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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Julia Sykes gets dark with her guest post about Knight (+Giveaway!)

Julia Sykes

He wants to know my name. I have to answer, have to obey, but I can’t. I am plaything, a possession. And slaves don’t have names. Why is he tormenting me like this? I need to please him so that I can get my reward. God, I need a fix. I’ll die if I don’t get one.

Lydia Chase has been abducted and broken. Her only escape from the pain is the sweet high of the heroin that her sadistic Master gives her as a reward in order to control her. She is found by FBI agent Smith James, and he is determined to help her heal. But she becomes dangerously dependent on him, and his brand of rescue might just leave her more broken than ever. How can she ever become whole again if she can’t learn to let him go and take control of her own life? Does she have a hope of finding freedom when Smith refuses to release her heart? Or is this new form of captivity just what she needs to survive?

WARNING: Given the nature of this story, this book contains graphic violence and references to sexual assault, which some readers may find upsetting. It also contains sizzling scenes of (consensual) BDSM!
NOTE: Knight is part of the Impossible series, but it can be read as a standalone story without spoiling the other books.

As a lover of dark books, I'm super excited for today's post and giveaway.  I can't wait to get started on this series myself, and I hope you will be as interested as I am!  Let me know what you think, is this for you or no?  Have you read any of the books in this series?

 My Twisted Little Heart

Writing Dark Romance
Julia Sykes

Firstly, thanks so much to Liz for inviting me to ramble on her blog!  I’ll be sharing some of my experiences and motivations when it comes to writing dark romance.

I’m really in to rescue fantasies.  But what fun is a rescue fantasy if you don’t put your characters through horrible, horrible trials first?  I’ve always loved erotic romances where the heroine is put in real peril before all is said and done.  However, as I amassed more and more of these books over the past several years, I began to wish that the envelope would have been pushed a bit more.  I found myself re-envisioning the climax to these stories, only with a much darker twist.

At first, I kept these thoughts carefully guarded, concerned that if people found my private erotic short stories, they would be disturbed.  But then I stepped into the world of self-publishing.  I was terrified to share my dark stories, but I discovered that other people liked them too.  It was incredibly freeing to realize that I wasn’t alone in my messed up fantasies.  As I’ve continued writing, I’ve really let my dark flag fly.

My anxiety ratcheted up a notch when I released my new book, Knight (An Impossible Novel), which is my darkest work yet.  But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t tone down the story.  Doing so wouldn’t feel genuine, and I have to be okay with writing what I want to write.

That being said, writing Knight was a more harrowing experience than I expected.  Actually putting the words down on the page to give form to the images in my mind was difficult and disturbing at times.  As were the results of my research.  While my findings often enriched the story in ways I hadn’t imagined, it was all too easy to fall down the rabbit hole of the darkest corners of the internet.  Finding out more about PTSD, heroin withdrawals, psychological torture, whip scars, and the fact that your Smart TV can spy on you was downright scary.

I also put a lot of myself into this book, which – while upsetting – was extremely cathartic.  No, I haven’t experienced anything like what I put my characters through, but a lot of the themes in the story definitely come from a very personal place.  The beauty and promise of first love, the indelible grief of losing that love, watching someone close to you die, and the realization that you can’t take responsibility for other people’s happiness were very emotional elements to explore through my writing.  I cried quite a bit while working on this story, but in the end, I felt better for it.

The BDSM elements to my work are actually the most positive, hopeful aspects of my stories.  BDSM can be incredibly healing, and that is at the heart of all of my books.

While my Heroes often blur the lines of morality, at their core they are all “good” guys.  Just as much as my heroines need help dealing with psychological scars, my alpha males need to learn to lean on their women just as much.

Ultimately, my stories are one dark, twisted ride.  But in the end, the message is hopeful, even if it’s not completely, perfectly happy.  Love can heal even the most flawed, broken people, but it will never erase the past completely.  To me, that makes my characters’ love all the more enduring; they need each other on an obsessive level in order to maintain the mental balance that they have achieved through their relationship.  And that conclusion holds a darkness of its own.

I used to think pain wasn’t real.  At least, not in the sense of being a tangible thing.  It was just the result of my primal brain’s in-built response to inform me that damage was being inflicted on my body.  If I trusted the person who was giving me pain, then I knew he wasn’t going to damage me.  If I understood my pain, it stopped being something to fear and became something… interesting.  I could master the hurt and ride the high of the adrenaline that flooded my system.  I could enter subspace, that gloriously blank place where nothing existed but the sweet endorphins released by the pain that I embraced.
But then He came along and turned that all on its head.  He enjoyed administering pain to torture, not to pleasure.  And I couldn’t trust Him not to inflict damage.  He claimed He didn’t like it when I forced Him to damage me; He didn’t want to mar his property.  But that didn’t mean He wasn’t willing to do so in order to get what He wanted.
I had tried to fight the pain for so long, to hold on to my conviction that it wasn’t real.  It couldn’t hurt me if I didn’t let it.  But He gave me so much that it overwhelmed me, claiming all of my senses until my whole world was agony.  I was perpetually trapped in some twisted, inverted form of subspace where nothing existed but the pain, but it gave me no pleasure.
My only reprieve was the sweet reward that came with the merciful sting of a needle.  If I was good, if I obeyed and screamed prettily enough, then He would give me my reward.  I lived for it; that was the only time I was alive.
But I had become so dependent on it that now the denial of my reward was just as terrible as the agony He gave me.  It had been so long since I had gotten my last fix.
Tonight, Master was testing me.  He wanted to see just how obedient I was.  He wanted the satisfaction of seeing just how thoroughly He had broken me.
I was broken.  And I didn’t even care.  All I cared about was my reward.  Right now, my need for it was so acute that my insides were twisting and my skin was on fire.  I was desperate to give Him whatever He wanted so I could get my fix.  If He hadn’t ordered me to stand in the corner quietly and wait for Him to return, then I would have been curled up on the floor sobbing.
But I wasn’t ensconced in the stark loneliness of the pitch black dungeon that had become my home, and I didn’t have the luxury of going to pieces.  His order for my silence denied me even the right to voice my agony.  He had brought me out in public for the first time, and I recognized the place where He had brought me as a BDSM club.  He would be able to torment me here in front of dozens of strangers, and no one would stop Him.
The thought of shouting out a safe word or screaming for help didn’t even cross my mind.  All I could think about was when He would come back and doing my best to please Him so that He would grant me my reprieve.  He had been gone for so long, and I was starting to panic.

And now a strange man was talking to me, threatening to hurt me if I didn’t tell him my name.  But I didn’t have a name.  If I did ever have a name, I didn’t remember it now.  I was a slave, and slaves don’t have names.

You can find Julia lurking on the internet in the following places:

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