Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Brunch 8/18/13

Joining me today for brunch is author Shandra Miller! 

First and foremost, it is a pleasure to have you here.  Welcome to Harper’s Sunday Brunch Interview! 

So, can you tell us what makes Shandra Miller tick?  What got you started on the path to becoming an author? 

That's a long story, but I'll make it short, as they say. I didn't grow up in the best of households, and I learned early on from my grandmother there was a whole wide wonderful world – actually, lots of worlds – when she would read to me. As I got older and read on my own, I could forget everything going on around me. Then I started making up my own stories, in my head, the way I wish the world was, or something to keep me occupied. I spent a few years on the road, working the carnie circuit, and did some writing there, all longhand. A couple of years ago, I more or less settled down, bought a computer, and starting writing my stories there. Last fall, I published my first short stories, and now I'm doing longer works. 

What are you currently working on?  Would you care to share a snippet?

I just released my novel HELPLESS, Book 2 of the Lethal Obsession Trilogy. Thursday (Aug. 15) was release day. So I'm more or less between projects, though I'm starting one this week that I hope to have out in October, a combination of horror and erotica. If it's okay, I'll share a bit from LETHAL OBSESSION.

I am going to die.
Because I’m stupid.
That was the final lucid thought Angela was able to form before emotion replaced rational thinking. His hands – gentle yet deliberate in the way they had already worked the rest of her clothing from her body – unfastened first one strap that hung over her shoulders, then the other, and Angela felt her face flush as the chemise fell, leaving her nude.
She heard a whimper as the hot sting of leather kissed her buttocks, then the whimper grew to a muffled cry with the second and third strike, and Angela realized it was her own voice she was hearing, what little voice she could form through the gag.
Her body trembled at a fourth and fifth strike. Fear and adrenaline coursed through her body, and Angela moaned. Embarrassment competed with fear, embarrassment at being naked and vulnerable, and at the realization her body was responding to his actions, that she could no longer control herself, with each lash from the belt arousal grew; fear as the realization dawned on her, not rationally but in some deep, visceral way, that she was helpless and alone, at the mercy of a stranger who clearly had painful intentions for her.
Then it all went away, replaced by the hard sensation of ice, first against her right nipple, then her left. Angela cried out at the cold, her body jerking, but the sound was muffled, and she moved little, with her arms stretched overhead, wrists bound, snuggly held in place by…by what she wasn’t sure, with her vision nothing more than blackness behind a blindfold.
She turned her body away from the cold as much as she could, and Angela felt another sharp sting of leather across her buttocks.
“You will stand still.”
The voice, little more than a whisper, was firm and even. No anger, no frustration, just a simple command.
Again the ice, but Angela held her footing, though her body trembled in spite of her attempt at remaining perfectly still. The cold pressed against her, hard, and then she felt the ice slipping around the nipple, making larger and larger circles outward, spiraling across her breasts.
As suddenly as the ice had come, it was gone. In its place she felt his lips...kissing her right nipple, gently at first, ever so softly. A mix of sensations rolled through her body – the air against her left nipple, still wet from the ice, almost stinging cold, while his kisses brought warmth to her right nipple. Despite the embarrassment, the fear, Angela felt herself growing wetter than she could ever remember as his hands caressed her hips. She moaned, instinctively arched her hips forward and felt teeth clamp down on her nipple. Not hard enough to be a bite, but with enough force to hurt.
She whimpered and, again acting on instinct, tried pulling away, which served to elicit even more pain before he released her nipple.
“You are not very compliant,” he said. As before his voice was little more than a whisper, followed by the sound of leather slicing through the air and the sensation of it slapping hard across her butt, wrapping around her body, the tip of the belt kissing her, there, with pain.
She tried bending over, but her arms, stretched overhead, wrists bound, held her securely. Again the leather, slapping across her butt, wrapping around to the front, the tip almost slipping inside her before being snatched away. She cried out, not really trying to form any word, no true thought at hand, just pain and shame and, still in some strange way, a wave of pleasure, of delight at her predicament.
The room grew still. No more slaps of the leather. No more flinching. Angela noticed her breathing had quickened, as if she had been running, so she tried calming herself. Then she felt it…a feather? The edge of a cloth? It did not matter, really, for whatever he was using touched her underarm – exposed in her present bound position – in a manner that tickled.
She tried pulling away, swinging to the left as much as she could and the feather, or cloth, merely switched to her other underarm. She jerked the other way, and the tickling moved. She laughed and screamed into her gag, her body jerking to and fro. The tickling increased…under both arms now, up and down her torso. Angela tried backing up, until her feet nearly left the ground. She felt tears rolling from under the blindfold, her breathing sharp jagged gulps. Though her blindfold kept Angela in the dark, that dark was now filling with pinpricks, and she was blubbering and begging and somewhere in the back of her mind Angela knew even if she were no longer gagged, she would make no sense, little more than screams and random syllables escaping her mouth.
I. Am. Dying.
There, a thought. Not one of comfort, and certainly not funny, even though her cries might be considered laughter, given the tickling sensation – the torture – that was drawing the sound from her. And the image that accompanied the thought – of her nude, lifeless body, hanging from the ceiling, viewed and probed by officers investigating her death, brought fresh tears to her eyes.
Her hands contracted into fists, and the hard plastic brought one more thought.
Ping pong ball.
Her hand squeezed tightly around the small plastic sphere. It was her safety sign, he had told her. “If what I do is too much, too intense, drop this,” he had instructed, before promising that if she did, he would immediately stop whatever he was doing, remove her gag, and see that she was okay. Of course, his instructions came with a warning: “If you drop the ball by accident, if I stop and ungag you only to learn there is no problem, you will be punished.”
Dropping the ball now would be no accident. Angela feared that she might pass out. All she had to do was drop the ball, the man had said. Drop the ball and I’ll stop. But Angela knew now, understood, that was probably not so. She had agreed to meet him, alone, in a hotel room where no one else knew of her presence. Ball or not he owned her, and if she dropped the ball, and he did not stop, her worst fear would be confirmed. She was going to die.
Better to not know, to suffer in ignorance.
So she held tight, even as his tickling continued, her breathing became more difficult, and she felt her mind flirting with unconsciousness.
Then came the gentle buzzing – the sound of the phone vibrating.
Another thought, this one clear and stark.
No, please.
That had been their one other agreed upon sign. If her phone buzzed – not the cheap throwaway she had used in contacting her tormentor, but the other one, her work phone – then all must stop and he must release her.
It buzzed and this, Angela knew, would confirm the worst. He would not release her, she would know with certainty of his intentions. She would never leave this hotel room alive.

Do you include some of your own personal experiences in your books or do you prefer to use your imagination?

Oh, I'll have to say imagination.  

Why Erotica & Suspense?  What made you choose these genres over others?

 I enjoy erotica. I hesitate to say this, I don't want to be taken wrong, because I'm really a boring person, but I like, hmm....let's just say I enjoy some things in real life, so I write what I enjoy. As for the suspense, there again, I like well-written suspense and thriller tales. I thought it would be a challenge to combine the two genres. But I don't think I want to limit myself to these two forms of writing. As I mentioned earlier, I'm taking a run at some horror combined with erotica, and I have a few ideas down the road for stories that don't include erotica. 

Do you have a specific process or a ritual you go through when sitting down to write? 

Over the years, because of my lifestyle, I've learned to write whenever the opportunity presents. Having said that, when I am able to write in a manner that I really like, it's at night, facing the window, with the window open, a bit of music by Enigma or Loreena McKinnett playing, maybe a couple of candles burning. I like it especially like this in the autumn, when the air coming through the window is really cool. 

Where do you find your inspiration for your plots?  Do you have any tricks of the trade you would care to share? 

For me, my stories come from asking "What if." With LETHAL OBSESSION, I started wondering about people who hook up on Craigslist or other, similar websites. Then that progressed to thinking about people who find one another through BDSM-oriented websites. Then I asked myself just how far a person would go, what a person might do, allow themselves to be totally at the mercy of a stranger. That idea intrigued me a bit, but it didn't seem to be enough for a story. So then I thought, what if the person involved was a police detective, and what if, after meeting her stranger, another woman turned up dead, bound in the same manner the police detective had been during her encounter with the stranger, if evidence at the scene showed the killer had done to the victim, before killing her, exactly what the stranger had done to the police detective? That was the beginning of LETHAL OBSESSION, and by extension the sequel, HELPLESS. 

What is the oddest place/situation where an idea for a book/plot has come to you?
These things happen on their own, and I have little control over when an idea will pop into my head. I say that so you don't think me callous or insensitive. I was at a funeral for a friend when a story idea popped into my head. I've put together a rough draft of that story, hopefully I’ll finish it some time.

What makes a book stand out and perk your interest? 

I have to have a strong plot, something that matters at stake and a logical, reasonable working out of the plot line. Cliffhangers are okay, in fact I like them, but don’t leave me at the end of a novel with a bunch of questions that are unanswered just because the writer was too lazy to edit the story and work out all the plot holes. But the story has to have a strong plot. For erotica, that means something other than the erotica must drive the story. 

We all have our favorite authors.  Can you share some of yours and tell us why you like them? 

Robert Parker is my absolute favorite modern author. The guy, may he rest in peace, could write the most beautiful novels, could tell so much in few words it was incredible. That was one author whose works I would fly through (normally I'm a slow reader) and at the end I was just dying for more. Wonderful story teller. Douglas Clegg. He's a best-selling horror and fantasy author (though it seems no one has heard of him!) who writes the most beautiful prose. Seriously, I've caught myself stopping in the middle of a page and going back to reread it simply because it was written so well. 

We all have a pet peeve, care to share yours? 

Drivers who seem like they're falling all over themselves to get in front of you – running a stop sight, cutting it so close they almost hit you – and then once they pull out they drive 10 miles per hour UNDER the speed limit. My second pet peeve are people who tailgate me, but when those first pet peeve people get in front of me, I find myself turning into a tailgater. 

When you’re not writing, what are the things you enjoy doing to relax? 

I like to walk. I like to go running, especially in the rain. Sometimes, I'm absolutely serious about this, I will lay in the grass and watch clouds drift overhead, or lay out at night looking at the stars. Sometimes I do that when I should be writing. 

Thank you so much for joining me here today, Shandra.  I know my followers will enjoy this spotlight as much as I have conducting it.  Good luck on all your future endeavors. 

You are quite welcome, and the pleasure was all mine. I enjoyed it.  If any of your followers have questions for me, they can put them in the comments here. I'll check back several times over the next few days and answer anything I can!

Where to find Shandra

Shandra's Current Releases

Angela Martin is like everyone else. She wants acceptance. Love. Passion.
For five years she’s lived with the pain of knowing her husband cheats on her. She’s dealt with the heart-rending rejection by rebuilding her life around her work, becoming the first woman detective in the history of the Moose Creek, N.C., police department.
Then she stumbles upon him. A man who reawakens desire, who makes her feel more alive than she believed possible by pulling her into a world of bondage and dominance, devotion and trust taken to a new level, fear mingling with desire, a craving stronger than any drug.
Soon women start turning up dead in Moose Creek, bound and tortured, tied in ways that Angela finds startling familiar. Angela’s heart tells her that her newfound love cannot be the killer, her detective instincts tell her otherwise, and her obsession with this new lifestyle draws her back to him, even at the risk of her life.
LETHAL OBSESSION is a tale of sex and bondage, love and fear, desire and suspicion, with an ending that will leave you breathless, craving more.

Purchase Links for Lethal Obsession

In Lethal Obsession, Detective Angela Martin found herself attracted to a new lifestyle, experimenting with BDSM practices, delving deeper into that world even while a killer was on the loose, tying and torturing women in ways eerily similar to what she was experiencing with her master.
Detective Martin returns in the erotic-thriller Helpless, where she descends into the worst parts of the BDSM world. In Lethal Obsession Detective Martin made some tragic choices, and now, in Helpless, she struggles to deal with the grief and guilt she arising from those choices, emotions manifesting themselves with increasingly self-destructive behavior.
When she finally begins to emerge from that darkness, to reclaim parts of her life and career, the killer returns, only this time he hits closer to home, and Detective Martin stands to lose more than ever.

Purchase Links for Helpless
Smashwords coming soon!




  1. Thank you so much for letting me have Sunday Brunch with you, Harper, and your followers. If anyone has any questions about me, my novels LETHAL OBSESSION and HELPLESS, or any of my writing, I'll be glad to answer.

    Just post the questions here in the comments. I'll check back several times over the next couple of days and answer them all.

    Thanks again!

  2. It was my pleasure having you, Shandra!