Wednesday, 17 April 2013

James Wood - Paula's Place

James Wood: Author interview about Paula’s Place

Interviewer: Paula’s Place was a trilogy. Did you want to write something longer like this or did it just turn out that way?

James: Most of my stories up till now have been short scenes – a couple of days or hours in the lives of the characters. I wanted to give Paula more, to build her up, to give her a history and relatives – a past. Likewise for Max. I just felt that their attraction, their passion for each other, and

ultimately the sex that they enjoy together would be deeper and more intense if they were more rounded. That was the first reason it was longer – it needed to be.

There was a second reason too. Paula goes through a conversion of sorts. Seduction. Surrender. Submission. The titles were not idly chosen. At the start of the book Paula is woman who has not yet expressed or given liberty to her most intimate desires. Each book of the trilogy deals with a stage of Paula’s… I want to say ‘conversion’ but that is not it… her awakening?  She has finally met someone who ‘gets’ her, in more meanings than one. A trilogy was a natural fit.

“The Paula books are all written from her point of view. That is not a common writing structure in the erotica genre. Why did you choose to write that way, and were there any challenges?”

James: There certainly were challenges! I have been interested in varying the point of view for a while. Most books are written in 3rd party omniscient or semi-omniscient. All that means is that the reader gets to know more of what is going on than the characters do: how they feel, what they do when the other characters don’t see them. That sort of thing. That’s what most books do, and it works well most of the time.

What I found, and what interested me, was how the reader’s connection with the character alters when the point of view changes. That’s what I did in the Paula books. Those books are written by Paula – you don’t know any more than she knows. That makes it difficult. What does Max think of her?  Well, what the hell does Max think of her? I can’t tell the reader. The reader, and Paula, only get to find out by what he says or does when he is with her, or from what other people say to Paula. Fortunately, Paula and Max get quite a lot of personal time together to help her resolve that dilemma.

The important part for me is that I believe the reader gets to know Paula better because of how it was written – that first person point of view. Hopefully that makes for a more intimate experience for the reader.

It is not the first time I’ve changed point of view. In one of my earlier short stories, Shower Time (you can find it free in a lot of e-book outlets), the voice in the writing is the Dom talking directly to you, as if the reader were ‘his girl’ and being personally addressed.

“In Paula’s Place, Grand Falls appears again. Are all of your books set there, and if so, why?  Can you tell us if Grand Falls is a real town, and if so, how easy is it to move there?”

James: Yes. The books, all of them so far, are set in Grand Falls. I get asked about the town quite a bit. I’ve been lucky enough to travel through the provinces of Canada and a lot of the States, and I’ve found something in every one of them I love. Grand Falls is a bit of a blend, so no, it is not a town with a zip code and everything, but it is real nonetheless. Every street and bookshop and fence exists somewhere. And the characters with their prurient passions are reflective of our sexualized imaginings and desires – yours and mine. Well, I can’t really speak for you, but certainly mine!

I get questions about time period too. There are trains and cars, phones and the Internet, but I hear comments about Grand Falls feeling old-fashioned. I think this is true. There is a stylized set of dress, civility, and manners in Grand Falls that isn’t common any more – if it was ever the case. Picket fences and lemonade – men holding the door open for women. I enjoy that, and I like the apparent contrast with the depraved and erotic adventures that the residents get up to. Though, as we know, every age has had these impulses – dark passion is hardly original. Grand Falls is a bit of a Twilight Zone, but hopefully better for it. Moving there is easy enough – you just have to buy the book. ;-)

“Paula is a smart girl. Do you always use smart girls as your heroines? How do you pick your girls?”

James: Of course she is!  Yes, I like smart women. Smart is very sexy. I like her ‘knowing’ what it is she does. There is a part in the first book where she revisits sexual fantasies of her past. Part of what she likes she knows is ‘wrong,’ and that makes it all the more arousing for her. She may blush, but she can’t plead ignorance. Intelligent women make the most interesting characters. I’m getting excited just thinking about it!

“You are a male author in a genre dominated by women writers. Do you wonder why that should be? Does it come with its own set of challenges?”

James: I haven’t really thought about it much. I suppose that most stories are about women; we write about the heroines. And since most erotica readers are women, that connection makes sense to me. Yes, there is always a man in the book, or men, but the story is really about the women. Usually they are a lot more interesting! 

If I worry about anything in writing D/s as a man, it is that I’ll be taken for a sexist or a misogynist, a charge that I utterly reject. I’ve heard people say that since you write about spanking women or tying them up, or having them ‘give in’ to dominant men, then you are not a friend of women. I don’t agree at all. Paula, and all of my women characters, are strong, positive women. That they enjoy and indulge in sexual taboos I don’t believe belittles them. I feel they are treated with the greatest respect. They are empowered in their sexuality, however depraved or erotic. I care about them, and I like to think it shows.

“There is obviously a lot of hot D/s sex going on in the book, but did I detect a streak of romance?  Paula and her Dom, Max Broekner, are more than a one night stand. What do you think of the ‘Fifty Shades’ phenomenon and the romance/erotica cross-over?”

James: Well, that is a big question. I’m by no means an expert, but my understanding is that Romance as a genre has become a lot more graphic recently, and bondage or discipline has become more mainstream. Is that necessarily a bad thing? And is Fifty Shades the reason, or did it just touch on a latent need? I don’t know. I’m just happy to write about passions like Paula’s and Max’s, that are hot and stir your blood. And yes, there is a streak of romance amidst the turbid sex. That is part of it too. If you feel there is a connection between them, then what they get up to becomes that bit steamier. And what is erotica without steam?

“Max had some of your other books in his library. A book within a book. What was going on there?”

James: A shameless plug – cheap advertising! No, not really. Okay, a bit. You are talking about The Doctrine of Venus. There is a philosophy to D/s relationships upon which The Doctrine expounds that observant readers might link with Paula and her lover. They wouldn’t be wrong. The goings on in that curious house on Vale Street take a page out of that book.

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I am no longer the innocent girl; I am blissful, complete, and knowing.

This is Paula's story, an erotic bdsm romance trilogy. Seduction: A steamy, explicit erotic romance of sexual fantasies come real. Fate brings Paula back to her hometown, where she meets her dark handsome neighbour. Surrender: Paula is drawn into her lover's world of domination and submission, where sensation and lust commingle with intimacy and trust. As Paula surrenders her body to pleasure, she knows she is losing her heart. Submission: Paula struggles to reconcile her feelings with her concern that things are going too fast. As her slide towards bliss only gathers pace, how will their love affair end? Does she even have a choice, or is her submission complete?

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To buy Paula’s Place:
Paula’s Place is available as a trilogy of ebooks, or combined as a paperback. Part 1: Seduction is available as a free download from many major ebook retailers for curious readers who would like to sample the series.

Bio: British-born author James Wood spins sensuous taboo tales. Themes of domination and submission predominate – of hands on legs and garter straps and ladies bound in silk.

Honourable Mention in the Best Bondage Writer category from the 2012 Bondage Awards. 

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