Friday, 27 March 2015

An interview with Shanna Germain

Last week I posted an interview with D.L. King, editor of The Big Book of Domination. This week I put the same BDSM questions to Shanna Germain, whose book As Kinky As You Wanna Be is also out from Cleis Press:

As Kinky as You Wanna Be is not an instruction book. It won’t teach you how to tie up your squirming lover or choose the proper lube. Rather, it teaches you how to be a kinky person who has safe, sane, and smart experiences. Like a tourist’s guide to BDSM, As Kinky as You Wanna Be offers a road map to your own kinky self. This book helps you discover which kinky countries you want to visit, gives you tips and techniques on the language of BDSM, and helps you navigate the customs and rituals of the kink community.

With sections on discovering your pleasures; talking about kink with your partner, your family, or your doctor; staying physically and mentally safe; putting your kinky dreams into practice; and dealing with difficult situations,
As Kinky as You Wanna Be is your guide and confidant. The book features informative interviews with BDSM experts such as Jay Wiseman and Lee Harrington, and it is sprinkled with stories from top erotica authors like Janine Ashbless [Oooh!]and Rachel Kramer Bussel.

Hello Shanna, my second victim! I hope you don't mind me keeping you waiting ... ;-) Now tell me, what made you pitch this particular book to Cleis? 
I was thinking a lot about 50 Shades of Grey and what I saw as sort of a rising frenzy about the book and BDSM in general. It wasn’t inherently a bad frenzy, but it seemed like one that was often misinformed. One of the greatest things about books, in my opinion, is that they’re “gateway drugs” to things – travel novels make us want to see the world, romance novels make us want to fall in love. And I think 50 Shades of Grey is many people’s gateway drug to BDSM.
On one hand, that’s awesome. Welcome to the kinky club! It’s fun in here. And on the other, it’s dangerous, because there’s the chance that you’re opening that door before you’re ready. It’s like reading The Sun Also Rises and thinking you know how to be a bullfighter. Which isn’t the book’s fault. That’s what fiction does. It’s just that most people understand that you need training and education and knowledge to be a bullfighter. But we don’t think about sex that way.  
So I wanted to make a book that could be handed out to people at the door. You’ve read or watched 50 Shades and it’s gotten you interested in BDSM? Awesome. Here’s your travel guide, safety video, and inspirational packet all rolled into one.
I pitched the book that way to Cleis, and they were kind enough to say yes.

What did you most enjoy about putting this book together? Did you come across any surprises? Did you learn anything new?

I always love collaborating with other people and I think that doing the interviews and gathering the short stories were absolutely my favorite part of this book. There is so much knowledge out there, and so many people were kind enough to take the time to share it with me (and readers).
I think I was mostly surprised by myself while I was writing it. I’m primarily a fiction writer, so writing non-fiction is always an odd place for me. I thought this book would be more distant, more clinical. But as I started writing, all of these personal moments came out, stories of my own mistakes and experiences that kept wanting to be told. I tried to ignore them for a while. Then I remembered that sex is a lot like writing: beginning writers are always comparing themselves to published authors and seeing all their flaws. But if you show them a famous author’s rough draft, they’re like, “Oh, I can do that!” So I thought that by showing my flaws and errors, it would help people see that sex isn’t perfect, that it’s okay if you flail around for a while trying to find your way.  
Is “kinky” a label you apply to yourself? Are there other labels you prefer? (I ask because I enjoy a lot of BDSM-type stuff myself, but I’m not so much into any one thing that I feel it right to define or label myself that way.)
If I have to choose a label for myself, I do like kinky. It feels like a big bucket that has room to hold all of my ever-changing sexual interests. Kink also sounds kind of like cake, which makes me happy.
I'm hungry now - Janine
Have you read/watched Fifty Shades of Grey?   
I read the first book. I try to read everything that I can in whatever genre I’m writing in, because I think it’s good to keep up on what people are reading. I always want to be able to talk about things from a place of knowledge, and not from a place of conjecture and Internet rumor. I’ll probably see the movie for the same reason.
Are you glad more vanilla people are trying BDSM thanks to 50SoG? Worried? Or do you think it’s just a silly fashion thing that’ll die back to its core interest-group?
I want people to be happy doing stuff that they love. So, yes, I’m happy for anyone who’s stretching their boundaries and exploring something new. But also worried. I just read an article this morning about a man who sexually assaulted his ex-girlfriend and when he was arrested, he said he was trying to reenact 50 Shades. Whether he really was or that was just an excuse, either way, it’s incredibly scary. On the other hand, I also just read about a woman who was arrested for masturbating in the theater while watching 50 Shades.
Will it blow over as a cultural phenomenon? Probably. But there will still be all those people who tried BDSM during this, found out they enjoyed it, and now it will add something awesome to their lives for years.
If you had to give up either Writing or Sex, which would you sacrifice?
That is officially the hardest question anyone’s ever asked me. It’s totally sadistic, in fact! Writing is my heart and sex is my blood, so I’d probably die no matter which one I gave up. But I’m going to say that I would give up sex, but only because I hope I can get around it by using a very narrow definition of that word.  
Do you think the readership for erotica has changed in your time? If so, have you changed what you are writing, in response?
I do think it has. It’s certainly gotten broader and more public. There’s less shame around it, and I believe that’s a good thing.
I think it’s changed my writing in only one way. For the most part, writing is a very private experience for me, just me and the story. I don’t really follow trends or anything like that in my writing, because it’s not my goal to be rich and famous. My goal is to continually improve, to write the best stories that I can.

The way it has changed my writing is because for me, to quote Anais Nin, “The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.” Now that a wider group is able to read and write and talk about sex (yay!), in some ways I feel like my job is done.  
What was the first book you ever read that turned you on?
Forever, by Judy Blume. And my dad’s Playboy magazines, which aren’t books but they were formative for me in seeing the beauty of all genders.
The book that first turned me off was my parent’s copy of The Joy of Sex. As a kid, I was freaked out by all of that hair everywhere. Those beards!  
Which fictional character would you most like to have sex with?
Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. When he says, “You were made to be ruled,” the submissive side of my heart just kind of goes splody. Especially if I could add Stella Gibson (from The Fall) to the mix.    
Do you have a Message you are trying to get across in your writing? If there’s one thing you could tell your readers, what would it be?
I don’t think I have a Message in my writing, other than my own directive to honor the story and the characters when I’m creating. Those two things always come before anything else. Before my own beliefs. Before societal expectations. Before my critics’ responses. Before anything. 

If I could tell my writers one thing, it’s: Love what you love and let others do the same.  
You can only eat one flavor ice-cream for the rest of your life … Which do you pick?
The Tonight Dough starring Jimmy Fallon, by Ben & Jerry’s. It’s caramel and chocolate ice cream with chocolate cookies, chocolate chip cookie dough, and peanut butter cookie dough. With chocolate sprinkles.
Never let it be said that I’m not a hedonist. Or someone who will find a way to subvert the rules!  
Oh good grief, now I want to GO EAT ICE CREAM! Thank you for your answers Shanna, and I will blame all the weight gain on you!

Buy As Kinky as You Wanna Be  at
Amazon US : Amazon UK : B&N

Shanna Germain’s poems, essays, short stories, novellas, articles, and more have found homes in hundreds of magazines, newspapers, books, and websites. As the editor of erotic anthologies such as Bound by Lust: Romantic Stories of Submission and Sensuality, she’s garnered several awards, including a Pushcart nomination, the Rauxa Prize for Erotic Poetry, and the C. Hamilton Bailey Poetry Fellowship. She lives in Portland, OR.

She's the co-editor of Geek Love and writes for the Numenera roleplay game

Visit her online at


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Loved the blog