What was your original inspiration for Subjection?
When I’m not writing, I work in psychology, and I noticed that many people place a lot of value on how well their children score on IQ and achievement tests—to the point of training for high scores to get into competitive preschools. I considered a world where this was taken to an outrageous new extreme, and came up with the Demoted system. Of course, there is far more to a person’s life than a score, which creates the moral dilemmas that show up in the Demoted series. I wanted a simple, cliché love story between the protagonists… but they wouldn’t play along!
Tell us about the world in which Subjection takes place. How is it different from our own world?
Subjection takes place a few decades into a dystopian future. There are a number of technological advances, such as better computer technology, the use of robotics for many menial jobs, and solar-powered hover-cars that are environmentally friendly. The biggest difference between this world and ours is social. Government has a much larger role, including mandating health and medical choices and having far greater capabilities to try, imprison, or execute citizens. In response to overpopulation, the Demoted system was created—those individuals who fail to meet a certain cutoff on the national “Assessment” are Demoted, essentially turned into slaves. This system captures about 15% of the population, removing them from the job force and sterilizing them, resulting in a decreased population. The Demoted people serve in a variety of jobs, including personal service to wealthy people, military, and a large number of sexual services. To avoid the horror of having a child Demoted, most parents limit the number of children they have and work desperately to train them to be bright enough to pass the Assessment.
Which part of the story was the most fun to write?
Anything from Sascha’s point of view was a blast; he’s like my fictional spirit animal. The first chapter of Subjection, the Peace Day Celebration, was probably the most fun. In the long-ago first draft, this happened about halfway through the book, so I had gotten to know my way around Sascha’s mind very well. We see this very bright and capable young man who has messed up for so long, and at the Peace Day Celebration, he finally gets his chance to shine. The world is glittery and overdone, and it comes through clearly in this chapter, as well as Sascha’s ability to mix his mental prowess with social skills that he has always downplayed.
What do you think is the sexiest scene in Subjection? What was it like to write?
Without a doubt, the first time that Cash and Sascha kiss. I knew from the moment I started writing the story how it would play out, with a little bit of awkwardness, a little bit of fear, and a lot of passion. I tend to write in a “beginning to end” fashion, so I had waited a long, long time before finally getting to that scene! It was nice to have these two characters who are basically stuck on their own hang-ups finally realize that there is something more going on between them—and it leads to a very sexy scene!
Do you have any strange writing habits?
I like it very quiet when I write. No TV, no music, no other people around. I wear earplugs a lot, or play a recording of rain for white noise. I almost always have a cup of tea to sip on, and my go-to writing snack is Lucky Charms. I always change the background of the document I’m working on to a purple/grey color because white hurts my eyes.
What authors have inspired you in the creation of the Demoted world?
I had just finished The Hunger Games before I started writing Demoted, and would definitely credit Suzanne Collins with some inspiration. Karin Lowachee’s Warchild books are amazing and put me on the path to some solid world building. I’ve been a lifetime fan of Stephen King, because I find his characterization of people to be perfectly realistic. And so, so much fan fiction and original fiction I don’t even know where to begin!
What turns you on, both as an erotica writer and as an artist in general?
Angst! I love some angst. The longer and harder the characters have to suffer before reaching their rewards, the better! I enjoy dubious consent—so often, one or both characters has a good reason why they shouldn’t get involved with the other, or past issues that resurface, or realistic fears about the situation. BDSM, a little pain, a little restraint, they all add to the excitement. That element of fear and uncertainty enhances the experience. At the same time, I like the characters to enjoy it. Consensual scenes are my favorite, because of the trust between the two characters.
As a writer, what kinds of things do you actively avoid including in your stories?
I really like my characters to be accountable. Some of them do terrible things to each other—hurt, betray, rape, you name it—but I try to avoid glossing over these things. I don’t think that there is anything unforgivable, but there often needs to be a lot of work on the part of both characters to overcome past transgressions. Sascha will always hold a little resentment for some of the things that Cash has done to him. That’s okay. That’s real. You can love someone in spite of that.
What advice would you have for other aspiring writers?
Keep writing, even if it’s bad! Becoming an awesome writer is like becoming an awesome cook—you’re going to burn and throw away a lot of things before you get something that works. If you hate a scene that you need, write it anyway. It’s always easier to fix it later than to wait for the perfect idea or perfect time to write it. Just get something down and you’ll have your foundation built for later. On the other hand, sometimes you’re just judging yourself too harshly! Write it, let it sit for a few days, and then read it again. This gives your anxiety a little time to calm down so you can really evaluate what you’ve written.
In writing Subjection, was there something that surprised you, or a new skill you had to learn?
Subjection was like writing boot camp. Originally, it was a single point of view (POV), single tense, linear book that went from beginning to end. After a series of edits, it became two books from Cash and Sascha’s POV, and alternated between past and present tense with a flashback structure. The original draft also lacked a coherent plot, so while there were a lot of great things, there wasn’t much to hold it together. I did a lot of work on creating motivations, fleshing out the story, and structuring it in a way that was consistently interesting.
When you were originally creating the characters for Subjection, what or who were your inspirations?
Sascha and Cash weren’t really inspired by much of anything; I originally wanted a quick, cliché story, so just think of a collection of all the “powerful master and sad damaged slave” stories you’ve ever heard. Of course, they both contain a lot of me in them; I can’t tell if there is more of my personality embedded in Sascha or Cash. Bobby was loosely based on my college dorm neighbor at first (and is exactly how I picture him), but then he took a dark turn in the story. Cash’s mother, Kristine, was very much inspired by the mother of a friend of mine—which my friend found quite entertaining!
Do you have a favorite group, conference or gathering you attend regularly, online or in person? What draws you to those communities?
Mostly, I hang around the Original Slave Fiction community on Livejournal. I’ve been sharing stories with these people since 2011 or so, and there are a lot of awesome writers and readers there who share the interest in slave fiction. It’s a very niche interest, but we are loyal!
In your bio, you note that you’ve done a lot of traveling. Has there been anything in your travels that found its way into the Demoted series?
I’ve spent a bit of time following musician Amanda Palmer, who is known for very flashy, glittery shows. I definitely incorporated some of that into the Demoted series—if the entire world had this no-holds-barred approach to decorating and entertainment, there would be a lot more sparkle and glitter, like the Peace Day Celebration. In a lot of ways, I think that travelling just helps me to be more creative in general—I imagine new worlds, new customs, new social rules, and this would be very difficult if I was limited to only one place.
What are you working on now? What projects are coming up for you next?
I’m pretty busy these days! The second book in the Demoted series, Sedition, is close to being finished. Cash and Sascha get deeper into the political world of the Demoted system and the re-education centers, and they meet a very formidable new enemy. The third book, Succession, is due for a number of edits, making the conflict even more intense and introducing some new friends. I am also working on some short stories and cut-scenes from the Demoted world, which are really fun because they are all wrapped up in a few thousand words but still pack quite a punch. I am also working on my other series, the Inherent Gifts series stories, finishing up the third “Inherent” book, Inherent Cost. Short stories are in the works for Wren and Jere as well! Finally, I am in the very, very early stages of a spin-off or two in the Inherent Gifts series world. Keep checking the website for updates!
Join us for a live online chat with Alicia Cameron on Thursday, August 13th, 8-10 PM Eastern Standard Time in our Release Party Chat Room! Free ebook giveaway drawing for participants, teasers from the book and upcoming works.