Hi! We’re Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock, authors of When All the World Sleeps. We’re touring the web talking about our influences, our crazy ideas, this new book, and even giving you a sneak peek or two! And of course there’s a giveaway involved! Leave a comment to win!
Thanks so much to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having us, and to everyone following the tour. Today Lisa interviews J.A.
LH: Hi! I’m Lisa Henry. Today, as part of our When All the World Sleeps blog tour, I’m interviewing my co-author, the very talented and only slightly disturbed J.A. Rock.
J.A.R: Only slightly? How many more sharks do I need to hug to get upgraded to highly?
LH: So, J.A., I’m giving you all the credit for coming up with the idea for When All the World Sleeps. It’s a darker premise than anything we’ve written before, particularly coming on the heels of Mark Cooper versus America. Where did you get the idea from?
J.A.R: In grad school, Barnes & Noble was on the way to campus, so sometimes a demon would take hold of me while I was driving to school and make me swerve into the B&N parking lot. I would hang out reading for hours instead of going to class. One day I found an issue of Scientific American that featured a story about sleepwalkers committing violent crimes. I knew I wanted to do a book about it, and I also thought it might be a good project for us to work on together. But we were still writing The Good Boy, and I had no idea if you were going to want to continue co-writing after TGB. So I sat on the sleepwalker idea for a while!
I also lived in a cabin in the woods at the time. In the south. And I’d killed a ma–uh, mosquito. I killed mosquito. *darts eyes* So the pieces were all there.
LH: Chronologically, we wrote Mark Cooper versus America after When All the World Sleeps. I think Mark Cooper might have been the light-hearted relief we needed after WAtWS. When All the World Sleeps might be my favourite of all our joint works. Do you agree with me, or are we going to have to fight it out?
J.A.R: No fighting necessary! It’s definitely my favorite. All the other books know it and are plotting to smother WAtWS with a pillow when I’m not looking.
I love that the majority of my solo works are comedies and all of yours are dark and angsty. Yet you’re hilarious, and I am, as you mentioned, slightly disturbed. So I came to you with a really messed up idea, and shortly thereafter you came to me with a funny, angst-free idea. We just don’t want to be pigeonholed, right? Why does that word always sound dirty to me?
LH: In Daniel, we wrote a character who got into BDSM for what might be the wrong reasons: he needs to be locked up by a Dom because he’s afraid he can’t control himself. There’s nothing safe or sane about what Daniel does. His perceptions of BDSM are more skewed than Bel’s, even though Daniel’s the one with experience. In a lot of romance, BDSM is seen as some kind of healing process, almost like therapy. How important was it to you that we avoided that trope here?
J.A.R: I believe BDSM can be therapeutic—in the same way any kind of love/relationship/intimacy/exploration of self can be therapeutic. For trauma victims, it’s no substitute for actual therapy, but it can help people learn more about themselves and their desires, open up, trust others, and understand the contrast between suffering in real life and getting to choose when and how to “suffer” in the bedroom with a trusted partner.
In Daniel’s case, I think he gets a little of that—but he also totally abuses BDSM. And he’s been so confused and lost for so long that he can’t always tell the difference between the kind of submission that brings him peace, and the kind of “submission” that’s about self-harm.
LH: Do you think writers have a responsibility to educate readers about BDSM practices simply because of the amount of misinformation out there?
J.A.R: Hmm. This is tricky. On the one hand, the romance genre is very much fantasy-based. You could argue that romance sometimes offers misinformation about vanilla sex, or about relationships in general. But at least with vanilla relationships, we have a wide variety of mainstream portrayals ranging from the realistic to the completely absurd. Plus the majority of the population has firsthand experience. BDSM doesn’t have that. Most portrayals of BDSM in our culture come from the romance and erotica genres. Or from, like, Law & Order: SVU — “The Case of the Sex Dungeon Pervert.” So if these portrayals are ignorant or negative, I think that definitely has some real world repercussions.
BDSM is a massive umbrella term, and the lifestyle works differently for all participants, so it’s hard to define an “accurate” portrayal. However, one rule across the board is that BDSM should always be safe, sane, and consensual–and that’s a rule often broken in romantic fiction! We’ve got all these stories about kinky people who were warped by their abusive pasts, or mind-reader doms who somehow know at first glance that a beautiful vanilla is actually a secret sub. These can be fun fantasies, but ones I sometimes worry eclipse reality–to the detriment of a mainstream understanding and acceptance of BDSM.
In the end, I think I’d go with the ol’ “know the rules before you break them” creed. I like the idea of authors doing their research, and then deciding if/how they want to deviate for the sake of fantasy.
LH: Who is your favourite character in When All the World Sleeps?
J.A.R: Daniel’s the kind of character I tend to enjoy writing the most—in severe mental turmoil, self-destructive, sort of submissive, and unsure who he can trust. He’s probably my favorite–though Bel might have been even more rewarding to write, since his journey forces him to shed his misguided ideas. I love seeing characters sacrifice what’s familiar and comfortable in order to try to do the right thing.
LH: You’ve lived in the South. Do you think we got it right?
J.A.R: Oh the poor South! We definitely played into some stereotypes of small minded rural southern towns. But you know, when I was heading off to Alabama, a lot of people joked about how hard I was going to clash with the conservative environment. And I was like, no way can it be that bad. Yet I definitely heard some things in small town Alabama that I wasn’t aware people still said post, you know, 1964 or so.
But those attitudes are by no means unique to or present everywhere in the South. In WAtWS, the problem isn’t so much WHERE Logan (the town) is, and more WHAT it is, I think. It’s so small and so isolated that its prejudices are really deep-rooted. It’s not a place that lets in a lot of new blood or fresh ideas.
We definitely got the humidity and mosquitoes right.
LH: Okay, no spoilers, but what was your favourite part of the book to write?
J.A.R: I really like the first time Bel helps Daniel through a hallucination. Normally I like writing the dark stuff better than the sweet stuff, but in this book, the tender moments feel earned. They’re not just there because Aw, Love Is Cute. They’re there because Daniel needs them—and we need a periodic break from Daniel’s relentless suffering. But I also really like the finale. You know what I’m talking about. You were there.
Contest: Thanks for following our tour! To celebrate our release, we’re giving away a great pair of prizes! Up for grabs is an ebook of our last co-release, Mark Cooper versus America, and a $20 gift voucher from Riptide. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way for us to contact you, be it your email, your Twitter, or a link to your Facebook or Goodreads account. Please put your email in the body of the comment, not just in email section of the comment form, because we won’t be able to see it otherwise! On APRIL 2, we’ll draw a winner from all eligible comments! Be sure to follow the whole tour, because the more comments you leave the more chances you have to win this awesome prize!
Daniel Whitlock is terrified of going to sleep. And rightly so: he sleepwalks, with no awareness or memory of his actions. Including burning down Kenny Cooper’s house—with Kenny inside it—after Kenny brutally beat him for being gay. Back in the tiny town of Logan after serving his prison sentence, Daniel isolates himself in a cabin in the woods and chains himself to his bed at night.
Like the rest of Logan, local cop Joe Belman doesn’t believe Daniel’s absurd defense. But when Bel saves Daniel from a retaliatory fire, he discovers that Daniel might not be what everyone thinks: killer, liar, tweaker, freak. Bel agrees to control Daniel at night—for the sake of the other townsfolk. Daniel’s fascinating, but Bel’s not going there.
Yet as he’s drawn further into Daniel’s dark world, Bel finds that he likes being in charge. And submitting to Bel gives Daniel the only peace he’s ever known. But Daniel’s demons won’t leave him alone, and he’ll need Bel’s help to slay them once and for all—assuming Bel is willing to risk everything to stand by him.
You can read an excerpt and purchase When All the World Sleeps here.
About the Authors
✍Lisa Henry lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.
She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.
She shares her house with too many cats, a dog, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.
You can visit Lisa at:
✍J.A. Rock has worked as a dog groomer, knife seller, haunted house zombie, standardized patient, cashier, census taker, state fair quilt hanger, and, for one less-than-magical evening, a server—and would much rather be writing about those jobs than doing them. J.A. lives mostly in West Virginia, and always with a beloved dog, Professor Anne.