* Do you use a pen name? If yes (or no), why?
Yes. I worry about my professional life, of course, and about my potential future children and husband. I don’t want a man to have to be out of the closet in order to date me, and I don’t want my kids to have to put up with too much crap because of their mom’s work. On the other hand, I spend a lot of time thinking about how relaxing it would be if I didn’t have to worry about it ….
* When you first started writing, did you have any idea you’d be writing BDSM/kinky books? Do you write in any other genre?
I’ve written professionally in a few genres, but I’ve also received accolades for my writing since childhood. I’m one of those people for whom S&M goes bone-deep, almost like a sexual orientation — and I had S&M feelings from a very early age. But I went through a period of strong repression in my teens, where I concluded that my fantasies were so horrible that I mustn’t think about them. Ever. I had written some material before that, which I now recognize was very S&M-ish, but I threw it all away.
In my early twenties, I came back into S&M as a kind of crisis; it surprised and appalled me, but I knew that I needed it. I began writing in order to work out my pain and anxiety, and to examine some of the fascinating questions about sex, gender, and culture that can emerge through S&M. I paid special attention to the intersections of S&M and feminism, because that carried a lot of tension for me. Here’s my coming-out story: http://clarissethorn.com/blog/2010/06/30/love-bites-an-sm-coming-out-story-mirror/
My coming-out story was also published in my recent collection, THE S&M FEMINIST: BEST OF CLARISSE THORN.
* Are you actively involved in BDSM? If so how do you identify yourself? Dom(me)/sub? Top/bottom? Switch?
* Is there one area of BDSM that you tend to write about more? Why do you think that area creeps into your writing more than some others?
Communication, especially sexual communication, fascinates me. It’s the primary theme through all my work, including the S&M writing. I recently spent a long time researching “pickup artists,” also known as the “seduction community,” which is a group of guys who trade tips and tactics about seducing and manipulating women. This year I released a book about them (the title is CONFESSIONS OF A PICKUP ARTIST CHASER). But I see that as a book about S&M too, because I write about the pickup artists and their fascination with sexual dynamics — and their communication tactics! — in order to frame my own experiences. And of course, my experiences involve lots of S&M. So maybe the reality is that I write about communication, but S&M comes up all the time, because I love it so much!
* What’s the most surprising piece of feedback you’ve ever received from a fan of your writing?
I got a really cool message the other day from a lady who wrote, “I came across your book about pickup artists by accident — I don’t think I have ever recommended a book that frequently to anyone before, and I work in publishing.” I never stop being surprised by compliments like that; I can’t get over how meaningful my work can be for others. I know this is such a corny thing to say, but it’s an honor.
* If someone new to your work is going to start with a story, which one would you recommend they read first?
That piece is in THE S&M FEMINIST, too.
* Who is your favorite BDSM/kinky movie?
I love most films by the European art filmmaker Peter Greenaway, especially THE PILLOW BOOK. I guess his films aren’t really S&M; on the surface, some of them might not appear to be very sexual. But there’s this deep sexuality that runs through all of them, sometimes violent, and sometimes extremely … puzzling. His films are hard to describe because every single one creates its own alternate reality, full of patterns and color-shifts and sets that are both beautiful and unsettling. His characters’ communication is almost like another dialect, it’s so strange how they use words. And every film has a fetishistic theme; it’s just that the fetishes are really outside-the-box. The main character in THE PILLOW BOOK is a gorgeous, emotionally repressed, vengeful girl with fetish for calligraphy.
* What is your favorite flavor ice cream? And since this interview is for BDSM Book Reviews, vanilla is not an option!
Haha. Well, I’m actually vegan, and I love that Coconut Bliss stuff. The chocolate flavor makes me swoon. I also enjoy cardamom-flavored anything … how’s that for obscure?
* Website, links info:
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