1) What is the working title of your book?
The Pleasures of Hell, or The Obsidian Mirrror. It's a riff on William Blake's "Proverbs of Hell"
2)Where did the idea for the book come from?
This is a bit convoluted. In 2005, I started work on a book on the history of consensual sadomasochism, working title Beauty in Darkness. I'm a journalist and historian by training, and I don't think anybody has really written a comprehensive history of BDSM. I started a blog on the subject and have done a lot of work over the years, including giving presentations and writing magazine and web articles.
In early 2012, I published an article in Canadian magazine Maisonneuve about Maria Monk, a woman who claimed she was held as a sex slave in a Montreal convent in the 1830s. It was all a hoax to play on anti-Catholic prejudice, but it became a bestselling book. This was a spin-off of my BDSM history research. To my surprise, this resulted in an unsoclicited email from an editor at a local publishing company. She wanted to know if I had any book ideas in mind.
I seized on this opportunity and fired off a proposal and sample chapters. A few weeks later, I met her in person and we talked ideas. The problem, said the editor, was that I didn't have a hook. My book didn't have any particular claim or agenda. It didn't say anything about BDSM, especially anything that would get the attention of a person not already interested in BDSM.
I chewed on that for a bit, then decided to repurpose the material into another project. I'd long noticed that people project their own sexual fantasies onto other cultures, even cultures they consider despicable. Think of Nazi exploitation movies like Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS. Why is that? That was the genesis of Pleasures of Hell
3) What genre does it fall under?
Call it social or cultural history. IT should be accessible to the lay reader, but I intend to add full bibliography and references to make it valuable to academics.
4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Not may non-fiction books get adapted to film. I would love to see this adapted to a documentary film.
5) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
People project their unacceptable sexual desires, of homosexuality, gender deviance or fetishism, onto other cultures, like a distorted mirror.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
No idea. I have to write the thing first.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?
The book is still in outline form, though a lot of my earlier work can be repackaged.
8)What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Laura Frost's Sex Drives: Fantasies of Fascism in Literary Modernism explores some similar ideas, though I would like to go into media like exploitation film, the use of fascist iconography in punk and biker culture, etc. Mick Farren's The Black Leather Jacket is another example.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Initially, it was that this was a story that had not been told, and there were too many pernicious or just silly myths circulating in its place. Then it became more about trying to say something to make sense of a human behaviour.
10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The history of sadomasochistic fantasy is not about straight lines. It's all about reflections, distortions, strong and weak misreadings. It's about projecting unacknowledged aspects of ourselves onto our enemies.