It's a pleasure to welcome Laila Blake to the blog today. I was first introduced to her work via her contributions to the popular Erotic Romance for Women anthologies from Cleis Press. She wrote SEALED which can be found in A Princess Bound – Naughty Fairytales for Women. Check out an excerpt from Laila's story and my review, here.
She also wrote MORE LIGHT found in the BEST EROTIC ROMANCE 2014 anthology. You can read my review of that, here. Today, Laila is here to tell us about her Erotic D/s Romance series, BREAKING IN WAVES. Give her a big welcome, and check out our chat after the jump :)
Hi Laila, welcome to MsRomanticReads! I'm very excited to get started on this BDSM series of yours :)
Aww! Thank you for having me, I'm so excited to virtually be here with you to answer some questions.
If you had ten seconds to convince a reader to give Breaking in Waves a try, what would you say?
Breaking in Waves is erotica with a literary bend; a lot of it is about the prose, because that's what turns me on. As novellas, they leave out a lot of the backstory that novels boast with, so that their single focus could be the experience of bdsm and budding feelings between two people, examined with as much honesty and truth and vulnerability as I could.
There are already two books out, Driftwood Deeds and Trading Tides. How many books will there be in this series?
There will only be one more. Saltwater Skin. I hope it'll be out towards the end of the year, we'll see. And this one a bit of an opposites book. Where Driftwood Deeds and Trading Tides are narrated by the woman, Iris, Saltwater Skin is narrated by Paul, and I also turned around a few of the literary devices sprinkled into the series.
The titles are very interesting, and I'm sensing a theme or a metaphor for the journey your characters are taken on. What made you choose an almost poetic sounding theme?
I probably wouldn't say this about myself unprompted, but a lot of my readers seem to write in their reviews that they like the poetic prose of the series. That was a big focus for me while writing it. The ocean and water motif carries quite strongly throughout the series. The ocean is makes me think of longing, and desire so deep you realize you've only ever dipped your feet into the surface before. Driftwood Deeds is about an unexpected gift from the universe, something wonderful that just washes up on Iris' shore. Trading Tides is a little darker; it's about the coming and going, it's about the lack of him, and the knowledge that even when he is there, he'll be pulled away again, because that's what it's like to be in a distance relationship. And then in Saltwater Skin, we resolve that lack. They are together, live together, closer and more intimate than either of them quite knows how to deal with at first.
Can you tell us a little bit about your main characters, Paul and Iris? What about them made you want to tell their story?
It's funny; that's usually exactly how I write. But with Driftwood Deeds, it wasn't really about them, not at first. It was about the experience of D/s, and I sacrificed a lot character development for that tight, intense focus. But then I fell in love with the two and did want to give them a full story, not just one night together, so I set out to write Trading Tides and Saltwater Skin as well. I fell in love with them because they deserve something good. Iris is young for a woman in her late twenties. She's young because nothing much ever happened to her. She went to school, she studied, she got a job; she did all the things she was supposed to do and then she meets Paul and does something wild. Over the series, she starts to cultivate that wildness, in a way, starts to grow into a person who does what she wants, not just what she's supposed to do.
And Paul, well, I adore Paul. I'm going to admit shamelessly that I just wrote the most dreamy dominant I could think of. Dreamy for me, in a way that I was missing from other D/s books I read. Paul is kind, and understanding. He's patient and honest; he reads a lot and works with his hands in his free time. He doesn't care about money or social status. He doesn't play mind games; he's steady. Paul is older than Iris, and I always leave it up to the reader's imagination as to how much older, but I think he's in his mid forties and he doesn't have to prove anything anymore. He doesn't have a list of kinks he needs to try out, he doesn't see submissives as canvasses for his kinks anymore. He's a good person – but of course, he wouldn't be dreamy for me, if he didn't have that Byronic side to him too. The darkness that comes from time to time, the fear that he has nothing more to give, that he's had his chance at a marriage, and he might not be cut of out for it. As a Master, he's settled and he knows who he is, what to do. He is through questioning it, feeling guilty for it, dealing with the fallout. As a man, he still has things to learn.
If you had to choose just one scene from either Driftwood Deeds or Trading Tides, which one would be your favorite and why?
I have to admit, I like the sad scenes. I like it when sex is mixed up with all these difficult emotions; it just works for me. There are a lot of those in Trading Tides for Iris, but my favorite is when Paul's facade starts to crumble, too, when towards the end of Trading Tides, he comes back to her flat drunk because he's afraid to lose her. I love exposing the vulnerable side of characters. I don't like people who are always strong; I love seeing them falter and build themselves back up.
What are you currently working on?
A lot of things all at once, as always. I'm writing Saltwater Skin, and I'm editing the second installment of my Lakeside series. It's a medieval fantasy romance with fae and werewolves and spies and witches, fun stuff like that. And together with my co-writer L.C. Spoering, I'm also working on the second (and last) part of After Life Lessons, our women's fiction meets zombie post-apocalypse mash-up. Basically I'm trying to finish up some series this year to make room for all the new things I have in mind.
When you aren't in your writing cave typing up these hot stories, what do you do to unwind? And you can't say “read a book”. :)
Haha, it's funny, reading a book actually kind of stopped helping me unwind along the way. I am too critical, I compare it to my work or my abilities, I can't stop thinking about it with an editor's eye. It's not the same innocent pleasure it used to be. But I can get that feeling back with audiobooks, so I read for research and to improve my skill and I listen to unwind. Especially when I listen while playing a video game. Or I rewatch Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey, or listen to loud music and dance it out in my living room. I also really, really like stone carving, so when I need to unwind a lot all at once, I take a train out to my father's workshop and carve away at stones :)
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. And I hope to see you here again in the future!
No, thank you! This was so much fun! :D
Series: Breaking in Waves (#1) Genre: Contemporary Romance, Literary Erotica Categories: BDSM Published: December 6th 2013 Publisher: A Hotter State Format: ebook Length: Novella (28k) Heat Level: BDSM
When journalist Iris Ellis visits a sleepy seaside town to interview recluse screenwriter Paul Archer, he offers her insights into never acted upon fantasies of dominance and submission. Too curious to deny herself a taste of them, Iris gives herself up to Paul’s gentle guidance, but when she realizes that a taste can never be enough, she must find the courage to ask for what she needs or risk losing it all.
Called a “gem for fans of BDSM romance and the perfect starting point for readers new to the genre” by RT Book Reviews, Driftwood Deeds is a novella of sexual awakening as well as consent and communication in bdsm.
“Tell me what you’re thinking.”
My mouth opened, but I needed a moment to gather my thoughts and then my words. I drew up my shoulders and bit my bottom lip. “I suppose in the end, it only matters in my head.”
“Everything only matters in your head.” He smiled. “That’s why it matters.
If this weighs on you, you won’t enjoy all the rest we could do the way I want you to enjoy it. It matters.” Put that simply, I found myself staring at him again and then I nodded.
“I’ve never done this before—I mean, this… like in Secretary,” I knew the right words but I couldn’t say them yet.
He nodded, smiling still. “It does require a certain amount of trust, which because I haven’t earned it yet must feel a little bit like a loan you are asked to hand over to someone you hardly know. But especially the first time, nerves and fear may heighten the sensation—it isn’t all bad. And like with everything, you start slowly and… if you allow me to be frank, Iris, I can see how much you want to try.”
I blushed but he didn’t seem perturbed at all. He just smiled and brought his index finger to my nose.
“This little thing was almost a foot further away a few minutes ago.”
It was only then that I realized my strange posture, leaning close, almost at an unnatural angle where his position hadn’t changed at all. My lips quivered until he touched them too.
“You have hardly closed your mouth at all. It is open, and you are breathing through it, shallow and warm. I would not push if it weren’t for the way you are reacting. Do you understand?”
I nodded and he pushed his finger between my open lips. Another tiny, strangled noise escaped as he opened my mouth further, pulled back my lips and touched my tongue. I did want it, all of it. Him, now, and just like in Secretary.
“Do you know what a safeword is?”
I nodded, unable to speak with the careful exploration of my mouth. Of course I knew what a safeword was. He ran his finger along my gums and over my teeth, pushed under my tongue and curled it up as though he wanted to make sure he did his due diligence in finding every single spot, in marking my mouth with his salt and seawater taste.
“Good. But we don’t need one, today. You say stop, I’ll stop what I’m doing. You say no, I won’t do whatever I’m planning. You shake your head and I stop. Okay?”
Again I nodded, my eyes were wide as saucers and he smiled, gently touching my chin with his free hand. He tilted up my face, opened my mouth wider and then brushed over the tiny ridges along the roof of my mouth until he reached the soft palate and I snorted out tiny gagging sounds. He pulled back and let me rest for a second before going for the same spot again, while I tried to mash my heel against my clit, but with too many socks and fabric in the way, I could hardly feel anything.
“You can always ask me to stop and we’ll reassess, okay?” This time, he pulled his finger from my mouth. It was slick and shiny with my saliva.
“Yeah,” I whispered. “Okay.”
Our eyes met for a long time as he smeared saliva onto my lips and a sweet smile blossomed on his face, crinkling the lines around his eyes. It occurred to me that he hadn’t even kissed me yet.
Series: Breaking in Waves (#2) Genre: Contemporary Romance, Literary Erotica Categories: BDSM Published: July 17th 2014 Publisher: A Hotter State Format: ebook Length: Novella (35k) Heat Level: BDSM
Love, they say, is magnified by absence. After the dreamlike quality of Iris' visit at Paul's seaside home, she is back in the routine and drudgery of her city life. Struggling to put a label on what they have together, they phone and write letters, trying to sustain the flame, until they can make time to be in each other's arms again. But once they are, how do they pull back into proportions a love so magnified it burns?
“Close your eyes.”
I nodded, memorized his face one last time and then let my world go dark. I sucked in a loud breath; there was a breeze that ran through the apartment; somewhere below me, a door was slammed. I listened hard for each change in the crackle of the speakers, waited, swayed on the spot as the wine swirled in my head.
“Imagine I’m coming up behind you,” he whispered, and something like relief, like need, like longing shot through my system. “Reach into your hair and pull it up… yes, like that. I want to kiss the back of your neck, run my fingers down your spine. Can you feel my breath on your shoulder?”
I nodded without thinking. Of course I couldn’t and yet, I could, too.
It was warm and smelled of wine; it ran up my neck and promised lips and teeth that would fall on my skin at any moment.
“Good.” He was silent while my breath picked up, while goose bumps rose on my skin. “Take your free hand and brush your bra strap off your shoulder. That’s where I want to kiss you. Bite you. Can you feel it?”
“Yes, Sir.” It was the brush of my own fingers, I think, or the memory of it, the aftershock of touch that was magnified by the darkness in which I held myself. That was the rational explanation, but I could only half believe it. The rest of me was sure, somehow, in some metaphysical way, that he really did stand behind me. Not Paul’s physical body, of course, but still Paul—in thought, like a ghost. He couldn’t touch, not directly, but he was there and I could feel him. He drove my heartbeat, labored my breath.
“Take it off for me now. Drop it on the floor. Don’t open your eyes.”
The bra left my fingertips. I heard the flutter of lace as it hit the carpet. The breeze hardened my nipples, and I think the first hesitant whimpers invaded my breath.
“Are you thinking of me?”
I nodded again. “Yes, Sir.”
“Tell me about it.”
I hesitated, not sure what he wanted to hear. My mouth opened once but then I closed it again, realizing I was about to repeat only what he had told me.
“In your imagination, pet, what happens next? What do I do to you?”
Swaying again, I licked my lips once. The answer to this was easier, almost shockingly so. I’d done little else the last few weeks: thinking of him, imagining what he would do, how he would kiss me, hold me, how he would hurt me.
He was with me in my morning shower, in the bathroom stall at work and the small bistro at lunch. He rode the tube home with me and took off my work clothes. He ate with me, read with me, slept with me. Imagining what he would do to me had become my peaceful place; it was where my mind slipped off to whenever I didn’t force it to think of other things.
“Your hand, you hold me by the back of my neck,” I whispered; then I realized that the microphone had to pick up my voice, and stepped closer to the laptop, tried to raise my voice a little. “You push me against the wall; my cheek rubs over the wallpaper. You pull up my skirt, find me… find me wet.”
“I always find you wet.”
Laila Blake is an author, linguist and translator. She writes character-driven love stories, co-hosts the podcast Lilt and blogs about writing, feminism and society. Her work has been featured in numerous anthologies. Keeping a balance between her different interests, Laila Blake’s body of work encompasses literary erotica, romance, and various fields in speculative fiction (dystopian/post-apocalypse, fantasy, paranormal romance and urban fantasy) and she adores finding ways to mix and match.
A self-proclaimed nerd, she lives in Cologne/Germany with her cat Nookie, harbors a deep fondness for obscure folk singers and plays the guitar. She loves photography, science documentaries and classic literature, as well as Doctor Who, Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory. You can find her across the web. To stay up to date with her most recent publications, please consider signing up for her spam-free newsletter.
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