Meet A. E. Lawless and her new book, “A Collar for Christmas.”
1. Tell us all about your exciting new release.
A Collar For Christmas is the story of Liam and Aaron, two friends and costars on a popular TV show whose relationship undergoes dramatic changes. They enter into a non-sexual BDSM relationship for the sole purpose of helping Liam control his panic attacks but the relationship and its boundaries continue to evolve as their feelings for each other grow and change.
I really wanted to play with the concepts of boundaries and re-negotiation as well as exploring the concept of kink without sex. It was fun to explore the questions of whether or not the solutions these characters find are right for them even if they’re working and to see where their constant pushing against each other took them.
2. When did you start writing, and what led you to write erotic romance?
I’m really not sure when I actually started writing anything down. I’ve been creating stories since I could talk, and I’ve putting them to paper as far back as I can remember. For all intents and purposes I’ve been writing since I’ve been physically able to, the subject matter has just changed considerably. 😉
Bottom line, I started writing erotic romance because I wanted to get paid to write. It wasn’t something I’d ever tried before, but there was this porn website that was looking for a few authors to write short stories for them on a regular basis and I thought, why not. Hey, I like sex, I can do this. It’s a paying job right? All it took was the first story to get hooked. I was so fascinated by the concept of writing about why people enjoy the erotic experiences that they do that I threw myself headfirst into the genre and I haven’t looked back since.
3. Since it is the holiday season, please share with us one of your recipes, a funny holiday story, or a holiday-related joke. 🙂
The funniest holiday story I have is actually the story of the first time I officially met my in-laws. My husband and I had known each other for years before we started dating, and I’d been introduced to his parents in passing before so when things got kind of serious with us, we still hadn’t done the “official” meet the parents thing. And then he spontaneously proposed right before Christmas, so it became kinda urgent that we do that. So I decided to invite them over on Christmas Eve and cook dinner for them. Being extremely nervous, I decided to go with a dish I felt pretty confident in and something that was pretty easy so I didn’t stress too bad over the food and could focus all my stressing on what the heck I was going to say to them. I decided to go with a roast—just pop it in the oven and as long as you don’t overcook it you’re good. Or at least, that’s what I thought, but that’s getting ahead of myself.
So, roast is in the oven, the house is spotless, future hubby says I look gorgeous, and the in-laws show up. Everything is going great until the timer on the oven goes off. A little background info is necessary to really understand this next part. Fact one: I’m very short. As in under 5’ tall, 4’10” to be exact. Fact two: I also have really short arms. I’ve never measured them, but my hubby likes to call me t-rex, so that should tell you something. Fact three: at the time this story happened, I lived in a mobile home, so the oven was the kind that was stacked over the microwave, so it was up pretty high for me.
Okay, back to your regularly scheduled comedic interlude. So the timer goes off and I pop up and go to get the roast out of the oven. I open the door, grab my trusty oven mitts, stand on my tip-toes, stretch my arms way overhead and start to slide the pan out of the oven. And the tray tilts down, the roast slides right off the pan, hits the floor, and literally slides across the length of my kitchen.
Everyone was frozen in shock—me, my future hubby, and both of his parents. Of course I’m on the verge of tears at this point and no one has any clue what to do but my future father in law takes one look at my face and bursts into action. He jumped up, grabbed the roast, deposited it back on the tray, took it to the sink, rinsed it off, sliced it and was serving plates before any of the rest of us had even really moved. All of us ate that roast, no one said a word about it hitting the floor, and we laugh about it nearly every year. Good times. 😀
4. How do you tackle the following: waiting for a contract to come in, rewrites, and rejections. And how do you celebrate when the answer is “yes”?
Celebrating is the easy answer—I get a tattoo. For every story I’ve had published, I get a literary themed tattoo. When A Collar For Christmas comes out I’m going to add on to my Edgar Allen Poe chestpiece.
As far as rejections go, they’re never fun but it didn’t hit me as hard as it could. I approached the submissions process from the angle of expecting to get rejected. So it really wasn’t all that disappointing when I was. Not because I didn’t think that I wasn’t good enough to be a published author, but because I knew I wasn’t going to get there until I proved that I was good enough and each rejection was nothing but a reminder that I hadn’t proved anything yet, that I just needed to keep working harder at it.
Rewrites are an easy thing for me. I have a fantastic editor that I trust completely. I pretty much do what she tells me to with a manuscript because she’s always right. Even when I think she’s not, all it takes is me stepping away and thinking about it for a day or two and then I realize that yep, she was right all along. Sometimes, I feel strongly about certain suggested changes and we talk it out and come to some sort of compromise. But of the two manuscripts we’ve worked on together, one we cut 2 chapters out of and the other we added 3 or 4 I think, and I never batted an eyelash at the suggestion. Both stories are infinitely better off for it. I think it helps though that I’m not really all that emotionally attached to my work in terms of needing it to be the exact way I imagined it. The only emotional investment I have in my stories is the desire for them to be the best versions of themselves that they can be. I’ve never looked at writing and thought of it as an art form, it’s not an expression of my inner self or anything like that. It’s a craft. It’s a skill. Rewrites are just a chance to hone my skills further, just a chance to elevate my craftsmanship to the next level.
Please also send me a buy link, an excerpt of around 750 words, a blurb, and a jpeg of your cover.
For actor Liam, anxiety and panic attacks are old friends, but they only get worse the more famous he gets. Nothing has ever worked to help him control the anxiety until his costar, Aaron, introduces him to bondage. Too bad Liam develops feelings for Aaron and ruins the only solution he’s ever found for his neuroses.
Aaron only wants to keep history from repeating itself. He’s already had one costar spin out of control, resulting in her tragic death, he can’t just sit idly by and watch another friend and colleague destroy himself from the inside out. He’ll do anything to keep that from happening–even enter into a non-sexual BDSM arrangement with him.
What starts out as a way to control Liam’s anxiety becomes so much more. At least for Liam. So, tired of pretending he doesn’t want Aaron in his life for good, Liam decides to give him the perfect Christmas gift. The kind that will show Aaron exactly what Liam wants from their relationship: the collar he’s been dreaming of Aaron putting on him for months.
Liam tried to stand, to not look quite so pathetic huddled on the floor and shaking uncontrollably, but he only got as far as lifting his backside off the ground a few inches before the urge to curl up and hide forced him back down again. He wanted to disappear and be invisible for a little while. He knew Aaron already knew about his anxiety, had in fact already demanded that Liam let him help out with it, but Liam was still deeply ashamed of being found this way. No one had ever seen him this bad except his family.
Aaron hurried inside and sat down on the floor directly in front of Liam, knees bent and feet on either side of Liam’s. He assessed Liam from head to toe, clearly taking in everything—the shake in his limbs, the expression on his face, the hands buried in his hair.
Liam looked up at Aaron and tried to speak, tried to say something, anything to explain himself, but all that came out was a distressed little whine. That had always been a part of what was so frustrating for Liam; everyone always wanted to know what was wrong, like they could magically fix it if Liam would just tell them. Liam didn’t know if they could or not; he’d never been able to pinpoint any specific cause for his anxiety, and if had been able to, he certainly wouldn’t have been able to verbalize it. That was just part of how a panic attack worked.
Face crumpling in concern, Aaron made a soft shushing noise and scooted closer to Liam on the floor.
Liam tightened his hands around the fistfuls of his hair in humiliation and anxiety, pulling painfully. More embarrassing little involuntary noises bubbled up in Liam’s throat, and he bit into his lip harshly to hold them in and keep from giving voice to them. He got that Aaron was a nice guy and that he just wanted to help, but Liam was so tired of always being the freak, of always being the one who needed help. Even though he had been in the last season, Liam was still the newest member of the cast, and he just wanted to fit in, not have his costar look at him like he was something broken and in need of a quick patch job before the next take.
Aaron shifted and wiggled forward until they were almost touching, legs on either side of Liam’s hips, bracketing Liam’s body with his own. He shifted his hold on Liam’s hands so that his fingers were encircling Liam’s wrists and drew both their hands down between them.
It was like a physical touch, the way Aaron’s body surrounded Liam’s. Aaron was a big guy. Liam wasn’t short, but Aaron was taller and more muscular and had the longest legs Liam had ever seen; the way he surrounded Liam felt like a buffer between Liam and the rest of the world. Aaron’s skin against his own was like a brand; it burned Liam and lit up his nerve endings in a bizarre combination of pain, physical awareness, and pleasure. The touch and the envelopment cleared more of the fog from Liam’s brain, and he was desperate to let Aaron know that it was working, wanted to urge him to continue. He swallowed a few times and tried to get words out. His lips opened and closed, but the only sound that emerged was his ragged breathing, the harsh pants echoing off the walls of the trailer. Frustrated, he let out a soft growl.
Fingers tightening, Aaron increased the pressure on Liam’s wrists. “It’s okay, Li. You’re safe here. Take your time and tell me what you need.”
The words washed over him like a wave crashing against the beach and rolling back out to sea, carrying tiny granules of gritty anxiety piled on the sandy shore of Liam’s mind when they went. Liam’s eyes slipped shut, and he focused on his breathing; it was easier to force it into a more regulated pattern—even if it was still too rapid and shallow—when he had Aaron’s touch to ground him. The harder Aaron dug in with his fingers, the more tethered to reality Liam felt. “What—” Liam’s words sputtered and died in his throat, so he shook his head and tried again. “What if I do something wrong?”
Aaron smiled and shook his head. His grip on Liam’s wrist eased enough for him to stroke his thumbs back and forth over Liam’s skin. “You won’t do anything wrong. I won’t let you.” His voice was soft and low, intimate and full of conviction.