I’m happy to be here today celebrating the release of my third m/m kinky romance, Calling the Show, about two college theater students who discover the joys of Hula-Hooping and BDSM. Calling the Show is part of Loose Id’s Pick Your Pleasure series, which runs through July.
I volunteered enthusiastically for the PYP theme, which was presented to me as an opportunity to have my characters indulge in some new pleasure—one that need not be sexual.
I still have my original brainstorming list. At the top of it is shark cage diving. I wanted to call the book Caged! and have the cover feature two men locked in a steamy embrace in the dark maw of a giant great white.
I scrapped that.
A friend suggested I write about shopping. I stared at her in horror. There aren’t words in the English language powerful enough for how much I hate shopping. She fired off a list of ways shopping could be erotic and insisted on taking me to the local mall for research. After four hours I still considered shopping the least sexy thing ever, but I did have a new hoodie and a series of potential blackmail photos of me crawling under a dressing room door in Rue 21 in a pair of skintight leopard print pants after accidentally getting locked out.
It was getting close to time to hand in my proposal, and I still couldn’t pick a pleasure. Wine tasting, kite building, goat tending…gardening, Scrabble tournaments, amateur crime fighting…
As a BDSM writer, I figured I could go the sexual route and spotlight some obscure kink. But a few stabs at that produced nothing.
I had, at the time, two chapters of a book I had no concrete plans for. It centered on a neurotic stage manager in a college theater program who gets saddled with a newbie light board operator four days before his show opens. I really, really wanted an excuse to continue working on it.
The project had no plot beyond my intention to have the characters dabble in light BDSM once they finally got together. Which—since two chapters in they felt about each other the way I feel about shopping—was showing no signs of happening.
What the guys needed, I thought, was something to draw them out of the separate circles they moved in and shove them into each other’s lives.
A mutual pleasure, perhaps?
I’m always hesitant to take material directly from my own life—I prefer to let my experiences work their way into my writing subtly. But I asked myself what pleasure I’d indulged in recently that had made a difference in the way I lived, and I came up with Hula-Hooping. I started learning last year and found it fantastic stress relief and a way better method of cultivating defined abs than doing crunches.
So light board op Sim became a master Hula-Hooper. And uptight stage manager Jesse became the world’s least likely candidate for hooping—though he was willing to give it a try for Sim.
I loved what the shared pleasure did for the characters. It brought them together, created conflict, and even mirrored the progression of their relationship. Jesse’s hesitancy about learning to hoop matched his hesitancy at starting something romantic with Sim. And his eventual decision to try hooping anyway, even if he made a fool of himself, paralleled his shift from reclusive commitment-phobe to someone who could serve as one half of a sweet but imperfect partnership.
I’m grateful for my characters’ and my opportunity to pick our pleasure. Kink still abounds in Calling the Show—though the book is decidedly less BDSM-oriented than my previous two. It’s also my first non-domestic discipline novel. But it was as exciting to me to get out of my comfort zone as it was for the characters to get out of theirs.
Hope everyone’s having a great summer.
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Calling the Show is available today on Loose ID! (It appears Loose ID is having site issues but will hopefully be back up soon.)
Jesse was getting better at keeping the hoop up, but he got frustrated easily if he lost it. He could do it pretty well around his upper arm but had trouble controlling it around his wrist and hand.
“It hurts when I do it around my wrist,” he said. “I mean, not bad, but I’ve seen bruises.”
“That’s normal,” I said. “The wrists and ankles aren’t very protected. You get used to it, though.”
“I want to do it above my head, on my fingertips, like you do.”
“In time. Let’s go around the waist for a few minutes.”
We launched our hoops, but he lost his after a few seconds. “Dammit.”
“Gotta stay relaxed,” I said, spinning my hoop over my head. “Don’t sweat it if it falls. This is supposed to be stress relief, remember?”
“Yeah,” he muttered. He started the hoop again. It made two circuits, tilted, and fell to the floor. “Fuck. I had it the other day.”
“Here.” I stepped toward him. He froze as I got in the hoop with him—though I left the hoop on the ground. “Turn around.”
Cautiously he turned so his back was to me. I wrapped my arms around his waist and rocked back and forth, pulling him with me. “Nice and easy. Just like this.”
My nose barely came up to his shoulder. His back was warm, and I liked the way his ab muscles moved under my arms as we rocked.
“Let all that tension out.” I said, jostling his stomach.
He took a deep breath.
“This is what you want it to feel like when you’ve got the hoop going.”
He didn’t say anything, but I imagined he might have been about to address the fact that my dick was poking his ass. I let go of him and stepped out of the hoop. “Try again,” I said.
He picked the hoop up and gave it a spin. This time it stayed up. He had to thrust his hips awkwardly a couple of times to keep it going, but he looked much more relaxed. “Nice,” I said.
When he finally lost the hoop, he laughed. “All right. Your turn, Whedon. Show me something I haven’t seen.”
I started the hoop around my waist, then took it up around my shoulders and finally around my neck. Then I brought it back down to my waist, around my thighs, and finished with it around one ankle.
“Pshh.” He rolled his eyes. “Show-off.”
I got the hoop going around one arm, then drew my arm into the hoop so the hoop circled my elbow. I passed it behind me onto the other elbow and finished with it around my opposite hand.
“Okay, I get it. I’ll never be as good as you.”
I started the hoop around my waist again, but he reached out and knocked it to the floor. “Hey,” I said.
“What’s the matter? Can’t keep your hoop up?”
I stuck my tongue out and headed for the corner where we’d left our water bottles. As I passed him, he smacked my ass.
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