Cecilia Tan is "simply one of the most important writers, editors, and innovators in contemporary American erotic literature," according to Susie Bright. Her BDSM romance novel Slow Surrender (Hachette/Forever, 2013) won the RT Reviewers Choice Award in Erotic Romance. In a career that spans 23 years, Tan is the author of over a dozen novels including The Hot Streak, The Prince's Boy, and Daron's Guitar Chronicles, as well as the founder of Circlet Press. Her short stories have appeared in Ms. Magazine, Nerve, Best American Erotica, Asimov's Science Fiction, and tons of other places.
TODAY, Cecilia answers some questions for MFRW. Let's start by asking just how much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
A: Oh, a ton. Especially since what I'm writing a lot of now are BDSM romances, and I've been able to draw on more than 20 years of ""hands on"" (and other parts, ahem!) experience with bondage and kink.
When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first manuscript?
A; I was calling myself a writer from when I was four years old and instead of drawing on manila paper like the other kids I would fold mine over into a book and write ""Th End"" on the back. I couldn't spell yet. I wrote for years, took creative writing classes in high school and college, but it wasn't until after college graduation I wrote a story called ""Telepaths Don't Need Safewords"" and felt like I was really on to something. It felt like a full and complete story somehow, when everything else had felt unfinished. It was erotic BDSM science fiction and I could NOT submit it anywhere because it was prohibited by the writers guidelines of literally every publication in the USA. The BDSM publishers and erotica publishers would not accept science fiction, and the science fiction publishers would not accept anything with sex. So I self-published it. That was in 1992.
Tell us about your latest book. What motivated the story?
A: Well, we've come a long way from 1992! Publishers are finally catching up to me. Now all of a sudden they WANT all the BDSM that for the past 20 years they would not touch. So my latest book finishes off a BDSM trilogy for a big New York publisher, the Struck by Lightning series. Slow Surrender, the first book in the trilogy, was motivated by me reading 50 Shades of Grey and thinking, dang, I could write a much better book than that.
Where did the idea come from?
A: The genre demanded a mysterious billionaire, of course. I decided if I was going to give him a secret past or a secret identity it wasn't going to be like anything I'd seen before. Making James secretly famous, a rock star, let me play with two of my favorite things in one, BDSM *and* rock stars!
Do you feel humor is important in fiction and why?
A: Absolutely. I especially wanted my heroine, Karina, to have a sense of humor. She needed to be both smart and likable, and to be the type who isn't passive, instead she pushes back. Part of how she charms James is through her sense of humor and she never loses that throughout the book. Even as she's falling under his ""dom aura"" (as she calls it), she finds she can't take a lot of the play-acting common in BDSM seriously. She wants the real thing, real passion, not playing dress-up.
What is your writing routine once you start a book?
A: Start? You make it sound like I get to start and finish a book and then rest before starting the next book. I'm always writing a book, sometimes two or three simultaneously. My ""routine"" is I write in every spare minute I can scrounge out of every day, every plane flight, every train ride, every hour at the coffee shop before an appointment. I run a small publishing company and I am also the editor of two academic journals about baseball, I teach martial arts part time, and I'm a massage therapist. Yeah, my ""routine"" is just write whenever I can. I sometimes host ""Ass In Chair Day"" at my house on a weekend afternoon. It's like a knitting circle except everyone brings their laptops over and we all write like fiends. It's great.
What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
A: Hahaha! Relaxing and recharging isn't something I get to do often. When I do, it usually involves either travel or gourmet food, or both. Last year we took a trip to Spain and ate our way across Barcelona and Catalonia. We're hoping to do a cruise next year and maybe a trip to Japan after that. It's great to unplug during those trips: almost no email or Internet, and no writing. But you never stop being a writer. Every trip I take ends up providing a setting for a scene or a future book!"
MFRW Author Cecilia Tan released Slow Satisfaction (Struck by Lightning Series, Book 3), an Erotic Contemporary BDSM Romance, with Hachette/Forever in August 2014.
James has finally pushed Karina beyond her limit--not her limit for kinky sex play, but for his extreme secrecy. She has had enough and breaks things off. But James won't give up on Karina and will do whatever it takes to get her back. He's ready to share his deepest, darkest secrets, but is Karina ready to hear them?
James offers Karina not only the truth but a place at his side... onstage. He wants Karina to star in his final musical production and enter his life and his world fully and completely. As the two work together, they rekindle the trust and love they'd lost. But James's world is full of deceit. When he is blackmailed by an unscrupulous music industry executive, James must give in to unreasonable demands or risk exposure of his and Karina's secret sex life.
Will Karina and James's love be strong enough to withstand the many obstacles being thrown their way?
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James's eyes were serious, even as his face and body were relaxed and languid post-orgasm. “Did I convince you to give me another chance?”
I considered. “You at least earned the chance to tell me what I don’t know.”
He took my hand in his, like he had so many times before. This time he kissed my fingertips, his eyes closing as he did. “I have a lot to tell you. More than any single interrogation might reveal.”
I squeezed his hand. “I shouldn’t have to interrogate you for the answers.”
He sucked in a breath. “No. Of course you shouldn’t. There’s so much I need to tell you if you’re really going to get to know me.” He reached up and traced the curve of my cheek with his fingertip. “Yet I feel like you know me better than anyone.”
“I do know you,” I said. “I just don’t know the facts about you.”
His gaze shied away from mine. “Many of the facts are sordid.”
“Says the man who put a six-inch dildo into me and walked me around the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”
“I mean much more sordid than that.” Now his face had completely clouded over.
“I want to know, James. I need to know. I have a right to, if we’re going to be together.”
He nodded, though his eyes were closed. “I know. I agree. That still doesn’t make it easy for me to open up.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Except during sex.”
“As you well know. Were you serious about what you said before? I would sincerely give you a piece of my past for every time you give me…” He kissed my fingertips again. “Anything. Sex. Your body. Your submission.”
Even though we’d just had sex, I felt a thrill go through my loins. “I wasn’t suggesting it lightly.”
“I want to be sure. Sometimes we say things in the heat of passion that seem less than wise afterward.”
“But sometimes we get inspired.” This could be the perfect solution, I realized. “I know the time you’re the most open is when we have sex. That’s the time your answers will be the best. Of course, if we do this, I could still revoke my forgiveness at any time.”
“Of course. Just as you can revoke your consent at any time. I understand, Karina. It’s the Thousand and One Nights, only this time I’m Scheherazade, telling the stories.”
I touched his face with my fingers, feeling like a weight was slowly lifting from my back. Maybe we were going to make this work after all. The fact that he was willing to try so hard made a huge difference in how I felt. And I wanted him.