BDSM interviews: Emily Tilton

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“For me, Victorian erotica is the hottest erotica in the universe.”

Emily Tilton’s books have hit number one on Amazon in six different erotica categories. What a commendable diversity!

What brought you to writing BDSM books?

I’ve been writing D/s erotica since I was very small, actually. I’ve also always been quite religious, in the Anglican Catholic tradition, and so during the many years when I thought sexual pleasure was sinful at a basic level I would write long D/s stories and then delete them, only to do it again. Events in my life finally conspired to make me let go of my old view of God, and I decided I was made this way, and the real sin would be not to share it, no matter what a traditional Christian view of erotica and kink might be.

Many of your stories have the words “shameful”, “punishment” and “shared” in their titles. What makes these themes so fascinating for you?

Probably the many years during which I was ashamed to have the needs and the imagination I have made shame and humiliation the most arousing things in my personal fantasy-landscape. Punishment goes hand in hand with that theme, for me: in fantasy, we should be punished for those things of which we are ashamed. The “shared” theme follows a separate course, and is, I think, also more of a mainstream kink (if kink can ever be mainstream). To me, the basic hotness of sharing lies in the master’s objectification of the girl as he passes her along like a valuable commodity.

While the real-life BDSM should be safe, sane and consensual, BDSM fiction often deals with non-consensual situations or dubious consent. Do you think it should still be called BDSM or something else? What makes non-con stories appealing for readers, while they most likely wouldn’t want something like that happen to them in real life?

I’ve never approached this question (about whose general theme I think a great deal) from the angle of what the fiction should be called, but I think it might prove a fruitful approach. I would heartily support a movement to label books like Story of O, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, and my own works as something like “Submissive Fantasy Fiction,” though I have to say I can’t see it succeeding. I think non-con and dub-con appeal to submissive readers because submissive arousal happens (in my opinion) through a feeling of objectification, and non-consent (like sharing) is one of the most powerful expressions of objectification. In real life, the rational parts of our minds (thank God) are able to turn off our arousal in non-consensual situations, to help us preserve ourselves. Those of us who have the gift of an imagination that wanders far and wide can let go of that rationality, though, when we read.

Are there some aspects of BDSM you find difficult to write about? What was the most challenging scene for you?

I have a hard time with brats because even in my fantasies I’m a good girl. I know it’s a theme many of my readers really enjoy, so I’ve worked very hard to write better brats and bad girls, and I think I’ve succeeded at least a bit. It helps me to think of my brats as searching for boundaries that they want only the master or daddy they love to give them.

One of your series is set in the Victorian era. Is there much difference in writing about contemporary and historical dominance and submission?

For me, Victorian erotica is the hottest erotica in the universe, because the contrast between the expectation of feminine modesty and the reality of submissive and dominant desires seething beneath the surface was so great, as we see from time to time in the works for example of Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope. Because shame is my go-to kink, and because I love elegant language, writing in a Victorian style feels endlessly engaging to me.

At the same time, whether I’m writing about shame in 1870 or 2070 or 5070, it’s the same human emotion. I’ve lived so thoroughly in the Victorian period, through my imagination, and shame was such an important part of the social fabric of Victorian England, that it’s a lot easier to motivate it in that context, but I think as long as people, say, wear clothes in a climate where they could perfectly well go naked, shame will be around. It will always be hot for a dominant man to tell a submissive girl that she had better take her panties off, or she has a spanking coming.

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