Wednesday, April 10, 2013

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Addy's Couch: Cara Bristol on real life, fiction, fantasy and domestic discipline

 Cara: Welcome to the fantasy world of domestic discipline! When you asked me if I wanted to guest blog, I knew immediately, I wanted to talk about fantasy v. realism of the DD as a fiction genre. Thank you, Addy!  ::smiles::

 If a reader picks up a domestic discipline novel for the first time, there’s a chance he or she won’t “get it.” DD is misunderstood more than any other genre.

Addy: I hear feedback from readers that our dominant characters are just using the notion of DD to allow them to be violent. When you brought up this topic I jumped at the chance to showcase the differences.

Cara: DD seems to tax the suspension of disbelief – the willingness of a reader to ignore implausibility and enjoy the story. But all fiction requires the suspension of disbelief to various degrees.

Take for instance, the formula of the romance genre itself: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. This occurs every single time in every single romance novel. Fictitious couples overcome enormous hurdles in the space of 150 to 300 pages, forgive all, and live happily together. The hero and the heroine end up together at the end of the book no matter what.

Addy:  ::laughs:: Yes, that formula is that happily ever after fairy tale ending. I understand that most readers want the main characters to overcome their obstacles but sometimes a little more reality would be nice. Please go on.

Cara: In real life are couples always able to overcome traumatic pasts, major misunderstandings, and huge relationship issues? No. Does the boy always get the girl in real life? No.

Yet romance readers accept and want that formula. They get upset when a “romance” does not end happily. They know what reality is, but they buy romance for the hearts-and-flowers fantasy.  

They readily and eagerly suspend disbelief.

The domestic discipline genre involves fantasy too, but it centers on the spanking, the imposition on one’s will on another.

Addy: I think that the imposition of one person’s will onto another also confuses the reader as to what type of relationship it is. To some readers if you throw any type of spanking in there, it is automatically labeled BDSM when it may actually be DD. What do you think that reality is?

Cara: There is debate whether DD is its own genre or is a subset of DD. I compare it to science fiction v. fantasy. Or sci fi v. paranormal. They are separate genres, but often are grouped together. In real life, DD is consensual – even if consent is not voiced. While some real life people practice Christian Domestic Discipline, citing adherence to Biblical “teachings” that state the husband is the head of the household and therefore the wife should obey him, and other couples “choose” to practice DD and appoint the husband as the HoH disciplinarian, most people, including myself, reject the notion that the husband commands the authority to spank his wife simply because he is the man and she is the woman. DD violates feminist and modern notions of equality between the sexes.

Addy:  ::scoffs:: I think that DD only violates feminism because of the wide spread misunderstanding of it. Not to distract too much, but from all of the research I have done in the past year the woman usually requests this lifestyle. You were saying that readers want a fantasy not reality?

Cara: I think some people don’t understand that DD fiction is fantasy and their modern values do not permit the suspension of disbelief it takes to enjoy a DD story. Notions of equality intrude upon their enjoyment of the fiction but a person can enjoy a fantasy that one would not want to experience in real life.

Addy: ::grins:: Yes! That is exactly how I feel. I love some of the spanking scenes that I read but I would never want to be spanked by a riding crop or an arrow.

Cara: To quote spanking fiction author Renee Rose, “non–con is hot.” Or perhaps she might say, “Non-consent is yummy.” The fantasy of a heroine punished by the hero against her will is one of the elements that make DD a turn-on. In reality? Absolutely not. But fantasy? Oh baby!

Addy: Exactly, I agree! What about the domination factor?

Cara: The precedence for the fantasy of domination has been set in the romance genre.

Witness exhibit A: the strong, dominant, alpha male who represents the standard hero in romances. From a heterosexual female’s point of view, there is something sexy about a strong, powerful male.  People, not just women, are drawn to powerful people.  And power must be exerted to be demonstrated. So in romances, a heroine’s goals/wants/desires are thwarted by the bounty hunter, FBI agent, Navy Seal, rancher, business competitor. She may not be submissive, but he is most certainly dominant. He uses his power to protect her, but also asserts his will over her behavior. He expects her to obey. How many times has a hero tossed a heroine over his shoulder and carried her off while she kicked and screamed?

Addy: A lot of times the woman wants to obey deep down but it takes some “re-training” and a lot of trust to get there. ::motions for Cara to continue::

Cara: Domestic discipline merely takes that one step further:  the heroine is expected to obey, but there is an immediate consequence for not doing so. While the inciting incident resulting in punishment may not appear to be sexual for example: she overspends, she’s rude, or she jeopardizes her safety, the expression of power, of dominance, of “forced” submission imbues it with eroticism. It’s why the hero will demand the heroine strip naked for the punishment, why he may touch her in a sexual manner during the spanking, and why sex often occurs afterwards. In much DD fiction, DD is an erotic fantasy even if sex does not occur.

Addy: I usually put myself in the heroine’s shoes and find myself upset if the dominate hero spanks her and leaves. That would mess with my head in reality so I do not like to read about that occurring to a character. DD is completely erotic in that sense. It is a sort of power struggle even though the outcome is the same.

Cara: Just like in a romance where the happy ending is de rigueur, spankings are a formula requirement of DD fiction. Readers can expect the heroine to be spanked for transgressions.

Addy: Which is why it is confusing when readers are surprised. Sometimes I believe that the publisher notes and blurb are completely ignored. Most women like the idea of being spanked so why so vocal when it occurs in a book?

Cara: It is surprising that someone will read a spanking book and then be surprised that there is spanking in it. I think it’s the perceived non consent. In most contemporary DD stories, a fine line exists between consent and non-consent. The heroine’s agreement to the punishment is implicit by her participation. She is not a prisoner and she has consented to DD, if not in story itself, then in the backstory. But if the author adds in too many explicit “mother-may-Is,” domination is watered down and a loss of eroticism occurs.

Addy: Okay, I see what you are pointing out. The heroine has given her consent at some point even if she does not want to go through the punishment.

Cara: Readers more readily suspend their disbelief in historical and paranormal/science fiction DD stories, where current notions of egalitarian roles between the sexes don’t apply. Men and women weren’t equal in the past and in a make-believe world anything is possible so they can set aside their modern values. Ironically, it’s in the non contemporary genres where spankings are more apt to be non-consensual.

Addy: I have seen that in reviews. It seems a lot of readers suspend their disbelief if the story is based on another world or involves supernatural creatures or from medieval times because it is already a different element than they are used to. It does present quite a challenge to write a contemporary DD story. Your series based around the Rod and Cane society pulls this off remarkably well. Can you tell me more?

Cara: Thank you, Addy! Fiction is make-believe even in contemporary domestic discipline erotic romances like I write. I carried fiction one step further in the Rod and Cane Society domestic discipline erotic romance series by adding a fantasy element involving an organization of men who spank their wives to maintain discipline at home. Within the “real” world of the current time, I created a secret society in which domestic discipline openly occurs as a way of life.

The heroes are matter-of-fact in their expectations of leadership and discipline. Their sense of “entitlement” is derived from the domination fantasy. It, like the organization itself, is intended to be viewed as erotic fantasy, not real-life scenario. But what I do try to show is that negotiation still occurs in the relationships. The heroes love their women madly and passionately. They court them, protect them, guide them, and spank them.

Addy: It actually helps the reader view your stories as more fantasy than reality. For me though, it is so modern and plausible that I wonder if such a society exists.

Cara: LOL. I once ran across a blog where someone had suggested that such an organization was needed! I introduce the organization in Unexpected Consequences (book one), in which a young, na├»ve bride marries a member of the Society. She learns the hard way what domestic discipline entails and what Rod and Cane stands for after the wedding. In False Pretenses (book two), a minor character from book one turns out to be an undercover reporter who has infiltrated the Society in search of a hot story. But she falls in love with a member of the Society and finds out there are repercussions for violating the Society’s nondisclosure agreement. In Body Politics (book three), a diehard feminist is fixed up on a blind date with a sexy deputy police chief who is a member of the Society.

All Rod and Cane Books are written as stand-alone and can be read out of order. However, if readers do read them in order, they will see the Society mature and grow throughout the books and will note changes in the characters’ lives as well.  The first three books range in length from 30,000 to 55,000 words.

Book four, Disciplinary Measures, is a short story of 15,000 words that will be offered for free on Loose Id’s Web Site on May 21. Book five is untitled and unwritten but will feature Liz Davenport, a kick-ass female attorney who appears as a secondary character in Unexpected Consequences and Body Politics. I plan to write that one this year.

Addy: I really love the way that your series has progressed and am anxiously awaiting book four.

Cara: The fantasy of domestic discipline and non-con are elements of the Rod and Cane Society series. But please remember, no real women were spanked in the creation of the stories.

Addy: ::laughing:: Thank you so much, Cara for chatting on my couch. You are welcome back any time!

Cara: It was great to be here.

 Feminist Stephanie Gordon knows the instant she meets blind date Mark DeLuca it’s going to be a wasted evening. Sure the deputy chief of police is criminally sexy, but he's arrogant, domineering and sexist. Thank goodness after the date ends, she'll never have to see him again. A member of the Rod and Cane Society, an organization of men who discipline their women by spanking, Mark DeLuca is attracted to Stephanie like a paddle to a well-rounded ass. He sees beneath the shield of feminist militancy to the soft, sensitive woman she tries to hide. When she storms away in a snit, the chase is on. Can a man who spanks convince a diehard feminist her true strength lies in submission?

 Buy Body Politics at Amazon 

If you want to come and sit on Addy's couch please email me at brattyadaline at gmail dot com.

Authors, aspiring authors, DD lifestyle, BDSM, really anything - stop by and we'll chat!

<3 Adaline Raine


  1. Glad to see you're up and about after your hospital visit. Thank you for featuring me today.

    1. What did I miss? Was Addy in the hospital?

    2. Yeah, what hospital visit? que paso?

    3. No, no, no focus on Cara! I'm so glad that she brought up this topic and I love that she stopped by!

      I'm slowly getting better. Have a follow-up appointment this week.

  2. Great interview, gals!
    I love the fantasy and reality of DD in stories! When done well, with respect for both partners, it can be a great thing.
    Unfortunately, there are authors out there, who take it too far sometimes, or degrade and humiliate the woman. While I try not to judge the book itself (there are people that do want to read this, I am just not one of them, I can also see how it gets thrown into the mix of DD stories. This confuses readers even more.

    I love reading about respectful discipline, and of course I LOVE the "yummy non-con", as long as it is done in love and respect.
    Great job ladies!

    1. Respect, love and caring are part of the DD fiction experience that many readers want -- especially in a DD erotic romance.

      Just as DD is a fantasy for some readers, so is humiliation. That's not my cup of tea, but there is a market there. A reader who picks up one of those books might indeed judge the genre from that single book. DD, like other genres, is more diverse than people realize. It ranges from a simple non-sexual, spanked-for-a-transgression to bordering-on-BDSM. And there's M/f, F/m, F/f, M/m.

    2. I have a very bad review on Amazon that says that my alpha male is just downright abusive to my heroine and that hitting is hitting no matter what spot on the body it is. Every DD that I read shows an incredible amount of love and respect so I'm thrilled that Cara brought this topic to the table.

  3. Great interview, Cara & Adaline, and congratulations, Cara, on the success of the Rod & Cane series! I'm so happy for you.

    You touched on whether DD should be its own sub-genre, rather than being lumped in with BDSM. Yes, absolutely! Maybe one day.

    As for suspending disbelief while reading,I've read a few authors' takes on DD. There have been times when the representation of the DD really didn't work for me and prevented me from getting into the story on the whole. Not your books, though, Cara. I think you do a great job of meshing the lifestyle with straight-up, contemporary romance. Congrats on the upcoming release, now get cracking on the next book. ;)

    1. Thank you, Karla. The romance element is very important to me. I want the love story! I do hope that DD becomes recognized as its own genre. It's tough in contests when a DD book is judged against a BDSM book or a straight contemporary, which is what usually happens. And it makes it hard for readers to find a DD book when they browse by genre. You can't always tell from the title and cover (although with my covers you can!).

    2. I think this would also help readers really understand what they are purchasing. I loved chatting with Cara about this topic!

  4. Great interview ladies! I agree with your viewpoints on writing DD. Like most people I’m a sucker for a happy ending :)

    1. I like happy endings as long as they are believable. I have read quite a few stories that were wickedly entertaining but had a forced 'happy'. Uggh. I like happy as long as it makes sense! :)

  5. Loved the interview, ladies! Really looking forward to Disciplinary Measures:)

  6. Replies
    1. Thank you, Ms. Ana. I'm so happy you stopped by.

  7. Loved it-- great insights and thanks for the mention. :)

  8. Agree....I love this interview. Non-con DD is definitely the greatest fantasy. If a relationship is set up with a TIH and and HOH, it becomes insulting to a reader if everything needs to relate to RL- DD. A reader knows that some things are pure fantasy. We want that fantasy. It is a part of that romantic vision leading to the happy ending. We want a strong HOH to come and make it all okay, whether FF, MF, MM or MF. That is why we read. In a fictional DD story a spanking solves all those petty and serious issues that take lots of RL negotiating. It is always possible to imagine ourselves in certain scenarios. It is what many readers do in a story that inspires imagination.
    I think about what is on TV...all those cop shows for example...seriously are they realistic? BTW I love those show.
    No, and a viewer doesn't expect that it is a copy of real life. It is a fantasy.

    Great conversation.

    1. I always love your input Minelle. Thank you for stopping by! :)

  9. Thanks you Cara and thank you Addy for this very informative and compelling look at a subject so misunderstood and yet so engaging. I do believe there are many in the closet both as readers and practitioners in this DD genre that I personally find both compelling and so interesting both to read and research. This interview was very informative and easily understood in context compared to other attempts I have read in the past.

    1. Cara really nailed this topic. It is so misunderstood. She should be the spokeswoman for a new DD genre. *grin* Thank you for stopping by sir!

  10. Great conversation Ladies!

    It is an interesting dynamic to study and to write, particularly in terms of what someone might consider humiliating or degrading. I think that in that case, each writer needs to figure out there own comfort level. But, the good news is that there are readers for all of it.

    On the topic of traditional romance---one of the things that I like about writing DD is that many of my couples are already married so it's a chance to delve into the issues that arise in a long term relationship which is simply not an option in a traditional romance.

    1. Absolutely Celeste! I like the long term relationship stories as much as the just starting ones. :)


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