Wednesday, December 9, 2009

You're A Writer? What Do You Write?


My guest is Erotica Romance author, Tymber Dalton aka Lesli Richardson. Tymber/Lesli write various types of Erotica, Romance, and, as she says, "other things".

While I've read some Erotica and even critiqued it, there are some forms I've never read and probably never will. Yet, it's an increasingly popular and lucrative genre.

Tymber explains her fascination with certain aspects of Erotica. Why people make the choices they do and how she does her research to make her characters and stories realistic.

When I’m asked what I do and say, “I’m a writer,” I usually get an eyebrows-lifted, wide-eyed, “Oh, really? What do you write?”


Well, frankly, how do I answer that? If I know a little about the person and suspect they won’t be totally freaked out and edge away from me like I’m a rabid raccoon, I’m honest and I say, “Romance, erotica, and some other things.”

Sometimes that response will earn me a semi-confused expression and an, “Oh.”

A lot of the time, however I’ll get an, “Oh! Really? Like what other things?”


Those of you familiar with my writing, you know that I write a lot of—BDSM. I mean, a LOT of it. And you know, again, depending on the circumstances, how I approach the answers (usually while wanting to smack my husband for bragging his wife’s a bestselling author and leaving moi to try to explain to a ninety-something conservative Baptist woman what I write about) varies with the situation.

It’s not that I’m not proud of what I write, because I am. I’m just smart enough to know not everyone wants to read what I write about. The only reason the pen name Tymber Dalton came about was we weren’t sure if my husband’s employer would be…comfortable with him having a pervy writer wife and we decided to play it safe. By the time we realized no one gave a damn about what I write as long as it’s legal, I’d already been published under both Lesli Richardson and Tymber Dalton.

So back to the cocktail conversation of me trying to adapt my explanation of how I research the topics I write about. The truth of the matter is, I just sort of…fell into it.

It’s all my dogs’ fault. Get your minds out of the gutter. I’ll explain, keep reading.

I have six dogs. We used to be service dog puppy raisers. Watching my dogs is something I can sit back and do…forever. Forget shiny object distraction, I have fuzzy furry distraction. There is something fascinating to me about watching dogs interact, the pack hierarchy,the dynamics and interplay between them. Because when you have six dogs like we do, let’s be honest, you have a pack of dogs.

When I read my first BDSM story, it was more a M/s story about a Master and a pet, and I had that brain squeeze speechless reaction that watching the film “Secretary” gave me the first time I saw it.

I wanted to learn more about the dynamics. The more I learned, the more fascinated I became. Much like watching my dogs. To me, the sexy part of BDSM is the foundation of trust the players have to have with each other. To research, of course, I had to meet and talk with people in real life, go to play parties to watch and learn. I’ve met a great group of people, some of whom I’m lucky enough to call friends now.

My dogs trust that I will drop kibble into their bowls every day at approximately the same time. (Although my bulldog frequently tries to start the daily insurrection early if she’s not happy.) My dogs trust I will take care of them. They don’t question I’m “alpha” in the pack. I just am. Yeah, sometimes they act out, but that’s normal and natural.

BDSM is a lot like that, when you’re dealing with the psychological aspects of it. I’ve met people in the lifestyle who are part-time players, and those who literally live a 24/7 Master/slave life. Most people don’t know what they do in private, of course, but I’ve seen a Master drop a slave into subspace just with a touch and a few words.

There is a trust and a bond that is beyond description. To me, that is far sexier than spankings or bondage or anything else.

That’s why when I write about BDSM, my primary focus is on the people, the interplay and dynamic, not so much the toys or the big “O” scenes. Although, yes, I do try to write sexy scenes as well.

My dogs know I am their owner, their protector, their Mom, their world. While I’m not trying to say a M/s or D/s relationship is that simple, because people can think and reason (usually *LOL*) at a much higher level than dogs, in some ways, it is that simple.
The reason these people can turn themselves over to their partner is because of one basic and yet extremely powerful thing: trust.

In my latest release “Safe Harbor” (and it’s something I explored to a certain extent in “Love Slave for Two: Beginnings”) the main theme is trust. Lack of, earning, and total complete trust. Trust in yourself and in others. It’s a strong secondary theme in “The Reluctant Dom” as well. In my upcoming release “Cardinal’s Rule” (Captiva Press, early 2010) I explore what happens when that trust is shattered beyond repair and what happens next for the people involved.

I personally find the trust issue to be the sexiest thing, so that’s usually my focus. I like to explore the “real” side of BDSM. It’s not all I write, but you’ll see some common themes appear in my writings across various genres.

Life happens, and it adds the edge of humor and reality to a story that might otherwise be too intense or too…fake. In “Safe Harbor,” a miniature Yorkie likes to steal sex toys. (Okay, so my dogs partially inspired that one. We don’t have Acts of God in our house, we have Acts of Dog.) In “The Reluctant Dom” I wrote the scene where Leah wants to shave Seth in the shower before his first solo trip to the club with her and his less than enthusiastic—but extremely funny—reaction to that.

It’s real people, not cardboard stereotypes, which have the best stories to share. Personally want to read a story that isn’t sex scenes strung together, but a story about people I can invest myself in and see the reality of the world created by the author. That’s the kind of writing I strive to create, and I’m extremely grateful to my readers for their fantastic response to what I do.

Hey, it keeps my dogs in kibble, and I know that makes them happy.


Tymber Dalton lives in southwest Florida with her husband (aka "The World's Best Husband") and son. She loves her family, writing, coffee, dark chocolate, music, a good book, hockey, and her dogs (even when they try to drink her coffee and steal her chocolate).

When she's not dodging hurricanes or writing, she can be found doing line edits or reading or thinking up something else to write. She's a multi-published writer in several genres (and rumor has it she bears a striking resemblance to
Lesli Richardson). She loves to hear from readers. Please feel free to drop by her website to keep abreast of the latest news, views, snarkage, free reads, and releases.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Les, welcome to Over Coffee.

there's plenty of hot coffee and breakfast goodies on the Coffee Bar. Hey, I even have several types of Doggie treats to offer your *pack* (I also have a pack, lol!)

~Sia McKye~ said...

I have to tell you, most of my erotica reading has been more fantasy oriented or sensual. You explore areas of erotica that I've never read. Quite an eye opener.

I'm amazed that you were allowed to visit a club that featured this aspect of Erotica. Did you have to go through anything special to be allowed in to observe?

Judi Fennell said...

My critique partner writes erotica, and I'm in awe of the research you have to do to portray the humanity and reality believably.

Lesli Richardson said...

Sia - Thank you for having me! And no, there are a lot of misconceptions about BDSM and the participants, like it's some super-secret society or something. I just did a little online research, found a local group, went to a Munch (which is a vanilla lunch or dinner somewhere and they get together to just talk and hang out) and they invited us to come to parties. I was open and up front that I was a writer, and they were extremely friendly, very nice people. I told them from the start I would never write anything to "out" anyone, although don't be surprised if things end up in books with names and situations changed to protect, guilty. LOL

One Dom, every time I see him, he'll come up to me and say, "Have I got a story for you!" and he'll tell me something that happened since the last time I've seen him. LOL

There are some private clubs, but a lot of the parties actually happen in private homes.

And also contrary to popular belief, most of the people who go to the parties not only don't have sex with each other or anyone else while at the party, a lot of them don't even "play," they just go to hang out with their friends and maybe get dressed up in fetish wear. There's a very voyeuristic aspect to it. As another Dom once told me, "If there's nobody here to watch, what's the point in playing in public? You can stay home and do that." LOL! So we've always been welcomed to events. And now a lot of times we'll go just to hang out with our friends.

Judi - When I first started, I had this total misconception in my mind that it was all hush-hush and hard to find out about (mostly because of other books I've read). The truth is, as long as you respect players and don't "out" anyone (which I would never do), and as long as you respect the rules (which are basically respect others, stay out of the way of tops swinging whips and other implements, and don't touch it if it's not yours or get involved in a scene if you weren't invited to join) it's like any other social club. Except the dress code is a lot different. LOL And instead of people saying, "Oh!" they might be screaming, "OoOOOOOOOHHHHHH!" LOL!

Olivia Cunning said...

A timely topic for me. I'm dabbling in writing in this subgenre right now (in my third manuscript) and probably not very realistically. LOL! I'll have to read your novel, Tymber, for a bit of inspiration. I'm not sure I have the cojones to do the kind of research you do. :-) Maybe there is an underbelly to Small Town, Nebraska that I don't know about. I think I'd have to go closer to civilization to find research "subjects".

I agree, the trust issues are the most important part of the relationship. My characters have complete physical trust from the beginning. It's the emotional barriers that provide most of the conflict and overcoming those to get the HEA ending.

Great to meet you, Tymber. I'm a newbie to the genre. My first erotic romance novel launches in Fall of 2010. Only minimal restraints and paddling in that one. ;-)

Dana Fredsti said...

Tymber/Leslie, what a thoughtful (and funny) post! I love the dog pack dynamics analogy. And as an animal lover (and the mother of 13 felines), I relate to the concept of Acts of Dog. :-) I look forward to reading your work; I love humor in any genre and it sounds like I won't be disappointed!

Lesli Richardson said...

Olivia - Congrats on your pending release! I'll be honest, the first play party my husband and I attended, I literally used him as a human shield...and he's five inches shorter than me. LOL We were both terrified. But like they'd told us when we were invited, if all we wanted to do was stand there and watch, that was all we had to do. And now we can go to a party and be standing there talking to friends and watching a scene go on and have running "golf commentary" about it. LOL But I never could have learned to write about what I write about any other way, seriously. Talk to people, ask questions. I remember at one play party, a Dom was showing another Dom one of his floggers, and I thought ohh, that looks neat. So I walked over and asked him about it and how it was used, etc. and before I knew it I had three different Doms pulling out play implements and explaining them to me and the differences and them arguing amongst themselves why one was better than another. LOL You can't get that kind of education just reading about it. The "thud versus sting" differentiation was explained to me by a couple others, subs, who were telling me about their favorite implements and how they were used.

There's actually a scene in "Safe Harbor" based on a real incident, where Mac is using a cane on Clarisse and showing her that just because you're being "hit" doesn't mean it's painful. *LOL* The Dom tried to tell me not all impact is pain, and he was showing me one of his canes. So he said turn around, and he bounced it over my shoulders and I swear I could have fallen asleep it felt so good. And again, that's something you don't learn just by reading Wikipedia. LOL That was also a huge eye-opener for me, because you think okay, "being hit" equals "pain." And it's not that at all. Well, not necessarily. LOL

Dana - Thank you! Yes, "Dog" is my co-pilot...and it's no coincidence that God spelled backwards is Dog. LOL!

Lesli Richardson said...

Oh, and I should add, when the Dom was demonstrating, I was FULLY DRESSED. LOL I'd been asking him questions about the canes and other stuff and he's like, turn around, I'll show you what I mean. LOL

~Sia McKye~ said...

Dana, humor is what drew me to Lesli last year. She cracks me up and if I need a lift I can *talk* a bit with her and I'm laughing and feeling better.

I'm not at surprised she uses humor in her stories as well.

I also liked the analogy of the pack dynamics. Most animals do have a Hierarchy, or pecking order. It's amazing to me, that once it's established, it only takes a certain body posture to bring the errant one back into line.

VA said...

Tymber group dynamics and hierarchy are fascinating. The fact that you explore the psychological in tandem with the physical is what makes a good book - GOOD. Whether it is erotica or literary fiction.

Your discussion of trust and the lifestyle is intriguing. I guess I never thought too deeply on the matter. In my uninformed mind I always conceived of it as a situation where two people have "issues" and are acting them out. The idea that it is a trust exercise is very illuminating.

Thanks for the overview Tymber. Sia thanks for the fascinating writers you have Over Coffee. More intriguing reads, so little time. *sigh

Lesli Richardson said...

Sia - Thank you! That's another thing I love about exploring BDSM in writing, because it is inherently a funny and ironic situation in many ways. It just lends itself to humor. I've met people with the most absolutely wicked senses of humor lately who are in the lifestyle and I just love bringing that aspect to my writing.

VA - Thank you! A lot of people do think it's just about someone wanting to get beat and someone wanting to beat them, and that's not it at all. I mean, yes, there ARE people into BDSM who just like the pain and like to give pain, and if that's their kink, fine. But there are people all over the spectrum. Many people are only into the obedience and submission aspect of it and are "service oriented" subs. Some like just the bondage. Some like just the pain. Some like all of it, some are just into one particular fetish. Very few people are at the far edge of the spectrum, but the common perception is, by most vanilla people, that most of the BDSM players are. And that's not the truth at all. It's just like anything else in real life, people are all over the place.

When I wrote "The Reluctant Dom," a friend of mine whom I relied on a lot for information and advice on lifestyle issues told me after the fact that he knew a couple in real life that went through a similar situation over a decade earlier, where the husband was dying and had to find a replacement Master for his wife. I had a lifestyle slave email me and thank me for writing it, because she used to cut herself, her sister slave used to burn herself, and both their Masters have an agreement that if something happened to one of them, the other would take on that Master's slave to protect her. So...this really DOES happen in real life.

And my opinion is, if the people into it are consenting adults and they are consensually in the relationship, then that's all that should matter.

But again, a lot of writers out there writing BDSM don't understand the underlying dynamics, and as more writers read "vanilla-written" BDSM books, they use that as their basis for their own stories, and the truth is actually in a different place.

One of the best books I've read with an M/s dynamic is Syd McGinley's "What Worse Place Can I Beg In Your Love?" A guy is stranded on a planet and becomes an alien's pet. But if you are a true fan of the genre, it's a must read even if you don't normally like m/m stories, because it's mind blowing. I don't know if Syd is in the lifestyle or not, and I referenced the book in one of my own, "Domme by Default," but Syd totally nailed the psychological aspect of a full-on lifestyle slave perfectly.

~Sia McKye~ said...

What makes people tick has always been a fascination to me. Why they make the choices they do. While I may not agree with some of the choices made, when I study them or the situation, I can understand WHY they choose how they do.

I know I could never get into the whole BDSM, but the personality dynamics are interesting. I just know my *trust* lies in different directions. Just as I know of and have studied case histories of why a person cuts themselves to *let out the pain* and I SEE why they do it, what their thought processes are, to me, there are safer, healthy ways, to deal with pain.

Sherilyn Winrose said...

Trust is the basis of all intimate relationships, emotional and physical. Any story missing that element doesn't ring true for me.

The reaction to being a romance writer is always interesting. I've rather become used to it, and the question, "Do you write anything else?" I refrain from saying, 'Only when the voices tell me to." I'm evil.

Congrats on your new releases.

Lesli Richardson said...

Sia - There are definitely things I would NEVER try in real life (although might explore it in my writing *LOL*) but yes, the why's totally fascinate me.

Sherilyn - I love your response!! Evil is HIGHLY underrated sometimes. LOL!

I have a little statue on my desk that says, "The voices in my head don't like you." LOL! And I have to admit, I did use my powers for good instead of evil with this book and give a friend a little fantasy revenge she couldn't have in real life. ROTFLMAO! *G*

Stephanie said...

LOL, and a great book it is too! Nice fantasy, ROTFLMAO! What a lucky friend. *G*

She really is the best author in the world and the best friend. And she does change our names to protect us, I mean the guilty, before we, I mean they, make into books... Just watch what you say around her, LOL.


aries18 said...

Hi Leslie, This is an intriguing subject and one I never thought I'd be interested in to read about. Nor did I ever think it might be approached with a sense of humor. Thanks for educating me and opening my mind a bit.

Helen Ginger said...

I would have liked to be a fly on the wall during that conversation. That would have been funny. Next time, arrange a quick exit and say, My husband will explain it all.

Straight From Hel

~Sia McKye~ said...

lolol! Too funny.

Stephanie, glad to see you pop in and razz Les. She needs it. I just want to know who REALLY has the Yorkie?

Helen, I'm thinking, if Mr. Richardson starts bragging on his wife (which is a nice thing) to ninety-something conservative Baptist woman, HE should be the one to explain things.

Lesli Richardson said...

Steph - LOL bff! LYSNDYE! *G* (Those of you who've read "The Reluctant Dom" will recognize that phrase. *LOL*!)

aries18 - Thank you! Glad I could show you a "softer side of sadism." LOL! *G*

Helen - Oh, yeah, he does that to me all the time. *LOL*

Sia - The Yorkie is actually two of them, a lady in a local store we frequent owns them, they're ADORABLE. They are where I got the idea for Bart. When I told her about it, she laughed her ass off and said hell yeah write it. LOL

And my husband is far to sneakily evil for his own good sometimes. LOL (Steph knows of what I speak. LOL!)

Conda V. Douglas said...

Funny, charming interview--and a glimpse into a writing genre I knew nothing about--until now!

Stephanie said...

@Sia, We do razzing best. BFF rules... Everything's fair game, LOL, just the names are changed to protect the guilty, no...I mean innocent! Hubby read one book and said, "Hey, is that a dig at my morning cereal?" I love that series. Hey, it's better than ending up a character in her horror novel.

And it's the good kind of sneakily evil. *G*

Lesli Richardson said...

Conda - Thank you! Glad you dropped in!

Steph - LOL! Yes, I admit, you've outed me, Brodey Lyall's (Triple Trouble series) whining about running out of cereal was based on my husband's habit of rotating his cereal choices every day. LOL

Evil is goooooood. LOL

~Sia McKye~ said...

Lesli, thanks so much for being with us Over Coffee. I really do like having various genres and authors on the blog. It makes things more interesting. It's also informative. Who better than authors, can open our eyes to other forms of writing, other subgenres and the research involved to make their stories *real*?

Besides, I was being held hostage by your critters who negoiated with mine. Lots of treats were involved. Gads. The prime negoiator was my Inky black cat, Monroe. He's tough. Your pack didn't seem too intimidated by 4 Great Danes, one Cocker Spaniel, and a Lab/Chow mix. They were a bit puzzled at the cats, however, especially 'Roe'.

Hugs to you and happy writing!

Lesli Richardson said...

LOL Sia! Thank you for having me, I had a blast, as always. :)

I'm sure our critters will conspire again soon. LOL!