Interview – Tiffany Reisz Part II
Today I’m continuing my interview with the incredible Tiffany Reisz, author of the sexy, scintillating, incredible series, The Original Sinners. Take a female dominatrix, a sadistic Catholic priest, and a devastatingly handsome Frenchman and mix with incredible prose, lyrical writing, and laugh out loud one-liners and you’ve got one of the best series ever. But Tiffany is no one-trick pony. She’s prolific, having written two series, a dozen and then some short stories, a sexy rom-com, two essays, and a graphic novel. (That graphic novel, by the way…wow. It sounds sooooo amazing!) As if her vivacious Twitter feed is not reason enough to adore her, her books make you seriously worship at her feet. Now, catch up yourself on Part 1, and then come back and enjoy Part 2! And you will enjoy it, because today, we’re talking about Nora, Soren, and Kingsley. The Unholy Trinity.
PART TWO: CHARACTER QUESTIONS (SPOILERS)
NORA QUESTIONS (mild spoilers)
I have no idea if this answer will be given in The Saint, but I’ve just been dying to know….the attraction between Søren and Nora has always been there. It’s palpable and intense and so much fun to read. He needs her just as much as she needs him. You tried to make her happier with other guys, and she is happy (Wesley comes to mind) but in the end, it’s always been Søren. What is it about those two that fit so perfectly together?
I’m not sure what makes their chemistry so intense. They just work on a page together. Søren and Kingsley work on a page together, Søren and Nora work on the page together. They’re my Unholy Trinity and they all bring out wonderful things in each other. The fun part about writing Søren is that he’s based on God the Father in the Old Testament—stern, scary, sadistic, compassionate, powerful, merciful, loving, vengeful. Add to that he’s six-foot-four, ungodly beautiful, can see into your soul, and he’s, as the kids say, scary as fuck. But neither Nora no Kingsley are scared of him. They get him, they love him, they understand him, they grok him. And they tease him. And that’s the best part is watching them bring almighty Søren down a peg or two. It’s why he loves them so much as we love to read them so much.
Nora is so tiny! And she goes through a lot! She’s not getting any younger (well, except in the White Years) so I have to ask: how does she recover from her times with Søren and Kingsley? Pilates, hot tub? Big bag of weed? (Sorry, stole that line from Iron Man.) 🙂
Nora’s only 35 at the end of The Mistress. She’d still a kid (I’m 35, I’m still a kid). But yeah, she goes through a lot. She’s got plenty of money to pamper herself. I’m sure she takes her spa days. And Griffin’s her personal trainer so he keeps her in good shape. She does yoga to stay flexible for Søren. And yes, she smokes pot with Kingsley on occasion. The thing with Nora is that she thrives on adventure and adversity so the stuff that would send a lot of people hiding under their desks is what makes her hop out of bed in the morning.
I’m a huge fan of BBC’s Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Are you a fan of the show? If so, did you see the episode A Scandal in Belgravia, featuring Irene Adler as a dominatrix. I could sort of see her as Nora! What do you think? Yes, no? Waaaay off the mark?? 🙂 Do TV and movies inspire you?
I’m obsessed with the show and so is my other half, Andrew. And yes, we love The Woman/Irene Adler. She’s smart and sexy and she and Nora have that in common. But Irene leans to the dark side more than Nora. Nora wouldn’t get involved with Moriarty. She wouldn’t be a willing participant in any scheme that could get people killed. She’s protective of her clients and wouldn’t use what she knows about them to blackmail them. She leaves that to Kingsley. Kingsley and Irene Adler have more in common than Nora and Irena. Although I think they’d be friends and they would have fabulous lunch conversations.
Nora seems to live very much in the moment. She’s spontaneous and wild and makes very little apologies for the choices she makes. Does she ever worry about the future, growing older, what sort of legacy she’ll leave behind? Can you imagine her quietly retiring to live in the suburbs? Or do you think characters like Nora (and James Dean and Marilyn Monroe) need to burn bright and fast and then maybe…die?
Nora was a writer before she was a dominatrix, which you’ll see when you read the prequels. Luckily both jobs can be done for years and years. There are women in their sixties still working as professional Dommes. There are writers in their eighties still publishing. I do think that after Søren is gone, Nora will (like Queen Guinevere) retire to a convent and spend her last years writing and making her peace with God. Nora is utterly certain Søren is going to heaven so she’ll make sure she ends up there with him.
Søren is a sadist. A beautiful, handsome, funny, philosophical sadist. He doesn’t really fit a nice little stereotype and thank you for writing him that way. But what are some misconceptions about sadists you’d like to clear up? In fact, talk to us about what a sadist is. Talk to us about what BDSM is.
A sadist is simply a person who enjoys the suffering of others. Some people are nonsexual sadists—think about brutal prison guards or police officers. Then there are sexual sadists who are aroused sexually by the suffering of another. Søren is most accurately a pain fetishist. Someone with a fetish often finds it difficult or impossible to become sexually aroused without the object of his or her fetishism involved. Example, a man who is a shoe fetishist might need to touch a woman’s high heel to become erect. For Søren, to become aroused he has to hurt someone physically or humiliate him or her. Because he’s a sadist with a conscience, he only plays this game with willing partners. As a child, however, he struggled with his desires and would often inflict pain on the unwilling, the same way a young Superman might hurt someone simply because he doesn’t know his own strength.
My favorite part about writing Søren isn’t his sadism or even his Catholic faith. I love his sense of humor. He has a dry wit, a hallmark of the Danish personality, and he can wield his humor like a weapon or a shield. It’s disarming and that’s another reason why he and Kingsley and Nora are fun to write together. They riff off each other. I’m a firm believer God has a sense of humor. Humanity does and we’re created in his image, after all.
You mention researching for you books is a ton of fun! And that you’ve been in relationships with some sadists. Anyone in particular you used for Søren? And if so, does that person realize how much he or she inspired you? 🙂
One of my exes is a six foot four blond hardcore sadist. And yes, he knows he helped inspire the books. I’ve been to BDSM clubs, hung out with Dominatrixes, paid for kink from professionals. All part of the job. I have the best job.
You mentioned that the Søren/Kingsley storyline in The Prince was just supposed to be a minor thing, but it ended up taking completely over! It was a pretty intense storyline! The thing I love about how you write Søren (and Kingsley) is that everything they do, whether it’s words they say or sex they have, it’s very organic and true to who they are. Weird as it sounds, considering how shocking your books are, I don’t believe you do anything for shock value. I believe you write honestly. And sometimes honesty is ugly and it hurts. But you do it. So my question is: was Søren always this damaged? From kernel of an idea in your brain to scribblings in your notebook to typing him on the page, did you always see someone so complex? Or did he grow with time?
I would never call Søren damaged. Now he might call himself that in a book but character opinions do not always reflect author opinions. Nora can think Wesley is the bee’s knees all she wants but I thought he was boring. She and I are never on the same page where men are concerned. But, back to the point, Søren is not damaged in my opinion. He’s simply different. I give him enormous credit for doing the best he can to avoid harming people. Kingsley was obsessed with Søren from the moment he saw him. If Kingsley hadn’t pursued Søren, Søren would not have taken things as far as he did. That doesn’t excuse Søren’s level of brutality with Kingsley. Then again, Kingsley is as much of a masochist as Søren is a sadist, which makes for a potent and dangerous combination.
All my characters grow and change with every book simply because I get to know them better. Each book requires me to dig deeper into who they are. For them to stay fresh and interesting, I need to constantly uncover new aspects of their personalities. You met Søren the cold sadist in The Siren and Søren the playful matchmaker in The Angel and Søren the yearning heartbroken lover in The Prince and Søren the self-sacrificing martyr in The Mistress. It’s all the same person but each character is a prism and each book is a different slant of light and reveals a different color, a different aspect of that character.
HUGE SPOILER! (DO NOT READ IF YOU DIDN’T READ THE MISTRESS!)
At the end of The Mistress, what does Zach say to Søren? Is it what I think it is? Does it have something to do with that Fionn name? Are Kingsley and Søren going through some changes together?
It’s Søren birthday and Zach’s Jewish but Zach’s not calling to wish Søren a Merry Christmas or tell him Happy Birthday. I think it’s more along the lines of Happy Father’s Day. One of my best friends and beta reader Karen Stivali calls the end of The Mistress the “Big Chill ending.” Too true! I do love that movie after all. I fell in love with Grace the moment that gorgeous girl showed up Nora’s doorstep in The Siren and I knew then I needed to give her an important role in the books, give her something very special. I call The Original Sinners books a kinky Catholic soap opera. They’re also biblical allegories. Zach is Joseph, Grace is Mary, and Søren is God the Father, which makes Fionn a very interesting little boy who is going to grow into a very interesting young man who I hope to write about someday.
As for Kingsley and Søren’s relationship, I believe Søren has tried to stay away from Kingsley so Kingsley can move on and find love with someone who can be what Kingsley needs more than just what he wants. Kingsley wants children. Søren can’t give him that. I think it’s meaningful that Søren only resumes their relationship on a regular basis after Kingsley becomes a father and therefore has something in his life he loves more than Søren. But you can’t take my word for it. Søren moves in mysterious ways. I never write from his point-of-view so he is forever a mystery to me.