Writing Slow Surrender by Cecilia Tan:
Why was I "Struck by Lightning?" Why did I choose to write a love story about a mysterious man with complicated sexual tastes and the questing young woman he introduces to BDSM? It probably won't surprise you that I have a number of reasons.
First of all, I wanted to write a story about a kinky billionaire because I feel some of the books out there are, well, giving kinky billionaires a bad name. There are many reasons why people might choose to practice BDSM. As a real-life practitioner of kinky sex, bondage, and SM, I know hundreds of people in the scene and as an event organizer I've met thousands more. Very few, whether they are eccentric billionaires or not, build a "Red Room of Pain" because they were traumatized sexually when they were young. This isn't to say that Christian Grey isn't a valid character, but I wanted my James to be a counterexample.
James isn't kinky because of some trauma in his past. James is, like many people, inherently kinky at heart. There are many psychological studies about this: being turned on by power exchange is as hard-wired for man people as being gay or lesbian is for others. It's a sexual orientation. I wanted to write a hero who embraced his kinky side, and who didn't need to justify it. Nothing "made" James kinky just like nothing "made" Adam Lambert gay.
I also wanted to write about a woman's first BDSM experience. BDSM is rising in popularity--the explosion of Fifty Shades of Grey is a part of that. Because of that rise, there are more and more women having that first experience in real life. I wanted to show how BDSM could be a positive force drawing a couple together. BDSM is intertwined with their love. What makes it work is that James and Karina's relationship isn't about coercion: it's about consent. If there is one thing James "teaches" Karina, it isn't "how to be a good submissive," it's "here's the line of consent we both need to respect to make this work."
At first Karina doesn't understand what he's showing her because in every previous relationship she's had (including her relationship with her mother), her personal boundaries were continually ignored or trod over as a matter of course. James systematically inverts every typical annoyance from Karina's previous failed relationships. For example, a previous boyfriend had unspoken expectations about how a "girlfriend" should dress. When Karina wasn't "feminine" enough for him, his response was passive aggressive. He bought her things she didn't like, and then didn't understand why she not only didn't wear what he bought, he couldn't understand why she didn't fall all over herself to thank him for the gifts. James turns clothing into a game, a flirtation, a test, a way to find out about Karina's limits and her preferences.
As it turns out, James isn't the only one learning about Karina's likes and limits: Karina herself is exploring them for the first time, too.
The third reason I wanted to write the Struck by Lightning series was that by writing a trilogy instead of a single book I had more time and more room to show Karina maturing. The massive popularity of Fifty Shades sent a lot of publishers looking for trilogies and I was fortunate to have mine picked up by Hachette/Grand Central/Forever. Karina is so new to BDSM and to living a fully authentic life that in the beginning of the first book she's wide-eyed and ready for anything. By the end of the second book she's learned a lot about herself and what love means to her, and in the third book she can finally go out and fight for what she believes in and get what she wants--which is James, heart, body, and soul!
James and Karina don't leave BDSM behind as they fall more deeply in love. With greater trust and knowledge of each other, they can do more, not less. Writing that level of trust and teamwork between the hero and heroine is very satisfying, but it takes three full books to get there. But that's why there are three books, Slow Surrender, Slow Seduction, and Slow Satisfaction comes last. I sincerely hope readers enjoy the full journey now that all three books are out!