Ms. Blake? Henry Webb. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I do appreciate your flexibility in accommodating me today. My dear Alice is keeping our chronicler busy relating some recent adventures, but Ms. Barber has given me the authority to speak for her here. Shall we begin?
Very well. Could you tell me how M.Q. wrote before she was published?
M.Q. has been writing since childhood. I will spare you the all-too-common details of her childish scrawling, both to avoid the onset of boredom for you and your readers and to avert a disastrous outcome for me. A vindictive chronicler might take her retribution by inflicting some, shall we say, performance issues upon her subjects. Entirely untrue, I assure you.
Playing the Game, however, is her first finished novel. Once my Alice started speaking, M.Q. had no choice but to listen and write. The time from beginning that novel to signing a publishing contract for it was about eight months.
Eight months is not a long time. Is that the total timeit took M.Q. to write your book?
Playing the Game and its sequel, Crossing the Lines, were written at the same time, in the out-of-order style M.Q. favors. I must say, it frustrated Alice to no end. She’s quite a linear girl, and M.Q. hopping here and there with her incessant questioning about emotional themes distressed her more than relating the intimate details of our sex life.
I myself simply imposed order upon chaos and commanded M.Q. to share my story in neat chronological fashion. Alice hasn’t the forceful personality to do so yet, although she’s gaining practice with Jay. The two of them are a lovely pair of submissives.
Ah. I’ve gone astray. My apologies. Returning to your question, then, the writing of Playing the Game and Crossing the Lines together took M.Q. about five months.
Wow. Five months is an incredibly short time for a novel. Would you say M.Q. is a plotter or a pantser?
M.Q., I fear, would say she doesn’t “do” plot at all and describe herself as a complete pantser. She’s incorrect on that point, but as with many people, she lacks a clear vision of herself. She’s quite keen to impose structure. She writes a veritable blizzard of scrap-paper notes.
But as puzzles reach their solutions in her mind at their own pace, and she sees connections in disparate scenes, it’s not uncommon for her to write a section of chapter seven one day and a section of chapter two the next. The notes tell her what she needs where, but the “when” of writing the scenes occurs in a thoroughly disorganized manner.
The shape, however, is known to her early on, as she often writes the novel’s emotional climax in the first rush of drafting. She knows where her characters intend to take her. How we arrive at our destination is more roundabout.
So, when does she usually write, morning or night?
All hours of the day and half the night in her sleep, I’d say. My pets and I have been known to wake her from a sound sleep to jot down a phrase or two of dialog, sometimes several times a night. We also find it amusing to inspire her in the morning. Thus far we have not managed to make her forget to leave for her day job, though we’ve come close more than once. We send her to the computer on weeknights after work and on weekend mornings before the rest of the house has awakened.
Timing is, perhaps, the most powerful control we have over our chronicler. On a few occasions, she has used her safeword to request a day or two of non-writing recovery. She always comes back for more – usually more quickly than she said she would when she was ranting and swearing about needing a break.
To have a little fun, if I may, tell us if M.Q. could have any super power, what do you think it be?
Hmm. Ms. Blake, would you consider it cheating to have a super-powered gadget – magical or so scientifically advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic – rather than an inherent power?
Given M.Q.’s constant refrain of desiring more time in the day and her practical nature, I suspect she would enjoy the use of a time turner from the Harry Potter series. Something with a bit more heft to it would do equally well – a Time Lord’s T.A.R.D.I.S. wouldn’t go amiss.
And if Henry Webb could have any super power, what would it be?
I myself would gladly take Wonder Woman’s lasso, should it accept a male master. Bondage and the ability to compel truthful answers from the one bound would be an incalculable aid in my preferred diversions.
Ah. Truth or Dare, eh? Would you happen to know what M.Q. is currently reading?
My chronicler has a distinct fondness for fantasies and graphic novels.
To be clear, I mean to say the sort that fall under the fantasy fiction and comic book umbrellas as opposed to graphic erotica, though she finds Adam Warren’s combination of the three in the Empowered series compelling.
Had she but world enough and time, however, she would pick up most anything once. Be wary of approaching her when she enters one of her book binge phases. Days may pass before she comes up for air. Words hold as much power over her as I do over my dear Jay and Alice. Perhaps more.
What, do you think, inspired M.Q. to write your story?
It would be a bit self-aggrandizing to say I myself inspired her, would it not? Yet it approaches the truth.
My sweet Alice insisted upon sharing the circumstances of her introduction to the world Jay and I inhabited. With her vivid recounting, M.Q. became hooked on our lure. Thus one might call it secondhand seduction. I am reasonably pleased with our chronicler’s portrayal of the evening’s excitement and the path of our developing relationship.
Second-hand seduction, eh? Do you believe there is a message in your novel that M.Q. would want readers to grasp?
Undoubtedly. My sense of M.Q. tells me she would speak at length about the contract between reader and text and the mutability of prose, such that each reader finds a message uniquely tailored for herself or himself alone based upon the elements the reader brings into the experience.
I will, however, limit myself to suggesting that love and acceptance serve as the heart themes of the book, as it were. M.Q. cannot fault me for such a broad conceptual discussion, though she may attempt to chastise me for becoming the observer who alters the outcome by so observing.
Love and acceptance are important to everyone. Do you believe M.Q. included any experiences based on someone she knows, or on events in your own life?
It’s rather impossible not to, isn’t it? Empathy is the lever that moves the writer’s world. M.Q. chisels shards of herself to place within her characters and animate them.
Knowledge and understanding go hand in hand. Her own experience turned on its side here. Her feelings stretched and knotted there. Characters like myself develop voice and personality of their own, but each carries a core of M.Q. within. Without that connection, we would be hollow.
The connection between a writer and her characters is extremely intimate. Could you tell what M.Q.'s current projects are?
Now that Playing the Game has ventured into the world, M.Q. is editing Crossing the Lines, the second book in the Neighborly Affection series, with her editor at Lyrical Press. That book will make its appearance in early 2014.
Beyond that, M.Q. is cheating on us, the naughty girl. Were she Alice, I’d turn her over my knee. Her current work in progress is a standalone contemporary erotic romance featuring new characters. I’ve instructed Alice and Jay not to tempt her overmuch until she has that story wrapped. The moment she lays it down, though, we shall set her to continuing our own adventures. The first draft of our third tale is awaiting a good bloodletting.
Bloodletting? Okay, moving on. Name one entity (person, place or thing) you feel supported or inspired M.Q. outside of her family members.
Many voices contributed here and there, some perhaps all unknowing. The one constant has been M.Q.’s regular critique partner. She possesses a disturbingly intimate understanding of the workings of my own mind. Her support cannot be overstated. Her continual prodding prevented M.Q. from leaving the finished novel languishing unsubmitted on her computer.
I am grateful to M.Q.'s critique partner. What advice, if any, do you think M.Q. would have for other writers?
I believe M.Q. would encourage writers to examine the assumptions and doubts that impede their progress. Sometimes the simplest things make all the difference:
Push past the need for perfection in a first draft.
Accept the potential for failure.
Realize everything is fixable in the editing process.
Listen when a friend asks, “So, if you never finish anything when you write chronologically, but you know what happens two chapters later, why not write that scene now and swing around to pick up the other scenes later?”
Small ideas become big breakthroughs when one’s mind is open to them. A solid foundation is no use if your feet have been caught in the hardening concrete. Shake off the doubts and find a place to stand where you are properly supported.
Ms. Blake, if I may say, I’ve had a lovely time chatting with you here today. Thank you for the invitation. I suppose I ought to bow out gracefully and allow the book to speak for itself.
Thank you for joining us, Henry. You have been a delightful, if not a trifle intimidating, guest. I hope everyone visiting has behaved themselves properly in your presence, and still enjoyed themselves as much as I did..
Playing the Game by M.Q. Barber
She expects dinner with neighbors, but gets sex with a side of safewords.
Mechanical engineer Alice still drools over her sexy neighbors a year after she’s moved in. She can’t decide whether they’re roommates or partners, but either way, they spark a wanton desire in her that has her imagination–and vibrator–working overtime.
Henry, director of everything around him, studies human nature and applies philosophies to his paintings as well as his relationships. Quirky, polite to a fault, and formal, he follows his own code of honor even when it means denying himself.
Flirtatious and playful, Jay needs stability, guidance, and to please others. His antics counterbalance Henry’s stuffy ways while he brings a level of vulnerability and fun to everything the trio does.
BDSM play with the enigmatic artist and flirtatious joker across the hall allows Alice to put aside the linear thought processes which have kept her unsatisfied and distant with other lovers. She must dismiss her preconception of love, sacrificing her independence, if she’s to find a permanent place in their beds and hearts.
CONTENT WARNING: Explicit sex, graphic language, BDSM, bondage, spanking, M/M/F menage.
“Except when they’re a bit skittish,” he murmured. “Is that what you are, Alice? Perhaps you’re feeling unsure of your place here?”
She couldn’t meet his gaze for long. His eyes invited her to drown in tender concern, implied an intimacy that made her nervous and needy. Jay proved no help, his focus locked to his plate.
“If you don’t wish to play, my dear, that’s fine. We three may still have a lovely dinner, and your longing looks will be no less welcome for the declined invitation.”
Her gaze flicked back to Henry’s. She wet her lips. Beneath the nerves welled a thrilling jolt, an anticipatory burst of glee.
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