I’m pleased to have a visit today from writer Elizabeth SaFleur, an erotic romance author and self described “recovering public relations practitioner” who writes, tweets and posts under a pseudonym since her business clients might be shocked at her new career choice. She began the Elite Doms of Washington contemporary erotic romance series after a thirty-year career serving D.C. clients, and Untouchable, book two in the Elite Doms of Washington Book series just went live for pre-order on Amazon. Today Elizabeth shares twenty-eight, wildlife-filled acres in Virginia with her husband and dog. Elizabeth is a member of the Romance Writers Association and the Washington Romance Writers, and she is one of the people I am looking forward to meeting at BDSM Writers Con in New York City this summer.
1. How did you get started writing about BDSM?
Elizabeth SaFleur: In the 1990s, I discovered erotica through Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty series. They were the most compelling, eye-opening books I’d ever read, and finally gave me context for all those dreams I’d been having. A few years later a story came to me when, sitting in an outside café, I witnessed a woman being lashed to a sailboat mast in the middle of the Potomac River. (To this day I don’t know if my eyes tricked me.) It took me until 2011 to start writing that story, which ultimately became Lovely, the first book in the Elite Doms of Washington series. (Yes, there is a sailboat scene.) Once I started writing Lovely, I could not stop.
2. Would you say you’ve learned anything from reading BDSM fiction, romance, or erotica? What were the lessons you gleaned?
Elizabeth SaFleur: I’ve read hundreds of books in these genres, and I am continually struck by one basic human truth: we are all so different, yet not. We all want to be understood and loved. But our desires vary. So, while the actual practice of BDSM follows basic tenets, the variations of how to practice BDSM seems endless. The more I learn about BDSM, the more there is to learn, especially on the emotional level.
3. Is there something you hope people learn or come away from your book(s) knowing or feeling? What is it?
Elizabeth SaFleur: I hope people experience the emotional journey my characters go through. The spiritual and emotional rewards in BDSM are as important as the physical. I also want people to understand that BDSM can be loving and sensual and isn’t just “whips and chains” and pain. A deep emotional bond forms between top and bottom, which to me is where the real action lies.
4. BDSM popularity was already rising when “50 Shades” mania hit–what made this the right time for BDSM to hit the mainstream?
Elizabeth SaFleur: In my humble opinion, a number of stars aligned to make BDSM erotic fiction grow in popularity. While I believe people have always had unique kinks and desires, they didn’t necessarily know what to call them or knew there was a community that supported their ideas. Then, the Internet made it possible to research and connect with others from the privacy of your own home. Add e-readers to the mix, and now people could engage in anonymous reading, not to mention affordable titles. Lastly, the upcoming reading generation grew up with more openness around sexuality in the media and in the news – coupled with the technology to engage in it.
I’d also like to give a nod to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, which has worked very hard to change how BDSM is viewed in the political and legal arenas.
As for the 50 Shades mania, E.L. James got very, very lucky. I’m not taking anything away from her success. But every society has a “tipping point” around accepting “new” ideas, where someone or a small group of people earn rewards. She hit things at the right time. So, good for her.
5. Have any advice you’d like to share for those interested in learning more about BDSM, whether to write it or to do it in real life?
Elizabeth SaFleur: Yes! Get thyself to the BDSM Writers Con. If you are a writer or someone who just wants to learn more, there is no better way to learn than to talk to people in this lifestyle, firsthand, which you can do at the Con. If going to the Con won’t work for you, read books (like SM 101 by Jay Wiseman or Screw the Roses; Send Me The Thorns by Philip Miller and Molly Devon). First read books that talk about the real-world BDSM community. Then move to reading erotica and erotica romance. This way you can tell what’s real and what’s fiction. The distinction is important.
6. What’s the most fun you ever had researching a book or story?
Elizabeth SaFleur: Oooo, I could tell but that Master might not like such detail given in public. LOL… Okay, I’ll tell you *some* of it. I tried rope bondage and suspension for the first time a few weeks ago. I can’t believe it took me so long to try it. I felt like I was flying in mid-air. According to my husband who watched, I didn’t touch the ground, mentally, for quite some time afterward. To me, wax play is the second most fun BDSM activity. I feature wax play in the second Elite Doms’ book, Untouchable. I’m working on incorporating more rope bondage in future stories, after I do more research, of course. ;-)
7. What has surprised you about your own writing?
Elizabeth SaFleur: That I can make myself cry. I get very involved with my characters, and sometimes I have to let them experience hurt for the story to work. I hurt with them.
8. What are you hoping will be the most awesome thing about BDSM Writers Con?
Elizabeth SaFleur: The first time I attended, I was just hoping people would be willing to talk to me. After all, we’re asking about an emotional, private part of their lives. Everyone, from the other writers to the demonstrators, were incredibly open. This year, I hope to take that a level deeper and understand more about what draws people to BDSM. I also would like to meet both new writers and reconnect with friends I made last year. If you’re there, come say hi!
Elizabeth’s website: http://www.elizabethsafleur.com/
Pre-order Untouched on Amazon