Sur Renda is a successful software architect and entrepreneur who has lived in the Pacific Northwest for the last 30 years. With the exception of an absent father, his childhood was normal and was raised with a strong moral and ethical foundation without any abuse. Educated in Canada, he was married for 15 years in the 80s and 90s, and has 3 grown sons. He's involvement in D/s relationships span the last 20+ years, lasting anywhere from a few months to 12 years. He states that he does enjoy elements of S&M, however, his greater passion is the erotic use of discipline and control as opposed to extreme pain practices. He strongly believes that the BDSM lifestyle is for sane, safe and consensual adults for their mutual enjoyment.
I'm very glad that he agreed to discuss his book, and a topic that has been highlighted in the media recently: BDSM, both in literature and in life.
- By Sur Renda
- ISBN 9780985052508
- ISBN-10: 0985052503
- Publisher: viritude llc
- Genre: Erotica
- Format: Paperback
- Length: 230 pages
- Release Date: February 4, 2012
1. What do you think are the biggest misconceptions mainstream society holds about BDSM?
Sure, just go right for the meat of the issue on the first course. :)
I think the biggest misconception is that BDSM is about violence and abuse. From where I sit, it is more about control and power exchange between consenting adults than anything having to do with pain, violence or abuse. The general public tends to hone in on the S&M (Sadism & Masochism) aspect of it, especially the extremes, because it is sensational and graphic. And, without understanding, they simply conclude that it is wrong, abusive or violent. Perhaps it appears that way, but appearances can be deceiving.
BDSM runs the gamut from mild to wild and includes many practices that have nothing to do with pain. For those that don't know, the acronym consists of three pairs of abbreviations: Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism. In my view (and some practitioners will disagree with this), the acronym should be written as: bDSm (focus on Dominance & Submission, an inequality of power in the relationship). I believe that emphasis should be made because Dominance & Submission is the relational and interpersonal part of it. It is the element that makes it hot. Bondage and discipline done mechanically, without the power exchange, is not as exciting. Same thing for S&M. Still, there are some who would write the acronym as BDsm (focus on bondage and discipline and perhaps various fetishes), and for still others it would be bdSM (focus on Sadism & Masochism) and for the rest it would be BDSM (it's all good). My point isn't that any one of these focuses is better than the other but rather that S&M isn't the whole of it. It is just the sensational part that gets a lot of attention. What many people don't know is that for those that practice these things regularly, there is a strong emphasis on consensual participation (both partners must agree to the activity), safety (or at least risk awareness) and sanity. Indeed, the so called "BDSM community" was formed (in an organic/evolutionary fashion) from a need to keep the abusers, sex offenders, nut cases, and sociopaths AWAY from these things. This is stuff for mature, sane, and well balanced people.
Unless we are quite tame in our relationships or sexual style, most of us have already participated in a BDSM activity or two. If you've ever used a blindfold during sex, held your partner down while making love, or directed how s/he should dress, then you've engaged in a power exchange activity (i.e. Dominance & Submission). If you've spanked someone playfully, tickled, pinched, or pulled hair, then you've engaged in pain play (i.e. Sadism & Masochism). These common activities are generally on the tamer side of BDSM, but many people engage in them without ever identifying themselves as being involved with BDSM. They are simply doing what comes naturally and don't have a formalism or vocabulary around these sexual expressions. However, there is a large community of people (millions in America, many millions internationally) who do understand these things, talk about them regularly, and incorporate these practices into their lives. This fosters education, awareness, discussion of practices, and safety.
Another aspect that often eludes the uninitiated is the interesting ironies that BDSM activities come with. I'll provide three examples.
Many rope bottoms (persons who enjoys being tied up with rope) will tell you that they feel the most FREE when they are bound. They feel, internally, that because they are constrained and have no choices, they are free from having to think, decide, act or do anything at all. They are absolved from responsibility for what happens. They must trust in their captor to not damage them or go beyond what they can tolerate. There is a freedom that comes with that vulnerability. It is also a very "bonding" experience. When you place your life and safety in someone else's hands, it builds trust. They do "trust falls" in drama class for a reason: it bonds a theatrical company together quickly. It is the same with bondage. Yet, what a casual and uninformed observer sees is simplified to: no freedom = bad. For some, no freedom = very, very good (at least temporarily and while with a loving partner). So, bondage is ironic because what looks like a constricting lack of freedom actually produces in the bound person an amazing sense of freedom at being absolved of responsibility for anything but trusting their partner.
Another irony is the old saying: the safest place you could be is in a BDSM dungeon. Because of what is going on in such places, and because it is public, there is an emphasis on civility, politeness, rules and safety. There is typically a Dungeon Master (DM) there whose job it is to make sure the rules are followed, things stay consensual between the players, and everyone has a good time. Again, the appearances are deceptive. The uninitiated instinctively conjure up images of torture, brutality and peril in such places. But the truth is quite different from our imaginations. I have been the new guy in the room, and was pleasantly surprised to be greeted politely, asked if I was new, had everything explained to me, and reassured that my participation was quite optional (by someone who was a police officer!).
The third irony goes back to my original point about pain. Most people instinctively think "pain = bad" and for the most part they are correct. Our bodies sense pain as a protective measure to let us know something is not right. But, there is a fine line between pain and pleasure, just as there is between insanity and genius. Have you ever been tickled past the point where it felt good, went to irritating and then became painful? Pain is really just a sensation overload coming into the brain. Small amounts of the same sensation are usually tolerable and some people have learned how to convert it into pleasure. People who use pain in their sexuality dance along the edge of the pain/pleasure line because it is exhilarating. Some people ride roller coasters, some jump out of perfectly good airplanes, some climb up the windward side of a mountain in the winter during a storm, and some people like to mix a little pain with their orgasm. We have a saying in my community: good pain, good; bad pain, bad. That is, not all pain is equal. Some pain can be converted into pleasure and even sexual response; other kinds cannot. But, without ever trying it or experiencing what it feels like (at the hands of someone that is sane, skilled and safe), a person has no frame of reference by which to judge it. That's where the problems start. Without actual experience, people see what looks to be painful and conclude that it must be bad, abusive, violent, etc. But, it is not, when done properly. Appearances can be deceiving.
2. Why did you write this story?
I started writing His Toy for a woman who was new to BDSM that I met on FetLife. She was a highly literate and intelligent woman, fluent in 7 languages, and worked as a translator for the government. But for all her intelligence and experience, she had difficulty understanding why she was so attracted to a BDSM style of relationship. After talking for months online, she wanted to find out what it wold be like in real life. I helped her get the courage to visit a BDSM club near where she was working. She wrote about that experience wonderfully and came back thirsty to understand more. I decided to write her a story online to give her some ideas about what it might be like. It had been a project I had wanted to do for quite some number of years and it seemed that having someone to write it for was all the impetus I needed to get started. I wrote the initial draft in 9 parts on FetLife over the course of a week in June 2011. As I posted each part, many of my other online friends joined in and made a significant number of comments and suggestions. As it grew, it took on more of a collaborative approach where I was responding to all the comments being posted by my friends and that fueled the next segment of writing.
After a few months break, some encouragement from other writers, and especially after discovering that one of my friends was a really good editor, I decided to expand the small story into a full novel and publish it. At that point, the why changed. It was no longer just a fun story written for my friends, it needed to have more substance than that to make it a decent novel. I took five weeks off work and set my mind to creating a world around the characters that I had developed online with my friends. It realized that I had enough experience in this lifestyle that I could blend much of my own experience and that of my lovers (in a fictional way) into the story and that it could become instructive to others. I wanted to make it realistic, instructive and yet still erotic and exciting. I know too well that this lifestyle doesn't always come up roses and there are many tough moments to get through on this journey; but, that is where the lasting growth comes from. So the pedagogue in me came out as I expanded the story into a full novel and my why changed from "just for fun" to "show people it can be very real".
How well I've achieved that goal remains to be seen.
3. Is there any concern about risking exposure in 'vanilla' society?
Always. Many years ago, I lost a job by being a little too open about it. It caused havoc with my divorce as my ex-wife tried to paint me as a compulsive sociopathic neanderthal. Fortunately, a few psychological tests that the legal system required of us put the issue to rest and her allegations simply cast a poor light on her. Her so-called "evidence" was rejected as hearsay and irrelevant. Apparently a psychological battery caries more weight than what she could convince her friends to say about me. I mention this because it could have been much worse for me in a different jurisdiction. I felt vindicated at the time, but I was also quite aware that it could have worked out very differently.
I've realized that most of our society does not have my frame of reference or understanding about this alternative lifestyle option and sometimes I forget that fact. When I do, trouble usually ensues. I have cared about each of my lovers and in many ways have had very regular relationships with them. The BDSM aspect is simply some spice that keeps it fresh, exciting and very real. I also believe there is a higher degree of transparency, honesty, awareness, and personal growth in these types of relationships than otherwise. Unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way. People are quick to judge this lifestyle based on preconceived notions, inaccurate reporting by the media, Hollywood's horrid stereotypes, social stigma, religious objections, etc. That's true of many things, not just BDSM. Consequently, there is some risk with being completely open about it. These days I choose to be a bit more careful about how open I am.
I currently have a full and rewarding personal and professional life that I protect by writing under a pseudonym. However, as I turned 50 last year, I decided that I wanted my life to have more congruence overall. The fact that at 50 I still had to keep this part of my life a well guarded secret from most people was a disparity that I no longer could tolerate. I wanted to be known for who I am and not have to hide any aspect of myself any longer. I decided that to live authentically, I needed to transition my professional life so that I could more openly share my viewpoint without significant risk to my reputation or source of income. I'm in the midst of that transition now. Over the coming years, as I complete this series of books and work on other projects related to the lifestyle, I expect my concerns about my 'vanilla' professional life to diminish. I'm actually eager to be more public about it but for now I need to protect my income until the transition is complete.
4. What does BDSM represent to you?
It is simply a description of how I find myself interacting with my lover.
5. Nicole, to me, is a bit hard to connect with - what made you choose her as the heroine?
I wanted Nicole to be real. So many characters in erotic novels are idealized and I wanted her to exhibit some of the real character traits that a woman new to this lifestyle exhibits. She's an amalgamation of women that I've known with a dash of stereotype thrown in. Nicole is a single, independent, professional, serially monogamous woman in her 30s. She's good looking and she knows it. She never had problems getting dates, or finding men that were interested in her. She'd even been proposed to a few times. But there was always something missing in her former relationships. For all her independence, take charge attitude, and arrogance, what she wanted most was to submit, to follow rather than lead. But, she grew up in a family with a strong father that taught her to never be weak, always have the upper hand, etc. She is strong, educated, articulate and dominates in her profession. But, being that strong tires her out. It is the opposite of who she senses herself to be when she's in a relationship. She craves the strength of a dominant man. It makes her feel safe, and it turns her on. Most of the men she met, however, were players and she was always ultimately disappointed with them because she found them to be soft or weak after the initial flirtation was over. Regon was different from the start. He never let her get away with anything. She was always on the defensive and she found that both erotic and challenging. As a literary character, it is her growth that the books will track and there's a LOT of room for her to grow.
And, I better stop right there before I give away some of the plot of the next book. :)
6. We see how difficult it was for Sovann to keep his patience with Nicole. Regon, though frustrated, seems endlessly patient with her - why?
Patience is one of the hallmarks of a good dominant man. Regon sees something in Nicole that Nicole can't see for herself. Having helped several other women find their submissive nature, he has an instinct about it. He knows that all her rebellion, indiscretion and misbehavior is simply a cover and shield over her most intimate and vulnerable self. She hasn't accepted that part of herself yet, and resists it furiously because she was raised to never show any weakness. She is drawn to him instinctively, but her brain and her heart haven't quite caught up with that instinct. Regon knows her submissive self is there but lying dormant. With some patience, training and persuasion, he confidently knows that he is reliable and trustworthy enough for her to eventually let her guard down, trust him, and find some joy as she surrenders to him. He knows that by being true to her submissive nature, Nicole will find more strength than she has previously found by resisting it. Being interested in a power differential relationship, Regon does not want a weak partner. He wants someone exceptionally strong because when she surrenders that strength to him, and to no one else, it is sweeter to him than anything else on the planet. That is what he is after. As one of those ironies I spoke of above, for all his unyielding dominance over her, he actually has her best interests at heart. She just hasn't completely realized that yet.
I want to thank Sur for stopping by, and he says he will be happy to answer any questions our readers have...so please feel free to ask questions!