, there is an exception to every rule and there could be lots of reason a hot and heavy scene would be disrupted by too much attention to foreplay, so it's not always a must, in my eyes. If you're going to skip it, though, skip it for the right reasons.
What sexual position is your favorite?
I am especially partial to doggy-style, myself.
Have you ever used your nails and left marks?
Nothing especially drastic, but yes, I have.
Do you think lingerie is a must for a relationship?
I personally find it fun and flirty. It allows for different moods, different scenarios. I can imagine some couples find it frivolous or don't think its attractive, but for me, I'd have a lot less fun without it.
Are you a screamer or the bite it down kind of lover?
Well, in general I'm kind of a quiet, breathy lover (at least until the good part). My partner quite likes it when I make noise, though, so sometimes I do really let loose. Sometimes I think our neighbors are going to leave a note on our door.
Why did you choose to write Paranormal/Fantasy?
There's no complicated reason for this. It's what interests me. I think paranormal phenomena, supernatural occurrences, magic and myth are just more interesting and provide more possibility than contemporary realistic fiction.
There is a lot of biting in your novel, are you a biter yourself?
I prefer to be the one being bit.
What creature/species do you think makes the ultimate lover?
Hm. Well, as you've probably guessed, I really like vampires. Honestly, though, if I had to choose, I'd think werewolves would prove the 'ultimate'. Primal creatures, the heat and the stamina, the wild passion and (at least in most cases) undying devotion. With apologies to my dear vampire characters, I think I'd prefer a werewolf in my own love life.
What creature/species is your favorite?
I can't decide. And that's not me trying to get out of the question, it's really true. Lotus Petals takes place in a greater world which eventually includes four other demon races: werewolves, witches, incubi, and shadow-walkers. I have characters from each of those races who can embody elements of sexuality and supernatural ability others just can't. And that's just the Lotus Petals world; I've written erotica featuring dragons, at least one alien, goblins, elves and fairies. I can't really have a favorite because there's no "generic" model I'm looking for.
Have you ever participated in BDSM?
My sojourn into BDSM has been light, but gradually intensifying. My partner and I are in a sort of experimental phase.
BDSM has been described as the ultimate form of trust between two people, do you agree?
It's a very big generalization. This is another thing I can't imagine applies to everyone. For the right people, sure; I wouldn't consider it the ultimate form of trust in my own relationship. The trust is imperative, yes, but I can think of several other levels and needs and expressions of trust, outside the bedroom, that trump it for me.
Any favorite toys?
The Wet Wabbit, hands down. Definitely my favorite. Though I have a fondness for fuzzy handcuffs, and I'd love to get a good leash and collar (the one I have now is not awesome at all).
Does pain really enhance the sexual experience?
For me, pain is a sensation, and the right kind of pain just damn well feels good. I like a little soreness, a little bruising, lasting afterwards and even into the next day. It keeps me in a mindset, thinking back to the source and making me eager for more. I think in my case, I'd say it enriches the experience.
Who is the better Dom? Male or Female?
I don’t' really think gender is the deciding factor there. I'm not even sure I'd say it plays any role at all. Dom is a mindset, not a set of organs.
Your perfect male Dom would be?
For me? Someone primal and demanding, someone who isn't afraid to take charge of me entirely. I don't get into humiliation, though, so my Dom is someone who will make me his sexual possession, but treat me with love and desire, and treasure me as his. He has to be willing to invest a lot in the after-care, and give me lots and lots of affection and attention.
Your perfect female Dom would be?
Oh, I'd definitely need a Sappho of my very own. She'd see me and want me and pursue me, take charge of my instruction and tell me all she wants for me to do. I'm not closed to toys but I'd want a Domme who prefers honest girl-on-girl and not too much reliance on artificial 'enhancements', shall we say. With a male Dom I'd want someone who treated me with respect and tenderness in public but owned me in the bedroom; with a Domme I'd want almost the opposite. In public she can show how much she owns me, but in private I'd want a lot of tenderness and affirmation. All while keeping a hold of my leash, of course.
What is your perfect game setup?
I'm a fan of restraints. Handcuffs, straps, leash, those sorts of things. I like a scenario which puts me at the mercy of my partner.
Another fantastic Only The Brave!! Find out more about Brantwijn and her books here