Sidney Swann had me at steampunk. Her new novel Dangerous Science is a roller-coaster ride on the kind of old coaster that makes you nostalgic even as it puts your heart in your throat. I almost wrote "rickety," but the plot of Dangerous Science is anything but that! (And neither is the cybernetically-enhanced swoony intellectual hero Dr. Sebastian Cromwell--my kind of cyber-dom!)
Why do you write?
I write because I’m not happy unless I’m writing. The writing bug bit me early; I was six years old and wrote a story about a deer named “Buttons”. At the end of the story he and his girlfriend went off in the woods and mated. My teacher - a prim, pinch-faced woman - informed me that the story should have ended in the meadow, and that whatever deer do in the woods is their business. Her reaction showed me that writing has power, even over adults. I was hooked.
I also write because I’m fascinated with language, and the magic of escaping into the worlds we create by using it. I’m fascinated that others are so eager to enter those worlds and get lost in them. As a reader, I do that all the time - immerse myself in the worlds created by other writers.
What's your desert-island fantasy? (If you were marooned on a desert-island with only a single fantasy to get off to for the rest of your life, what would you choose?)
I suppose I’d be stranded there with Doctor Who. I would say I’d be stranded with Ten, but after seeing Peter Capaldi’s neo-Victorian costume and piercing eyes, I’d have to revise that and say possibly Twelve. I find Doctor Who incredibly brilliant and sexy. And let’s face it, should a lady find herself stranded with The Doctor, it wouldn’t be for long. (I realize this assessment will be lost on those who are not Whovians; those who are will completely get it.)
Do you think of BDSM and/or spankophilia as a practice or as an orientation, or as something else, and what does your answer mean to you?
It’s definitely an orientation. My spanking fantasies started early on, in elementary school. This is an embarrassing admission, but my first spanking fantasy featured a prominent, nationally-recognized gentleman in my former profession whom I had the awkward pleasure to meet as an adult.
I don’t know why I’m oriented the way I am, and I realize there are degrees. I’m not a lifestyle spankophile, in that I would want to live out some sort of disciplinary arrangement. And I’m quite odd in that the man typical in most spanking fantasies holds very little appeal for me. I’ve always been most attracted to men of intellect - scientists, professors, academics. There is something said about a man who can go toe-to-toe with me mentally. I love a man who can beat me at chess. In my next book there is likely to be a chess scene where the stakes are a spanking. Yes, that’s a spoiler.
Who's a favorite character from your own work, and why?
Well, given that Dangerous Science is my debut novel, I’ve a small pool to choose from. So, of course, it’s Gladys DeWalt. She’s smart, but like all brilliant people she is sometimes clueless to her own emotions. I like her because like me, she’s not a romantic person at heart. She’s independent, and a workaholic. And as an independent woman she finds romance when she’s on her way to doing something more interesting; it’s thrust upon her and at first she’s too proud to realize that the kind of stability Dr. Cromwell offers her is exactly what she needs. I think even though he’s an automaton, he recognizes before she does that what he’s offering is Love. The notion scares both of them. Again that is something I can relate to, because I am a romance author who is not at all romantic.
Who's a favorite character from someone else's work (erotic or non-erotic) and why?
The Lady Door from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. She’s smart, resourceful, brave and faces the most diabolical of foes - the Angel Islington - out of loyalty to her slaughtered family. Like Gladys DeWalt, she doesn’t realize that her male companion is necessary to her success until it’s made apparent. And she doesn’t recognize her feelings for him, nor does he for her. Those are the best kind of love stories, the kind where love just emerges from the jumble of all else going on. It’s like finding a diamond in rubble. You’re like, “Oh, what is this doing here? How lovely!” Such a nice surprise, Love, when it happens that way. Don’t you think?
On a personal note, aside from all this, I’d like to tell you, Emily, how much I appreciate your support and friendship. You and the other writers I’ve met have made me feel so welcome and embraced. It’s been the nicest surprise of this whole experience. Thank you.
You're so very welcome, Sidney. I'm amazed by how many kindred spirits I've found in the spanking fic community!
Here's the blurb for the marvelous Dangerous Science!
Dedicated scientist Gladys DeWalt is a rising star in a Victorian community of scholars and explorers influenced as much by politics as discovery. So when her highly touted mission to excavate a legendary shipwreck ends in devastating failure, the Council of Scholars deals her another devastating blow.
Stripped of her title, she's demoted to status of Intellectual Ward and placed under the authority of Sebastian Cromwell, a former professor she remembers as stern and exacting. Gladys feared Cromwell as a student, and fears him more since his accident and transformation as part automaton by rogue scientist Nigel Longbridge. Cromwell may look and function like a man, but he's as cold and clinical as the gears under his skin. He takes Gladys on to settle an old debt, but informs her from the outset that he will not brook any disobedience or disrespect. When Gladys defies him, she is punished.
But under Cromwell's stern demeanor is the lingering shadow of humanity, and as the dashing automaton comes to admire his ward's intelligence and drive, he begins to question what really caused her mission's failure. What he discovers will shake the Council of Scholars to its core, lead them both on an incredible adventure, and give Gladys a chance to redeem her name and win the love of a man who thought he was now beyond emotional connection.And here's a wonderful excerpt!
She deserved to be punished so severely that she’d return to her room with no question as to his commitment to professionalism. Sebastian stepped over to her. Gladys did not flinch, but closed her eyes, clearly willing to accept whatever he decided.
With a cry of frustration he flung the cane across the room and into the fireplace and pulled Gladys up from the bed. Spinning her to face him, he reached behind her and pulled at the top of her dress, snapping the buttons as he ripped it free and off her. The move required a great deal of strength, and she gasped, wide-eyed and suddenly afraid.
“No,” he said quietly, tipping her chin up so that she was looking directly at him. “Do not fear me. I won’t hurt you, Dr. DeWalt.”
“Gladys,” she said. “Call me Gladys.”