1. Some people insist you are not a woman, but a man due to the lack of emotional language used. They say a woman wouldn’t use words such as “slit” or “arse.” They also say that women are great at using emotion in writing and while you do an excellent job in the descriptive category you don’t do so well in the emotional department. What’s your reaction and what would you say they to them?
It’s a question that has come up a couple of times and surprises and depresses me in pretty much equal measure because it seems to be underpinned by the stereotype that women can only talk about sex in deeply emotional terms. In Diary of a Submissive I have three major relationships, one of which is a love story of sorts, the other two of which are more sexual fun with like-minded and trusted partners than conventional romantic relationships. I’d argue that there are points where I’m very emotional – just not all the time. As in my real life, I’m quite happy being laid back about sex where possible. As for the ‘arse’ conundrum – it’s nothing more than a linguistic choice. I’ve always found euphemisms around sex really awkward. My arse is my arse. I’m not going to call it my ‘behind’ and I’m not going to talk about sex in terms of ‘down there’ or ‘lady parts’ or whatever. It’s a personal choice, but I don’t think I’m the only woman who feels that way (I hope I’m not!) – it’s certainly not a sign I’m a man!
2. It’s touched upon with James, but not fully explored. Men growing up with mothers and sisters who are strong and independent…how does a Dom reconcile hurting someone he loves? Can you give us an insight based on your own experience?
I think the key for this is the emotional context it sits within. Hurting someone in an erotic context, when it’s something they get off on isn’t abusive and doesn’t reflect a dislike of or wish to demean women. The dominant men I have met are for the most part respectful, polite and pro-equality in every other kind of context, it’s just in the bedroom they enjoy playing out the same power play elements I do. For me and the people I’ve played with those are the distinct boundaries – my boyfriend and I live together, make our decisions equally and have the kind of partnership you’d expect from any kind of long term relationship. It’s just (sometimes) in a sexual context this shifts – and we both enjoy it.
3. You mentioned you grew up with no corporal punishment. Do you think if you had, your first experience wouldn’t have been so shocking? Do you think you might still be attracted to the lifestyle if you had?
I don’t know it would have made any difference really. People have their kinks, and the fact that BDSM goes back so far historically suggests that even in the days of corporal punishment there was some kind of allure to D/s!
4. Some say there’s a difference between sexual fantasy portrayed in BDSM books and those in a real submissive sex life. Ultimately they say no one should live in a context of fantasy and yet think your lifestyle is just that. In their eyes they view it as an unhealthy attachment to fantasy since it’s an abusive lifestyle in practice. How do you respond to that?
My lifestyle isn’t abusive. That’s one of the major points I’m trying to make in my book. Some BDSM books are more fantastic – in the way that Mills and Boon books are, or sci-fi. But a major part of the reason I was inspired to write my book in the first place was to show you can work, have a social life, be sarcastic and silly and obsessed by Modern Family and still be into D/s without it all being sex contracts and red rooms of pain. People misconstruing D/s as abuse firstly do a grave disservice to victims of real domestic abuse, and secondly are judging me for choices it’s within my rights to make.
5. I’m a bit curious. Do your safe words change when you’re with a new partner or does it stay the same?
They tend to change. No particular reason, it just feels nice to start afresh if I’m in a new relationship. My current one is flugelhorn, born of a joke from How I Met Your Mother. Alluring I know.
6. I’ve seen you described as the real life Anastasia Steele. Does that bother you at all? Why or why not?
It doesn’t bother me. From my day job as a journalist I understand the shorthand of explaining something by comparing it to something else. There are enough similarities there that it makes sense – although I think I’m more blunt and say ‘oh my’ less!
7. Some people have responded to your book negatively and others have come to your defense saying women get a different set of rules applied to them. If your book were about a male sub and female Domme this debate wouldn’t apply. Why do you think that even in our modern age, we still have a different set of values for both sexes? Why haven’t we let go of that old fashioned paternal protection and do you see it changing?
I think if my book was about a male sub and a female Domme, the male sub would be getting criticism for different reasons – notably not fulfilling societal stereotypes of what is ‘masculine’. It’s disappointing but I don’t see it changing for now. All people can do is be honest and open about their sexuality – not necessarily shouting it from the rooftops but certainly feeling comfortable enough to say what they enjoy without fear of being judged in the context of their own relationships.
8. Fifty Shades of Grey has become the accepted mainstream image of BDSM and your book challenges that image. Yet there are millions of women and men who refuse to believe otherwise, how do you change their viewpoint? Do you just address it as pure fantasy and not at all what the lifestyle is about?
I think Fifty Shades is definitely a fantasy – as much about the fact Christian Grey is a squillionaire giving Ana lots of Apple products and whisking her around on his helicopter. That’s ok. At the end of the day the book does reaffirm some misconceptions of D/s, but when six months ago most people would think of a ‘sub’ as a sandwich first off, the fact it’s broadening people’s horizons has to be a good thing – especially if it’s encouraging women to be honest about their desires and have fun in the bedroom.
9. For the men and women who do read your book and walk way wanting to explore their sexuality a little more within the BDSM community, what advice would you give them? How would someone go about protecting themselves from people who might really hurt them especially if they are new to scene?
Trust and communication are key. Start slowly – in fact don’t start at all until you’ve met someone at least a couple of times and got a sense of who they are. If you’re meeting someone you’ve met online give all their details to a trusted friend – and don’t agree to head out to meet someone you know only as WellHung89. If someone isn’t willing to give you at least some personal details for safety’s sake, then don’t meet them. Whether you’re starting out with someone you know well or someone you’ve just met, talk honestly about your limits, and set a safe word. If you’re gagged then figure out an alternate signal. And have fun – the vast majority of people you’ll meet will be interesting and you’ll have a ball. But trust your instincts with the ones you don’t feel that way about.
10. Can we take time to address the aftermath of a “punishment?” What do you use to care for your wounds? Does the pain last for days? In the event that it does, how do you handle sitting for example at work?
How long the pain lasts depends very much on what we’ve been using during a session. A spanking, even a hard one, will usually have gone by the morning. The flogger leaves tiny little marks which can last a day or so, the crop a little longer than that and the whip the longest of all. The marks are tender and often there is a twinge when I sit down at work, but not enough to stop me doing what I’m doing. Actually in the aftermath of an intense session (I hesitate to call it ‘punishment’ because I’m wary of the word being misconstrued), the blossoming of the bruises and the warmth and twinges when I shift in my seat can be really evocative and remind me of what’s gone before. I’m more likely to be distracted by the memories the next day than I am any residual pain!
11. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Generally I enjoy trying to explain what I’m feeling – the contradictory emotions, the stubbornness clashing with my urge to submit, my embarrassment or annoyance paired with arousal. When I first started writing anything D/s related at all it was because I wanted to try and portray that contrast. Those are still my favourite bits to write.
12. Is there anything about your current in-progress work that you would like to share with our readers?
I’m currently finishing up a sequel to Diary of a Submissive, due out next year. It’ll pick up the story not long after the end of the book (and should answer the question I get asked most on Twitter – about the identity of the man in the epilogue!) and cover D/s within long term relationships. It’s slightly broader in terms of the D/s than book one – while pain is still a thing there’s lots of other sexual shenanigans going on. And lots more mention of arses I’m afraid!
13. Have you ever considered writing a fiction novel? What would be the genre you see as most challenging?
Like all journalists I’ve definitely considered writing a fiction novel. I have a couple of ideas for chick lit that I got a few thousand words into having plotted, but didn’t get much further – mostly because I’ve been busy writing smut!
7 Smooches Showdown
1. Favorite place to read? My sofa, with a mug of coffee.
2. Favorite sexual implement? Does my boyfriend count? If not, his flogger.
3. Cake, pie, or cookie? Cake. Preferably carrot cake with a really tangy cheese frosting.
4. Sing in the shower? Which song? Definitely yes. As for which song, whatever I heard last – I am the ultimate victim of ear worm.
5. Favorite sexual position? Girl on top.
6. What is your drink of choice? Coffee, tea or red wine.
7. Favorite magazine? Private Eye – a satirical British magazine with a brilliant sideline in investigative journalism. A mixture to love.
The following two questions were not answered:
#1. I’m wondering if you’ll address something. Diary was rewritten and renamed from the original book: Subtext. Some accounts have billed Subtext as fiction and say Josh (who later becomes James in Diary) is much darker and has no remorse unlike James shows in Diary. What percentage of Subtext was rewritten? Why did you change the names? Was Subtext classified as fiction? If so then why is now a nonfiction memoir? When did you begin the rewriting process?
#2. With your openness about your lifestyle, have you experienced any changes in your life? Have you been approached by fans who want to share their experiences with you?
We were informed Sophie answered the questions that pertain to the US edition of Diary of a Submissive. Still this does not clarify any lingering questions surrounding Subtext because from all accounts the UK edition of Diary isn’t all that different from the US edition.