I came across an online archived Q&A that was done with Cherise Sinclair on goodreads.
And thought I would just copy and paste the questions and answers because there were some pretty good ones. 🙂
So for those of us who missed it or didn’t know about it here ya go…
What prompted you and gave you the courage to openly write about a subject that many people only speak of behind closed doors?
There’s two parts to this answer. First, I’d read some BDSM books before that—and had the same reaction, actually. “People actually write about this?” And a while after that, I became ill and was feeling ugly and unfeminine, so Club Shadowlands was actually written as my own fun way to feel better. I was pretty shocked (appalled!) when the publisher sent me a contract.
Did you find it hard to find a publisher that didn’t want you to go back and make your books milder?
My publisher is known for liking to push the edge in erotic romance, so, through sheer good luck, I picked a pub that’s never said, ‘pull back’.
Do you ever find yourself at a loss as how to keep scenes fresh and non-repetitive from book to book?
I think that’s a common author problem, especially after a few books. I not only have to look for fresh ‘kink’—and okay, I rather enjoy that part —but I know that I repeat some of my favorite phrases sometimes, despite trying to watch out for just that.
Do you have anything special you do to get inside your characters heads?
When I’m ‘in the zone’, I usually just kick back, turn on the right music, close my eyes, and type out what I see and feel. (Thank God for being a touch typist, right?) Blotting out the world seems to make a difference, and not seeing what I’m writing keeps me from falling out of the moment to fix typos and grammar errors.
Are you planning a story for Sally? If so, please tell me there will be 2 heroes.
Yep, poor Sally will finally get her book after I finish Master Sam’s story. And, the two Feds seem to think they could keep her busy, but I’m not making them any promises. I’ve discovered that a story doesn’t always go the way I’ve planned when I actually get into it. (For example, Sam was *supposed* to have had a happy ending in Make Me, Sir. Grrr. Idiot sadist)
Do you have plans to do a Ménage series of books with a BDSM theme? Also will there be anymore “Mountain” books?
I don’t have any plans for a ménage series, other than the Wild Hunt paranormals which are all ménage. Then again, none of my series were planned. 😉
At the moment, Sally might end up with two Feds…so we’ll see how that goes. Proper BDSM relationships are difficult to present, mostly because they tend to be one Dom over two submissives, and most of us have the fantasy of one submissive with two Doms. And with two Doms, it’s a lot trickier to establish how the power exchange works.
Do you have any special music playing while you write?
If I want to get down deep, yes, I’ll put on music. I listen to Josh Groban for a lot of the romantic scenes—partly because I adore his voice, and partly because many of his songs are in another language, so I don’t get caught by the words. For scenes in a club, I’ll often play Gregorian chants.
Do you do any special research for your character’s history?
All too often, and it’s easy to get seduced into spending hours playing researcher. Since I’ve done a fair amount of traveling and job-hopped here and there, I started with a broad background, but for occupations like an FBI victim specialist? Research, most definitely.
Do you see an end in sight for the Shadowlands series?
The only two books I know I’m writing are for Master Sam and Sally, mostly to finish up the slave trafficking storyline.
But almost all my series continue simply because someone interesting appears in a book and I get intrigued and just have to write them a story. For example, I’d figured the Shadowlands would stop with Lean on Me…but, hey, Master Marcus and his Southern accent and fancy suits showed up, and I just *had* to see what kind of a person could rile up someone so smooth, right? So, I don’t have any *set* endpoint for the Shadowlands.
Based on Mountain Masters series, the only I have read, does a sub have to have a deep seated feeling of rejection or emotional trauma? I noticed the Doms had trauma too, but the ladies had a common theme of feeling unwanted for some reason.
In real life, the answer is absolutely not. And I think the Shadowlands has more of a variety, from Jessica and Kari who suffer only the normal female dissatisfaction with their bodies (which is a whole ‘nother rant of mine) to serious trauma like Kim and Beth. But, there’s also something about BDSM, that absolute trust in another person, that allows a person to lower her barriers and share past hurts. And face it, you just don’t make it to adulthood without acquiring some emotional pain. Even the most ‘normal’ of us.
And have you ever watched the differences between a man and woman when they look in a mirror? The guy will puff out his chest and nod approval. The woman will lean forward and examine her face for wrinkles or frown at how fat her hips look. It’s just not fair how our society is designed to make a female insecure about her appearance—and how that insecurity strikes so deeply into how she sees herself as a person. Yep, it’s one of my hot buttons. Sorry.
What made you start writing? and writing BDSM books in particular?
I think I’m one of those stereotypical writers who have been telling stories forever. I remember the first thrill of power when a bunch of my cousins and I were bedded down for a family reunion, and as the oldest (all of maybe nine years old), I told a made-up story to quiet them down. And managed to get them all scared spitless with my tale. Heady stuff for a kid.
For BDSM? I simply love it—I love the trust issues, the insistence on honesty, and being able to glory in the dance of dominance and submission. To me, it just adds to a romance on all levels.
Do you have pictures in your mind of what the Doms look like before you start writing or do they evolve as the story moves along?
Hey, I managed to scar some of them up, right? Sometimes I’ll start with a picture of a Dom—like Master Cullen seemed like Boromir from Lord of the Rings—specifically, when he was wrestling with Merry and Pippin and laughing his head off. But somewhere after the first three chapters, the Dom usually grabs control and changes everything to suit himself, and by the time he’s finished, the image I started with no longer fits.
In your research have you found that most subs fit this profile?
Totally. Oh, you’ll see gorgeous women in the clubs or in the lifestyle, sure, but there are many more ‘normal’ women. Let’s see—on one visit, there was a woman in her thirties, probably what she’d call 20 pounds overweight, getting flogged, a short-haired, short stocky woman whose Dom was into whips (she was a masochist), a really pretty younger twenties woman getting caned, a much larger older—maybe 40’s—blonde of the big, beautiful women type on the bondage table with a blindfold. Seriously, that’s who was there. (And it was a M/f night so there were only male/female couples)
What inspired you to start writing about shifters, and do you have an idea of how many books you intend to write in that series? I’ve always adored Celtic legends and spent far too many hours in a garden watching for pixies, always accompanied by a cat. Writing stories about them just seemed normal.
I have to admit that I have no idea of the number of books. As long as there’s someone who intrigues me, there’ll probably be another book. And readers have told me that it’s the werebears’ turn, so the next will probably be either Ben or Daniel.
When you are telling your characters story, do you always recognize your subs (the characters in your head) always as subs or does their sexual nature reveal itself later as the story unfolds?
Interesting question. I always know about the main characters, but the secondary ones? Not so much. Like with my upcoming book, I had a nice sadist all planned out, someone to help out Master Xavier, but then Xavier needed a male submissive punished, and excuse me, but I had no clue that the sadist, deVries, was bisexual. I really hate when I end up blinking at my keyboard, saying huh? and looking stupid. I’m *supposed* to be the author.
Has the community at large responded to your writing? I’m sure all authors get their share of “hate” mail but do you get mail from people judging you or criticizing your morals because of what you write?
Honestly, I haven’t had even one complaint. Now, my dearheart ‘outed’ me in our small town this year, so that may change when it gets up front and personal. But no one has ever emailed me and said, ‘bad Cherise’.
In book 1 of the Shadowlands series, Master Z has the ability to read emotions in people, making him an ideal Dom. With his ability, I was expecting the book to take on a paranormal bent, but it never did. Did you ever consider giving all the masters a paranormal ability? Or making the series paranormal?
Actually, I had no intention of having anything paranormal in the book at all, but I wanted the club to be an extremely safe environment for everyone, so that was the route I took. And, alas, even with that extra edge, Master Z still can’t keep the place totally safe.
So, my children, remember that. Clubs are totally fun and 90% of the lifestylers are wonderful people…but that leaves you with the 10% (in any population) that aren’t. Be careful, yes?
Which POV do you prefer to write in?
Oh, I love writing in both. I really do. It takes a little settling in to switch, and maybe I can more readily put myself into the submissive’s POV or the woman’s, but I’ve always hung out with guys and it’s just fun to switch to their really odd take on things. (Sometimes you have to wonder if they’re not truly aliens )
What is your inspiration for your books?
Oh, everything. But honestly, a lot of times it just starts from one character and me trying to figure out what will cause the most upheaval (only, I’m not *really* sadistic, promise), and it goes on from there. Or an image of a beginning scene—like in Breaking Free, I had this basic image of a submissive in restraints and facing an incredibly cruel-looking Dom. Only, why was she so scared? And why didn’t she just yell her safeword and walk away?
What made you go in the paranormal direction?
Actually, Hour of the Lion was written before Club Shadowlands. It was making the rounds of NY publishers who eventually decided that they weren’t comfortable with a paranormal that blatantly said it was a ménage. So erotic romance was where I veered off my chosen path—all because of one summer of being sick. Fate’s rather odd, isn’t it?
Do you begin your books knowing exactly where your characters are going to go, or do you start knowing only basic plot points that you want to work in and let the characters develop the story as you write?
I’m a hard-core plotter, although I’ve mellowed some over the past books. But yes, I have to know where they’re going and all the major things, although I can now relax and plan out a scene the day before. And it’s actually a back-and-forth type of progress. I plot it all out pretty, then write 3 chapters and discover there’s not enough conflict or the heroine is a whiny meh-person, so back to plotting and another restart.
About halfway through, the characters start tossing in objections. “Excuse me, but I’m not the type of Dom to do that. Think again.” At that point, I have to loosen up a bit (and, that’s really hard for a control freak, right?). Unfortunately, if you give up some control, then you get characters like Master Sam who totally mess up their plot line. (Yes, I’m still holding a grudge for that).
For those of us who have read all your books, do you have any suggestions for other authors/titles while we anxiously await the next installment?
Let’s see—honestly there’s so many that I like. Shayla Black’s Wicked Ties, Joey Hill’s Knights of the Boardroom and Ice Queen, Sophie Oak and Lexi Blake, Kallypso Masters, Bianca Sommerland’s Cobras, Angel Payne, Tymber Dalton’s tearjerker: The Reluctant Dom. Eden Bradley/Eve Berlin’s books. How’s that to get you started?
I would like to know if you randomly give the names to the characters or you take time to associate a character with a specific name. Do you keep changing a name until it sounds right for a character?
No, I pick names depending on the sound and the character’s background and anscestry, and also (this is a writerly thing—so the first letters are hopefully different than other names in that book and nothing is too similar) and yep, sometimes names get changed a few times. You probably won’t have me writing about a Dom named Percivel.
Do you find it hard to ensure a punishment scene comes off as consensual?
This is a tough genre to write in, I think it’s safe to say you are going to ruffle feathers no matter what you do. There was a scene in Club Shadowlands where Jessica was spanked by Master Z and it was right on the borderline of consensual. She’d signed the form and agreed to be punished for certain infractions, but hadn’t read what she signed and didn’t actually consent to the punishment.
Do you find some readers have trouble with a scene like that(I didn’t, I loved it), and do you find that you write scenes thinking what the readers will find acceptable ,or do you just right what you want and not worry about what the reader thinks?
Okay, hmmm. Club Shadowlands was…ah…pretty much my personal fantasy and I hadn’t expected to publish it. After I did and realized that OMG! people were reading it and, worse, using it as a kind of guideline, I started being much more careful to keep things closer to the rules adhered to in clubs and play parties and actual life. So, if that scene had happened in real life? Jessica would have been shown the door. End of book.
And yes, that did edge over the line and I wouldn’t write it today. Who knew an I-feel-ugly-and-unfeminine story would start off a series? Yes, some readers have trouble with that scene. Most realize that this is fiction and just go with it. I’ve had a few who are upset. When I write, I go with what the Dom wants (not always my choice!), and then sometimes change it a bit, depending on what my beta readers say. I try to make sure that my beta readers include a person who’s on the squeamish side and another who edges into being a masochist. And I won’t always change a scene for the squeamish one, but I might explain what’s happening more fully. Or, as in my upcoming book where there’s a pony board scene, I cut the time back for her. 😉 But (apart from the first book ), I do always try to adhere to the safe, sane, and consensual.
I noticed when I signed up at your web page that a Northern California address was listed. I was wondering are you currently living in N. California, and is that one of the reasons that Doms of Dark Haven takes place in San Francisco? or do you just find the liberal lifestyle acceptance of San Francisco makes the stories more real? That asked, why does Shadowlanads take place in Florida… was it just so stories would not become geographically boring?
Actually, I currently live in N. Calif and pop over to SF for some of the fun events, conventions, or to visit the Citadel. I’d dragged Belinda McBride there and that’s how we ended up doing the Dark Haven anthology.
And I lived in Tampa for quite a few years–so, *hanging head in shame* I tend to set books where I’ve lived because I already know the ‘feel’ of the place. Thus, Seattle for the Dom’s Dungeon. Yosemite because I backpacked through it a few times. Lazy, am I. 🙂
Has anyone every compared your BDSM books to the Fifty Shades trilogy? I’ve not heard the comparison but I’m wonder How would you feel about it if they did?
Comparisons are inevitable, but I’ve been lucky and usually see the ones that say they prefer my books. Someone made a poster saying “Christian Gray visited the Shadowlands and the real Doms laughed him out of the club.” LOL
But really, there’s others who prefer the 50 Shades, who liked the 3 books for one couple and the intensity of the relationship. The lovely thing about readers and writers–and lifestylers for that matter–is that we’re all so different and it’s okay. There’s something, a book or a kink, out there for everyone.
I notice you write mostly women subs. Have you considered doing a story with a male sub and female Dom. i.e Olivia?
I have considered it, and/or a M/m story but most of my readers are into the M/f dynamic, so–so far–I’ve tried to keep them (y’all) happy. I might try branching out into bigger subplots for them though.
And…sigh. I also said I’d never write a book about a sadist. And look what I’m working on now. 😉
Would you consider having a character be a switch I can imagine..that would be pretty bipolar to write:)
That actually might be fun to write, especially in a menage setting. So yes to that. 🙂
What do readers who practice the lifestyle think about your stories? Have you received a lot of feedback from them?
I’ve had lots of feedback from people in the lifestyle, mostly subs, but Doms write now and then. Some tell me that they steal ideas for scenes from the books. LOL What they tend to love is that the story–and scenes–are about the emotions, not a bloody whipping. But, I have some readers in the scene who want more hardcore stuff.
I’ve picked up a few ‘resource’ people from readers–ones who help out when I’m writing about a kink I’m not personally into.
When are we getting a new Shadowlands book?
I’m working on Master Sam’s book now, so I figure wintertime. But I don’t contract until I have a decent story, so I don’t have real release dates until late in the game.
Cherise, could you pick your favorite book (from the ones you wrote) and your own favorite character?
That’s so hard–I enjoy them so much when I’m writing them. I guess Breaking Free is one of my own favorites and then…I adore Master Simon. And Z. Older, so very secure men, you know?
Is it a topic that’s difficult for you to write about? And if so, is it simply putting yourself into that mindset to write that kind of Dom? Or, more generally, do you find it difficult to get inside the head of a character whose proclivities don’t really match your own?
I like a bite of pain, but it’s harder for me to understand those at the farther end of S & M. And I know that my readers tend to prefer the lighter BDSM, with more D/s (which also floats my boat. LOL) But it’s mostly a matter of jumping into that mindset and not making judgments.
Do you write on any kind of set schedule such as X # of hours a day or Y # or words per day?
This has been a bad month for me for writing, but normally, yes, I write for a few hours every morning and afternoon and try to do internet socializing before breakfast or after supper. Oddly enough, I get cranky if I don’t get to write enough. (my poor DH)
Were you nervous your first time going to a club? What type of advice would you give to first time attendee?
Of course. But people are very friendly, but I wouldn’t recommend a swinger-type club, okay? Real BDSM with no alcohol on the premises is better. And, honestly, meeting a group at a munch is probably better than that. But if you’re going to walk in cold to a club, give the owners/managers a heads-up that you’re new and most of them will take you under their wings or hand you off to someone who’ll give you a tour and help you out. You can join Fetlife (make up a name–don’t give out personal information) and do a little checking on what’s going on in your area–and then ask some of the submissives in the area if the club is a safe one. Be careful. Go with a friend. Read the rules first. Don’t leave with anyone…be safe, okay?
Okay, I’m going back to the Shifters. Have you thought of writing about any other paranormals, or are you sticking with the “animals”? or is this another one of those “If the mood strikes” subjects?
Aside from doing more for the Wild Hunt series, I probably won’t start any new paranormal series for a long time. I can’t keep up with the various series that I’ve got now, and people get grumpy when I take too long. Grumpy readers are scary! 😉
To Command and Collar is set away from Shadowland, do you foresee writing anymore books that steer away from the club, or was that story-specific?
But-but-but, I put a couple of scenes in there… I actually can’t say whether more stories will end up being mostly outside of the club or not. I didn’t actually plan that, but it just happened. Sam’s book–a good part will be elsewhere, but I have a feeling that lots of Sally’s will be in the club. I still have a ‘watcher’ from the slavers to catch.
Reluctant Dom another one of my favorite books that we pimped a lot here in the group. Did it make you cry? or As I have read in other group make you mad? Some in the lifestyle didn’t seem to care for it.
I cried. And cried. LOL I’ve seen where people complained about the aspects of how the BDSM was used as an emotional crutch in a way. And no, it didn’t bother me, because I’ve seen that. People find their crutches and cures in a variety of ways. I don’t think BDSM is a substitute for a good psychologist, but it’s certainly used–especially by a good Dom–as a way to help. And Tymber made it pretty clear that the heroine had been through the psych route. I’ve known ‘cutters’ and masochists so the route that the heroine took didn’t shock me or seem all that ‘wrong’.
How long did it take you to get your first book published? And is there anything about it you would do differently now if you had the chance to?
Actually–I was published traditionally in another genre, but alas, historicals took a nosedive, so I turned to paranormal and then somehow ended up diving into erotic romance. And I think I had a contract really fast after I sent in Club Shadowlands–didn’t give me a chance to rethink and back out. Publication was maybe 3 or 4 months after that.
Well, I’d sure change a few things about that first spanking scene. LOL And the book would probably be a lot longer. Have you noticed how each book gets longer. But Club Shadowlands is just not long enough to really explore the relationship between Z and Jessica.
What did your husband think of you writing books in this genre? Does he ever try to give you “suggestions” either for a story line or a character?
Boy, that first night when I got the contract…”Uh, honey, I might be in trouble. See…I wrote this book…” But after he got over his shock, he’s been totally supportive all the way and his only complaint has been that I wouldn’t let him breathe a word about it until the munchkins were safe in college.
He helps with brainstorming ideas now and then–and in research (“I want to see what this feels like…let’s try this…”) but otherwise let’s me just have fun on my own.
There are other characters mentioned in passing in the Shadowland books. Will any of them get their own book?
There’s a couple of newer Doms that I’m eyeing as possibles…but it’s mostly a matter of if they come to the forefront during Master Sam’s or Sally’s books.
HERE ARE THE SERIES THAT SHE HAS DONE SO FAR :