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.
1. How did you start writing erotic romance?
I read too many erotic romance novels that ended up disappointing me. It already seems like romance and erotica aren't taken very seriously as literary genres... and the authors of these novels weren't taking their work seriously either. I wanted to write something that was not only erotic and emotional, but had a strong story and solid plot as well. As I wrote my first erotic novel, Lotus Petals, I discovered I really enjoyed the freedom and creative potential of writing erotic stories. Since then, I've been able to write so many different kinds of stories, with so many different kinds of characters and plots...I love it!
2. Plotter or pantster?
I plot, mostly, though I don't like to use outlines or other more 'structured' methods. Most of my scenes come to me in little nuggets, and I sort of 'massage' them into a plot. While I was looking through stock imagery to use for my Goblin Fires book trailer, I saw that the model I used for Finn—Reagan's half-brother—also modeled in an image of a man with the body of a snake. It put one of those little nuggets in my head, and so when I write Finn's story, things might get a bit... snaky.
3. What are three things you have on your writing desk?
I write a lot by hand when I'm at work, so I have quite a few notepads handy. Additionally I turn to my iPod and Kindle for research, communication and marketing, etc. And, whether or not I like it, there's almost always a cat sitting on me, somewhere.
4. Favorite food?
I love Macaroni and Cheese, especially if it's sharp cheese or white cheddar.
5. Tell us a little about your new release. What character in the book really spoke to you?
I have a lot of new releases this June! My biggest news is the print release of Lotus Petals. As I wrote the book, a historical paranormal lesbian romance, I most connected with Rhiannon, the lead vampire. She's truly one of my most favorite characters to write about, though she's also one of the most conflicted between the worlds of light and dark.
6. I write because I have stories to share, and my biggest dream is to know others might enjoy hearing them as much as I enjoy telling them.
7. What is your favorite type of character to write about?
I like to vary my characters and try out new things, though by this time I've got so many in my head there are, of course, some very similar personalities. I have to admit I'm a fan of the independent "warrior" woman, like Rhiannon (from Lotus Petals) and Reagan both are. That doesn't mean I don't write other characters, though: Sarayana, my dragoness from Equinox, is infinitely more feminine and Talaith, Reagan's paramour, is much more a thinker and a schemer. I'm always looking to stretch my boundaries, but I think the gals like Rhi and Reagan are definitely my most comfortable types.
8. What is the sexiest scene you ever wrote?
I'll answer this question differently depending on my mood, and how I'm feeling like defining sexy at any given moment. In this case, though, I have to say that, at least from the writing standpoint, the final scene in Goblin Fires really made an impression on me. I don't want to give away too much, but for me, on an emotional level, that scene really stands out.
Of course if we're just talking straight-up, X-rated, no-holds-barred sexy, I'm going to say the experimental "tentacle" story I wrote. But that's all we'll say about that one for now...
9. What advice would you give new authors in the erotica/romance field?
Don't limit yourself to stories reflecting your own fantasies or lifestyle. Be open to possibility of writing a something new and different, something you haven't experienced and maybe never even considered. Do some research, talk to people 'in the lifestyle' (whatever that lifestyle might be). For years, I wanted to write a story about a polyamorous trio, a concept I thought of as 'a perfect love triangle'. I'm not poly myself and have never really felt the desire to explore the lifestyle in my own relationship, but I knew there could be a really wonderful story there, if I took the time to learn, ask questions, and discover new things.
10. What is next on your writerly horizon?
Well, I've got a bit of a juggling act going on. Readers of Lotus Petals have been looking forward to the sequel and I've been trying to polish that one up and get it to my editor. After that, I've got Finn's story to work on (and I've been looking forward to getting into my half-elf male's head). I've got two short stories, part of the Flirts line for Breathless Press, and for the longest time I've been wanting to get out a story about a deep Master/slave, BDSM relationship. So there's a lot on my drawing board, so to speak! The first two are my priorities, but I go between projects as I reach different points.
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"Forgive me," Aijyn said quietly, and returned to her slow, methodical massage. Rhiannon muttered a neutral acknowledgement.
"Rhiannon-sama," she began again, well aware she might be broaching a subject Rhiannon would easily wish to avoid, even to the point of sending her attendant violently away.
"Hm?" the vampire murmured.
"Your bodyguard...she likes to see you in pain."
Rhiannon waited a long time before she answered.
"Perhaps I like pain, mortal."
Aijyn did not argue...but she had seen the expression on Rhiannon’s face when Sölva had tormented her.
"You must hide the scars from the daimyo," she chided gently. "And you cannot allow her to leave any more marks on you, if you do not wish to anger him."
"And if I do wish to anger him?"
"Do not be petulant," Aijyn scolded.
"Does he believe his bride will be untouched? That his kin-born bastard bride will not have experienced acts of the flesh? I am over half a century a living birth-child. Does he realize how most kin-born are meant to earn their keep in demon houses?"
"He expects you will be untouched for him," Aijyn said. "Whatever has gone before, now you are his. And Gohachiro is not a man to share his treasures."
"Doesn’t he like to use pain?" Rhiannon asked. She rolled over under Aijyn’s hands, lying on her side and reaching out to touch the scar she herself had left on the courtesan’s wrist. At the light caress of her finger, a delicious tingle of pleasure ignited under the skin, making Aijyn shiver as the vampire had a moment ago.
Rhiannon pulled Aijyn closer, and lowered herself over the wound to kiss it a second time. The warm arousal intensified, and Aijyn caught her breath as her body awoke to the sensation, nipples stiffening under the soft silk of her kimono.
"Here," Rhiannon whispered, reaching up to brush the dark strands of hair from Aijyn’s shoulder, revealing the tiny, neat scars of bites past. Scars that would never heal the way the vampire’s did, white little lines and half-moons, memories of Gohachiro’s affections.
"Doesn’t he give you pain…" Rhiannon said, following their contours with light but deliberate pressure.
"…so he may turn it into pleasure?"
"Rhiannon-sama…" Aijyn murmured vaguely. One hand had dropped into her lap; the other rested on the vampire’s warm, lean arm. Strange awareness filled her: the touch stirred up the first bloom of eagerness in her loins and the pit of her belly.
"Pain is what we are, courtesan. Pain, hunger, pleasure, death. We are the undead. I am just over half a century old, more than twice your age, and I have been Sölva’s for longer than you have been alive. There are scars you will never see, all over my body: the marks of her fangs, of her whip, the cut of her blade, the pierce of steel needles. And every one of them sings when she touches me, screams when she hurts me...and it is ecstasy."
Aijyn realized with some dread she had made a mistake. The vampire’s touch brushed against her, terribly light, terribly fleeting, but her voice...soft, beautiful, rich, like strong liquor.
Rhiannon’s hand came to rest on the back of Aijyn’s neck. She gently pulled the courtesan closer, resting forehead-to-forehead and searching deep into Aijyn’s wide, dark eyes.
"You do this for him, too?" she whispered. "You...perform anma for him? You touch his body with such delicate affection?"
"Yes," Aijyn whispered.
"And does it make him want to fuck?"
Before she could think better of it, Aijyn lifted up a hand and slapped her.
The strike was not a hard one. At least, to Rhiannon it would not have been hard. Aijyn’s palm stung as though she had struck it against solid rock, and she quickly pressed it in her other hand, hissing with pain.
Rhiannon did not strike back. She remained perfectly still, her expression unchanging. After a moment, once Aijyn had collected herself, the vampire leaned closer and pressed her mouth against Aijyn’s own.
"It makes me want to fuck," she said. Then she stood, one smooth, languid motion, and retreated to her coffin to at last submit to her daytime sleep.
They say you should never meet your heroes, but Brantwijn Serrah says otherwise. At a Los Angeles book signing in 2012, Brantwijn met one of her all-time favorite authors of urban fantasy, Jim Butcher, who couldn't have been kinder or more encouraging to her as an aspiring novelist herself. As it turned out, the book he signed for her that night gave her the first spark of inspiration for Goblin Fires, the story of a goblin Knight hopelessly in love with her princess.
When she isn't visiting the worlds of immortals, demons, dragons and goblins, Brantwijn fills her time with artistic endeavors: sketching, painting, customizing My Little Ponies and sewing plushies for friends. She can't handle coffee unless there's enough cream and sugar to make it a milkshake, but try and sweeten her tea and she will never forgive you. She moonlights as a futon for four lazy cats, loves tabletop role-play games, and can spend hours watching Futurama, Claymore or Buffy the Vampire Slayer while she writes or draws.
In addition to her novels, Brantwijn has had several stories published in anthologies by Breathless Press, including the 2013 Crimson Anthology and 2014 Ravaged Anthology. She's also had a short story published in the Cleiss Press Big Book of Orgasm and the anthology Coming Together Through The Storm. She hopes to have several more tales to tell as time goes on. She has author pages on GoodReads and Amazon, and loves to see reader comments on her work. Her short stories occasionally pop up at Foreplay and Fangs, her blog at http://brantwijn.blogspot.com.