A couple of weeks ago, Anneke Jacob approached me and asked if I would be interested in “any interest in the book that won the National Leather Association novel award, or in its author, or both?” I jumped at the chance. I had just listened to her on an episode of Greydancer’s Ropecast. It was a good listen, and I was to learn something else as I did my research for the interview.
Anneke Jacob is the first ever winner of the National Leather Association: International Pauline Reage Novel Award in 2008. It looks like a good read, here is an excerpt:
Even when he’d said he wasn’t coming I kept listening for his truck. As the neighbourhood was well studded with massive four-by-fours, I spent far too much time looking out the window, disappointed, as some muscly black macho symbol growled by with its empty truck bed. Hoping instead to see well-used burnt sienna beneath my window, brown in shadow but glowing like sunset when it caught the light. The truck was old but cared for, the finish softened and smoothed like a well-used pair of jeans. It got so whenever I saw that colour out on the street, my heart lifted like a balloon.
It wasn’t that my ambivalence was gone. There were still voices asking what the hell I thought I was doing. Some of them were even outside my head; Nikki called and scolded me frequently, nagging me to start discussing some limits before it was too late, a safeword at least. It was like hearing instructions on the flutter kick when white water has you in its grip. I did my best to keep my head above the surface, wired on adrenalin, eager anticipation, and constant fear.
On the surface, Anders was kind and very patient. He always told me when I did well. But there was a tone in his voice when I fell short: a firm, slightly Danish-inflected reprimand with a hint of gravel in it, that made me shiver.
The power relationship wasn’t the only thing lurking beneath the surface. “Soft porn,” Anders glinted as he touched the new little waist cincher he had laced up tight around me, just tight enough to make me pant. His big hand was around my leg, the new garter belt stretched against my thigh. He had casually forbidden pants and tights. I gathered that this wasn’t an important enough rule to be laid down with any emphasis, although there was no doubt in my mind that he expected me to obey him. In his truck, or in the unlit spaces between the streetlights next to the bulk of dark vans, he slid his hand beneath my dress and made me moan. Then he put his fingers in my mouth and made me suck them like lollipops.
The night we went to the folk club he wouldn’t let me wear panties either. I shivered as the night air touched me, felt my pubic hair ruffle in an updraft, and climbed, painfully self-conscious, into his truck. My thighs opened to his nudging fingers and I whimpered, head back against the seat, feeling the pressure of the cincher around my ribs as I tried to breath. At each red light the fingers were back. My eyes stared at the red in the darkness, glowing red dominating my visual field as he took over below.
Copyrighted © 2008 by Anneke Jacob, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
You can read the rest here.
Now for my interview.
MV: Who is Anneke Jacob?
AJ: Hmm. Well, there are a couple of ways to answer that. The obvious one is that I’m the author of two bdsm novels, one of which recently won the National Leather Association novel award. As She’s Told is about an intense, loving, creative, consensual master/slave relationship. It’s a book I worked on for over five years, putting pretty much everything I had into it. I wanted to make it the best book I was capable of writing, and that took a while. Not that five years isn’t too long, of course. That was five years of weekend mornings and the occasional vacation; I don’t get a lot of time to write.
Another approach to answering would be to talk about split personas and names as representations of the person. Anneke Jacob is my pen name, and so in a way it’s my alternate identity; I’m sure that’s the case for most writers who use pseudonyms. I’m quite a private person, and Anneke Jacob is who I am in the kink world. Oddly enough for an author, I don’t invent or misrepresent myself at all; everything I say is the truth in either identity. But I don’t tell the whole truth.
Living a double life is an odd thing, but then I’ve always operated that way. This goes all the way back for me; I can’t remember an age when I didn’t fantasize obsessively about slavery and power relationships, or when I didn’t know instinctively that I had to keep these fantasies to myself. Internally I integrate the two just fine, but I’ve never been tempted to mix the two public personas. And it wouldn’t be realistic for me in terms of my day job.
MV: How did you get into writing professionally?
Like a lot of people I wrote for my own pleasure, just to get my intense fantasies out where I could see them. That never amounted to more than a scribbled-over vignette or two, until I had a computer. I do huge amounts of editing and re-editing. At the point where I began writing in earnest, the science-fiction fantasy happened to be uppermost, so that was the one I worked on: a book called Owned and Owner . Before long, the writing process became its own hook. I’ve always loved language, and I’ve always read a great deal. It was very alluring, playing with words. And of course, playing with pain, arousal, whips, chains, chastity belts, pony carts, etc. etc. And most of all, with the meaning and manifestation of power in a sexual relationship.
After a while, what I was producing began to look publishable. Let’s face it, a hell of a lot of the bdsm porn / erotica out there is pretty poor quality; I figured I had a shot. And in fact the second publisher I approached took the book. He quite liked the story, and not having to spend large amounts of time reworking it or correcting grammar and spelling was, he said, an unfamiliar bonus. I think my second publisher at Pink Flamingo enjoyed that bonus also. She not only took As She’s Told, she agreed to republish Owned and Owner.
I don’t find myself writing short stories at all. I rarely enjoy reading them; maybe that’s why they don’t turn up in my brain wanting to be written. So you won’t find my work in zines or anthologies. Obviously I’m not prolific; my publisher would probably love it if I turned out a book every six months, but that’s not something I can do. All I’ve got is what I hope is quality: well-written, thoughtful books with characters who live and make the reader feel what they feel, lots of sensual detail and a great deal of imaginative kink.
MV: What does writing do for you?
AJ: Writing is the most creative thing I’m capable of. I get to construct something that’s never existed before. My own thoughts and desires morph into something that can communicate, engage a reader, even engulf them and leave them breathless. It’s a fascinating process. A thought or two can become the seed of a whole world. The part I like best is the moment when the exact right phrase emerges and clicks into place, when the flavour of my words tastes just right.
I love the small details that make the scene real. Owned and Owner was fun to write, but after all the inventing that went with the science-fiction genre, I wanted to get into the here-and-now, to write something set in my own city of Toronto: the smells and sounds, the streetcars and ethnic food and ankle-deep streetcorner slush. With characters as genuine as I could make them. People with flaws. People with histories and families and work to get up for every day. Who also have a passionate need to create their own reality: a total power exchange that’s real and not a game.
4) How did it feel to be the first person to win the Pauline Réage Novel Award for your novel As She’s Told?
AJ: Amazing. I entered that competition quite sure that the award would go to some edgy genderqueer cyberpunk novel. My book, with a (mainly) heterosexual couple, set in the here and now, I figured would be too ordinary. The most I hoped for was that the judges would like it enough to tell their friends. But obviously they felt differently. That kind of acknowledgement is very rare; I can’t tell you how thrilled I was. It made the five years of work more than worthwhile.
Three minutes after I got the email, with my heart still pounding, the phone rang, and it was my mother. “What’s new?” “Oh, nothing much.” Double life irony supreme.
The award has made it much easier to promote my book; I think it’s given me and the novel more credibility.
MV: What is important?
AJ: What’s really important? The survival of a functioning planet. Making this a world where decisions are made in the light of care for each other and for the future, rather than power or profit or narrow self-interest. I don’t have a lot of hope, frankly, for this kind of change before it’s too late. But if it doesn’t happen, our goose is cooked.
And given what we have to deal with, it’s essential to laugh as much as possible.
Anneke Jacob’s award-winning novel As She’s Told is available through the publisher, Pink Flamingo, in paperback and ebook formats, and also through Amazon, Mobipocket and a number of ebook outlets. Her first book, Owned and Owner, is also available through Pink Flamingo. Excerpts, reviews, readers comments, etc. can be found on Anneke’s website: www.tpe.com/~anneke.
I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did.
I should note that I did not receive a copy of either book, or a promise of such, or any other compensation for this post. Just thought I would note that for anybody from the FCC who is reading this, lol.