Interview with SM Johnson

What's going on with the Dungeon series?
The Dungeon series is evolving. As a reader, the books I most enjoy reading have narrators and point of view characters who are fun to get to know on a deeper, more personal level. I wanted to spend more time exploring romantic pairings between couples (and/or triads), and try my hand at writing in one point of view in a more linear fashion, rather than juggling multiple points of view and multiple pairings in each book.

BDSM communities tend to be closely connected through clubs and other play spaces, and because I still want to catch up with boys from the past now and then, it was a pretty simple concept to work with the new manager, Doc, to build the club into a meeting place. It's still a kinky bar all week long, but on Member's Only nights the scenes are more naked, more intense, and more story-driven. The Dungeon is a place where the new characters readers are just getting to know have a chance to interact with the boys you already know and love.

The previous installment of the Dungeon series, Aftermath, which is technically book 5, was somewhat of a transition book. Roman and Jeff were still finding their feet in Minnesota, while Dare was trying to get settled in his triad relationship with Zach and Dom Thomas. I also introduced Doc and Tristan and the changes at the club. I divided the book into three sections - each one devoted to a pairing or a triad. I did this somewhat for my own convenience, as juggling and filtering scenes from multiple points of view to build a full picture out of puzzle pieces takes me a REALLY long time, and it was frustrating to keep pushing the publish date back. I actually arranged the book into three sections as an editing exercise, so I could see more clearly what was missing from each storyline. In the process of editing, I discovered I enjoyed the stories in this more linear fashion. It did turn a fairly long book into what felt like three shorter books, and I'm afraid some readers weren't in love with it.

In Nervous (release date 10.01.17) readers will meet competent Avery Phoenix and nervous Julian Sparks. This book is really their story. Avery is a dominant and a member of the Dungeon, and it's here at the club Julian meets some of the boys from earlier books in the series. Nervous definitely has some explicit scenes, but the arc of the story is a slow-burn romance, told mostly from Julian's point of view. I have fallen in love with Julian and Avery, and I hope readers will too!
Why do you find writing about power exchange so interesting?
Going back to school made me interested in incorporating more psychological struggles into my work, which you'll definitely see in Nervous. I used to write about power exchange as a very intentional but recreational activity, healing sometimes, but that was almost a side-effect. In Nervous I show you a kind of power exchange that pushes toward individual growth and competence. Still hot, yeah, but there's also an external purpose to the kind of power exchange the characters are engage in, which leads to a deeper value and meaning.

Working with youth has changed my view of the world, which has definitely changed the lens through which I view power exchange and even sexuality itself.

Life is a messy journey, and I am living it and loving it.
Do you make a living writing these books?
I do not make a living with my writing. Writing is my stress relief, my hobby, my passion, and my obsession.

I juggle my writing, my family, and my career every single day. All are of equal importance to me, and if I don't write, I get psychologically stressed and sick, because writing is how I relax and process my inner world.

In the real world I have a Master's degree in Social Work and spend my days with homeless youth, which is busy, fulfilling, passionate, and fun! There are a lot of amazing stories to be written here about survival, persistence, resilience, spirit, and hope. Someday I hope to have time create a pen name and tell some of these tales.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There's this part of writing a story when my rational brain skips town and the words feel like they are flowing into me from somewhere outside myself, and it's all my fingers can do to keep up the pace. This is id. This is... the space in which I feel the most like ME, and what unfolds, what my brain, my imagination, my creativity, or some ghost somewhere is feeding me is truly unexpected and unplanned. I don't know where it's coming from or even sometimes where it's heading to - it's just this magical well of THIS THIS THIS, YES!

Like an orgasm.

What's not to like about that?
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Honestly, I'm not sure any book marketing techniques are all that effective for me. I don't like self-promotion and therefore I'm terrible about doing it. I do a few blog and tweet shouts about my own work, especially when I have a new release, but I'd much prefer to sing the praises of other writers and artists whom I adore, and I guess I sort of hope the trail will lead back to me eventually.

I write the stuff that I want to read and can't find anywhere else. It can be dark, twisted, erotic, bittersweet, heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time. My stories are not for everyone. I never expect that I'll win the hearts of the mainstream, and that's okay. I do this for self-entertainment and because I NEED these stories, more than I do it to make dollars. If anyone else reads them ever, that's a bonus. And if people read and like them? Total win.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
The Smashwords Style Guide definitely taught me how to format a Word document in a way that makes a nice readable ebook, which saved me hours of time and frustration.

My favorite feature of Smashwords, however, is that I can create coupons and easily give books away as prizes in contests, send out review copies, or otherwise offer readers free or discounted books.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have a fantastic publisher, Sven Davisson, of Rebel Satori Press. He is just kick ass as a person, as an inspiration, as a guy who understands how much readers love books. I love and adore him. There was a whole bizarre circumstance in 2009 where my first Vampire DeVante book, DeVante's Children, was accepted by Torquere Press as an ebook, and at pretty much the EXACT SAME TIME the second Vampire DeVante book, DeVante's Coven, won a contest with a paperback contract sponsored by Rebel Satori Press. So I had two different books of the same series published at the same time by two different publishers in two different formats.

It was confusing even to me, I can't imagine what a strange and impossible thing it was for readers to keep track of.

Overall, I would say publishing on someone else's timetable takes... well... time, you know?

I'm impatient. And especially when it came to publishing pure erotica in ebook-only format, I want control over everything.

I also worked with Torquere Press on my first Dungeon book, Above the Dungeon - and they were wonderful. In fact, I would say I learned 90% of what I know about good editing from my editors at Torquere, and this was invaluable to me, but ultimately they passed on the 2nd book of my Dungeon series, probably because it didn't really fit the Romance genre (see previous comment about 'I am not a romance writer') so I decided to figure out how to publish ebooks on my own.

The rights to my Vampire DeVante books are reverting back to me and I'm exciting about releasing them with new covers and edited content, so watch for them in 2015.
What's the story behind Jeremiah Quick?
Aw, man, the story behind Jeremiah Quick, could fill a book itself.

Jeremiah Quick came about because I met someone who challenges me in a similar way as my old friend did, and it was almost like waking up a ghost. And I admire this other person's work so much, the fact that he puts so much heart and soul into his art - that I almost feel ashamed to call myself an artist in his presence. (He goes by "19" btw, and if you want to know more, look for his book, Schadenfreude here on Smashwords and elsewhere).

I mean, don't get me wrong, I am a kick-ass erotica writer - but I give you stories that just... they've got smokin' hot sex scenes and the kind of love that could hold up the world - but my characters also slam into real life brick walls, and really don't tend to behave the way romance characters are expected to. Which is why I keep telling people that I am not a romance writer. If you read me expecting the things you expect from a romance, you'll probably be disappointed. And maybe even pissed off.

So, yeah, I do that. I'm a damn fine writer. I am. But as much as I adore Roman and Dare and Jeff and everybody in the Dungeon series - these are books that are delightful to write in that they require very little in the way of pulling from my own personal pain. They're "easy fluff" - relatively speaking.

So. This had to be fixed. I had this drive to... put my soul out there, (via fiction, of course) and write something that just bled onto the page, something that HURT to create and will hurt others when they read it. And while the events of Jeremiah Quick are certainly fictional, there's a spirit to the book that's dead on true. (And needless to say, it's not exactly selling madly, but again, this is a book I had to write for ME).

Jeremiah Quick.

Buy it.

it will hurt you.
Published 2017-08-06.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Nervous
Pre-release—available October 1, 2017. Price: $2.99 USD. Language: English. Categories: Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Julian can't believe this is his life, or that Avery Phoenix, who makes everyone else nervous, actually makes him feel calmer than he's ever felt before. He's falling for Avery in a big way, but Avery has some pretty big secrets, maybe big enough to send Julian scurrying for home.
Aftermath: The New Dungeon
Series: Dungeon series. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 97,440. Language: English. Published: February 24, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Gay Erotica, Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay
Aftermath is a bit different. Oh, don’t worry, Jeff still talks to us in first person, and Roman is still very Roman… but all these guys are in wildly different relationship stages, with Dare, Zach, and Thomas in a maintenance stage, Doc and Tristan in a new relationship, and Roman and Jeff deepening their commitment to one another. Enjoy!
DeVante's Coven (Revamped)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 89,860. Language: English. Published: August 31, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal, Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay
DeVante's little coven needs his protection, but loving them makes him weak when he most needs to be strong. Book 2 of the Vampire DeVante series by SM Johnson. 90,000 words, paranormal M/M romance
Collected Novels from the Dungeon
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 310,730. Language: English. Published: May 9, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay, Fiction » Erotica » BDSM
You are about to experience SM Johnson's M/M BDSM Dungeon series from beginning to end, including Above the Dungeon, Out of the Dungeon, Three in the Dungeon, Dare in the Dungeon, and the bonus short story, The Story of Hawk and boy. More than 900 pages of M/M erotic romance!
DeVante's Curse: Katarina's Castle
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 10,060. Language: English. Published: August 28, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay
Growing up in Katarina's castle changed a boy named Ernesto into a cold-hearted creature who calls himself DeVante. But which came first, the monster or the man? DeVante's Curse is a 10,000 word companion story to the Vampire DeVante series.
DeVante's Children (Revamped)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 93,590. Language: English. Published: June 3, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Undead, Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay
(5.00)
When Daniel discovers his boyfriend is a vampire, he realizes the night has more secrets than he ever knew, and the world more monsters than he's ever imagined. And he thought being gay was weird. 93,000 words. Gay paranormal erotic romance.
The Story of Hawk and Boy
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 15,720. Language: English. Published: October 16, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay, Fiction » Romance » Erotic
Can Hawk and boy ever live the BDSM fantasy of their dreams, or will boy's physical problem ruin everything?
Dare in the Dungeon
Series: Dungeon series. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 78,020. Language: English. Published: September 12, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Action/adventure, Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay
Kneeling for Thomas is like skirting the edge of a fatal fall, and Dare wonders what he's gotten himself into. He wants to trust Thomas and stop pretending, but how much pain and humiliation can one Ivy League kid handle before he comes apart?
Jeremiah Quick
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 82,350. Language: English. Published: February 28, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Suspense/Mystery, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller
(4.50)
Pretty wants to fix Jeremiah. But Jeremiah Quick will break her, remake her, and talk her into doing something terrible.
Three in the Dungeon
Series: Dungeon series. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 69,990. Language: English. Published: June 24, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » BDSM, Fiction » Erotica » Gay Erotica
Is love enough to forsake power exchange? Roman and Jeff are building a new life in Minnesota, even though Jeff's been insisting since the accident that he just wants to be vanilla. A funny thing, though, Jeff's BDSM erotic fiction is quickly becoming the latest Amazon Indie success story, which makes Roman wonder… if Jeff is still kinky in his head, what about his heart?
Above the Dungeon
Series: Dungeon series. Price: Free! Words: 70,570. Language: English. Published: May 5, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » BDSM, Fiction » Erotica » Gay Erotica
(4.22)
Above the Dungeon - 70,000 words, erotic fiction (M/M, BDSM) Roman's interest in Dare, the newest bartender at Above the Dungeon, challenges Dare's lifelong perception of his own sexuality. Dare wanted something different than his pre-planned, predictable life, but is Roman asking too much?
18 Dead
Price: Free! Words: 7,070. Language: English. Published: April 14, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Short stories, Fiction » Themes & motifs » Crime
(5.00)
A Killer is a killer is a killer - right? Especially if he smiled...
Out of the Dungeon
Series: Dungeon series. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 76,670. Language: English. Published: October 25, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
(4.60)
Reality interferes with fantasy... When Jeff is injured in an accident, there's no time for dungeon play. Traction is like non-consensual bondage, and Jeff calls "red." Roman's love for Jeff is as strong as Roman himself, but how much can a man lose before he gives up everything?