Interview with M Palmeri

How did you get into BDSM art and fiction?
I've always been kinky that way--my earliest fantasies were about bound women, damsels in distress (blame it on "The Perils of Penelope Pitstop", James Bond and assorted old horror films). I stuffed a lot of that for a long time, then started doing erotic art (nudes, pinups) in my thirties to challenge myself. (I had been doing fantasy, scifi, and "nice safe" landscapes.) I had also been studying Japanese martial arts, which led to a collision with Hojojutsu (martial rope restraint techniques) which expressed itself popularly as the modern Shibari (Japanese Rope Bondage), which I thought was just beautiful. The problem was, I was living in a rather conservative state at the time. But when I moved to far Northern California, the community was rich with alternative lifestyles, and lots of folks (male and female) were really liking my art. That gave me the opportunity to go "public" with it, doing shows, putting on seminars, working with other artists and more models (and test readers). I've even given lectures on BDSM at the local State University (and showed off my questionable skills with a bullwhip in the local erotic circus). Now it's just settled into being my semi-secret "alter ego", since I have to be a different person publically and professionally.
When did you first start writing erotica?
Not until the early "aughts", though the ideas for what became "Tales of the Huntsman" had been stewing in my brain for a long time, along with a few other concepts. I'd been writing my "other stuff" since I was a teenager, but had to grow up a lot before I finally got brave enought to start "Tales" as kind of a creative experiment, a dare to myself, as I'd been pretty inhibited about writing any kind of sexual scenes in my mainstream books. (Hey, my mom reads those!) So I kept the whole thing secret, then slowly started showing it to a few "intimate" friends, who helped me a great deal with the fine tuning. But I sat on "Tales" for a decade, with no intention to ever publish it.
What inspired Tales of the Huntsman?
Various bad fantasies. The idea of the Castle of Women actually came from a too-brief scene in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (though it is an actual old tale). I felt that needed a whole no-holds-barred story of its own. Then I'd read a few erotic fairy tales (like Rice's "Beauty" trilogy), and decided I'd see what I could come up with. So I started reading Grimm collections, both for content and to mimic the tone. Then the challenge was to balance story and character with my original goal of writing a straight-up sex fantasy, packed with as much "action" as possible, and as graphic as I dared go (keeping it to the language of the period) and not be totally offensive. (A few scenes were toned down based on feedback.) I also wanted to write something BDSM oriented, as I'd been actively studying the subject for my art (and personal interests), but I didn't want it to be primarily about fetish--the bondage and such in my mind is just about making the sex hotter, it's not a turn-on in and of itself for me.
Who are your favorite erotic authors?
There are so many, and so many of them are just putting their dreams online for free. And there's a lot of trash (as in poorly written). I'm particularly attracted to comic and graphic-novel authors (I'm visual). Often it's someone who isn't primarily an author of erotica, getting risky. I enjoyed Terry Southern's "Blue Movie", Alan Moore's "Lost Girls", Anne Rice's Beauty Trilogy, Milligan's "The Extremist", Reage's "The Story of O". I also endured De Sade's works, which I don't recommend: though there were a few interesting concepts, it's all pretty stomach-turning interspersed with very dry philosophical lecturing. What I like is good writing, good ideas, good characters, and hot sex (without being immature and cheaply vulgar).
What is your writing process?
For erotica, it does have to be more secret than my mainstream work, so the moments are kind of stolen. I'm very selective with who I let read and see my work (that I know in real life). I create what turns me on, both in art and in writing (someone asked me why I don't do pure fetish, certain fetishes, male nudes or gay male erotica--I'd just be going through the motions, a technical exercise, no passion). I know I'm being successful when I wind up "distracting" myself. (This gets challenging sometimes when I'm working with live models. So far my impulse control has been pretty impressive.) I really know I'm being successful when I manage to "distract" my audience (and they have to take a "break"). The stories often gel out of my own fantasies, so if my audience responds to it, it's very intimate. (This is also why it takes me so long to get a work "just right".)
What do your fans mean to you?
Validation. They always have. Even if I'm not some best-selling big deal. There's a connection. Both with my writing and with my art. I can't express how thankful I am to them. And I'll always be open to chat. (I can't see myself becoming a diva.)
How do you approach cover design?
Still experimenting. My usual artwork is fairly explicit. (Look up "mpalmeri" on deviantart.com for the naughty stuff, just allow adult content. Or you can just Google images of Mpalmeri art--a lot of mine comes up.) So I had to tone it down to make something cover-appropriate (I do hate drawing clothes). The original result was an odd "Addams Family" kind of portrait of the main characters, very stiff. So I tried making a better one, more expressive. As an artist, I wanted a painting, not a photo cover. But I'm never happy with my own work for long. After a few weeks I look at it and say "Oh man, that's terrible." And start working on a new one. (I do best with live models, but it can be hard to find the right ones.) Also, it has to look okay as a thumbnail.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I'd received a lot (a lot) of rejections for my mainstream work, despite a lot of praise, so a friend turned me to Smashwords. About the same time, the whole "Fifty Shades" craze hit, so I figured I pull "Tales" out of mothballs, clean it up and give it a go. I hadn't intended to make a dime off of it, so it was a lark, nothing to lose. It also got shot down in submissions, but with good feedback, so I made some changes and put it out through Smashwords.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is a life-saver. I've spent too long fighting with publishers and agents, getting the "It's really good, but..." replies. I'm getting too old for that game. I need to get my work out. It's not about the fame (though some money is nice). My favorite artists are those that aren't main-stream popular, they self-publish, they have small but loyal circles of fans (kind of like my friendships). Smashwords let me get out there in my own time, on my mostly own terms (and didn't charge me a dime). And it's been an education. Thanks, Mark and crew!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
More writing. And creating art. Sometimes living out a fantasy, making art into life (I do walk the talk, so to speak). Enjoying good food and drink and fiction and art. I also travel a lot for work, between Washington State and California, on the road through the green, which is gorgeous. Working (no fun, but my job is what folks usually call "important" work). More writing. There's this thing I've heard of called sleeping... I may give it a try someday. (The same folks also talk about something called a "vay-cay-shun". Really not sure what that is.)
What are you working on next?
Right now, I'm focusing on my mainstream work--mostly scifi--which has some limited sexual content, but nothing explicit (sorry). Erotically, I'm still putting out artwork, mostly on Deviant Art (as mpalmeri), getting my extensive portfolio out into the Net for all to see. Warning: I draw and paint explicit nudes, so adults-only and NSFW and all that. Will there be more erotic fiction? Very likely. And I'm toying with a sequel to Tales, as well as "spin-offs" and side stories. Stay tuned...
Published 2014-01-16.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Tales of the Huntsman
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 87,320. Language: English. Published: February 13, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » BDSM, Fiction » Erotica » Historical/Medieval
(5.00)
Framed by a “Beauty and the Beast” story, Tales of the Huntsman is an explicit BDSM fairy tale featuring erotic retellings of Snow White, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots and other Brothers Grimm classics.