Monday, January 20, 2014

Lotus Petals: A Visit with Brantwijn Serrah

Aijyn, human slave to a ruthless vampire Lord, would never dare do anything to incur his wrath. Then, she fell in love...with his bride.
Rhiannon Donovan, daughter to the vampire Queen, would rather die than be made a bride to a demon lord. Aijyn, courtesan to the undead Daimyo of Kansai, can think of nothing more horrifying than his promise of eternal life. In the halls of the Blood Lotus Temple, the two women struggle against the chains of their fate, and find a solace in each other that could mean freedom for them both...or cost each of them their lives.
Three vampires rested in the room occupied by the captain of the daimyo's hunting party—all three of them awoke instantly when the little human oiran threw back the screen, shouting at them in furious Japanese. Without waiting for them to move, she strode boldly across the little space to come eye-to-eye with the captain himself as he struggled to come to his feet. At first they were so stunned by the mortal's appearance none of the three knew what to do: Kazuo, the captain, finally registered her shrill accusations.
"You would poison the daimyo's honored guest?" she shouted at him. "You would drug her with octopus venom and then humiliate her?"
Coming to his senses—they were slower in the daytime, vampires—Kazuo brought his hands down on her shoulders and lifted her off her feet. The sudden movement reminded her she had stepped into a tiger's den—she stiffened in his grasp and sucked in a fearful breath.
"Since when does the human come into my rooms uninvited?" he snarled. Fear shook her—she fully expected he would hurt her, and rightfully so—but she did not give off.
"Rhiannon Donovan has drunk the venom of the blue-ring octopus," she said, her voice quavering but still strong. "Your huntsmen use it to paralyze and kill—one of them drugged the human she hunted, and she swallowed it with his blood!"
"You dare charge my men with such a disgraceful act? And for a gaijin slut?"
"What's going on here?"
Kazuo looked up; his two servants followed his glance. In the doorway stood Nagisa, tall and elegant, wrapped in the gauzy silk of her azure sleeper's yukata—she, too, must have been roused by the sound of Aijyn's screams. Her cold eyes regarded each of them carefully.
"Aijyn," she said, the curiosity in her tone edged with danger. "What do you mean by disturbing the captain during his daytime rest?"
Kazuo shot a dangerous and warning glare at the human oiran, but Aijyn ignored it, desperate with fear.
"Nagisa-sama, the Councilwoman's noble emissary was betrayed last night during the hunt," she said quickly; she'd never imagined one day it might be Nagisa, of all people, to save her from the fangs of an angry vampire.
"Rhiannon drank the blood of a human poisoned with octopus venom, and now she lies in her rooms injured and sick. They took her hair, Nagisa-sama! They've shorn her like a rag boy!"
Nagisa's poisonous eyes narrowed, her lips pressing into a thin line like the blade of a knife.
"Kazuo," she said the word like a stone dropping into an empty well. "Put Aijyn down."
Kazuo stared, incredulous, at the graceful tayu. When he did not immediately comply, Nagisa strode into the room and grabbed him by the throat.
"Why, Kazuo-san," she growled sweetly. "I had no idea you had already become so bored with immortality. Seventy-three years, if I recall, and already you wish for our master to release your soulless carcass into oblivion."
Amazingly, Kazuo slowly backed down, quietly letting Aijyn go while his eyes remained furiously on Nagisa. His servants watched with silent awe as Nagisa continued, never breaking her hold on the captain's neck.
"Aijyn-chan, you are surely aware you will suffer greatly, should this accusation prove false," the tayu said.
"I am quite sure of it, Nagisa-sama," Aijyn replied, bowing low. "I have heard the captain and his hunting party speak of the blow-darts they use to sting their human prey with the toxin. Kazuo-san has said the poison stings kin-born vampires as well; I am quite sure Rhiannon has swallowed it, and what reduced her to helplessness while her clothes were torn and her hair cut off."
"Please return to the rooms of our guest. Attend to her carefully—be sure these men did not force themselves on her body, as well. I will deal with Kazuo, and send word to the daimyo of this dishonorable conduct."
Aijyn felt cold all through her, and a dizzy giddiness swept through her mind. She had not even considered what she did—storming into one of the vampire's nests!—and now she felt weak in the stomach. How had she even survived it?
Nagisa's words echoed in her head: make sure the men had not forced themselves on Rhiannon's body. How could she not have considered it or checked for signs of it, to see if Rhiannon had also been raped by these monsters?
"Aijyn-chan," Nagisa said again. Shaken from her daze, she nodded. Then she slipped quickly out of the room and found herself running for Rhiannon.

1. How did you start writing erotic romance?
The short answer is, I read a bad erotic novel and decided I could do better, haha.  Really, though, I'd already known I had these characters—Rhiannon and Aijyn—in my head, waiting to have their story told, but I just didn't have the right feel for it yet. When it occurred to me I could write a romance novel for them, everything about it fit, so I went with it.  As for the erotic part, well, I knew there was just more to the story than flirting glances and implied intimacy.  They needed it to be more.  In writing Lotus Petals, I did a lot of looking into the erotic genre, what made it good, what made it bad, so on... to help me with the book I began practicing in short stories and exploring different scenarios, lifestyles and characters.  The result was a catalogue of short erotic works I started submitting to anthologies, while I worked on the novel.

2. Plotter or pantster?
Little of column A, little of column B.  I get inspiration listening to music and so while I've got a particular piece playing, I see the plot unfolding in my head, and these little moments form some of the milestones in the work.  I can't really work from outlines though, and I can't write Part B if Part A isn't written already... even if I know what Part B is, but not what Part A is. So I tend to come up with a lot of stuff by the seat of my pants while I'm trying to get to the parts I already plotted.

3. What are three things you have on your writing desk?
Three cats.  No, I mean it. The minute the laptop comes out they pile onto the desk and decide to become hand-warmers.  Though there's actually four of them.
Though I suppose you mean writing implements and whatnot, so on that note, usually my iPod or my Kindle (allows me to quick reference things or reply to emails and tweets without disrupting the writing too much or losing my place), a notebook (I often have to write by hand while I'm at my day job, so a lot gets written in these instead of directly on my computer), and a snack of some kind. Usually a bad snack.  Don't tell my calorie counter.

4. Favorite food?
Good old classic Macaroni and Cheese.  My favorite is Panera Bread's. Even better in a bread bowl.

5. Tell us a little about your new release. What character in the book really spoke to you?
Well, to me, the story has always really been about Rhiannon.  Aijyn is the character my beta readers and editor grew to like most, and I love her too, but Rhiannon is my character. She's the one that speaks to me and the one I feel closest to.  Maybe that's just because I like vampires.

6. I write because
I have stories to share.  I've always wanted to be a writer more for the chance to tell my stories to others, and to know (I hope!) that they enjoy the stories.  Yes, I'd love to be on a best-seller's list, but this is the real reason I wanted to publish a book.

7. What is your favorite type of character to write about?
I write about all sorts of characters. Part of my pleasure in writing is exploring new points of view.  When I began writing for my blog, Foreplay and Fangs, I made it a challenge to write different viewpoints often. So I've written from a woman's standpoint, a man's, a gay woman's, gay man's, polyamourous folks, a domme, a submissive... that's a pretty good example of my interest in writing different viewpoints. As for just the personality of the character? I very often like to write about strong characters, talented characters who are good at what they do and proud of it, but I like to write about them having a fall from grace, and having to rebuild themselves to the person they were before. It's easy to write about a witch who is already top of her class and lauded by her teachers and brings confidence and talent in waves... what I like to do is put her on that pedestal, then knock her off of it. Take her magic, take her adoring followers, put some flaws and mistakes and harsh truths in her way, and then watch the story that unfolds as she has to rebound. It sounds like I'm sadistic, but it's not about that... I just enjoy watching a character's true strengths emerge when she can't fall back on the ones that came to her so easily.

8. What is the sexiest scene you ever wrote?
I'm working on what I hope will be a very intense, very hot novel about a power exchange relationship featuring a slave and her Master. The book starts off from a short story I posted to my blog a year or so ago: the scene is a captive slave challenged by a barbarian who has conquered her homeland, and a conflict between them that becomes rough, passionate sex, including bondage, a little spanking, little scarring, a little breath play. It was an experimental piece for me but I liked it so much I decided I really wanted to make something full-length and really erotic out of it.

9. What advice would you give new authors in the erotica/romance field?
Be open to including some of the less-traveled areas of the genre. Write about a woman who is overweight; write about a man who is skinny and doesn't have a six pack. Write a scene that doesn't end perfectly; write about a new kink or passion you yourself don't have (for example, I've written from the POV of a gay man who is a foodie).  Challenge yourself and inform yourself of all the different flavors of sex and eroticism there are out there, and remember not all relationships are heterosexual, monogamous true love matches between heirs to a family fortune.

10. What is next on your writerly horizon?
There's already one sequel to Rhiannon's story, written but in need of some polishing before my editor gets her hands on it.  I expect more stories for Rhiannon, too.  More immediately, though, I have another lesbian erotic romance I just submitted to Breathless, called Goblin Fires, which deals with the Fae Courts.  I'm hoping to hear back with some good news!

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Author bio:
Sometime in early 2009, Brantwijn Serrah ran across an erotic novel in her local Barnes and Noble, and fell in love with the gorgeous geisha pictured on the cover. Sad to say, the book didn't live up to expectations. After one too many iterations of the phrase "his most honorable penis", Brantwijn decided to write her own story instead. The idea for Lotus Petals, the tale of a geisha seduced into the world of vampires, was born.

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