Oct. 6, 2021

Winning Good Sex Awards with Christina Berry

Winning Good Sex Awards with Christina Berry

Writing polyamory, menage, and kink.


Christina Berry joins me for Steam Scenes! We talk about vampire princes in four-poster beds, have a fascinating conversation about Cherokee Nation history, and dive into how romance novels give a voice to feminist issues. And I read an excerpt from her novel Up for Air so you know that brings the steam!

 

Transcript

Elle 0:00
Hey, it's Friday. award winning author Christina Berry is our guest today Christina writes sex positive contemporary romance with heart humor and lots of sizzle, her debut novel Up for Air when the 2021 independent Press Award for romance and was a 2021 Maxie Awards finalist in romance. Her second novel The Road Home is due out on August 5. A citizen of the Cherokee Nation Christina created the All Things Cherokee website, where she publishes Cherokee genealogy, art and cultural content. In her free time, you'll find her at home in Austin, Texas, helping her husband with their never ending home remodeling project, and chronicling the adventure in a dramaedy blog. Christina, welcome to Steam Scenes.

Christina 0:46
Thank you for having me.

Elle 0:48
Oh, my God, thank you for being here. So I'm very curious, what are you remodeling? Is it the whole house?

Christina 0:52
Yes the entire thing. We we bought a house in 2006. That was built in 1946. And we took it down to the studs, and then built it back up. And then we built a second building in the backyard. So it's just this constant process.

Elle 1:09
Is it just the two of you doing this?

Christina 1:11
For the most part? Yes. However, we do occasionally hire experts. We've hired a roofer. We hired some people to do the steel on the second building. The things that we can't possibly do ourselves. But anytime it's drywall or anything like that it's us. It's exhausting.

Elle 1:29
Wow. Yeah. Yeah, that's crazy. Yeah, no, um, you know, I mean, we've my spouse, and I, like have done the home reno. Oh, I can't even paint. Like, I'm just like, No, I can't I'm like, Can we just hire someone? Because I'm done.

Christina 1:48
Yeah, it's a it's a lot. And you know, we started this 16 years ago when we were different in different stages of our life. So now it's like, ah, do we have to work on the house this weekend? I'd really like to write.

Elle 1:59
Yeah, 16 years younger.

Christina 2:03
Our backs don't like it so much anymore, either.

Elle 2:07
16 years is a really long time

Christina 2:11
At least now. It's a comfortable space like it's insulated for there were years there. There was actually one year that we went through a freeze where we didn't have any insulation inside the house, except for one room that we called our igloo. And all the pipes exploded over the living room. And so that was and that was right before we're going to have a big party to our house warming party, ironically.

Elle 2:35
Oh, my God. Okay, we shouldn't even unpack that. Yeah, wow. I can't believe I can't believe it's like under construction 16 years. I would lose my mind.

Christina 2:50
I wonder sometimes if this city of Austin has like a running bet to see like if we how long we can stretch out our permits. Because you know, if you get an inspection every six months, you get it renewed? And so it's for so many years, we've been through five different inspectors at this point.

Elle 3:08
I didn't even think about the permits and how hilarious that must be like you've had a permit and your window for 16 years.

Christina 3:13
It's kind of ridiculous. Well, and and the technology's changed, too. So you don't have to have the permit in your window, because they can just look it up on a computer in their car. And so they just look up the address, and they can find them. But they have to do a backlog search because we don't even come up with the search engine anymore. Because the search engine is dated, I think a year back. Like Yeah, you have to put 2008 into the search field before you're going to find it.

Elle 3:39
Oh, my God, that's wild that's totally wild. Okay. So 16 years ago, you buy this house, you strip it down, you're rebuilding it, and you said 16 years ago, you weren't writing?

Christina 3:51
No, I wasn't. And I wasn't even really reading. It wasn't until my husband made some sort of offhand comment about how I don't like to read that. I was like, What are you talking about? I love to read. He's like, I've literally never seen you read. And that was when I realized, like I haven't been reading. So that's when I got back into reading all the time. And then that kind of got me back into writing.

Elle 4:10
So okay, so backtracking a bit more. So were you at one point, a big reader, and just it just kind of fell off? Because like life happens.

Christina 4:20
Yeah, I think I was. And then in college, I studied history. And so you read a lot of nonfiction and you read a lot of like, additional supplemental text. And I think when I graduated, I was just kind of done. And then, you know, I read a little bit of fiction after that, but just not much and I just never really made time for it. And I think I was focused more on art like photography. I did some beadwork like my mom does bead work, and I did some bead work and I kind of stepped away from reading and writing just entirely. And then I went to Budapest in 2003. And suddenly I was inspired. That place just really, really, I think the reason I like to write us because I like to describe what's in my head. And it just it kind of opened up my imagination. It's just a magical city. And so that's when it kind of started to try to write again. But since I hadn't been reading, you know, my writing was mediocre at best, and I never really did anything with that. And so it wasn't until many years later that I started to write for real.

Elle 5:28
So before, like, maybe before college did you write? I mean, obviously, when we're in college, we have to write papers and all that, you know, soul sucking shit. But were you writing creatively before then?

Christina 5:41
Not formally I was I would write things that I saw in my head. And I think that that's how I got into writing was that I couldn't draw to save my life. My sister's a great drawer, and I just never could and so I would write descriptions. I wouldn't write plot or dialogue, I would just describe an image in my head and because I was a boy, crazy goth girl, it was always like some vampire prince and his bedroom and some castle. All the four poster bed and the French doors with the billowy curtains and leaves strewn everywhere. Like this is what I can still remember it. It's still there, because I wrote it down so many times.

Elle 6:20
Oh, my God, this is wonderful. I want to read this book.

Christina 6:24
All it is, is just this one scene one description.

Elle 6:29
Does that still exist anywhere outside of like, in your head? Do you still have that?

Christina 6:33
oh my gosh, I was wondering about that recently, because I have kind of all these boxes in my attic. And I'm like, I wonder if some of that old writing is in there because that would be amazing that would be worth putting on the website.

Elle 6:46
I purged so much of my old stuff. And like my not the last move like the one before, like I moved from college to grad school to like, I did like multiple, multiple moves with all of these crates of like old notebooks and journals and stuff like that. I actually moved them to the house that we lived in before this past move. And I and and they sat packed away for like seven years. And I was like, this is stupid. Yeah. You know, and I was like, purge. I like purge everything. And so I ended up throwing all of that away. Yeah, I'm kicking myself. And I know everybody says, oh, if you haven't used it in six months, throw it away. And I'm like, Yeah, I do that. And then like, couple years later, I regret every, like, I regret it.

Christina 7:32
That's when we were like, Okay, well, the the attic is insulated. Let's put it all up there. So we had, you know, we have these massive storage units that sit in the driveway for years that we thought were going to be there for seven months now. They've been there for seven years. Like, What is all this stuff? And I was like, you know, it's been in a storage unit for seven years, do we really need it? But then we would find things in there that were just keepsakes things that you just don't want to throw away. But it's like, we don't need these we don't, we're never really going to read them like, well, let's put them in the attic. So now if you've got piles and piles of boxes in the attic, like okay, well, at least it's not thrown away. Yeah, you know, it can be retrieved later if I ever want to bother.

Elle 8:19
So you're so Okay, so you're writing these descriptions of vampire princes. And they're beautiful four poster beds, whichever you want to read now. It wasn't a worry. And and you're, you know, you're younger goth kid, and are you like, Okay, I think I want to be a writer, but then you sort of at some point transition to major in history, or did you know you didn't want to be where you was writing not a thing in your head that you could do

Christina 8:41
The second one, I never thought of myself as like, I'm going to be a writer someday, like that never seemed like my career goal, or even something that was truly doable. It just seemed bigger than I because you know, I, I'm older. And so I grew up, you know, when there wasn't a Wattpad. And there wasn't Amazon self publishing. And so, you know, the idea of being a published writer was a very different idea.

Elle 9:09
Right? There was no way you could make your living doing this unless you were like one of the lucky few.

Christina 9:14
Exactly. Yeah. And I just never thought I would be the one of the lucky few. Right? I enjoyed writing as sort of a creative outlet, but I never thought of it as like write a story and see if other people want to read it. It was more just, I've got all this stuff in my head. And I want to get it down somewhere. I want to document it. And so that's kind of what it was. And then I studied history almost thinking that I would be a teacher or something. But then I didn't want to keep going. I didn't want to get an advanced degree. It's like nope, I ended up in technology. And so I've been working in the technology field ever since and just you know.

Elle 9:55
Oh, wow. Okay. Oh, that's a huge transition. I mean, I yeah, okay. All right, yeah. So what By the way, what was what area of history were you studying are usually status focus, right? Yeah, you

Christina 10:09
I studied, I studied here at the University of Texas in Austin and I got a basic general history degree. But I, I also got a minor in American Studies. And I tried as much as possible to, to take courses that focus on marginalized culture. So Native American, Mexican American, African American, like different studies of different communities that maybe aren't covered by the general basic history classes that are all about white men and the wars they fight. And so that was and feminism too is another. I took several courses in that, but then I would also, you know, I took Communist China and Haitian culture and Brazil.

Elle 10:44
I took a Brazil class on grad school. So isn't that culture amazing? Yeah. Fascinating. I love Brazil.

Christina 10:58
I do too. I want to go there someday. But so I was able to kind of explore all my interests using like, elective courses just as long as you get enough history credits. So but I think my focus was generally American history in the you know, in like the mid 1800s. And so, okay, and with a particular focus on American Indian, so, like, the Trail of Tears, the Indian Removal Act, the Civil War, and all the, the fissures and factions that that created in tribes, and then, and then allotment, and all the different ways in which my particular tribe was impacted by American history, I kind of covered and so then I've after that, on All Thing Cherokee, I did a lot of genealogy research. And that was actually like, my side hustle for a long time. Really? doing research for other people's family trees.

Elle 11:53
Wow. I mean, I don't know, I actually find the genealogy thing very fascinating. You know, and I've tried to do it for my own family. And I keep running into like, brick walls. Totally not patient enough to like, keep going. I actually can kind of see a parallel with writing, because it's still stories. Like it's piecing together somebody's story.

Christina 12:21
Absolutely. Absolutely. And a lot of times, you know, people would hire me specifically, because they had a goal in mind, they wanted to prove they were Cherokee, for whatever reason, sometimes, for personal knowledge, sometimes they thought that they could get enrollment and get, you know, benefits or whatever, right. Um, which I never really enjoyed hearing that. But you know, that was part of the, that's part of the deal. But what I enjoyed was, then I could go, Okay, well, this is the story of your family, according to these primary source documents, they started here, and then they ended up here. And I found these two married and then their siblings married and then you know, you can kind of imagine the their lives and, you know, you get a census image every 10 years of how many kids they have. And suddenly, I've got 13 kids, and one of them is named literally Mellon Collie, and I'm like, That's adorable.

Elle 13:10
No.

Christina 13:17
Like, I never forgot that one.

Elle 13:20
Oh, my God. Somebody had a sense of humor.

Christina 13:24
They let dad name that kid.

Elle 13:27
Oh, my God, that is like a dad joke in a name.

Christina 13:30
Totally a dad joke.

Elle 13:34
this is so that is so fascinating. How are you? You're still doing the genealogy or no, not so much.

Christina 13:39
I'm not doing individual genealogy anymore. But my dad and I have been working on a project we're trying to get all the different Cherokee roles transcribed because these are the documents that were taken of the tribe. And so if you're looking to see if your family was part of the tribe, that's the that's the document that you're going to need. And there are like 15 of them. And some of them have hundreds of 1000s of names. And so my dad just recently retired. he's a he's a lifelong journalist, and he's retired now. And he was like, oh, help. So he started transcribing the Dawes roll, which is the big one for my tribe. That's what enrollments based on now.

Elle 14:15
How old is this document? I mean, we're talking it's gotta be like hundreds of years old.

Christina 14:19
It's 1896 to 1907 with Oklahoma statehood. So that was the allotment roll the final roll. And essentially everybody who is a citizen of Cherokee Nation Indian Territory at the time, prior to Oklahoma statehood, was given a tract of land and then the remainder of the Cherokee Nation land was sold. And so my family got three tracts of land because my grandfather wasn't born yet. So his mom and his two older brothers got their enrollment land. And then my dad was my grandpa was born in I think, 1912. So this, Oklahoma's five years old by then, and so he didn't get a piece of allotment land, but his mom had the main homestead. And so, you know, that's a that's a long time ago. And it's a long time, it's handwritten. So he's like reading handwriting to, to try to transcribe it. And it's just, it's, it's a heck of a thing. And then I've been QAing it to make sure that, you know, two sets of eyes look at it, and it's, it's an orgasm.

Elle 15:21
This is a massive undertaking, an absolutely enormous undertaking. What happened to Okay, so, I mean, obviously, people kind of, like, fall out, like you have, you know, a group of people and what if somebody sort of like went away, or, you know, a family line died off like they like, there's no way to track them before this document?

Christina 15:43
Um, they, you can use primary source documents like birth records, death records, census records, and any of that, but if they, if they weren't on the Dawes Roll, then you can't enroll in the current tribe. That's the way that our constitution was rewritten when the Cherokee Nation was basically dissolved with Oklahoma statehood. And then it was reconstituted in 1975. And they wrote a new constitution. And they based that enrollment on if you or an ancestor, a direct lineal ancestor was on the Dawes Roll, which was the final roll taken of the of the Cherokee Nation before it was dissolved. And so if your family had moved away from the Cherokee Nation before then you probably aren't eligible for enrollment today, because they wouldn't have been citizens of the tribe at the time of that final record. And there is a lot of that, like some people, there were, you know, the turkey diasporas is, there's multiple, yeah, the forced removal of the Trail of Tears. And then even before that, there were immigration roles where people move to what was Indian Territory at the time, which is actually Arkansas now. And so you've got all these people who move to different places, and then they're told they have to move again, some of times, they're just like, no, screw you, I'm staying here. And so they weren't part of the tribe anymore. Or there were people who moved down to Texas who were no longer part of the tribe either. And so it's a it's a really complicated history. And it can be really frustrating for a lot of families, because they know they're Cherokee. But there's no way to formally documented or prove it.

Elle 17:24
Because I'm just sort of thinking with all the sort of like genealogy DNA now, like the research, you know, I actually did just get my DNA done has my husband and my daughter did it. So they were like, you know, I, and I never wanted to do it. And then finally, I broke down because there were things that were showing up my daughter's DNA that I was like, well, that's interesting. Oh, that's weird. So I actually ended up getting tested. And there were some surprises in there. And so I can imagine, like, people getting their genealogy done now, and sort of seeing that and being like, Hey, wait a minute. Yes. You know, this is what do you do you think that there would be a rewriting at some point of the Constitution to include or at that? Or is it just a point now?

Christina 18:10
I don't think so. Because I, the thing with the thing with Indian culture is that it's not really about blood, it's about the community. And if you write your family move away from the community, then you're not really Cherokee nationally, you may be ethnically Cherokee, but you're not nationally, Cherokee. And that's kind of the difference. It's like, I'm Irish, too. But I'm not nationally Irish. I can't vote in the Irish elections, because my family moved away during the potato famine, you know, so like, right, of course, right. Right. where, like, that's kind of how I equate it is like the Cherokee Nation is a nation. And it's not just oh, I have a blood test to prove that I should be part of your nation. It's like, no, it's part of the history.

Elle 18:56
Right. Right. That that makes total sense. Okay, that makes total sense. So, so cool. Okay, so back to writing. Wow. We love tangents.

Christina 19:11
I'm very good at tangents.

Elle 19:14
This is like super fascinating stuff, though. Specifically, you know, especially when you get into that genealogy thing. Like, that's just some wild shit. That's

Christina 19:20
Oh, yeah, yeah.

Elle 19:22
So what At what point did you say, Hey, you know what, I think I want to be a writer.

Christina 19:28
It was probably about 10 years ago, when I really got back into reading and then I got into reading I think I started reading YA fiction first and then paranormal and then before long, paranormal became paranormal romance, and then romance. And I was like, I really like these stories. I really like happily ever afters. I like the kissing parts. I want to write my own and so I kind of like it. Like I get inspired by other writers and the stories they're telling and I kind of start to think about my own stories. And what I want to tell and how I would put it. And before long, I was really starting to just like collect like little snippet ideas that would come up in the shower, whatever, I would just be like, Oh, I'm gonna write that down. And it might not turn into anything. But I have a whole bunch of those.

Elle 20:16
Like that little box of ideas. So, you're on this sort of like process or journey or whatever you want to call it like did was there one writer in particular that really influenced you?

Christina 20:28
I think Alice Clayton is one that like, I was probably the first straight up romance I read was Wallbanger. Okay, and I really enjoyed it. And I was like, you know, and I think before that I had always, I had always heard I had listened to the naysayers for like romance. It's just not that good. It's a sub genre kind of, you know, the snooty that you get from people and I'd be like, oh, okay, but then I'd read it and be like, but I really like it. And like, this is my genre. This is what I want to read. And I think Alice Clayton was the one where I was like, cracking like literally cracking up laughing reading that book. And I was like, This is so great. Like, I want to be more involved in this. So hers like her as far as becoming a romance writer, I think that she was really influential. Colleen Hoover's another one that early on, I read Slammed, and I was just like, Damn, I really like this, I really want to do this. Like it's kind of women's fiction/new adult fiction meets romance, you know, with a little bit more drama and a little bit more angst. And, and yet, still, you get a happy ever after. And then the other writer that really, I love Tana French, she writes mystery, but her writing is like poetry I love every time I read her books, I just, I just want to sit down and write and like write really beautiful words, because she just has a way of making ordinary things seem really extraordinary and fascinating and beautiful and interesting. Just with the language that she uses.

Elle 22:03
Okay, very cool. Very, very cool. Yeah, it's, it's funny, that sort of stigma that romance writing has, for a very long time, you know, I had when I was a kid, you know, child of an English teacher, right? I had to like, go hide. Yeah. I had romance. I wasn't allowed to buy them, or have them in the house. Yeah, we only read true literature.

Christina 22:30
Right? Reading is reading, like, let our mind expand in whatever direction we want to expand.

Elle 22:36
And, you know, I really think and I know, this has been like, documented and in, you know, I'm not saying anything new here. This has been documented in like a day, there was an a documentary about romance authors and in romance landia. But you know, there is, there is something actually very feminist about romance novels, starting with the fact that women write them. Oh, yeah. You know, like, that's it right there. You know.

Christina 23:03
Representation matters. And in, in, in in romance, there's a lot of women voices, and I think that's wonderful.

Elle 23:09
Yeah, yeah. But I also think that that's why it gets sort of, it gets shafted.

Christina 23:13
Oh, that's interesting. Yeah. Yeah.

Elle 23:18
Because nobody has said, like, you know, nobody looks at Nicholas Sparks and says, You're not a real writer.

Christina 23:26
You know, I never read him because he's always making everything so sad. And I'm just like, life is sad enough.

Elle 23:31
Yes, I know. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, technically, he is not a romance. And he says, out of that, adamantly, I am not a romance writer. But he does write love stories that a lot of women really, you know, yeah, really love. And so, you know, but, but he is not looked at as you know, you're not you're not a real writer, you don't right, you know, that trash. Right. You know, and I think that he's given a pass.

Christina 24:01
Yeah. I see that. I think that there are, you know, there are still some pretty, you know, notable voices in romance like Nora Roberts and writers like that who've really succeeded. And I'd like to think that that's like a sign of moving toward more acceptance of women and romance as a legit literature.

Elle 24:28
It's a billion dollar industry, but you know, you look at it like, that's never going to be in the New York Times Book Review, which is fine. That's not our readership. But at the same time there is this sort of I don't know I think that it by it not being there it also has this Well, that's not serious.

Christina 24:48
Yeah, it sounds like a kind of a quiet slight.

Elle 24:51
Yeah, yeah. Just the omission of it from there is is definitely feels like a bit of a slight For sure.

Christina 24:58
And you know, when I started started talking about publishing because I wrote these books years ago, to be honest. Ieah, I wrote Up for Air in 2010. But then I edited the hell out of it over and over and over again so many times, that it wasn't really done until I actually finally just handed it to my publisher. But when I first started talking about it to my friends, I was almost embarrassed to be like, yeah, I mean, I guess they're kind of romance ish. Like, I just didn't really want to get over that.

Elle 25:39
Now, how long did it take you to kind of like get over that and feel like less squirmy?

Christina 25:43
I think it was when I realized, like, no, this is happening. And I'm not gonna use a pen name, I'm going to do it under my name. This is me, this is where I'm at, and take it or leave it. And so once I got like, once I got signed with Black Rose Writing, I was like, okay, it kind of just changed my whole perspective. Like, I'm not just pretending that I can do this, like, I can do this. And I'm going to do this, and I'm going to do the best I can. And so like, get the word out there. And I started promoting to my friends without any shame. And they have responded so well, like people who so many of my reviews read like, I never read romance before. But I really like this. And I'm like, maybe this introducing people who wouldn't have read it into the genre that they didn't know that they will love?

Elle 26:30
Well, I mean, I think that it's important at this point, I'm going to say like, you know, this, you know, up for air has a few awards behind it. And then you also just finaled in the inaugural Good Sex Awards.

Christina 26:42
That is so exciting. Like, I'm really excited about it.

Elle 26:46
Congratulations

Christina 26:47
Thank you so much. Yeah, this one is, like, it's because it's a feminist con, like the concept behind it as feminists and like i, i finaled in Sexiest Consent, and Best Feminist sex scene. And I'm like, Yeah, I love those categories. So that's really exciting. Yeah. And I think that that's just more of the idea of like, you know, yes, this is a female dominated genre. And let's take that and use that voice. Because we've got, like you said, it's a it's a huge industry, and there's a ton of readership. And it's growing all the time. And let's use that voice and explore messages that really matter to women. And let's, let's write characters that are not just stereotypes of women, but like real women characters, and let's, let's really explore how sexy consent can be.

All these things are really important messages. I think for young girls and young women, let's, let's contribute to our culture by creating, you know, our own corner of literature that is really, really women focus and women, like, you know, girls Power Girl positive, and we give that voice some some space.

Elle 28:05
Yeah, yeah, I know. And I know, like you had said, you know, earlier representation matters. And one of the things that I mean, surprised me, I knew that you wrote BDSM, and kink I knew that you wrote in there. But I didn't realize until I read you until I actually, you know, sort of like sat down with your stuff that you also were writing polyamory. And I was like, oh, surprise. Cool. And I know.

Christina 28:32
What's funny is that those two themes are definitely a huge themes in the first book in Up for Air, but they're not themes in the second book, and they won't be themes in the third book, either. So like, there's, in fact, in the third book, I'm playing with celibacy, at least part of it. Oh, yeah. There's gonna be interesting, sexy moments where there's no sex, but it's very, like hot. Kind of pre foreplay.

Elle 29:00
Okay, so you're coming back so that we can talk about that. Because one of the things No, seriously like one of the one of the things I'm like, desperate for is a sweet romance writer to come on here and talk about how to bring the steam when you're writing sweet.

Christina 29:12
Well, I'm I will say it's really challenging for me because I right off the wall steam.

Elle 29:19
Good Sex Award nominee nominee right here. I mean, like, Yes, you do.

Christina 29:24
Writing like a suite where there's just, you know, subtle looks and touches. It's like, this is this feels slow to me. So I think I'm gonna need a lot of beta readers as I get further along in the process to be like, Is this too slow? What's the pacing? Like, because I feel like it's like, you know, really, really not where I'm at emotionally like I really just want to write some hot sex but that's not where the characters that emotionally So,

Elle 29:50
Okay, this is really fascinating because you're, you've This is a series and you're writing these sort of like, Okay, we've got BDSM kink polyamory in the first book, and then the second book, I think, hased on the description, which like rock star romance hi, what I write? Yeah. So my rock star lovers it's going to be a rock star romance. Yeah, um, you know, so that seems to me, that seems a little bit more, I guess, quote unquote traditional.

Christina 30:15
Yeah, yeah. a little bit more like, it's pretty. It's it. There are tropes in it that I hadn't. I don't even think that like, you know, polyamory is often kind of equated with reverse harem in romance. And this is not right affairs, reverse harem. And I'm not tropey. And, but the second one is definitely, there's definite tropes.

Elle 30:39
I mean, I don't know, I feel like I'm jumping around in like 20,000 different directions. But the polyamory is really fascinating. Because so many more people are doing it. They're just not talking about

Christina 30:48
Oh, yeah,I know. It's really interesting. So the reason that the I'll just come clean and say that the inspiration for that first book is my own life. I was married to a musician, interestingly enough.

Elle 31:02
So inspiration for a second book.

Christina 31:05
Yeah, I knew all the ins and outs of the rock scene. But uh, for the first book, it was, I was 29. And looking into the casket of my husband's grandfather, and I was realizing like, Where's my life? Am I happy? And so I did talk to my husband at the time, and we decided to open our marriage and back then there was nothing like that at all. Yeah, that was a little bit but it was like just considered kink. It wasn't considered an actual lifestyle choice. And like we were, I was, it was back in the heyday of like, OKCupid and on OkCupid. And on my space, because this was that long ago. Like it's set in 2005. This happened in 2005. My Space had a swinger option. That was the that was their definition of poly back then was swinger, which is 1970s. term.

Elle 32:04
It's almost like a key party right from the 70s. Which now I want to write one of those. I got anyway. Yeah, anyway, um, yeah, no, I like I didn't realize that I was not on MySpace. And I was like, it just felt so foreign to me that I was like, Yeah, I don't need to be there. Um, but it but so I didn't realize that there was a swinger option.

Christina 32:32
And I decided to select it once, when, when I met my current husband, I said, then I had a husband and a boyfriend. And it was very confusing and really hard and a stressful thing. And that was what I felt like, years later, five years later, I think it was I decided, you know, I need to write down what was going on during that summer, because that was such a weird time in my life. And I read and I have such a bad memory. Again, it was like, I just need to document this thing. And so I wrote it down. And the more I wrote it, the more I was like, this is like a story like this could be a story. And so I started changing the order of things. And I started fictionalizing some things. Finally, I think it was like on the adsi edit, I took out the last actual sex scene that really happened. And now it's all fiction. But like, that was like, Okay, I guess I'm handing this over. Now to the world of fiction. This is no longer anywhere near a memoir. But it was totally inspired by this life experience that I had. And so at the time, yeah, polyamory was just a strange thing. And I actually met a friend on OkCupid, who's still a friend today, just because he said he was in a poly relationship. And I was like, Can we do lunch? I want to talk to you, I'm going to pick your brain.

Elle 33:49
Yeah, because there weren't I mean, back then there certainly at least, that you could find easily. Now there are all communities devoted to it. I believe there's actually sort of a quarter I mean, I don't know better lack of better term, a dating app is specific for you know, the poly community. So there's a lot, you can find your people easier, you know, for sure, then you could back then.

Christina 34:10
People are just more open about it. And I think that they're still they're still obviously kind of a taboo with it, which is one of the reasons when I wrote this. I was like, I don't even know if it's romance because it's not it's kind of a taboo in romance, because, yeah, people see Paulie as cheating. And I don't, I've never considered that the case. I think if you have communication, and there's no lie, then it's not cheating. But that's, you know, that's my opinion. And there may be a lot of romance readers who are like, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope.

Elle 34:43
Yeah. I was kind of curious if you got pushback on that. Because there I mean, I think that you're pretty it's not vague in your blurb. I just kind of missed. Yeah, okay. Thank you. No, I don't know. I don't know it was like that or something. But I'm sort of curious what there was because I know I my first book, I got called out by a reviewer. And there, there wasn't an actual cheat. It was like a massage a groupie and our underwear giving a massage. But there was no real cheating that looked like it could lead to it, but nothing happened. And there was a lot of anger there. And so I you know, in her review. And so I get like, I get people are coming from, I guess, I guess they're having a trauma response to cheating. You know, so, I don't want to disregard that. But I do think polyamory is something very, very different and how, you know, how has that been it within the romance community for you?

Christina 35:45
I have been, frankly, shocked at how well received, it's been. I haven't had anybody come back and say, Oh, this is this isn't romance like the, you know, she's hurting all these people. Yeah, I haven't had any of that. And I really did think that I would, and that was one of the reasons I think it took me so long to get around to actually publishing it was I was a little bit afraid of the backlash that I might get. And maybe I waited long enough that there's an acceptance of it in in our culture now that that's not the case. Maybe if I had published this a few years ago, it would be a different story.

Elle 36:20
Right. Right. I was I like I said, I was so surprised to see that because I don't think I've seen any romances that like it's not like Minaj or reverse harem or whatever. I don't think that I've ever seen one that was specifically about Polly and I was like, oh, like,

Christina 36:38
I don't think I have either. I mean, maybe maybe there's women's fiction stories about that. Yeah, but not not romance. Yes, Amy? Yeah.

Elle 36:47
For sure. Um, so hey, like, so for your good sex award. Good sex award winning, nominated. I'm saying winning, you're gonna win.

Christina 37:03
There's a Reader's Choice Award portion of it, too. So I've been like posting about it online like mine.

Elle 37:11
look that up so that I can go and give you classic? Was it weird writing your first steamy scene? How was it awkward? Like, how was that for you? Um,

Christina 37:21
well, because I started out almost as a as a as like, documenting life events, it was, it was more like just writing down the details of something. And then later on, you go back and you read like, Oh, this is just blocking, basically. And then his hand was here, and my head was here. And he pulled my hair. And like, that's not that interesting. And so I think that's generally how I've ended up writing all of the sex scenes now is like, I kind of write the blocking just you have the general idea of where the different characters are moving, and what's happening. And then you edit it. And because I'm, I'm terrible at first drafts, I love editing. So I will just get it down in the most basic ways. I've never done insert 16 here, because I know that I won't come back and do it justice. It's like just go through the motions. That's a weird thing to say. But like, that's kind of how I started in the first draft. It's like stick figures and doing this, the motions and then you, you flesh it out, well, this all just sounds like innuendo.

Elle 38:29
Okay, I'm here for it.

Christina 38:31
But that's when you kind of like take out a lot of the blocking because it doesn't really matter if it was his left hand or his right hand that he used for that or, but like you put in a lot more of the reaction and the emotion and the sensory elements of it.

Elle 38:46
I like this process, I'm, I'm slow when I write, when I write them, I'm so slow when I write them. And so I actually though, kind of like this process, because sometimes I'll be writing it and I'll be like, Oh my god, I just want to get on with it. Don't worry, you know what I mean? But but you really do or at least I have to just really slow down. And so I kind of like the idea of just throwing out the blocking part of it. And letting that live and then going on with the story and then going back in to fill in the the other things because that, you know, writing the sex scenes will really like trip up my word count. My daily word count.

Christina 39:25
Yeah, well, and I try not to pay attention to daily word count too, because I find that I don't actually write very well when I feel like I'm under under pressure. And if I just kind of step away, I'll go, I'll go take a shower, and I'll have a thought and I'll come out and I'm like in my towel. I'm typing out this whole scene that I just came up with in the shower. And so I think that's better for my process anyway. Okay, so I don't generally try to keep tabs on that. I probably should but

Elle 39:56
yeah, normally I didn't and then it became a thing because Like I would start like kind of fussing too much with and not propelling forward. So I started kind of, I started doing you need to do, you know, X amount of words. And so it's I think, like, you know, started at 500. And then it's grown and grown and grown. But I do because I need to, for me, I just need to plan out my, my time and my skit my writing my release schedule, is about planning out my release schedule, which, you know, I still am terrible at, but I'm trying to get better. And I know that if I have, if I made a daily word count, I'm, it's going to be easier to figure out a release schedule.

Christina 40:41
That's a good point. And since I've started using Scrivener, I can see the statistics better. Like I used to just write in word and that was such a nightmare. And yeah, on this current on Book Three of the last analysis series, I'm using Scrivener, and I'm finding that it's so much easier to like move shit around. It was before. Yeah, but it's still I'm still kind of at a block. And so the Scrivener numbers, like when I look up word count, and like how much I did this month compared to last month. I'm like, Oh, I'm doing good this month. Okay, cool. Yeah. And like, kind of like Pat Pat's, you on the back? Like, yeah, keep going.

Elle 41:18
It does. It does pat you on the back. But you know, I use Scrivener to and I don't even like use it to I know there's, it's so powerful. And I don't even use it to its full potential. I don't either. I'm sure it just makes writing. It's so much easier to like you said move things around. And it was about are you are you a pantser a plotter,

Christina 41:34
I tend to be a pantser I try. I try my damnedest to be a plotter, and then I'm just like, I'm bored. I'm going to start writing now.

Elle 41:43
Yeah, I'm the same way I you know, I get an idea. And I wanted, like, get the idea down before I lose that. And then and then that just turns into Well, I'll just write for a little bit. And then I'll sit down and do the outline. And then all of a sudden, there is no outline, I will write an outline. And then, you know, three chapters later, I'm completely off the outline someplace else. So yeah, I try. I try. And the book I'm working on right now is the first one where I've been like no outline. And I'll tell you what, I was 55,000 words in the weeds until this week, I finally figured out what the hell I was doing.

Christina 42:14
I've done that. Yeah. And it's where you basically chop half of it off. And you're like, that hurts. But you know, yeah, at least I got to know my characters a little bit.

Elle 42:25
That was exactly where I was, I was like, I don't think I know these characters well enough yet. So just keep writing. Yes, keep writing until you figure them out. And that's kind of where I went with that.

Christina 42:34
And, you know, interestingly, I have, I have found that like, I have the same thing where you get an idea and you just write you just start writing because you're like, this is gonna be a novel, it's gonna be a series, I can't wait. But you end up with like three chapters, and then you walk away and you don't pick it back up. But I had that happen where I got an offer to do a Anthology, and they needed like a femme fatale, horror, short story. And I was like, Oh, I have that vampire story that I have three chapters of, I can turn that into a short story. And I just hit that and like, I, I'm still kind of blocked on my book three of my series, but I just picked that up. And like, it was already pretty much written. And I was like, This is great. I got to do this more often just write down these ideas, because who knows maybe their short story, they might not be a full novel.

Elle 43:22
Yeah, I think, you know, it's funny, I have, um, when I started writing, before I was writing romance, I wrote an urban fantasy series. Um, and so I love urban fantasy, but I've just been sort of like, you know, just more focused on the romance. And I have like a partial, I don't know how many chapters I would say, probably got like a good six to eight chapters of in urban fantasy that I started writing that I just kind of abandoned. And then a friend of mine is doing an anthology and asked me to contribute to it. And so I ended up doing, I guess, it's a novelette. It was supposed to, you know, I'll just give them to you know, I'll give them 5000 words. 20,000 words later. It's sort of like a start to the series that I had the book that I had started. So I'm sort of like looking at that and kind of rethinking it so it can be a paranormal romance rather than see, yeah, yeah. But it's really but so it's, it's like kind of like, and I have so many of those Scrivener files just kind of sitting on my computer half done, or, you know, just started or quarter dawn or whatever it is that I you know, I know, I can go back and pick those up again.

Christina 44:28
Yeah, same and it's kind of neat. It's like, Oh, I can kind of rethink these. Because, you know, when you're thinking in terms of novels, it's like, well, I have to finish this one first. And I have to do this one. And then I've got this like, I've got this long line, sort of like my TBR list. It's my TV. No. TV written. I'm like, wait,

Elle 44:55
two to

Christina 44:58
halfway through. I'm like, wait, Did I get that right? Okay, yeah, I'm good. So yeah, there's a long line of story ideas that are just waiting, like, you know, maybe I could do something different with some of these. Or if it takes off, you know, then you can turn it into a full novel.

Elle 45:14
Do you get frustrated sometimes, because I feel like I have all of these ideas in me. And I'm like, I'm never gonna be able to write all of us.

Christina 45:20
Oh, yeah. And I might have. I have a day job that I love. But at the same time, it's like, man, I really want to just be a writer at this point. Yeah, and I'm not sure. Yeah, the bills.

Elle 45:31
Yeah, no, I'm not there yet. I mean, you know, I got, as I had mentioned, in the greenroom, I was COVID unemployed, and I'm still COVID unemployed. But I feel like I'm a freelancer. But my clients are starting to come back. And, you know, so I've had it. I've had a year to write I've released four books. Oh, wow. In a year, you know, I've had time. I mean, it sounds so much better. But you know, so I've read at least four books, I wrote the novela. I wrote a novella that is going to make my readers really excited. But I'm not talking about it yet. Because it still needs edits. And yeah, but so I've been very, very productive. But I still feel like it's not enough. And it's not enough for me to quit my day job. Yeah, well, yeah, like, because I do I want to write like, I want to, like live with my characters. Like even my most frustrating day writing is better than my best day on my day job.

Christina 46:20
Yeah. And then my day job uses so much of my brain power, you know, yeah, at the end of the day, I'm just kind of drained. And so I use that time to market or to serve on social, but I don't really get a lot of writing done unless I get up early and do it before.

Elle 46:36
Okay, I was gonna ask you when you do your writing.

Christina 46:40
It's almost always on the weekends, or in the mornings when my head is fresh. And I often wake up with an idea or it'll be in the middle of the night. When I'm like, some weeks and I wake up and I'm just like, got to get this down. So I'm just sitting there with my earplugs in like writing

Elle 46:55
Okay, I'm gonna be totally woo right now, but um, it I had the what sort of drew me out how I figured out my damn plot for this book is I dreamed up Monday night. I woke up and I woke up Tuesday morning, and I was like, Yes. Thank you subconscious.

Christina 47:21
Excellent. There's a story and you just crying out. Yeah, that and

Elle 47:25
holy basil leaf. Highly recommend for wackadoodle dream.

Christina 47:30
All right.

Elle 47:33
Okay, I want to jump in and dig into your intimate scene. All right. All right. You're ready. I'm ready. All right, here we go. Let me just make sure I'm at the beginning here.

I can't even remember which scene I sent you. I think I know. Okay.

So this is from Up for Air, the first book in the Lost In Austin series and, okay, why did you pick the scene?

Christina 47:55
Is it the scene? I think it was the safe words. Yes. Okay. Yeah. I picked that seat. That's actually the scene that is placed for the good sex awards. Oh, okay. I liked it. I like it for a couple of reasons. One is that it really does center consent as a main theme. It's also the character the main character's introduction into kink. And so it's kind of fun to see her reactions. But what I like about it too, is that it's an it's a really hot intimate sex scene with zero actual penetration sex.

Elle 48:31
I noticed that. Not that it's a bad thing. There's actually so much about this scene that I love. Yeah, okay, I'll just get to it. So I'm not gonna like talk about like, What the fuck is she talking about? Ariana, if this isn't something you want to do? No, I stopped him. I want to try it. I'm just a little nervous. Okay, he not he nods as he scrutinizes my face. What would you like your like for your safe word today? I have absolutely no idea. I tried to be clever. How about good Tao? Good. Oh, he tries to stifle a laugh but fails. No, that's not a good safe word. Why not? Because it sounds like God and Oh, you want to save for that sounds like a word you might that you don't want to say for that sounds like a word. You might shout out during sex. It could get confusing. Oh. Okay. How about Stegosaurus? Alex? laughs No imagining you shouting that out during sex. All right. I just thought this exchange was so funny. And finally for Alex is like, let's just go with like rad. rad. rad is fine. That's the usual like.

Yeah, I was like, Yeah, that would be me. Trying to pick Say for, like,

Christina 50:01
why would you give me that choice? Just tell me what's a good safe word red is normal. I'd be like, okay, we'll go with red.

Elle 50:07
But I was like, kiddo, I was like, Oh. I mean, I was laughing about it for reasons before, like, we got to the garden. Oh, part, I was just like, oh my god waiting for good job waiting for the orgasm, waiting. They're like, God. And so I just, there was so much humor in this. And, um, you know. So I think that's something that I really want to sort of like, talk about for a minute. Because when you say poly and kink and BDSM it sounds like it's going to be a very serious romance. Yeah, very dark. Yeah. And I do think part of that is that kink. And BDSM is sort of usually dark romance, for whatever reason. And I loved that this wasn't, and there was so much levity here that made their connection to so much more believable, and also so much more intimate. Like they were able to have that. That sort of that back and forth. And, you know, and also there's a little bit of nerves going on here. Oh, yeah. You know, like, she's a little nervous.

Christina 51:19
Yeah, she's very nervous. And then he's nervous too, because he's, you know, he's initiating somebody new into a scene that can be really intense, and he really likes her. So he doesn't want to do anything that might turn her off. And so he's like, nervous, you know, he says, You know, I need I, you can trust me, I need to know that I can trust you, too. I need to know that you'll use these word, the safe word, if you need it, when it's really important to him to get that message across to her because he doesn't want to accidentally hurt her or upset her in a way where he's never gonna see her again,

Elle 51:52
I actually really love that point that you're making, because I do think that there is a sort of like knee jerk automatic assumption that the person that is in the most vulnerable spot is going to be the submissive, but actually, the DOM is in a pretty vulnerable spot to because I'm sure you know, that person doesn't want to hurt, right? The person that they're playing with,

Christina 52:12
right, and that's what the safe words are for. But when Yeah, somebody who's completely new to the scene, they may not recognize that. And you see that in some I've seen that like, that's in 50 shades when he first spanks her, and she freaks out and leaves, because she doesn't know what's going on. And to be honest, he was being abusive in that scene. And I don't like that. And so I wanted this to be really clear that he's not a guy who's doing this because he wants to dominate women. He just likes the kind of control aspect of sex and like, having that, that, that sense of power, but it's not like a it's not like a sexist thing. And it's not an abusive thing. But he is making it very clear to her that she has a huge amount of power to

Elle 53:02
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I haven't read 50 shades. And I know, I know, I always say I will, because I know I should. And then because no, you don't really need to that I feel like I should just be as a point of reference, right? Like, I really feel like I need that. And I know that a lot of people who are, who are in the kink community are very, very angry about about that book.

Christina 53:26
Yeah, it's a bit frustrating. I read it, I read all three books. And I saw the first movie, I did not see the second view. But, um, I think it's frustrating because it Christian gray is a is a guy who's been abused himself. He's a victim of, of child abuse. Basically, there was a woman who was having sex with him when he was a 15 year old boy. So he's just never been. He's never known. a sexual relationship. That was healthy one. And so he's he kind of comes to, to his dominance in that way. And, and he so he kind of harms others, I think, and I think the BDSM BDSM community is frustrated because it's so popular. It's huge. And it's it's sold millions of copies. And this is their voice this is this is what represents them. It's actually not representative of, you know, the BDSM community and so it's a little bit frustrating.

Elle 54:32
I'm kind of curious then, because this isn't in his backstory that he has this abuse and this is why he is the way he is Chris I guess I'm yeah. Chris gray. So if that if that's the you like that. Yeah, that's part of his backstory. I'm very curious than how it how this became the primer on BDSM.

Christina 54:55
I don't know other than just that. It became very popular somehow and I You know what, what triggered that? But because all of the all the people who maybe were used to reading sweet romance were suddenly like, Oh, I think I like kink. You know, and they're, they've always read vanilla romance. And now they're like, Oh, so this is rocky road.

Elle 55:16
I guess I'm just sort of wondering, like, why, you know, y'all James didn't come out and say, Whoa, look, folks. You know what I mean, this is not representative of the community, this is something different. This is about, you know, a man who had this abuse in the past, like, do you know what I mean? Or did she just not even have that realization to even say that?

Christina 55:40
Like, I just, I mean, that's just me personally, I read it as he is, he was a victim of abuse, like, but at the time, I don't know if I've ever heard anybody really talking about that. Other than that, his behavior toward Anna is in places very abusive, or very controlling. And it all seems to come from this place of insecurity. It's not, it's not a healthy Yeah, healthy way to, to explore that kind of relationship. And that's just me reading it and going, Oh, my gosh, she was abused, like, but okay. I don't know if al James has ever really addressed that. And I'll be honest, like, I'm, I don't really follow her. So I don't know. Maybe she has, and I just didn't, I missed the news.

Elle 56:25
But I have no idea I've never been, but I've never actually seen and I would imagine that if she came out and said something like that. It would be news, it would be

Christina 56:34
I think, yeah, because it changes the whole concept. But his behavior is it's, it's treated as good. I mean, yeah, he gets everything you want. Yeah. It's a little bit problematic. There. Okay. Gotcha, gotcha. I

Elle 56:53
see it all. Now I need to read I just so that I have that perspective, but I do. I mean, I find that really interesting. Because, you know, I'm, and this is coming from somebody who, as my husband and daughter once said to me, Well, you hate man. Well, no, I don't love that. But yeah, but there's, there's, like, I think that there is a lot of disservice done to men in our culture, that they're supposed to be all of these things. And if they're, you know, a 15 year old, being what is essentially raped by an older woman is going to get like, you know, elbows in the ribs and great jobs in the life, yeah, when in reality, like, this is scarring This is rape this, you know, and I just kind of feel like these are like, we do a real disservice to the men in our culture. Exactly. You know, and it would be nice for somebody to address that for once in a very public forum.

Christina 57:52
And, you know, Christian Grey's character, he is not one to really talk about his emotions, he walks away, like when when major topics come up, he kind of walks away because he doesn't know how to express when he's unhappy or frustrated, without being in some cases abusive. And it's, like, it's clear that he's struggling with that toxic masculinity, like he's expected to be all these things, and he's sort of living up to some of them and not others. And it's, um, it's, I would think, as a man in America, that would be really exhausting.

Elle 58:25
Yeah, yeah. Okay, enough about Christian Grey. The fun stuff. He has, I'm trying to think where I am with this is for the next little bit that I okay. So, okay, so when they're in this room, by the way, which I did not set up that is kind of like, a playroom. Yes. For like, it's his bedroom. Correct. But it's guest bedroom. Yeah. Yeah. And so it's got like paddles. And then you know, so he's basically has this, oh, God, I guess I don't know we can I hook or something in the ceiling. And he is, you know, now got some cups. And this is where we are. He says, Now stand on your toes. I raised my heels off the ground and balance on the balls of my feet. As I do, I feel I feel a leather cuff clasp around my wrist and the tug of his fingers as he fastens the strap high above my head. Okay, wow. When he moves away, I remain there, dangling like a cockeyed Christmas ornament of these descriptions. My fingers explore the edges of the thick leather cuff and the heavy gouge gauge chain that pulls taut above. Next, he takes my wrist, my right wrist and cuffs it over my head to I am fully suspended, rendered helpless completely at his mercy. And this is how I remained for a long time. I'm not sure how long it is time moves differently when you're naked, blindfolded and suspended from the ceiling. It could be minutes or it could be hours. That I wait it feels like it's been days that he's not touching me not moving, not making a sound. I can't help but fidget, feeling unnervingly vulnerable and exposed in my new captive state. But I resist the urge to shout a safe word. I don't want to stop. Not before we've even started, I want to see this through, I want to know this side of him. And I want to know this side of me. As if he can hear my thoughts. He touches me and rewards me with a sweet soft kiss. Was he expecting me to break? I can feel the relief and joy in his lips as he recognizes in me a willingness to play this game with him. And with that I am centered ready. Even excited about what is to come. Oh my god, I love that moment. Okay, so there's lots going on here. really sexy, but it's also about her being in this new kind of weird kind of literally awkward position, and how she, for a split second is going to give into fear. But then instead, she's sort of like goes into, she doesn't let that take over. And it becomes curiosity and empowerment that takes over, even through her vulnerable vulnerability.

Christina 1:01:11
Right? Yeah. And I think that that's a theme that comes up a lot in the book is this idea that by opening our marriage, she's somehow made this courageous leap in her life. And Alex, the guy in that scene, he, he frequently says that he thinks she's brave. And she's just like, I'm not brave. And she, she thinks that he's going to find out that she's not and see that she's a fraud. You know, it's just so there's almost like an imposter syndrome for her where she's like, you know, everybody thinks that I'm this carefree wild person. And I'm just not, but she's in a place in her life where she wants to see that side of herself and see if she can be.

Elle 1:01:53
You know, it's so funny, because as we're sort of talking through this, and I'm like rereading this, you know, out loud, and I'm thinking to myself, you know what, this really is the sort of, like, coming of age story. Yeah, even for a woman who's like, who is in her 30s or, you know, are moving into her 30s. But it really does feel like a coming of age because she really is coming into herself.

Christina 1:02:14
That's why I kind of whenever I describe it, I almost want to say it's like, erotica, women's fiction, because it has that story arc of her kind of finding herself. That is, I think, a bit more women's fiction style, but it has extreme sex scenes. It's got all kinds of stuff. There's a sodomy scene that you don't even you have any right we go no holds barred. You're like I'm

Elle 1:02:48
gonna do this I'm gonna do this all the way. Do you know LB Alexander?

Christina 1:02:53
I think I know the name

Elle 1:02:56
She's got a series it's two books in the series Plus, I think she just like today like dropped a surprise like little novella. And it she's dealing with a lot of the same things here. She hers is darker than yours. But it really is sort of like women's empowerment and self discoveries through BDSM and kink. And it's a wonderful, beautiful book. Oh, yeah, she's she's doing the same thing. And she actually has a rom com that I read an arc of coming out that has nothing to do with, with BDSM or kink. It was just kind of like this fun book for her to read. It's like a reverse Pretty Woman. Oh, yeah. And it's super, super fun. But again, she's really dealing with because she was sort of like going on. Oh, no, maybe this isn't romance. Maybe this is women's fiction. And I you know, and I was like, I was like, Oh, your sex scenes are so hot. Yeah, definitely romance.

Christina 1:03:48
When I started talking to women's fiction writers, they were like, Oh, no, no, you're not women's fiction, honey. I'm like, Okay.

Elle 1:03:55
I mean, because I I don't think I've ever read a women's fiction book or a chiclet. You know, quote unquote, book that that is graphic.

Christina 1:04:03
Yeah, I don't think so either. I think that that like, yeah, and which I think maybe romance is kind of that sweet spot between women's fiction and erotica, where it's like, you can get a whole variety, a whole rainbow, of sweetens and, and spicy and all of this, all the stuff. And it's all just falls under the romance umbrella. But like, it's not what I write isn't really like, doesn't follow some of the standard tropes that you might like, there's no hockey, there's no there's no reverse harem. There's none of the like stuff that people have like specific fandom about motorcycle club or mafia. And, like, not none of the stuff that I write falls into that but it still does fall into overall romance because there's tons of sex and a happy ending.

Elle 1:04:49
mean, you know, in fairness, your next book, which we will be talking about when we're done with this scene, is a rock star romance in rock. Yes.

Christina 1:04:57
That is a good point. There's a couple of tropes in that and there One trope that I'm not even going to talk about because it's a it would be a it's a spoiler. Spoiler. Yeah. Okay.

Elle 1:05:07
Okay, so I'm gonna jump down about Okay. Um, okay, so we I love the way how you kind of like set up these sort of like these little short bits and they go through a spanking and tingling and teasing and, you know, so this is sort of after they've gone through all of all of those bits. Okay? For what seems an eternity though it could be mere seconds he leaves me with the lingering sting of that last bank. He steps away from me. I can't feel on can't hear him. Not even sure he's still in the room. I feel his absence acutely. I turn as far as my arms will stretch, straining to listen for him. I hold my breath so I can hear his but there's only silence I start to panic. I shiver suddenly feeling cold exposed. a whimper about to cry. In an instant. Alex slides against me, soothing me with the comfort of his presence. He hugs me tight one arm wrapped around my waist one cradling my head, his fingers crossing my cheek. His bare chest pressed up against me as warm and slick with a sheen of sexy sweat. I sigh with relief. I'm here he whispers into my ear. His words in the comfort of his nearness warming me all over. You've been a very good girl. You've earned a reward. He slides down my neck, my chest and my abdomen until his fingers are again between my legs. I groan Not again. I try to wiggle away, overstimulated and sexually frustrated not wanting to be denied any more. He hugs me tighter holding me in places his fingers move over me then inside me. I pant and groan and wiggle as I feel my orgasm building again. I expect him to stop once more, but this time he only increases the speed as my groans turned to moans. Alex presses his lips to the shell of my ear. He kisses me he gives me a soft kiss. Then commands. Come for me Ariana, now, as if waiting for permission my body erupts the orgasm courses through me like hot lava scorching everything in its path. I scream until my throat goes hoarse. I shake like I'm having a seizure. I see stars where before there was just the black cloth of the blindfold. And when it's burned through me I crumble like ash. Satan spent every muscle in my body quits at once I stink against him my weight hanging from the wrist cuffs, my hands no more than the restraints. Well, that was a wild ride.

I especially love that very last paragraph. That orgasm was like that was such a burn through me and crumble like ash. That was beautiful.

Christina 1:07:50
I think one of the things I like too is that after that he really puts a lot of energy into aftercare, which is the other thing that BDSM is really, really focused on is Yeah. Is that taking care of your partner? He does a good job.

Elle 1:08:05
Actually, um, lb Alexander has been on this podcast twice. And the second time we did talk about aftercare and how that's a thing. And you know, and I was like, and that needs to happen and why it's important and how some BDSM books don't do it. And, and I was like, yeah, yeah. And so it stood out to me at that point that he was doing that aftercare.

Christina 1:08:27
Yeah, yeah. You know, so it's just as important as the dominance and yes, and the restraint.

Elle 1:08:33
Yes. Yes. And I think, you know, I think I think aftercare post sucks. Even without BDSM even, you know, I think that I think that there needs to be some level of that. I think that that's important. You know, we all need a cuddle. cuddle. You know, even if it's a conversation, or, you know what I mean? It's not sort of, like get up and leave, you know, and I and if you get up and leave that's, that that's something else entirely. That's a powerful statement, too. And that's something else entirely absent and what does that mean? You know, so I think that it's um, yeah, I so it was great to sort of see it in here and know that it was there. And but and like I said, that orgasm was just

one last little bit. I'm so overwhelmed with bliss from his touch. I hardly hear when he asks, How was the experience for you? I have trouble forming words. Alex smiles, patiently watching me as I searched my mind for what I want to say and the words to express express it. It was incredible to steal his word. I've never felt so stripped and vulnerable yet cared for and safe in my life. I've never been more needing of a single person's touch and Uranus nor felt more brave and independent. In that time, I found myself and I found him. I want to be his my own self independent, strong and brave, yet complete. He has, finally I speak. But all that comes out is it was awesome.

I was like, oh, maybe one of my notes was wouldn't be great if every sexual encounter led to this exact feeling.

Christina 1:10:17
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Like, I just want to get myself over, but I feel so powerful, like so empowered.

Elle 1:10:24
Yeah. And I kind of felt like, okay, that is kind of That's the goal. Right, like every time to me like, true intimacy. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, exactly. Like, I kind of feel like we just hit it. I don't need to do this podcast. Salt. So this was a gorgeous scene. And I'm like, good, I really think that you should win graduation graduations on the nomination, because like, this was sort of that was really, really awesome. So I know that you have another book coming out, probably the Road Home book to August 5, the rock star, and this will probably be dropping around the same time that the podcast drops. So I want to give a little bit of time. And, um, and so this is a rock star romance. Set in Austin, which has a phenomenal music scene. Yep. For those who don't know, and I'm one of the one of the sort of points in the description that's grabbed me is that your, your, Jake, your mate, your hero, is he scores a once in a lifetime opportunity that brings him back to the Cherokee reservation where he grew up. So you're writing a character that is part of the Cherokee Nation, and I just wanted to like talk about that, because I was like, Oh, very cool. I don't know that I've necessarily, I mean, you know, have stumbled across and honestly, when I look for books, I'm literally stumbling. Yeah. You know, a books that has that influence the the Native American influence. And so I definitely wanted to, you know, talk about that, right. Why was this important for you to tell this story?

Christina 1:12:15
Well, so I am Cherokee Nation. Jake is actually Eastern Band, Cherokee Indian, which is a different tribe within the Cherokee umbrella. Okay.

Elle 1:12:27
I mean, yeah,

Christina 1:12:29
that, you know, when we had the Trail of Tears back in 1880, not 1888, I'm sorry, 1838. My group of Cherokee were forced west to what is now Oklahoma. And that was the, the Eastern Band call us the western Cherokee, but we're just we're the Cherokee Nation, and where we are actually, I think, the largest Indian nation in the country. We, it's either us or the DNA, the Navajo tribe, but, but we are a massive community. And then there was a group of Cherokee who remained in North Carolina, they remained either because there was this one town that was allowed to stay by the governor of North Carolina, and then there were other people who hid out in the Smoky Mountains. And then they stayed. So that's what makes up the Eastern Band. And so Jake is Eastern Band and he grew up in Cherokee, North Carolina, and then a family tragedy happened and he has been estranged from his family ever since. And so this is taking him back to his homeland. And I really wanted as as someone who's Cherokee and and and since I'm, you know, now that I have this platform to be able to write and get a voice out there, I really wanted to have a Cherokee voice in a contemporary romance, like you're gonna see in terms of romance, you'll see, you'll see indigenous characters who are in historical romance, and it's Yeah, it's usually like, you know, the fierce warrior who helps a white woman survive on the plains, but he probably doesn't speak much English, but it's a good thing. He can speak with his body really well, like that kind of character. Oh,

Elle 1:14:06
I'm cringing. Yeah, Sammy, but I'm cringing right now. Yeah,

Christina 1:14:10
it's kind of that stereotype of like the, the the Plains Indian and the teepees. And it's like, just kind of a fantasy, I think. But that's frustrating because it kind of it kind of contributes to this idea that I think it's fairly common in America that indigenous people are from the past that we don't still exist, and we don't still have our tribes and our communities and then we don't still live like right next door to people, you know, like, we don't all live in the in the 1800s. Right. And so that's one aspect that you see the other would be probably paranormal romance. They're going to be shifters and they're probably going to shift into werewolves Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And like that goes to another stereotype which is like the the indigenous people are closer to animal holes in the earth and they're mystical. And I mean, that's just kind of, I don't know, it's just kind of fantasy again. And what I want to see more of is contemporary romance that have just normal everyday people who are rock stars, or, you know, racecar drivers or whatever, who are indigenous. And so that's when I wrote Jay, because it was kind of this idea like that old adage, if you don't see the book that you want to read, write it. And so I kind of was like, Okay, I'm gonna write, I'm gonna write a story. And so Jake is actually a side character in up for hair, he's best friends with RA, and Ari's husband. And he's having to watch the two of them go through this weird thing where they're opening up their marriage. And he's like, trying to understand where his places in that whole thing. And so he's kind of going through his own come to Jesus coming of age, like, where Who am I? What am I doing with my life, sort of, you know, that sort of epiphany moment. And that's where we start. Book Two is kind of right after book one. And so now it's Jake, who's the narrator, and he's telling his own story. And, and I was just really excited because it gave me an opportunity to use actual turkey in the book. I don't use it a ton, but there's probably like, I don't know, less than a dozen, but a few phrases in the phonetic and then at the back, I have, I have a friend who's a language expert. I'm a novice, I'll be very honest. But He's, uh, he is fluent. And he helped me build up a table that has the syllabary of the Cherokee characters, then the the phonetic pronunciation, and then the English meaning of all the Cherokee that I use, so that you can kind of see what it all means. But that's cool. It was like, Oh, you know, to get to have a character say I'd love you in Turkey like, Yeah, okay. Yeah, it really meant a lot. And so, and like, yeah, so there's just, that was something that was really important to me, and I hope to do it more, you know, and yeah, I've got these specific characters for the last in Austin's series, but after this, I want to, you know, try to incorporate that more with future projects.

Elle 1:17:15
Oh, I think that that's excellent. And I and I really do. I absolutely love that. And I think that, as we've said a few times now representation matters. Yeah, you know, and I think that this is, um, this is really awesome. And I'm glad that I wasn't being completely ignorant, because I'm like, No, I've seen any Native American in a contemporary. Yeah, like, they're just, they just not exist,

Christina 1:17:39
it they may exist. And I just don't know if there are other if there are other indigenous writers or other writers who are writing, like well formed indigenous characters and contemporary romance, please reach out because I would love to get aware of it. And I would love to like, you know, form a little club and we could talk about it, but I don't know how many there are.

Elle 1:18:01
Yeah, this is cool. Well, I'm just over the moon that you did this with me today. Because this your stuff is really amazing. Thank you. I've had a really good time. This is great. So where can readers find you? where's the best place on the internet?

Christina 1:18:17
Um, I'm pretty active on Instagram. My handle there is author Christina Berry. My website is Christina berry calm. And so that's probably the those are probably the easiest ways to find me. And connect. I'm on Facebook to author Christina berry there as well. I'm on Twitter, but I almost never use it.

Elle 1:18:38
I hate Twitter. Twitter is a cesspool.

Christina 1:18:42
It's like screaming into the void.

Elle 1:18:44
Yeah, and everyone's so mean. Yeah, I hate Twitter. Have you done tik tok yet?

Christina 1:18:52
No, I haven't. And I don't know if I ever will. Because I just don't like doing video.

Elle 1:19:00
I'm there. I have a couple of videos. I feel like an idiot.

Christina 1:19:04
I would just be like, Oh, gosh. Yeah. And that's the thing. Like even when I post selfies a couple minutes later, I'm like, Oh, I don't like it. I don't even take it down.

Elle 1:19:14
Take it down. I mean, there's a reason why we're writers. You know what,

Christina 1:19:19
I signed up for this. I didn't realize how much marketing is required. Like, Oh, you mean I have to like, like be seen and oh, yeah, I better on the page.

Elle 1:19:31
Yeah, it's kinda it's kind of wild. I mean, like, you know, it's really funny because I obviously I do a podcast and I'm fine, like talking to people. And then I had to do. One of the things that I'm pushing myself to do this year is do other people's podcasts. So it's not just me with my own podcast. It's like pushing myself to like, pitch other podcasts as a guest. And so I was on Romance Happy Hour last week, and which is not just a podcast. Oh no. It's a live stream on Facebook. So I was like a deer in headlights. Oh my gosh. And I'm like I did. I'm like saying to myself, while I'm sort of like they're going you do this, you do this like weekly, like, all like you talk to people and you're like, fine. I don't have video going and present and like the live stream when I was looking at the computer and you can't not look at the computer or else you're looking at, you're not looking at the camera, right? But you could I could see myself and I was like, I don't want to see myself and I like, Oh, this was you just pick the wrong thing.

Christina 1:20:36
Oh my gosh, I love that you are giving yourself a pep talk like halfway through. You can do this.

Elle 1:20:45
By the end, it was fine. Like I kind of figured it out. But like those first, like 15 minutes, I was like, Oh, I don't like this. Then, of course, it's like too late now. You're doing

Christina 1:21:03
It would be funny if you just kind of like turned off your camera. Somebody asked you a question. And you're like, bye.

Elle 1:21:10
Peace out. Oh my gosh. Christina, thank you so much.

Christina 1:21:20
Yeah, thank you for having me. I've had a blast. We'll have to do this again.

Elle 1:21:24
Absolutely.

Christina 1:21:26
All right.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai