Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re currently working on or promoting.
I’ve been writing since my first English teacher succeeded in teaching me how to write a sentence. I got into erotic fiction as a teen, specifically into BDSM fiction when my first girlfriend introduced me to Anne Rice’s “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty.” While I have multiple projects going, my focus is on my “Vala’s Story” series. It began as a birthday present for my dominant at the time, who was the original inspiration for my character The Queen. The first book Out of the Night: Book One is available for purchase and the second book Gates of the Garden: Book Two is with my editor. I’m working further on in the series with my beta readers. The series is planned at nine books.
What genre is your book? Do you write in other genres as well?
I’m still struggling with the words. When I look at tags, they don’t seem to fit. I describe my writing as “hardcore pansexual BDSM erotic romance” and then proceed to explain what I mean after I’ve said those things. “Hardcore”- I use that word because too many see romance and expect Harlequin, the verbal equivalent of soft-focus camera work, soft core pornography. My writing is not focus; it’s graphic, sometimes brutal even. “Pansexual”is one of those newer, created words whose definition isn’t universally agreed to. I use pansexual to mean that my writing contains homosexual, heterosexual, and anything in between, in terms of sexuality, of the genders that find themselves being intimate. BDSM of course is the acronym around all sorts of alternative sexualities involving hundreds of different activities, from pain play to age play to role play… and sometimes not even play :D. I’ve taken the erotic romance label because yes, my characters are very love, even tell each other “I love you,” but I struggle with the label because the loving often enough doesn’t look like the mainstream culture thinks it “should look.” BDSM erotic writing- whether fiction or non- is the focus of all my non-spiritual writing.
Who or what inspires you?
Living the truth of my life and showing diverse characters living the truth of their lives.
Do you have an agent and/or publisher or are you self-published? If self-published, do you use a professional editor? If traditionally published, who is your publisher?
I self-published using a combination of Lulu, Kindle Direct Publishing, and B&N’s “Pub-it” as well as software like Calibre and friends’ help. I use beta readers, but I also have a friend who copy edits for me. Why I’ve gone this way is answered under other questions.
Do you use test readers? If so, how many?
I do use them and the number of readers fluctuates between 2 and 5. Part of my issue with writing BDSM erotic romance is that sometimes, a person who isn’t personally into BDSM just doesn’t understand my writing and ends up giving non-helpful comments. As well, someone into BDSM but not practicing it similarly to me or my characters may or may not give valuable feedback. Then there’s the last type of reader, those not into BDSM at all, who give their own particular flavor of feedback.
What are your three favorite books including the authors?
1. Philosophy in the Bedroom by Marquis de Sade.
2. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce.
3. Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice.
Who is your favorite author and why?
Anne Rice. As I saw in the introduction to one of my novels, I love her “Beauty Books” as they’ve come to be known because she shows male and femdom in the same book as well as how fluid the notion of sexuality is in her books.
What challenges have you faced in your writing career?
Besides the struggle around what to call my genre, I have struggled through chronic health issues (I’m bipolar and hypoglycemic), balancing life & family (I’m a home educating mom of a teen, a lifestyle submissive and have 2 at-home jobs beyond those 2), bad beta readers (my very first BR with Vala’s Story stopped reading in a child-ish fit of “You don’t write BDSM like I want you to” that stopped me from writing for years). Throughout all of this is the topic of being “out of the closet.” I am very out of the closet on a variety of issues, all of which put me on the edges of “polite society.” When I decided to publish erotic romance under my legal name, much discussion took place in my household around that, but finally it was agreed, yes, publish as Joelle Casteel, as yourself.
Is there a message in your book(s) that you want readers to grasp?
That sexuality, love, romance, relationship are too varied among the human family to say that anything consensual is wrong.
Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
Pieces of me are in all my characters, although most thoroughly in the title character for my series, Vala. The Queen leads her through changes to become what she wants to be. I’ve described her as “me to the Nth degree” because she’s gone further than I ever thought to go in many experiences.
If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
She Pushed the Envelope Off the Edge
I have found the writer’s community to be very supportive and welcoming. Please share three writers that you recommend for us to check out.
Click on the cover below to buy Out of the Night: Book One.