What can you tell us about your new book No Ordinary Love Story?
It follows on from the end of Diary of a Submissive and continues the story of my relationships and ongoing attempts to balance the kinky and more straightforward aspects of my life. It is both more romantic and filthier than my first book, with a lot of familiar faces and one important new one. It is as sarcastic and blunt as ever.
At what point did you realise that you wanted to become a submissive?
I knew from a really young age - long before they could be termed sexual feelings - that certain things fascinated me. For example, if I saw someone being tied up or held captive on TV I found it really interesting, and it really set my imagination going. It wasn't until quite a bit later that I had my first dominant/submissive sexual experience though. It was a relatively straightforward spanking with a then-boyfriend at university and, somewhere after the pain started and as the adrenaline and endorphins kicked in; I just knew it was something for me.
How well is Christian Grey portrayed in the Fifty Shades books? Can you relate?
I've read the Fifty Shades books but they didn't really reflect my experiences of D/s - although to be fair that's as much because I'm not being flown around in a helicopter and given first edition books (my boyfriend is lovely but the last thing he bought me was a Mint Kit Kat chunky) as the fact I've never signed a sex contract. I think it's fab that the Fifty Shades books captured the imagination of so many women and got them experimenting and being open about their fantasies, but as for Christian Grey, for all of his money I don't actually much like the way he treats Ana in the books a lot of the time. I think I'd rather stick with my Kit Kat Chunky man (not a euphemism, although maybe now it will become one!)
For those wanting to explore their sex lives more, how can they get into dominant/ submissive territory?
I think the key thing is to start simply and be open with your partner about what you want to try. It might be a bit embarrassing, but a bit of communication before you get under way will make things much easier when you do get started - and mean it's less likely one of you is expecting a light spanking while the other is thinking about something more intense. If (like me!) you can find it awkward having those conversations in person, try using MSN/email/text to discuss it. If you phrase it right it can help build anticipation in flirty fashion as well as ensuring you both know what the limits are. Set a safe word and then don't be embarrassed to use it (this is my problem). And don't forget to talk about what you enjoyed afterwards - you never know you might want to do it again!
Why are buddy style relationships more prevalent now? What advice can you give to buddy type relationships to stop them turning bad?
My theory on why buddy style relationships are more prevalent now is twofold: Firstly, there's less stigma to enjoying sex as a recreational activity with someone you trust, and secondly life is so busy that sometimes people aren't in a place where they want to full-on date someone. In my experience, in that situation a buddy relationship can be really enriching and fun (although ironically in Diary of a Submissive the male dominant I had a buddy relationship with was much less well-liked than the other two - I believe because people found the stronger D/s stuff harder to read without a romantic aspect to it). That said, you both have to be on the same page - if one of you is secretly hoping it'll turn into a relationship while the other is just up for having fun then before you know it wires can be crossed and people can get hurt. For all that though, my experiences with buddy relationships have been really healthy and I think a lot of women feel the same way. I appreciate it's not for everyone, but it's not something to be stigmatised.
Why do you feel it is important to watch porn with your partner?
I don't know I'd say it was 'important' - if you're not into porn I'm not suggesting you watch it to please your partner or anything like that. But, as a relatively recent convert to watching porn (I've always been an erotica reader rather than someone interested in videos), I think that kind of shared viewing can be a lovely sexual experience together if you both want to do it. My initial preconceptions of porn were very much of pneumatic blondes with Wolverine-style talons (they always boggled my mind the most - how could women with those kind of nails touch themselves or anyone else without causing a rather awkward injury?) and asthmatic sounding breathing patterns. While there's definitely some of that out there, my boyfriend and I have had a lot of fun watching other stuff - from slightly surreal superhero porn parodies (I know it sounds crazy but they were funny AND sexy, mostly separately) to more intense D/s stuff. The women and men involved in some of the stuff I love best (for example Stoya, Madison Young, James Deen and Chanta Rose) are all intelligent, articulate and funny people - not any of the clichés that you (or at least I) might have expected. I'm definitely a convert.
Where are the best places to buy sex toys and what are your best at home toys to use?
We use lots of different places to buy sex toys, both online and in shops. I'm a big fan of both Bondara and LoveHoney online, and when I'm in London I go to SH! and Coco de Mer. I've just bought some bespoke leather toys from the London Tanners which I'm quite excited about. Overall though, I'm very much of the opinion that, particularly when you're starting out, there's lots of fun to be had with household implements and things like crops picked up from sports shops (so much cheaper and just as good). I'm very much the sort who goes between splashing out on really lovely stuff but also reverting to clothes pegs, wooden spoons and (famed from book one) chopsticks!
What is next for you?
No Ordinary Love Story is going to come out abroad over the next few months, so I'll be promoting that. Meanwhile, I've still got my day job as a journalist, lots of freelance bits and my family, friends and boyfriend to keep up with. Life is incredibly busy, but I feel very lucky with it all and I'm having a blast. I'm also kicking around ideas for another book, although what form that might take is still open for debate!