I am delighted to bring Joelle Casteel and her work to your attention here at Romance Righter. Joelle and I "met" on Facebook and found a number of connectors. Through people's posts you learn a lot about them. I can tell that Joelle is caring, concerned, and a very involved author and reviewer of romance literature. Enjoy the interview, and please comment or leave a question down below (so appropriate for this blog, eh?).
1. What are the three most important things people should know about you.
I write BDSM erotic romance, I live BDSM (psst.. I didn't read about it online, see FSoG and decide to jump on the bandwagon.) I write not only from the lifestyle submissive perspective, but also LGBT and polyamorous perspectives (don't expect monogamy or just heterosexual couplings in my stories.) I prefer intelligent erotica; don't be surprised if you find a discourse on philosophy by characters in between sex scenes.
2. Given total choice, where would you live and why?
In the suburbs of a large city like Seattle. There'd be a real, wonderful, diverse urban place for me to go while my country loving Master would still be comfortable, living in somewhere not too urban for His comfort.
3. What’s the best part of you? What makes you, you?
Hm, too many changes currently have me wondering if my usual "my ability to get through anything" still fits, but I guess, a dedication to get through experiences that others often have trouble imagining overcoming.
4. When did you start writing? What did you write?
I started writing as soon as my first English teacher managed to teach me to write a sentence. I started writing erotica after my first girlfriend introduced me to Anne Rice's erotica published under a pseudonym.
5. Did you wrestle with the decisions around traditional publishing and indie publishing? Why did you go the route you did?
With my serial, it's not been a struggle on deciding- I know it's way too outside of the box and I'm not willing to give up final control of it. However with other WIPs I have going, I do wrestle with notions of self-publishing or indie publishing. With writing BDSM erotic romance, the question of "traditional publishing" as in using the "Big 6" really isn't there, but there are a number of indie publishers that deal mostly or exclusively with erotica/erotic romance, and I do ponder them.
6. What writing you’ve done are you most proud of and why?
The final scene in "Vala's Story"- (book 9) when I completed the story and saw Vala finally get her "happily ever after."
7. What are you most proud of about yourself?
my ability to put myself into almost anyone's metaphorical shoes
8. You are very open about the sub-dom relationship you are in. Many people are unsure what it even means. What led you to live that life? Do you encounter prejudice?
That first erotic book I read? It was Anne Rice's "The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty." While not an accurate representation of consensual BDSM (it wasn't meant to be; Anne was writing a fantasy re-imagining of the Sleepy Beauty story), I found the BDSM activities themselves highly arousing. The social group I traveled in had lots of others interested in BDSM, either as teens just exploring or some adults who had actually made their way into the Detroit BDSM scene. I got to experience various plays with BDSM until at 19-ish I met Tom, the dom who was the original model for The Queen, the Master in "Vala's Story." Interestingly, this is a story I've told time and again on my blog, sometimes focusing on one aspect or another.
Prejudice? Oh yes, that's something I sadly know too well. When asked of my sexual orientation, I reply that I'm poly, queer, and kinky. I don't really fit too well any one place. I've been judged for not being just gay or straight. I've been judged because I refuse to live monogamy. One stream of prejudice I've experienced around BDSM is in relationship to my religion. Now I can imagine people thinking "why would you want to talk about your sex life at church?" My answer is two part- 1) just as homosexual people are more than their sex lives, so am I. I constantly struggle with what to call my Master when in groupings where I'm not sure it would be okay if I call Him by His title. and 2) I'm a Unitarian Universalist. While we aren't as open-minded as many non-UUs seem to think, we do tend to be more open-minded than the average faith community. However there are "affinity groups" for both polyamorous and kinky UUs, because many of us have experienced prejudice in our churches, sometimes for as little as mentioning that we are aware of BDSM. Beyond "what do I call my Master?" I have struggled with getting appropriate pastoral care from UU ministers who didn't understand, inappropriately focused on my BDSM identity, instead of the problem I was concerned about.
9. What is the most important thing you want others to understand about your lifestyle choice.
Well biggest thing is it's not necessarily a lifestyle choice. By that I mean, asking me not to engage in a BDSM relationship is analogous to asking a homosexual person to stop being gay. I cannot change what I feel is a very basic part of my identity. This isn't the truth for all people engaging in BDSM, this identity-based reality of engaging in BDSM, but it is for enough of us that assumptions on why a particular person engages in BDSM are likely to be wrong. ... and no, many of us in the BDSM community don't find "Fifty Shades of Grey" to be a legitimate, authentic representation of BDSM.
10. What is a favorite quote or words you try to live your life by?
The free ebook "Joelle's Chaotic Collection of Screwing" https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/354635
Do you like your erotica in as many flavors as I do? 14 separate pieces of erotica, both from "Vala's Story" and not, coming from a variety of points of views, pairings of gender. Some full of love and some just rutting sex. Some are related to my "Vala's Story" series while others are just a collection of characters from my mind. This novel is meant for open-minded adults.
And please watch my blog for updates on the releases and blog tours for "Out of the Night: Book One" and "Gates of the Garden: Book Two"- both excerpted IN JCCS!
Joelle Casteel has been writing for as long as she can remember. Explicit, graphic, her writing isn't for minors or the easily offended. Once upon a time, she preferred to write on a PC, sitting on a stool- there were those who told her she looked like Tori Amos playing the piano. She's still trying to get the hang of writing in an arm chair instead, normally with a heavy dog's head resting on her feet, whether she wants that or not. With BDSM gaining a broader audience with various books- which she will not name because she can't stand them- she feels it's past time to put out her impression of what BDSM can look like in reality.