Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Still by Ann Mayburn (Interview)

Lexi: *fanning myself* Is it hot in here? *looks down at iPad to reread blurb for Still* Wait! No, its not me! Its our guest today, Ann Mayburn, who has the ability to steam up any room. Welcome Ann!

Ann: Thank you so much for having me, Lexi! :D

Lexi: Anytime I pick up one of your books I know I am going to get a hot erotic read. And your newest release, Still, sounds hotter than ever. You put your heroine, Michelle, in the power seat this time. Have you been wanting to write this dominant woman for some time now? 

Ann: In real life I’m a switch(80% Domme and 20% sub) so writing a Domme based story has always appealed to me. Unfortunately there is such a preconceived, negative stereotype of FemDom romance that I put it on the back burner. My readers love Male Dom and I love my readers so I focused on writing mostly Male Dominant BDSM Romance…though a few Mistresses’ did work their way in. ;)

When I set out to write Michelle and Wyatt’s story I wanted to show some of the Dommes that I knew. I wanted the reader to see that FemDom can be just as sexy, just as hot as Male Dom and that a male submissive isn’t a wuss just because he submits. Wyatt is very, very much an Alpha Male but he chooses to submit to Michelle at first because he loves her, then he realizes that once he gets past the hang ups that society puts on men about submitting, he finds he really enjoys it. 

It was important to me to show that Wyatt can bend a knee to Michelle, surrender to her, without losing his himself in the process. And Michelle never wants to humiliate, abuse, degrade, or in any way break Wyatt’s trust. She loves to give him pleasure, loves it when he submits to her, and is totally addicted to the rush of Topping such a big, bad Marine.

Lexi: You touch on a very serious issue, post traumatic stress disorder. It may seem like such a small thing to those of us who never have to deal with it. But imagine not being able to sleep beside your loved one for fear they will wake and not see you but an enemy. Did you do a lot of research before you began to write Wyatt?
Lieutenant Michelle Sapphire in Afghanistan during a medical outreach visit to a local village.
Ann: Absolutely. 

More people suffer from PTSD(Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in varying degrees than you can imagine. It’s not just a military thing and it effects millions of people around the world. The human brain can only process so much in times of crisis and the details, the emotions and even the fear can be shoved aside into a mental box, allowing us to survive that crisis. It’s a biological reaction on a deep level of our mind that we’re not even aware of. 

Think about it this way. Evolution led to you. Every one of your ancestors had to survive in order for the genetic chain to link to you. For countless generations your ancestors were the ones that survived the crisis, the ones that were able to compartmentalize fears, thoughts, and emotions in order to survive the bear attacks, the forest fires, and war. 

It is only after the trauma that we begin to process that information and for people with PTSD, the brain in some people becomes almost obsessed with protecting that person from a repeating that scenario. PTSD is not something we can control, it is not something we can wish away. It is our primitive monkey brain doing what it does best, keeping you alive to pass on your genetics to the next generation. The best we can do is learn how to retrain our brain to process those emotions and flight/fight chemical rushes. 

Of course I’m totally over simplifying and PTSD varies from person to person, but I hope you get my basic point.

A real life example of this would be my friend ‘Tina’. While over in Afghanistan a couple years ago, she got shot in a firefight when her convoy was ambushed. She survived a terrible, terrible situation with only two gunshot wounds to her left arm. Right before she got shot, she caught a glimpse of the man out of the right corner of her eye. 

Now, whenever anyone approaches her quickly from her right side in a certain way she has to fight her mind screaming at her that she is about to die. It’s taken her a long time, but she’s learned to cope with it by doing different mental tricks that work for her. I used some of those tricks in ‘Still’. My editor for ‘Still’, Ekatrina Sayanova, and I put in a great deal of research into some of the emerging treatments for PTSD and talked with a lot of people about it.

In my case, I’m an Army daughter and granddaughter, a Navy wife, and a proud US Marine sister. I’ve lived on military bases, I’ve done the military wife and brat bullshit, and I’ve seen firsthand the terrible price our military is paying as they come back from war. For me it was very important to present both Wyatt and Michelle’s PTSD in a relatable way to help the reader, if only for a moment, know what it is like to be inside of their heads.

Lexi: Research for contemporary novels used to sound like wasted time to me, until I thought of all the knowledge and details that need to go into a novel to make it feel real to the reader. Do you enjoy that aspect of writing even after so many releases?

Ann: I’m a total research nerd.-lol- Even when I was a kid I would read the encyclopedia for fun because I loved learning about new places and new people. When writing contemporary romance I really try to get into my characters heads as much as possible. That means knowing where they live, what they would drive, what they wear and what they eat. Not all of that stuff makes it into the book, but it helps me flesh that character out and make them real.

Even though we all live in the same world and see the same things, it is how we seem them that makes the difference. Everyone looks at their surroundings through their own personal pair of sunglasses that distorts the world to their view. Like you and I may look at a blue quilt and see two totally different things based on who we are. I might look at the quilt and notice that some squares are made out of jeans material and I think about how it might look in my bedroom. You could look at the same quilt and it could remind you of your grandmother. Same quilt, different reactions.

I try to carry that over into my stories, especially because I write usually dual POV books. In ‘Still’ I tried to make the POV easy to get into because once you enter that character’s mind you go into a totally different world. This is especially important in BDSM romance because it is a mystery to most people why someone would enjoy a relationship like that. By doing my research, getting into their heads, and giving you their thoughts filtered through their personal lenses of experience I hope to make my reader understand why the characters react the way they do. So even if FemDom may not be your personal cup of tea, you get so wrapped up in who Wyatt and Michelle are that you no longer think of the story as you observing it, but rather you live it through the characters and get caught up in how they see the world.

Lexi: Research aside, what is your take on the new fad with BDSM? Do you feel it has helped you reach out to a broader audience? Any interesting fan mail? 

I think it’s great! Every generation seems to think they invent sex and no one has ever been kinkier than they are. ;) If people enjoy it and it floats their boat, that’s awesome. If they don’t like it and it sinks their ship, at least they gave it a chance. I think BDSM is such a broad generalization of so many different kinks and fetishes that it easily appeals to a broad reader base. Say what you will about 50 Shades, love it or hate it the books opened a whole new world of romance to many readers and I think that’s great. 

I’ve received lots of great fan mail, but the ones that strike me the most are from readers who dug up the nerve to experiment with XYZ with their partners after reading my books. I had one woman write me last week that after ten years of marriage she finally found out that her husband was dying to be dominated by her, but always thought she’d think he was a freak. He’s military and she was talking about ‘Still’ with him and mentioned that it was a FemDom book. She said she joked about spanking him and he kinda joked back and said he thought it might be fun. Four hours later he had a very red ass and she had a very big smile. ;)

Lexi: Fan mail or no, your writing speaks for itself. Anyone looking for a sexy read pick up ANY of Ann’s books. Thanks for stopping by today Ann, hope to see you again soon!

Ann: Thank you so much for giving me the chance to entertain you!

Still (Long Slow Tease, #1)Still 
(Long Slow Tease #1)
by Ann Mayburn
294 pages
Published April 9th 2013 by Honey Mountain Publishing
Goodreads - Amazon - Barnes & Noble
Dr. Michelle Sapphire and Gunnery Sergeant Wyatt Callahan formed an unbreakable bond and an unacknowledged, forbidden attraction to each other while serving together in Afghanistan. Their lives are forever changed when a mortar attack grievously wounds Wyatt and Michelle brings him back from the brink of death. But when they both return to the civilian world, Michelle discovers that her rock-solid Marine is suffering from severe PTSD and may even be suicidal.
Wyatt Callahan fell hard for the aristocratic blonde doctor the moment he laid eyes on her. After reentering civilian life in his hometown near Austin, Texas, Wyatt is plagued by nightmares of the death and suffering he witnessed during the war. He’d love to reach out to Michelle, but — Michelle is a Dominatrix, and she has made it very clear to Wyatt she isn’t interested in a relationship with anyone who doesn’t accept her lifestyle. An Alpha male to the core, he can't imagine the appeal of being submissive. At the same time, the idea of serving Michelle, of being everything she wants and needs, rings true in his wounded soul.
Michelle has dark secrets of her own, and together with Wyatt she will have to battle her personal demons during their emotional journey of healing, redemption, and love.

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