BDSM interviews: Annabel Joseph

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“I love writing kinks that have to do with male power and female submission.”

Annabel Joseph, author of emotionally intense and sensual stories, is on my blog today, talking about total power exchange, historical fetishes, and the inner battle of those who are at conflict with their own desires.

What do you find most interesting about BDSM books? What are your favorite kinks to write—and why?

There are so many reasons I love BDSM books. One is that I personally identify as kinky, so they excite me in that way. Another reason I love them, related to being a writer, is that a BDSM dynamic adds more plot possibilities, and the opportunity for more complexity in characters’ relationships. There’s more to explore and negotiate, and more risk if the relationship isn’t going well.

As for my favorite kinks to write, I have a great love for butt stuff—all forms of spanking, anal sex, toys. I love the idea of anal sex as a form of submission, and sometimes as a punishment, but sometimes just for fun. I also like to write sharing/ménage scenes, where multiple dominant men make use of one submissive woman, and also scenes where Doms loan or share their subs with friends. I guess overall, I love writing kinks that have to do with male power and female submission. I rarely write kink just for the fetish factor, without some underlying relationship dynamic. For me, there has to be that dance of dominance and submission that’s constantly creating tension and lust.

Your Mephisto series deals with total power exchange. What are the benefits and dangers of it for your characters? What makes it enjoyable, in your opinion?

Total power exchange is such a complicated thing! I’ve dabbled in such relationships, and it can be a comforting way to live. You’re cared for, you have defined responsibilities, there aren’t a lot of decisions to be made… The benefit is that, as long as you’re serving a trustworthy person, you’re going to be fulfilled in your submission, and you’re going to be safe.

But there’s always the real world waiting outside, and it can interfere when least expected, as Molly discovered in the Mephisto series. Relationships change, people change, life sometimes changes overnight, so the danger comes when someone who’s lived a long time in a total power exchange dynamic must do things for themselves, of their own will and agency, and they’ve forgotten how, or never knew how.

I’ve come to believe that fantasy TPE is probably the safest way to do it. In other words, you have times of total power exchange, but also times when you exercise your own control. This can be done with a “time out” clause to your TPE agreement, where you might be allowed a certain number of “time out” periods per week when you’re released from total power. Or you might negotiate up front the times your TPE dynamic will be in place (for instance, four nights a week, and one whole day on the weekend.)

Total power exchange is one of those things that can be so lovely, but so problematic to do for real, all the time. Ideally, any kink should be fulfilling to those involved and not hurt anyone, total power exchange included, which means there has to be some leeway there for emergencies. These are some of the topics I explored in the Mephisto series, as I was trying to figure it all out for myself.

In one of the books in your Comfort series, there is secret chateau outside Paris where they train women in the erotic traditions of the Code d’Odalisque. Can you tell what it is? What research did you have to do for this story?

I first learned about the Code d’Odalisque when I was active on Fetlife (a kinky website.) I was browsing a woman’s profile, and she had the word Odalisque in her username, and some information about the Code in her writings. As I’ve said, I’m really into female submission, so as soon as I started reading about the Odalisque lifestyle, being a willing, elegant, and generous sex slave for a man, I was fascinated.

The Code d’Odalisque isn’t a real historical document, but something kinky folks have written and embellished over the years, adding their own ideas to it. You can google to find various versions, but I’d say it falls under the umbrella of contract-fetish play and female sexual submission. Of course, it’s super yummy to me as a hardcore submissive. It captured my imagination so completely that I knew I had to write a book about it, and my novel Odalisque was born.

Some of your books are historical. Is there much difference in writing about contemporary and historical kinks?

There’s a lot of difference, at least in my books. To begin with, the idea of “BDSM” and our modern appreciation for kink roles (Master, Mistress, slave, Dom, sub, switch), leather, latex, high tech toys, dungeons and sex gadgets didn’t really exist back then. Of course, there were brothels and fetish clubs people frequented during the time periods I write about in Regency and Victorian England, but only the most wealthy, kinky echelon of society would have sex toys, dungeons, or sex furniture. There was no formalized “lifestyle,” even if they were into kinky stuff. It was much more about hedonistic sex and following your fetishes.

My main historical-based fetish is spanking and female submission (this again, lol?) so my historical novels mostly revolve around spanking, discipline, stern husbands brandishing canes and whips, and the occasional thorough buggering (anal sex) to keep those wayward wives in line. In my contemporary novels, my characters’ relationships are developing in the more modern kink scene, and the women, of course, are a bit more independent “outside the dungeon” than women back then.

There’s a charm to historical kinkiness that I miss in my modern books, but at the same time, there’s more to work with in modern BDSM stories as far as equipment and relationship dynamics. If you asked me to pick which one I like writing better, I really couldn’t do it. They both have their ups and downs, but I like writing in both worlds equally. I usually alternate back and forth between the two for variety.

Many of your characters seem to fight with their desires. What would be your advice for those who are interested in something kinky but are uncertain how to proceed about it?

I think that inner battle comes from fear of taking a risk, or being hurt, since the stakes in a BDSM relationship can be so much higher, especially when you’re talking about wanting scarier kinks like hard pain, breath play, rough sex, etc. The other huge factor is emotional—you offer so much of yourself in a BDSM dynamic, so a breach of trust or cruel rejection is so much more painful.

So, my main advice is to begin slowly, and to build trust. Get to know possible partners as friends before you move to activities. If you’re totally new to the kinky world, join an online community first to learn and chat and make friends, and to learn about local munches, if they exist. It can be hard to wait when you have these desires that you want to make a reality, but finding trustworthy partners is important. Remember, even if your kink is to be abused, degraded, or humiliated, you need to trust the person who’s doing it, and find someone who knows how to do it the right way, or you could end up in real danger.

While you’re going slow, and taking these safe steps, you can be using that time to educate yourself and really decide what you want out of a kinky relationship or experience, so you won’t be taken advantage of, or harmed by unsafe practices.
My final advice, always, is to be sure what you’re doing fulfills you and makes you happy. Check in with yourself often, and communicate clearly with your partners if something’s not working for you. Safe words are there for a reason. Have fun and play safe!

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