Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Black Latex with Lauren Wissot

Comment today to WIN a signed copyby Olivia Knight

Black Lace writers may be scarlet harlots to Barbara Cartland, but our big bad brother makes us look sweet-sixteen at times. Nexus is also erotica and also an imprint of Virgin Publishing. If we’re Black Lace, though, they’re Black Latex with a strap-on and a whip. Lauren Wissot has emerged from the basement to give us the low-down on writing for Nexus, S&M, and her book Under My Master’s Wing.

Lauren on... the difference between a Black Lace novel with spanking and a Nexus novel
This strikes me as a difference in semantics, in marketing strategy, packaging, as opposed to actual content. Black Lace is "written for women by women," whereas Nexus primarily targets the (hetero) male audience. But I've been around kinky people long enough to know that such distinctions are usually meaningless. Take for example the whole CFNM ("clothed female naked male") fetish, which I just recently discovered. Both a straight client of mine at Pandora's Box, the house of domination where I work part-time, and one of my best gay buddies jerk off to the same CFNM sites! To separate sexuality into male/female, gay/straight binaries seem simple-minded at best.

Lauren on... Nexus guidelines
Black Lace writers are encouraged to have happy endings, not start with bathing women, and apparently - ensure that everyone having sex has a human head. Pity the editor who has to add that stipulation! It has to be the most fabulous guideline I've ever read! (And it goes a long way to explaining why Monty Python originated in the U.K. Save the queen indeed!) Nexus doesn't have any guidelines – at least none that I followed (wink, wink). My wonderful editor Adam Nevill always coaxed me to push the envelope, not to color within any lines. I guess the "guidelines" would be geared more towards word count and keeping within the BDSM genre. (Technically, Nexus Enthusiast is the strand devoted to one specific fetish. My book is considered "female submission," though that's not really a fetish in the sense that ass, leg and foot worship are fetishes. I think Adam is open to fudging strict definitions if he likes a story enough – which I'm very grateful for.)

Lauren on... writing from experience
Most Black Lace writers say they don't do everything they write (unsurprising given all the elves and dragons around lately). As my book's an erotic memoir, I'm the exact reverse. Seriously, I've got a lazy imagination. I'm constantly stealing from real life. In all honesty, I'm not truly an erotica author – I'm a sex journalist. I go into the kinky trenches then come back and report my findings. I don't make anything up, ever. That said, as any documentary filmmaker worth his DV camera will tell you, there is no such thing as "truth." I don't pretend that anything I write is objective or "real" because it's always told through my own subjective eyes. (I've always said that if David, the master in Under My Master's Wings, had written it, it would look nothing like my book.)

Lauren on... S&M and feminism
I know S&M often gets a mixed response on Lust Bites, between the joy of a good spanking and people's anxiety about the potentially abusive roles, BUT: I am nearly evangelical about S&M (and fellow film-producing proselytizers should contact me at laurenvile@yahoo.com!) Anyone who's ever been in the scene knows that it's very much like a religion (with its own rituals and rules like most religions. Ever wonder why so many good Catholic schoolboys are into caning?) There's a spirituality involved in communing with another through power-play. At the same time, I'm also fully aware that S&M, like religion, can mask abuse. I'm not embarrassed to admit that my relationship with my master ended at the time I began to feel like an emotional punching bag – nor that I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I learned so much as a slave, experienced that exhilarating freedom inherent in giving oneself completely over to another, and grew both mentally and emotionally by leaps and bounds, that even the hardest times were worth it. That feminism should even be concerned with BDSM in the year 2008 seems a bit antiquated since S&M transcends both gender and sexuality – it's all about tops and bottoms, dominants and submissives. The categories of male, female, gay and straight don't even exist in this world. (My relationship with my master was homosexual, if anything. It was the first time in my life my male sexuality was able to express itself through my female form.) Yes, some people are harmed by BDSM. Some people are harmed by Judaism, by the Catholic Church. That's the nature of worship – and why you can't do it blindly.

Lauren on... Under my Master's Wings
Under My Master's Wings is my erotic memoir about my time spent as the personal slave to a gay-for-pay stripper (and would be gay porn star). It details the first year of our long-distance relationship (David is French-Canadian, I'm a New Yorker). We were together for six years, so I still have five more books waiting to be published!

Lauren on... her favourite scene from the book
My favorite scene (yes, I'm forever thinking like a screenwriter) was the longest night of my life. After defiantly agreeing to a threesome with David and his wife (she being told I was an escort he'd ordered for them) at their hotel, I cleansed myself of sexual remorse by going to the Gaiety strip club, picking up a hot dancer and his friend, and ending the evening in a second ménage a trois – two floors above where my master and his wife slept. It's my favorite scene because one of the worst nights of my life was also one of the funniest in retrospect, proving that that which does not destroy you can make you laugh.


Picture credits: 1. Tomb Raider models Lucy Clarkson, Lara Weller, Jill de Jong, Nell McAndrew, and current Tomb Raider girl Karima Adebibe at their 2007 London Photoshoot. 2. Lauren Wissot 3. Postcard from PostSecret 4. Cover of Under My Master's Wings.


Comment to win a copy of Lauren's book! Lauren will also dip in during the day to answer any questions.

15 comments:

Sweet Samantha said...

I have questions lol:

Do you ever feel nervous about writing from experience? That once you write it down it won't seem as intense/special anymore?

I sometimes find it like going to see film adaptions of novels. Ruins the images I had in my head about the book.

Do you write trying to communicate a situation to a reader in which they are hopefully going to picture a general senario (with their ideas of attractive characters) and feel what you felt? Or do you try to convey the exact images of the people and places that you have met/been?

You do everything you write about. Do you find it hard? Just going out and taking 2 strange men to bed? Doesn't it worry you that they could have STDs or anything like that?

One of my favourite novels is the Story of O, and your memoir being boasted as a modern retelling totally excites me. I can't wait to read your work!

Janine Ashbless said...

As the author actually responsible for the "it's got to have a human head" stipulation, I just wanted to say ... Great interview! Really interesting stuff Lauren. That's the nature of worship – and why you can't do it blindly. Brilliantly put.

And I rather envy you for having enough material from your own life to write a (series of) erotic books without having to make anything up!
But on other hand I don't think I'd want to experience everything I've written about. My protaganists have to be be pretty tough to cope with what I put them through.

Janine Ashbless said...

BTW - is there anywhere online we can read an extract from your book? I'd love to have a look at it.

Lauren Wissot said...

Thanks everyone! Just waking up in NYC so I’ll jump right in.

“Do you ever feel nervous about writing from experience? That once you write it down it won't seem as intense/special anymore?”

I can’t not write things down! My personal writings are like my photographs, my memories, so it’s very important for me to have a record. It’s also the way I organize, work through experiences. I only figured out “Master’s Wings” was a book that wanted to be published a couple years into my relationship.

“I sometimes find it like going to see film adaptions of novels. Ruins the images I had in my head about the book.”

I agree, but first and foremost I’m a film geek, a screenwriter, so with “Master’s Wings” I didn’t “write” so much as translate those images in my head to the page.

“Do you write trying to communicate a situation to a reader in which they are hopefully going to picture a general senario (with their ideas of attractive characters) and feel what you felt? Or do you try to convey the exact images of the people and places that you have met/been?”

I guess I just convey the exact images of people and places – I “report.” Though I don’t really write with an audience consciously in mind. “Master’s Wings” started out as a series of emails – I called them “pornomails” – to close friends to keep them apprised of the adventure I was on. (The emails got out of control and became a book!)

“You do everything you write about. Do you find it hard? Just going out and taking 2 strange men to bed? Doesn't it worry you that they could have STDs or anything like that?”

I’m a firm believer in safe sex – so I take all necessary precautions. That said, you can’t live your life ignoring desire out of fear. I wouldn’t parachute out of an airplane, but I can understand why someone would.

“BTW - is there anywhere online we can read an extract from your book? I'd love to have a look at it.”

I don’t think it’s online, though I keep a sex/sexuality/gender issues blog called “Delta of Venus in Furs” at laurenwissot.blogspot.com (along with my film blog beyondthegreendoor.blogspot.com).

Olivia Knight said...

Here's something I should have asked, but didn't - what's it like being a slave - practically speaking, I mean? I can't imagine balancing the demands of my own life, deadlines, obligations, etc, with being a suitably obedient and available slave.
"Look, I don't have time to be whipped, I've got to get these proofs in..."
(That said, maybe my failure of imagination is because I'm about as submissive as a silver-backed mountain gorilla, though a bit less hairy and butch)

Deanna Ashford said...

A really interesting post. It is not my scene at all but I still find it fascinating to read about it.

Like Janine I couldn't possibly have experienced all I write about. Although all my characters have human head,, they often wield swords pretty accurately and I certainly wouldn't be physically capable, unfortunately, of half the other things they do.

Amanda said...

what a great post. i agree so much with you that distinctions made by publishers like BL are not the way kinky people think. i read everything and i don't care whether the writer is a woman, a man or a naked chimp with a typewriter as long as the story is good. as a woman, i am offended by a marketing strategy that presumes that women won't read smut by men. makes women sound sexist to me. but anyway...your book sounds fabulous. i love the way you describe BDSM as spiritual and transcendant. can't wait to read your book!

Lauren Wissot said...

Olivia,

Practically speaking, I wouldn't have lasted as a slave as long as I did had I not been in a long distance relationship. Yes, it could be time consuming, but it was also a respite from my everyday life. I could go on vacation from myself whenever David was in town!

And I'm sure there's a submissive, silver-backed mountain gorilla somewhere out there...

Mathilde Madden said...

And I'm sure there's a submissive, silver-backed mountain gorilla somewhere out there...

Really? Do you have, like, an email address for him or anything?

Kate Pearce said...

What a fascinating post! I'm totally intrigued how you manage and balance your life so well.
Being the Dudley Do Right Suburban Soccer Mom of Lust Bites, I applaud your ability to be so open about what you want.

Amy S. said...

Great post!

Lil said...

I must admit that I didn't know about Nexus...learn something everyday, indeed.

Your post was very interesting to read.

Madeline Moore said...

Sorry, zooming in at the end of the day, pooped from meeting a deadline.
Will be back tomorrow to read, ponder, read comments and comment myself. Can't wait!

Madeline Moore said...

Fascinating post...
I'm a screenwriter too,Lauren, though I'm more a writer than a filmmaker.
Meaning, I suppose, that while sometimes I'm translating images into words, other times, most of the time, it's the psychological landscape I'm primarily interested in.

That said, writing erotica has definitely made me a much better writer of prose. Screenwriting is a very different craft so I can't say, offhand, if becoming a better prose writer has made me a better screenwriter.

The best screenplays, I think, read like poetry.

I think the only way to be a real life slave is in a very formal relationship, like the one poor ol' O had. Or long distance. Day to day, a human being can't submit 24/7 without a lot of errors - fine if you're a brat but otherwise - a boiling pot that will eventually blow.

I think 'scening' is the way to go.
Given that you work in a place where people go to do just that, I'm guessing you know what I mean,Lauren?

Again, fascinating post. It's a real treat to have a peek inside a submissive memoirist's mind...

Lauren Wissot said...

Thanks to everyone for the wonderful comments - and to Lust Bites for inviting me on. It's nice to hear that I've opened some eyes (as I love when my own eyes get opened to new experiences!) I guess at the end of the day, that's why I write - when no one else out there is giving voice to what I'm living.