When she isn’t visiting the worlds of immortals, demons, dragons and goblins, Brantwijn fills her time with artistic endeavors: sketching, painting, customizing My Little Ponies and sewing plushies for friends. She can’t handle coffee unless there’s enough cream and sugar to make it a milkshake, but try and sweeten her tea and she will never forgive you. She moonlights as a futon for four lazy cats, loves tabletop role-play games, and can spend hours watching Futurama, Claymore or Buffy the Vampire Slayer while she writes or draws.
Brantwijn has published three full-length erotic novels: Lotus Petals, Goblin Fires, and His Cemetery Doll. In addition to these, Brantwijn has had several other stories published by Breathless Press, including contributions to the 2013 Crimson Anthology and 2014 Ravaged Anthology. She’s also had a short story published in the Cleiss Press Big Book of Orgasm and the anthology Coming Together Through The Storm. She has author pages on GoodReads and Amazon, and loves to see reader comments on her work. Her short stories and audio readings occasionally pop up at Foreplay and Fangs, her blog at http://brantwijn.blogspot.com.
Rhiannon Donovan, daughter to the vampire Queen, would rather die than be made a bride to a demon Lord. Aijyn, courtesan to the undead Daimyo of Kansai, can think of nothing more horrifying than his promise of eternal life. In the halls of the Blood Lotus Temple, the two women struggle against the chains of their fate, and find a solace in each other that could mean freedom for them both… or might cost each of them their lives.
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“Rhiannon-sama,” she began again, well aware she might be broaching a subject Rhiannon would easily wish to avoid, even to the point of sending her attendant violently away.
“Hm?” the vampire murmured.
“Your bodyguard…she likes to see you in pain.”
Rhiannon waited a long time before she answered.
“Perhaps I like pain, mortal.”
Aijyn did not argue…but she had seen the expression on Rhiannon’s face when Sölva had tormented her.
“You must hide the scars from the daimyo,” she chided gently. “And you cannot allow her to leave any more marks on you, if you do not wish to anger him.”
“And if I do wish to anger him?”
“Do not be petulant,” Aijyn scolded.
“Does he believe his bride will be untouched? That his kin-born bastard bride will not have experienced acts of the flesh? I am over half a century a living birth-child. Does he realize how most kin-born are meant to earn their keep in demon houses?”
“He expects you will be untouched for him,” Aijyn said. “Whatever has gone before, now you are his. And Gohachiro is not a man to share his treasures.”
“Doesn’t he like to use pain?” Rhiannon asked. She rolled over under Aijyn’s hands, lying on her side and reaching out to touch the scar she herself had left on the courtesan’s wrist. At the light caress of her finger, a delicious tingle of pleasure ignited under the skin, making Aijyn shiver as the vampire had a moment ago.
Rhiannon pulled Aijyn closer, and lowered herself over the wound to kiss it a second time. The warm arousal intensified, and Aijyn caught her breath as her body awoke to the sensation, nipples stiffening under the soft silk of her kimono.
“Here,” Rhiannon whispered, reaching up to brush the dark strands of hair from Aijyn’s shoulder, revealing the tiny, neat scars of bites past. Scars that would never heal the way the vampire’s did, white little lines and half-moons, memories of Gohachiro’s affections.
“Doesn’t he give you pain…” Rhiannon said, following their contours with light but deliberate pressure.
“…so he may turn it into pleasure?”
“Rhiannon-sama…” Aijyn murmured vaguely. One hand had dropped into her lap; the other rested on the vampire’s warm, lean arm. Strange awareness filled her: the touch stirred up the first bloom of eagerness in her loins and the pit of her belly.
“Pain is what we are, courtesan. Pain, hunger, pleasure, death. We are the undead. I am just over half a century old, more than twice your age, and I have been Sölva’s for longer than you have been alive. There are scars you will never see, all over my body: the marks of her fangs, of her whip, the cut of her blade, the pierce of steel needles. And every one of them sings when she touches me, screams when she hurts me…and it is ecstasy.”
Aijyn realized with some dread she had made a mistake. The vampire’s touch brushed against her, terribly light, terribly fleeting, but her voice…soft, beautiful, rich, like strong liquor.
Rhiannon’s hand came to rest on the back of Aijyn’s neck. She gently pulled the courtesan closer, resting forehead-to-forehead and searching deep into Aijyn’s wide, dark eyes.
“You do this for him, too?” she whispered. “You…perform anma for him? You touch his body with such delicate affection?”
“Yes,” Aijyn whispered.
“And does it make him want to fuck?”
Before she could think better of it, Aijyn lifted up a hand and slapped her.
The strike was not a hard one. At least, to Rhiannon it would not have been hard. Aijyn’s palm stung as though she had struck it against solid rock, and she quickly pressed it in her other hand, hissing with pain.
Rhiannon did not strike back. She remained perfectly still, her expression unchanging. After a moment, once Aijyn had collected herself, the vampire leaned closer and pressed her mouth against Aijyn’s own.
“It makes me want to fuck,” she said. Then she stood, one smooth, languid motion, and retreated to her coffin to at last submit to her daytime sleep.
what projects you are currently working on?
As usual, I’ve got way too many irons in the fire. I’m working on the sequel to Goblin Fires, my second series, and also a BDSM novel I plan to self-publish, called Enslaved. I’m hoping to submit a new series with my publisher soon, too.
- How do you fit writing into your schedule? What does your workspace look like?
- I actually usually work in my living room, using my laptop. I’m surrounded by books of all sorts, from RP Player’s Guides to my husband’s novels to my own books on art technique and figure drawing. We also have a crazy collection of stuffed animals so I’ve always got a Gravespawn or a plushie Kyubei tumbling on me from the back of the couch. If it’s not stuffed animals, it’s living animals: I have four cats and a dog, and one of them always wants to be in my lap.
- Do you do a lot of research for your stories? What is the most interesting thing you have learned?
- I research quite a lot when it comes to my stories. I like the way interesting factual details and background knowledge adds authenticity to a story. Using the internet, I can get a decently accurate breakdown of places (like Pike’s Place Market in Seattle) I’ve never been to myself. In researching Lotus Petals, I assumed the culture of the time would make it easy for me to heighten tensions against a same-sex couple, but when I learned samurai culture had very little concern about same-sex unions and even, in some circumstances, embraced them as cultural norm, I had to work around my own preconceptions and come up with other ideas to build tensions. I think the result was much more pleasing.
- Are you a plotter or do you write as it comes? Do your characters start with names or do they have to have personalities before they can be named?
- I don’t outline or use a formal plotting technique, but I do have a plot in mind before I sit down to type. Characters come to me as concepts, first, a bundle of purpose, emotion and background. I find, however, I can plot all I want about them, but it doesn’t become writable before they have their own name attached to them. Similarly I can’t usually write anything until the work has a title.
- What do you want readers to take away after reading one of your stories? What do you want them to feel?
- At heart I’m a storyteller. I like to hear my readers react to the story, like to know it’s entertained them and they’ve enjoyed the experience of stepping into my world for a while.
- What genre would you love to write but haven’t yet? Is there one you would shy away from?
- I’m very interested in writing something in Steampunk. I don’t think I could ever write anything military or highly sci-fi. I love both those genres, but I’m not sure I have the head and voice to write them well.
- Have you taken any classes to hone your skills? What classes/workshops would you recommend the most?
- I can’t say enough good things about writing courses, and I think everyone who wants to become a published author needs to take at least one. You probably don’t need to spend 4 years in college earning a degree on the subject, but definitely try out a class, a couple exploring a couple of different styles or genres is even better. And really delve into it, make the most of it.
- Do you have any hobbies that you do in your spare time? Is there something you would love to learn but haven’t had the chance yet?
- I’m a gamer and an artist. I’ll either pull out my art materials and work on my next project, or I’ll get in a game or two of League of Legends or Vampire, the Masquerade. Recently I’ve taken on Bioshock Infinite and a cute little indie game, Game Dev Tycoon, on Steam.
- Do you use a pen name? Why or why not? If you do does the name have a special meaning to you?
- Yes, Brantwijn Serrah is a pen name. Frankly, I use it because I like it. It does have special meaning to me: it sort of ‘connects me to my roots’, in its own way.
- What kind of research do you do for your books? Where is your favorite place to find what you need to know? What is the most interesting thing you have learned?
- I keep an interesting collection of books on demons, fantasy creatures, monsters, ghosts, historical periods… and yes, I use Wikipedia. I’m aware everything gleaned from the Net needs to be very thoroughly vetted, of course, but it still is the biggest and best repository of information one can go to. Researching the time period for Lotus Petals has been wonderful; I love the setting of Japan and the culture of this time. I also loved researching kimonos and their styles and meanings. When I started the book I didn’t realize Japan maintained a strong isolationist foreign policy at this time, but it contributed really well to the story!
- What is the last book that you read that left a big impression on you?
- Affinity, by Sarah Waters. The book grabbed me like no other story ever has; I was completely immersed in it. Then it ripped out my still-beating heart, crushed it, dropped it back in my chest backwards and upside down, and left me huddled in the corner crying my eyes out. No, seriously… for days after I finished Affinity, I was still utterly floored. I haven’t even been able to re-read it yet!
- What is your favorite TV commercial? How about your least favorite?
- My favorite commercial is one I saw in a movie theater with this really unique premise: these four dancers, all with different styles, are showing off their moves to, of all things, a horse. And the horse is echoing back the moves! It’s this really wild little back-and-forth, and the dancers and the horse are really fantastic. Of all things, it turned out to be a commercial for nail polish. Still, it’s very fun to watch. My least favorite ads are any car or cell phone commercials that play before a movie, because honest to God, they never make any sense and never have anything to do with what they are advertising.
- Who was your first celebrity crush? Is he still hot?
- Oh, Good God, no. When I was in junior high I had the hots for Eddie Furlong from Terminator 2. It almost pains me now.
- What are your favorite TV shows? Which shows could you do without ever watching?
- I have way too many favorites to start counting but I’ll at least mention Futurama. It honestly never gets old for me. But I could go my whole life without ever seeing Lost, The Walking Dead, or any more episodes of True Blood. I know The Walking Dead is like, mana from heaven for some people, but to me it’s nothing but depressing over depressing with a heaping side of depressing. I can only watch so many terrible sad endings one after the other before I just give up and turn on something else.