Power Play: Resistance — Interview with Authors Rachel Haimowitz & Cat Grant

18 Apr

The Fifty Shades phenomenon has nothing on the newest novel by the two ladies I’m interviewing today. In their new Riptide Publishing release, Power Play: Resistance, Rachel Haimowitz and Cat Grant give readers an intense, no holds barred exploration of a budding BDSM relationship between two complex, psychologically compelling characters. This seat-of-your-pants story is everything (and more) readers have come to expect from these exceptional authors.

Before we get into the discussion, here’s the blurb for a taste of this tantalizing story.

Power Play: ResistanceGive me six months, and I’ll give you the world.

Brandon McKinney has scraped and sacrificed for what little in life he’s ever had. Though it’s been fifteen years since he escaped his father’s abuse, the damage remains. Trust seems as far out of reach as his dream of becoming an architect, and though he’s come to accept being gay, he can’t deny the shame and confusion he feels at other urges—the deeply-repressed desire to submit.

Jonathan Watkins is a self-made Silicon Valley billionaire whose ex-wife took half his money and even more of his faith. Comfortable as a Dominant but wary of being hurt again, he resorts to anonymous pickups and occasional six-month contracts with subs seeking only a master, not a lover.

When a sizzling back-alley encounter cues Jonathan in to Brandon’s deep-seated submissive side, he makes the man an offer: Give me six months of your life, and I’ll open your eyes to a whole new world. Brandon doesn’t care about that; all he wants is the three million dollars Jonathan’s offering so he can buy the construction company he works for. But he soon learns that six months on his knees is no easy feat, and shame and pride may keep him from all he ever wanted—and all he never dreamed he had any right to have.

Find out more and purchase Power Play: Resistance here: http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/power-play-resistance


Tibby: Welcome, Rachel and Cat! Please tell us a bit about who you are and how you came to be a writing duo!

Cat: Rachel & I met on Twitter last summer. (The infamous – and AWESOME Aleks Voinov introduced us!) We soon discovered we had a mutual lust for all things (James) McAvoy and (Michael) Fassbender after seeing the latest X-Men movie. Didn’t take long before we were chatting in DM for hours, and somehow we ended up brainstorming this hot BDSM story with characters who maybe looked just a little bit like McAvoy and Fassbender. It sank its claws into us so deeply, we knew we had to write it together.

Rachel: Cat and I were hanging in a lot of the same circles on social networks like Goodreads and Twitter, and she was always tremendous fun to chat with. But where I really got to know her was as an editor on Once a Marine, which was one of Riptide’s very first titles. We spent a couple months working on those edits, and in that time a few things became very clear to me: One, Cat was extremely dedicated to her craft. Two, we got on well together as partners on a manuscript; obviously editing is a different relationship than co-writing, but often just as intense and involved. Three, she and I were pervs of a feather 🙂 We rapidly became friends as well as colleagues, and as Cat said, once the ideas started flowing, there was no looking back.

Tibby: We don’t often see honest emotions and flaws explored in erotica or romance. PPR remains unflinching in its examination of Jonathan and Brandon’s motivations and personal shortcomings, while both men remain sympathetic in the reader’s eyes. Did you empathize with both Jonathan and Brandon as you wrote? Or did you each favor one character point of view?

Cat: Rachel and I are both BDSM lifestylers – she’s a Domme, I’m a bottom/masochist. So we brought both viewpoints to the table. Although I did empathize quite strongly with both characters. Wouldn’t say I favored one over the other, though there were times when I wanted to shake them. LOL!

Rachel: It’s odd because even though I’m a Dom, I often tend to sympathize more with my submissive characters. But in Power Play, we were so deep inside both their heads (which so very often needed to be pulled out of their asses) that I ended up feeling quite close to them both. I found Jonathan especially fascinating because in a lot of ways he’s like a child who has no idea how to live in the real world and doesn’t understand why someone who comes from the real world might be so offended by him. For all his confidence—dare I say arrogance?—he’s actually quite naïve. He’s never really wanted for anything, but at the same time he never had a “normal” childhood where he was forced to integrate with a social hierarchy. He was always special, different, above. And while on the one hand it leaves him supremely confident, on the other hand it also leaves him completely unequipped to understand, let alone cope with, the messiness of a variety of social interactions—like love.

Brandon has that same dichotomy, just from a different side. For all his fierce independence and well-earned pride—he did, after all, elevate himself from an abused runaway to a valued and educated team leader—he too is very childlike and doesn’t cope well with social hierarchies. He’s bad with authority. He can’t control his anger. Deep inside he’s still the 12-year-old kid whose mom is dead and whose dad flies into drunken rages and beats him, and so he’s made the very childish decision to simply storm off in a huff and stop playing: no more trust, no more intimacy, no more love, because he can’t cope with the idea of being hurt again.

Which is all a very long and tangential way of saying that I think what appealed to me so much about both men was that dichotomy, those childlike hang-ups, and how much work they both need to do. Jonathan’s constantly telling Brandon to get out of his own way, but it never occurs to Jonathan that Brandon’s not the only one who needs to do that.

Tibby: Successful writing teams must require a lot of negotiation skills. Did you run into any spots where each of you wanted to take the story someplace a little different? How did you navigate the potential pitfalls?

Rachel: Mostly I just got out the whip and said, “Are you sure you want to do that?” :-p Seriously though, we basically had the whole story mapped out before we ever wrote our first word. Obviously things changed along the way, but in the end, the decision of “Do we do X or do we do Y?” came down to brutally logical discussions. Like, if one of us said, “Let’s do this,” the other would say, “Tell me exactly why.” If we couldn’t answer in a way that made sense to the individual and joint psychologies of the characters and to the plot both past and future, the idea was discarded.

Tibby: Some of the scenes in PPR are incredibly emotionally and physically intense—edge of your seat, nail biting intense! As a reader, I came to enjoy the ride because I had the sense very quickly that you, as authors, would always take care of my emotional needs. What do you think is required from the authors to foster this level of reader trust in less-conventional romance?

Rachel: Competence and confidence. You can’t ask a reader to trust you if the text seems unsure of itself or wishy-washy or apologetic or ill-planned or deliberately manipulative or poorly written.

Tibby: Does it intimidate you in the least to put blatant sexuality and power play on paper, and present it to the world? How do you keep yourselves on course so you don’t shy away from the more difficult choices in what must have been such an intense writing experience?

Cat: There were a couple of scenes that went a bit far even for me (and I’ve written some pretty intense BDSM before!), but Rachel and I made a commitment to being completely honest and unflinching about the BDSM lifestyle when we decided to write this book. We knew it wouldn’t be for everyone.

Rachel: I’m a bit of an exhibitionist, in a way. I grew up performing, from musical theater to magic shows to birthday party clowning (yes, I used to juggle and make balloon dogs for eight-year-olds :-p). So I’ve never really been nervous or shy or self-conscious about putting myself out there, sometimes in pretty wild ways (I did a production of Hair once with full-frontal nudity, knowing full well that all those people seeing me naked were my neighbors and friends and—gulp—friends’ parents). I appreciate and thrive on honesty, as well, so for me at least, the level of intensity and exposure in Power Play was never really an issue.

Tibby: There is a lot of intense BDSM play in PPR; however, it comes across as so much more than a book about violet wants and floggers. When writing Jonathan and Brandon’s letter-of-the-law rules-based relationship, how did you make sure the sex didn’t overshadow character and plot?

Cat: Every sex scene is there for a reason: to further the plot or flesh out characterization. Sure, there’s a lot of sex in Power Play, but I defy anyone to say it’s gratuitous sex.

Rachel: Exactly. And unfortunately, that level of rigorous examination meant that a lot of the fun things we’d had planned never made it onto the page. We’d reach the point where we’d finally built up to some awesome dungeon scene we’d been looking forward to writing for a while, and then look at each other and go, “Shit, we don’t actually need that scene anymore, do we.” I am saddened by the number of times that occurred, but at the same time, it means that every sex scene and every play scene serves a very specific purpose. And because of that, nothing’s ever about mechanics or tab-a into slot-b; it’s all about emotion and growth and connection, and that keeps it fresh for both ourselves and (we hope!) the reader.

Tibby: The last question leads into my next… You wove the psychological needs and flaws of both Brandon and Jonathan very tightly into the rules (both setting and breaking) of the relationship in this story. When the crisis point comes between the men, it feels organically compelled by those rules and flaws. Did you plan for this crisis point, or did it indeed just happen as you wrote? (Read: Are you pantsers or plotters? What’s the advantage?)

Cat: Like I said, we spent several months brainstorming this project before we started writing. But, as with any book, things shift around once the actual drafting process starts. There were a few scenes we were dying to write, but when it came time to get them down, they didn’t fit in where we’d intended. So I guess we’re kind of in the middle of pantsing and plotting – we planned, then Jonathan and Brandon laughed at us and did what they wanted.

Tibby: Now for a voyeuristic question—and the one I’ve been dying to know about all along! How does the writing team of Cat Grant and Rachel Haimowitz function? What does a typical writing session between you two look like?

Rachel: We were fortunate that for much of the time, we actually got to write in the same room together. I went to California for two weeks and we somehow knocked out something like 70,000 words in that time (writing 10 to 12 hours a day probably helped with that), and then Cat came to Jersey for two weeks (by then PPR was done) and we managed something like 40,000 words of PPA. The in-person sessions generally involved pajamas, couches, someone’s cat, a lot of laughing, some occasional experimentation with toys for verisimilitude, and banana cream pie. Also crying. Lots and lots of crying :-p

For the rest of it, we wrote using Google tools: Google docs and Google voice. So we’d each be in our respective writing caves, 3,000 miles away, wearing our goofy telemarketer headphones/mic-sets, talking through things and writing live in Gdocs. That usually also involved pajamas, couches, someone’s cat, laughing, and many tears. Sadly fewer banana cream pies. Can’t find them in Jersey anywhere.

Tibby: Thank you so much for stopping by Passionate Reads to share Power Play: Resistance with readers. I hear there is a sequel/continuation in the works, Power Play: Awakening. How does it follow up on PPR? Where and when can readers pick up both books?

Cat: Awakening picks up right where Resistance leaves off, and follows Jonathan and Brandon through the remainder of Brandon’s contract. It was a much more difficult book to write, because the conflict was more subtle and internal for both characters. There’s also a lot more romance in Awakening, which will appeal to readers who found Resistance a bit . . . harsh.

Rachel: In a lot of ways, Awakening is about both characters getting out of their own way and getting to know—and love—each other as people. I’d go so far as to say it’s a sweet story, if anything with this in it can be considered sweet 😉

8 Responses to “Power Play: Resistance — Interview with Authors Rachel Haimowitz & Cat Grant”

  1. sionedkla April 19, 2012 at 6:22 am #

    Wonderful interview ladies!

  2. Adara O'Hare April 19, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    Thanks for the wonderful tour, y’all! =)

  3. shannonemmel April 19, 2012 at 7:15 am #

    Welcome ladies!

    Wow! This one really sounds like it sizzzzzles!

    Damn…my summer reading list just keeps getting longer.


  4. annebrooke April 19, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    Fascinating stuff – with some great insights on how a writing partnership actually works – thanks for this! 🙂

  5. shannonemmel April 19, 2012 at 8:15 am #

    Reblogged this on shannonemmel.

  6. Cat Grant April 19, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    Thanks for stopping by, everyone! Hope you enjoy Bran & Jonathan’s story – both parts! 🙂

  7. Josie April 19, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    Great interview, and a wonderful tour. So looking forward to Awakening and hopefully more of your stories

  8. Cat Grant April 20, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    Thanks for joining us on our blog tour, everyone! Hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about how Jonathan & Brandon’s story came to be.

    And now without further ado, the winner is… Josie!

    Josie, if you’d leave a comment with your email, we’ll contact you about claiming your prize.

    A big hug to Tibby & the entire Passionate Reads crew for hosting us! 🙂

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