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frequently asked questions

Warning: Contains spoilers!


question  It was clear that Mark loved Passion. Why didn't you write Matthew and Patience's story with that same degree of love and romance?

answer  Wow, that's an interesting question because I would say that I did. In fact, Matthew is in many ways a more giving hero than his brother. Mark falls in love with Passion because of what she gives to him. But Matthew falls in love with Patience because of what he can give to her. He is constantly gauging her, seeing to her, trying to figure her out. It's all about her. And he takes such great risks to have her and to meet her needs. The dominant is always the most vulnerable one, because if he fails the submissive will leave him. Which is, in fact, exactly what Patience does. Anyway, I believe Matthew and Patience's story is rife with love and romance-I think some readers were just blinded to it due to a bias against Matthew and Patience's sensual dynamic.

question  Why did Matthew have such a great need to make Patience cry?

answer  There is nothing wrong with tears. They are wonderful and liberating. It's also a gift when someone can cry in front of you-it's a vulnerability and an intimacy that many people, even some married couples, can't share. We tend to bow our heads and/or cover our faces when we cry. People will say, "oh, don't cry," and they will try to make you stop. But Matthew understands that tears have a place and a power. He understands that Patience needs and wants to cry. She had years of tears stored up; she just couldn't release the floodgates. He helps her to do so, and he loves the intimacy of her emotions-all her emotions, not just the happy, pleasant ones.

question  You need pain to open up emotion?

answer  In Patience's case, yes. Patience denied all pain-the pain of her mother's death, the pain of losing her sister, the pain of feeling alone, the pain of Henri. She had walled herself up emotionally. And the only way she could be freed was through the very feeling she was denying.

question  If that is the case, why couldn't Matthew be "opened up to his emotions"?

answer  Because Matthew is already open to his emotions. In fact, he's emotionally raw. He leaks emotion all over the pages of the book-pain, anger, frustration, embarrassment, desperation, dishonor and unworthiness-but also, gratitude, hope, happiness, passion, pride, lust, love and, finally, worthiness and honor. Good or bad, Matthew doesn't do a lot of hiding from his emotions. And on the rare occasions he does, he's pretty quick to face the truth-as exemplified by his recognition that he has fallen head-over-heels in love with Patience.

question  Okay, but why do you have to be submissive to express yourself?

answer  You don't have to be. Everyone is different. But, for Patience, this worked. She finds joy and freedom in her submission to Matthew. By the way, she is only submissive to him.

question  I have encountered people into BDSM in my life and the majority had been tormented physically or emotionally when young.

answer  Actually, statistics show that around 66% of the BDSM population was NOT abused when young. Only 32% indicated they were. You also might be interested to know that around 80% of that community would never touch drugs or any addictive substances. About 68% are heterosexual and around 40% are married or in long-term partnerships. Around 58% are college educated. Around 83% come from middle or upper income brackets. 48% see themselves as Christian, and around 80% are politically moderate to Libertarian. If you'd like more details here is one survey:

question  I am open to all lifestyles but a good counselor would do more good than a paddling, which just reinforces low self-esteem.

answer  There weren't any counselors in Victorian England. And, frankly, Patience didn't need a counselor-she just needed Matthew. Thank God for him, because he gives her what she wants and needs-a spanking (he never paddles her) that pleases her, and a whole relationship construct that she craves. Low self-esteem is not an issue because Patience doesn't suffer from low self-esteem. In fact, Patience esteems herself highly, which is why her trust and submission is such a huge gift to Matthew. In other words, one who is a doormat cannot give the gift of submission, because a doormat is, alas, only a doormat. But in Patience's case, the pain opens her to recognizing the painful wounds of sorrow, regret, and loneliness that she had hidden since her mother's passing-which she must do if she is to be emotionally free and ultimately happy. Matthew is the one who is struggling with his self-worth. And by being worthy of Patience, he finds that self-worth.

question   Is this abuse or punishment?

answer  I think what constitutes abuse vs. punishment is unique to individuals, cultures and circumstances. Now, certainly, there is a place where almost everyone (in western culture at least) will agree that the line has been crossed to abuse. But I don't believe a spanking (most especially one with erotic overtones) between consenting adults is abuse. Nor do I believe that the "breakthrough" spanking in PATIENCE was abuse. It was an intervention.

question  To open up to emotion with pain would seem to tie emotion and pain together i.e. in order to feel emotion I need to feel pain.

answer  Denied emotions are often opened up with pain. Families unload a ton of pain when they participate in an intervention (which can be brutal). Pain-emotional or physical-has great power. The key is that it be dealt out by people who love you and want the best for you. When pain is used to "break through" to emotional truths, it's simply a device-a path to emotional liberation. In Patience's case, she needed to feel pain in order to overcome her denial of pain. And in feeling the pain-in facing it-she is then able to overcome it, and to feel everything more deeply-joy, love happiness. This is wondrous and beautiful, and I will always adore Matthew for loving Patience so much-for facilitating her emotional release in a way that was both safe and loving.

question  Does Patience need to continually deal with her loses and re-explore emotional pain over and over again?

answer  She doesn't deal with her loses and re-explore emotional pain over and over again. She only does that once, after the breakthrough spanking. The previous spankings, besides touching a pain/pleasure zone that exists in Patience, are just breaking down the outer layers of her emotional wall. Emotional self-discovery doesn't come with the flip of a switch. It's more like light on a dimmer-slowly moving from darkness to full light. I think we can understand from PATIENCE, that Patience has accomplished an emotional healing by the end of the book. But the d/s relationship will always exist between she and Matthew, and the erotic pleasure/punishment spankings will always be a part of their dynamic because they both love them.

question  I would like to know more about what drew them to this lifestyle.

answer  Matthew is drawn to this lifestyle because he was controlled so much through his childhood, and not in a way that truly benefited him. He was used by his mother to hurt his brother and father. So he seeks control as a reflexive action-but he looks to wield that control in a positive manner. As a good man-as a good dominant-he seeks to serve Patience. The sexual connection is there because sex is one of the most intimate acts two people can engage in. Matthew likes to dominate sexually because it allows him to both control and serve at the same time. The best of both worlds, if you will. But as a man who craves real intimacy and love, he needs a devoted partner for this. Matthew isn't interested in dominating someone who doesn't want to be dominated.

As for Patience, she is drawn to Matthew because she can sense what he is. And, intuitively, she knows that she needs and wants what he is. There is often a kind of inexplicable magnetism between people who are each others' foils. And Patience "stays" because she wants to, not because he forces her. As for the submissive dynamic, it often comes from a person who has, for whatever reason, had to take care of themselves almost entirely on their own. A person who has had to make every decision, even the ones they didn't want to have to make. A person who is by character, or by force of circumstance (or both), very independent. Such people often hit a threshold of intolerance for their own independence. They yearn, as Patience does, for someone to lean upon, someone in whose presence they can lay down their sword, someone to whom they can submit at last. This is why most submissives are such strong people (as Patience is). And their submission, which is typically to only one individual, is their choice. A choice that stems from a kind of uber-independence.

question  Why does Matthew need Patience to find his self-worth? Shouldn't he find it within himself?

answer  Matthew does find his self-worth within himself. He finds is alone, and in the mirror. But part of why he was ready to find himself again, was because of Patience. She brings out the best in him. And then when she leaves him, he feels her absence. In his solitude, he is able to gain clarity on both his circumstances and himself. We've all had people in our lives who have facilitated our own understanding of ourselves. By serving Patience, Matthew is simply reinforcing his true nature-a nature that his circumstances have momentarily jostled. In the end, he comes to her as his best self.

question  It seems Patience should have found her emotional freedom irrespective of Matthew.

answer  None of us lives in a vacuum. Without Matthew, Patience would have gone on living her life just as she was-in a kind of emotional purgatory-neither here nor there. The fact that he helps her face her demons does not take away from her personal growth.

question   It's rather troubling that Matthew influenced Patience's thinking to the extent he did.

answer  Matthew does not dictate what Patience should think. He loves her brain and her intellect. He, as the experienced partner in their d/s exploration, is simply sharing with her what he knows of the feelings and dynamics at work. If you were going to have some major surgery, it would be like someone who's been through it telling you, "and then you'll feel this, and probably this. But then it'll get better and you'll feel this," etc. And, of course, he is also trying to fill his dominant role. If he doesn't speak and act as he does, she won't be comforted by him. His firmness and decisiveness helps her to trust in what he says. Just like the hypothetical person talking to you about the surgery would help you to feel more confident with their confidence. Anyway, Patience is constantly referring back to herself. What does she think about what he has said? Is he right, and does she agree? And she gauges her feelings constantly. She makes a gazillion decisions all along the way. Ultimately, she is the one in control.

question  To suggest that a man is needed to enlighten a woman seems to just reinforce what is already out there.

answer  A woman does not need a man in order to be enlightened. PATIENCE is the story of two people-two people who help save one another, and who find themselves in the process. PATIENCE is also a story that explores the d/s dynamic within a Victorian construct. So Matthew is a Victorian man, and Patience is a Victorian woman. As such, they both have an understanding of their societal belief in male dominance and feminine submission. But they both hold to that belief in a mutually supportive way. There are responsibilities that come with both roles. Both roles are of equal import and value to them.

In our modern understanding, or lack thereof, I think we see dominance as powerful and submission as weak. And because women have so often been dominated badly, many of us are incapable of seeing how anyone could be dominated well. Although we are fairly tolerant of male submission, there is something "wrong" with a submissive woman-i.e. she must have low self-esteem, or she must have been abused as a child. We're all for feminism, but only our own version. Confident, intelligent women who find joy and fulfillment in a submissive role, and who decide upon a life with a man who serves their desires and makes them happy, must need therapy. When, in fact, such women are often equally, if not more powerful than their dominant mates. Matthew and Patience are equals in their journey, and they are equals in life. Their d/s lifestyle is simply the framework within which they live their mutually fulfilling romance.

question   I loved PASSION, but why did you have to make PATIENCE just one sex scene after another?

answer  Actually, PASSION had six sex scenes (I'm not including the two times at the end of the book, because they aren't full scenes), whereas in PATIENCE there were only five. Also, on the whole, there is more separation between sex scenes in PATIENCE, than there is in PASSION.

question  I loved Matthew in PASSION, why did you change him into a completely different character?

answer  I didn't. Matthew is the same man as ever he was-which is a big theme in the story, by the way. He is, of course, facing a very difficult personal struggle that is being played out in front of everyone. Everything he was-everything his birth and bloodline stood for-is gone. Further, he is in a desperate fight for his business and livelihood, which degrades his social standing even more. Who wouldn't be hurt and angry? The man is entitled to his emotions.

And yet, even for all this, we see the Matthew we know and love-the Matthew who, despite his protestations, can't resist falling in love with Patience (he acknowledges his love long before she does). The Matthew who loves Aunt Matty and is loved by her. The Matthew who hangs with Farnsby and Asher despite the fact that they are rather low on the social ladder and not taken very seriously by anyone. The Matthew who pushes Lord Rivers out of harms way. The Matthew who is chronically niggled by his conscience whenever he does something he knows is wrong. The Matthew who brings Patience breakfast and engraves her butter. The Matthew who helps her dress and then stands back in public lest she not want him to play along side her. The Matthew who waits for Patience's love and, even once he has that love, never gives up on helping her to find her own emotional freedom. And, finally, the Matthew who must look in the mirror and strip himself down to nothing but a boy-a boy with his father-in order to rediscover his authentic self.

And finally, in regards to his sensual proclivities, even these are hinted at in PASSION. Mark makes mention of Matthew's love of fellatio and tears. We see, throughout PASSION, the way he is always watching people and situations (his brother, Passion, Patience at the engagement ball)-his strength and determination to do and say what needs to be done and said-his ability to see certain truths even when he is being lied to-his charm and tenderness, his desire for love. These are all signs of a truly magnificent dominant who is all about the people he loves.

And the final question regarding Matthew:

question  I really enjoyed Mark, but I ADORE Matthew-how can I find him in real-life? Matthew is my dream guy-where are guys like him today?

You snuck into my brain and put my perfect man on the page (Matthew). How did you know?

I cried through this book because I saw my secret self in Patience. Please, how do I find a Matthew of my own?

answer  I've received so many emails with some version of this question. I only wish I had a clear-cut answer. I think a man like Matthew is very difficult to find in our modern society. And by "a man like Matthew" I don't mean a man who will spank you, or a man who will play out D/s "scenes" with you. I'm sure plenty of those guys can be found. : I mean a man who truly is a dominant at his core-a man who believes he has a responsibility of benevolent leadership both in the world and in his relationships. A man who is able, willing and desirous of being the head of his household-a man who sees it as his masculine responsibility to learn and meet the primary needs of his mate (sexual and otherwise), even as his mate learns and meets his primary needs. And I don't mean all needs here-no one can do that-I mean the primary ones that each partner requires from the other in order to have a loving and fulfilling relationship. And, finally, a man who is both proud of and comfortable with his own masculinity and the traditional responsibilities that come with it-i.e. provider, protector and patriarch. I just don't think the majority of men think in these terms anymore. And neither do the majority of women.

So, all I can suggest is that a strong woman who desires a dominant partner needs to take her time finding someone worthy. And, whatever she does, she ought not be ashamed of her submissive yearnings. As I mentioned in one of the earlier questions, I think there is a tendency by our society to say that there is something "wrong" with submission. Those who desire it, feel that they have to hide that desire. But despite the views of society, there is nothing wrong with a mutually fulfilling, mutually agreed upon D/s relationship between two people who love one another. And I say that regardless of which partner is in which role-though, as a society, we seem more accepting of male submission than female. It's rather sad, really-for all our lip service, it seems women are still only allowed to want what society says they should. No woman should let that stop her from finding her own fulfillment.

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lisa valdez