The Brit Babes always love catching up with Jennifer at events and Eroticon 2014 was no exception. We're delighted, therefore, that she's stopped by to chat about her very personal research. Please join us in giving her a warm welcome.
HOW FAR SHOULD A WRITER GO TO RESEARCH THEIR BOOKS?
By Jennifer Denys
I recently had a tattoo done and watched the process with great interest, asking lots of questions and taking careful notes. Did I have a tattoo just for research? No, BUT, ever the researcher, I will be using my experience in my stories at some point.
In ‘Retraining the Dom’ (runner up in the ‘sexiest scene category’ for my publishers readers’ awards last Autumn) which was published last Autumn before I had the tattoo, I did include a heroine with a dragon tattoo which was there to cover a scar - an important part of her back story. In the light of researches for my own tattoo I discovered that some artists won’t tattoo over a scar because it may distort the picture or the ink might not take, so I would have added some lines to that effect if I had known this when I wrote that into the story, although it is the hero who discovers the tattoo and his knowledge of tattoos is limited, so it wasn’t entirely necessary to add anything extra to the story, except for realism.
But that begs the question, how far should a writer go to research their books? Having had my own tattoo means I can now with total realism talk about the sensations in having it done. (It felt like someone was pressing very, very hard into my skin with a sharp biro).
There is nothing better for an author than using one’s own experiences, but there are times when you are unable try out something practically. For instance, in ‘Bounty Hunters’ Captive’ this is a sci-fi and most of the action takes place on their spaceship where I had a weightless sex scene. The editor stated this was the highlight of the book for her, and asked me to expand on it. But I hadn’t included much because I have no idea how weightless sex works.
Now if NASA wish to send me into space just to try this out I am more than happy to head up a research project….. but, in the meantime, I checked online. Not surprisingly no astronaut has admitted to ‘doing it’ in space (or, at least, not published it online that I could find!). So I had to resort to reading through the articles by scientists suggesting what the issues might be: fluids floating around their bodies, problems of keeping contact or even having enough friction to thrust in the first place, possible sea sickness, parts of the body staying upright (eg, no drooping breasts or cocks!) and so on. The nearest I could get to practical research is sex in water, eg, sea/swimming pool/hot tub etc. Let’s just say I did consider past experiences in one of those areas of water. Here’s an excerpt from ‘Bounty Hunters’ Captive’:
Tilting precariously Felissa reached out a hand to steady herself. Rayn yelled, “Don’t touch that…”
Too late. Felissa hit the release button for the artificial gravity system and suddenly they were floating. “Oh shit. What did I do?”
Rayn was laughing hard as Felissa wrapped her arms around his neck in her anxiety. He grabbed her butt to steady her as her long hair streamed out around them, his own ponytail floating at his cheek. However, the impetus of their combined movements pushed them away from the controls, him underneath Felissa as they drifted horizontally.
Uh-oh. Oh well, Garin can come and rescue us. For now Rayn was enjoying the experience of weightless sex. He might not be able to thrust up inside her with nothing to brace against, but the feel of Felissa clenching her inner muscles around his cock made him groan.
“Oh God, do that again.”
“What?” She frowned down at him, clearly not understanding what he was referring to.
He sniggered. “Press your knees around my hips and see if you can try riding me.”
“Okaaay.” Felissa was clearly nonplussed at this idea, but gave it a go, yelping when they went topsy-turvy in a full roll instead.
Rayn laughed hard and grabbed hold of the chair back to stop their motion. She was on top again. “Liss, stop digging your nails into me, you vixen. You’re not going to fall off. You’ll just float.”
But some genres are impossible to research – I also write paranormal stories, werewolves to be exact. When I wrote my first one a friend asked how on earth a person could research werewolves. My answer was that since they are not real I can make it up! However, I did read up a lot on wolf behaviour and it was fun including items of this nature, for instance in ‘The Last Werewolf’ when the hero was trying to keep his real nature secret from the heroine, eg, the desire to sniff her genitals or howl in orgasm. If you’ve ever had a pet dog then some study of their behaviour will help.
A genre I do a lot of practical research for as well as read up about is my BDSM stories – and have great fun researching it! I discovered it isn’t easy to whip your own behind and even tying yourself to the bed doesn’t have the same sense of things being out of your control, being dominated by another (just dangerous in case I couldn’t untie myself afterwards!) ‘Retraining the Sub’ has a scene in it where the hero does a scene with rope bondage or shibari on the heroine. In order to get my mind around how the rope would wrap around the body I tried it out on the teddy – with limited success as they aren’t flexible enough! So in that instance I practised on myself (up to knotting it off!).
Another area that it has helped to practise it in real life is anal sex. I had read, and heard at a workshop, that the rim of the anus is full of nerve endings. Well, it didn’t do a thing for me the first time I tried it. I know this is a part of the body that women experience sensations very differently from one to another. Well, some deep thrusting, on the other hand, and I am off the wall in a realm of sheer bliss.
I did have the experience of a relationship with a Dom for about a year and every time we met I would suggest something I wanted to try out. Let’s just say we had great fun – although his comments were along the lines of, “You aren’t very submissive, are you?” I certainly never went off into sub-space – I was too busy analysing each sensation and trying to remember for future reference. One disadvantage of being handcuffed was not being able to reach the writer’s most essential tool – her handy notepad.
My current work-in-progress ‘Torn Between Two Lovers’ is the second in ‘The Haunt of the Wolves’ series set in a werewolf BDSM club. I contacted a fellow writer early on, as she is someone who worked with wolves many years ago. My question to her was ‘do wolves like storms’? I used her helpful response when writing this (unedited and never before seen!) excerpt:
The rain lashed at Evie’s face as she exited her car, hitting her skin like pin prinks, and she turned away, causing her hair to blow into her eyes. With a growl she swiped it away.
Like members of her wolf family, she abhorred storms. It didn’t matter if she was in her wolf self as her fur was thick and waterproof, but when it was turning into a gale like this one was, she instinctively wanted to find her fellow wolves and curl up under the pines, noses tucked in, sharing heat, staying safe.
Instead she was in her human form, about to visit Jace.
So knowing who has areas of expertise that you can pick their brains is useful for the writer. Watch out for this one appearing in the Spring.
However, something to consider with all of these is that each person will experience things differently. Just because I perceive certain sensations doesn’t mean another person will. Therefore I occasionally have my characters enjoy (or hate) something different from what I would so that my books don’t appear to have the same characters over and over. So while Evie from ‘Torn Between Two Lovers’ is a pain slut, Annabel from ‘Retraining the Sub’ starts off hating impact play, and Olivia, the Domme from ‘Retraining the Dom’, absolutely hates whips and floggers. Her area of interest is sensation play. As for me, I prefer implements of sensation like feathers.
It is proving quite fun to write ‘Torn Between Two Lovers’ because Evie’s two lovers are poles apart – one Dominant, the other submissive, one a werewolf, the other a human, one into impact play, the other sensation play – in this instance, strawberries dipped in wine and trailed over the body.
Oh, and by the way, I discovered that strawberries make a great lube when giving a hand job (and taste great too!)…. Must go and include that in the latest story………
See you later.
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Jennifer Denys is a multi-published author of BDSM novellas, sci-fi stories and romantic comedies with more than one publisher. She is also working on werewolf and historical novels.
An Englishwoman through and through, she lives in a beautiful historical city in England with her pet rabbit who is thoroughly spoiled and is the dominant one in her household...
She posts to her blog three times a week to keep readers up-to-date on forthcoming books and writing in general. Do email Jennifer she would love to hear from fans.