Interview with Shandra Miller
Shandra: There’s not a lot to tell, really. I don’t suppose that’s good marketing! I left home at 16, bounced around some until eventually ending up in Florida, where I spent a few years working for a small traveling carnival, and then I ended up working for a few years for a small traveling circus. Nothing glamorous – I was mostly set-up and tear-down, and I ran around on the floor in a sparkly little dress and wave my arms in the air while some of the high-wire people did their thing. Now I’m all settled in a small house in a tiny little town in North Carolina where I live with a cat named Lilly. And I work as a receptionist for an insurance agent.
Tricia: When did you begin writing?
Shandra: I started when I was a kid. I came from an extremely unstable home, but one of the good memories I have is staying with my grandmother, listening to her read stories to me, or make up stories to tell me. I liked the idea that I could get lost in a story, forget a lot of the bad things in my life, so I learned to make up my own stories at night when I was home. I guess I was somewhere around 8 or 9 when I tried writing my first story. It was a silly little story about a fish being dumped from an aquarium into a creek, and it was about her adventures making her way to the ocean. I didn’t have any idea of this then, but looking back, I think that might have been my own desire to leave, to get away and see a better life. From then on I was hooked, writing all kinds of little stories.
Tricia: Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?
Shandra: I live in a bit of a dream world, always thinking up little stories, scenes in my head. When I’m writing a longer work, like my recent novel LETHAL OBSESSION, I work on it when I’m driving to work and back, when I’m out running or walking, sometimes when I lie on the ground at night and stare up at the dark, starry sky. Sometimes, putting the words on the page is just a formality, I’ve already written part of the story, or some scene, in my head. It’s not always like that. Sometimes I don’t have a clue what I’m going to write when I sit down. I guess that’s not really getting at the heart of what you’re asking, though, sorry. As for actually writing, I enjoy doing that in the evening and into the night. I like sitting at my desk, window open so I can hear the outdoor sounds, and write. Sometimes for an hour, sometimes well into the night. I guess that all pretty much defines writing by the seat of my pants, doesn’t it?
Tricia: Can you tell us about your most recent release?
Shandra: LETHAL OBSESSION is a dark erotica tale, maybe best described as an erotica thriller. The main character, Angela Martin, is a detective on a small town North Carolina police department. She’s lonely, in a failed marriage with a husband who cheats on her. While they still live together, they haven’t had a real marriage for years. One night, just out of curiosity, she starts looking online – Craigslist, other sites – and she comes across a listing that catches her attention. She responds, she and the man who made the posting begin chatting online, sharing some fantasies, and that eventually leads to them meeting, in a hotel room, acting out one of his fantasies. Like a lot of people, she’s wondered about the bondage world, what that would be like, but she has no experience, until she meets him. Then she’s called to the scene of a murder, a woman who was bound the same way she had been, evidence that the dead woman experienced the same things Angela did, only the line was crossed from eroticism to true pain, and then death. Angela’s caught – the man she was with would be an obvious suspect, yet she can’t get him out of her mind, she wants to be with him again.
Tricia: How did you get the idea for the book?
Shandra: I’m sure we’ve all read about people hooking up through Craigslist, or through dating websites. I think there are some even devoted exclusively to people seeking others in the BDSM lifestyle. I started playing around with different ideas there. At first I was thinking along the lines of a straight erotica-romance tale, but then, as often is the case, my mind started twisting that around and somehow I came out with LETHAL OBSESSION.
Tricia: Of all your characters, which one is your favorite?
Shandra: Angela, the main character.
Shandra: She’s a strong woman, a police detective in a department where almost the entire force is male, a woman who is unfulfilled at home yet she continues on, focused on life, on what needs to be done. She’s also a woman who is struggling, trying to find a sense of herself, make sense of her life.
Tricia: Which authors have inspired your writing?
Shandra: I enjoy some Stephen King, and Edgar Alan Poe. That might sound strange from someone writing erotica, but my first really, truly favorite writer was R.L. Stine. When I was a kid I loved Goosebumps, so I guess that was an influence on my development. I think the first true erotica I ever read was Exit to Eden by Anne Rice and I was absolutely captivated! If I had to select a single writer I would like to emulate, though, it’s Robert B. Parker. The most stunning writer I’ve ever read.
Tricia: What projects are you currently working on?
Shandra: I’m working on a sequel to LETHAL OBSESSION. I also have the third part in my short story series, The Tides Inn Erotica Tale. I published the first two parts, PRIVATE DINING and ROOM SERVICE late last year, and I’ve promised some readers I’ll have a sequel out this spring. But, the big project is the LETHAL OBSESSION sequel.
Tricia: What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?
Shandra: Oh wow, I really have a hard time with this one. I am a new writer, really, and I have so much to learn. At this stage of my career, I’d just offer the advice to write what you love, have fun with it. Take it seriously – your stories and your readers deserve your best – but have fun with it.
To learn more Shandra or her writing, visit her blog at http://shandramillerwriter.blogspot.com/
Find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/shandra.miller.52?ref=tn_tnmn
or follow her on Twitter = @shandramillerwr
LETHAL OBSESSION, an excerpt
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. …
To see the first three chapters for free, visit http://www.goodreads.com/ebooks/download/17569384-lethal-obsession
To download to your Kindle, visit http://amzn.to/148DO67
To download to your Nook, visit http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lethal-obsession-shandra-miller/1114727993?ean=2940016377414