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Meet The Author: M.L. Paige

I am thrilled with my latest interview with ML Paige as she is so very generous and inspiring in her words.

Listen up naughty ladies, and submissive gentlemen, here’s ML Paige…

When did you start writing erotic books and what was your inspiration for it?

I’ve been writing for quite a while! It’s been fifteen years since I started writing femdom erotica, at first as fun little stories just for me and then a whole lot of RP on the Shangrila MUSH (iykyk). In 2015, a wonderful pro-domme I’m close to encouraged me to be more structured with my writing and before I knew it, I was publishing on Amazon.

As for inspiration, there were a handful of femdom stories that I read through the years that just blew my socks off and made me realize just how intense and sensual and, well, erotic writing could be. Stories like The Manor, Ten Days in Another Town, The Breaking of Dan Newman all come to mind, along with a very old ass worship story from the AOL days I can no longer find–if you know of such a story with a mistress named Mabel, let me know! I’d kill to find it again.

What was your first book that you wrote?

My first official femdom story was one called “Beta Male Blues” that first got blocked by Amazon for having too racy of a cover (oh, how little I knew back then) and then tanked–but not before it garnered a handful of nasty, disparaging reviews. Hooray! I eventually reworked the story into “Cucked by the New Roomie”, which I quite enjoy and am proud of, and which has thankfully received a more positive response.

Why did you decide to become an author?

Sometimes I think I must’ve run over an old gypsy lady and been cursed to be this way. I say that because the work is gruelling, competitive, and the pay is well… let’s just say I’m not exactly making JK Rowling money. But really, I’ve always had a deep love of words and writing–as well as reading, for that matter–and I find it so damn fun to play in the story and word space. It’s just who I am, I’ve come to realize, and whether or not I write commercially or have Warner Bros. pick up my writing for an 8-part movie series (it’ll happen any day now…), I’ll always be writing something. I just don’t know any other way to exist.

What has been the high point of your career?

I published my first handful of femdom erotica on Amazon from 2016-2018 and then due to some life challenges–and the fact that I was barely selling anything while still managing to get angry reviews–I took a long, long hiatus. To be blunt, I had lost my day job, became massively depressed, and just went down a deep, dark rabbit hole of self pity and increasingly no longer fitting into my clothes. Charming, right?

Then, in 2021 I put out my first femdom erotica in years–”Black Mistress, White Pigs”–inspired by an NYT article about black findommes. It did… surprisingly well compared to what I’d put out before and that was enough to get me to revisit erotica again (after another gruelling two years of self-reflection), with another raceplay story (“Asian Mistress, White Slaves”) which did way, way better than anything I’d ever put out. After that, I was writing like mad, putting way more effort into my covers, layouts, back catalog, and mailing lists.

And, unbelievably, I started having people write to me to tell me how much they were enjoying my erotica. That is my high point. There’s really never been anything like putting out something that started as being for me and realizing I was connecting with–and entertaining–others. I’m deeply humbled by the readers who shared their thoughts for me and so very appreciative, as they have kept me going when I feel like I’m out of energy.

What are your favourite stories to write, especially as your back catalogue is so diverse?

Oh boy, this is a tough one. The easy answer is Asian (and specifically Japanese) femdom, which I’ve always had a soft spot for; I’m sure time spent living in Japan has something to do with that given how Japanese urban culture has really embraced femdom and kink. The less easy answer are more gonzo stories involving sci-fi, transformation, or dystopia elements. I love these stories because they just open up into a batshit crazy world of imagination, though they are often challenging in other ways, such as character arcs, and they’re often way too weird or harsh for the typical femdom erotica audience.

Who do you think are your biggest fans, your core readership? How would you describe them?

Well, men for starters. Femdom can take lots of flavours, but the stories I write are aimed at a male audience and (I think?) predominantly read by men. Which actually makes my erotica quite a bit different from the sea of stories with shirtless hunks on the cover aimed at women (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).

Slave to the sexy asian schoolgirl.

Aside from that, my readers seem pretty diverse–I’ve got readers who like extreme exploration of kink, ones who like the philosophical side of things, ones who prefer gentler, more happy stories. If I had to guess, I’d say they skew a little older too, though I say that because I feel like my writing has an old school style to it that is less likely to appeal to the new adult crowd (though they are certainly welcome!).

What makes your heart race as a reader, and also a writer?

Hmmm. In the femdom erotica world, I think it’s got to be instances of a dominant character springing a devious plan or unexpected twist into motion that takes a submissive character from what they thought was a relatively safe place to something much more frightening. In BDSM terms, we’d call this “edge play” (a super risky thing to engage in if you don’t trust the people you are playing with), but story-wise it can add a huge dramatic twist when, for example, a mistress says she’s flushed the key to her submissive’s chastity cage down the toilet and now she’s leaving him to go home to his girlfriend to explain why he’s caged up (even if she secretly has the key on her and just wants to spook the sub).

What is your favourite book that you have written?

Another toughie! My books are my babies, so I’m fond of all of them (well, most of them). “Bullied by the Tall Girl” might take the cake for me though–not only is it a somewhat rare-ish kink (tall girl / short guy), but despite the bullying themes, it’s actually kind of… sweet?

I think so many men are forced to feel like they need to be tough or aggro, but in this story the bullied MMC winds up acting as a positive force for the titular 6’4” tall girl, and I think it’s just a story that lets the reader have heavy kink and body positivity all in one.

What is your best selling book, and do you know why it sells so well?

Currently, it’s “Asian Mistress, White Slave” which–as I mentioned earlier–was kind of my “comeback” book. It’s long for femdom erotica (~110 pages), has a TON of variety, and has a fun framing device (a femdom salon party with many stations/rooms for kinkplay).

It also depicts a femdom relationship and (for the most part) offers lots of positive romance-adjacent dynamics, which I think draws in readers who aren’t as okay with heavier/more extreme kinkplay. In many ways it’s actually a harem femdom, with many different domme-types and one submissive who is the main focus, which I think is a big thing with readers right now (although harem has been big for a LONG time and reverse harem has semi-recently picked up in popularity).

And while I have no proof points for this, I do think it being my “comeback” book also meant that it received years of pent-up erotica writing energy I had no other outlet for and I wouldn’t be surprised if readers picked up on that.

How do you keep your ideas and stories fresh?

I do a lot of brainstorm sessions and I also try to keep a set of niches to write in so that when I’m exhausted in one (like Asian femdom), I can jump to another (like Futa femdom).

Doing commissions has helped as well, as it not only challenges me as an author, but it introduces me to kinks and approaches to kinks I wouldn’t have considered before.

Lastly, I sometimes just acknowledge that it’s okay to not always be 100% fresh because different stories appeal to different readers; I definitely have some very loyal readers who read everything I put out, but I also know that there is a huge chunk who won’t see everything, so it’s okay to focus less on abject originality and still think about injecting different characters, settings, or situations into an otherwise familiar plotline. Should’ve I said that? Oh god, probably not. Seriously though, there’s just a lot of ways to approach “fresh” and so I try to cycle through ways to make things “same but different” when I’m not in a super innovative mindset.

Do you have a writing routine?

For me, mornings are golden. Ideally, I get up at 530am and spend a few hours writing before I need to get on with the day. Mid-to-late morning also works well for me, but by the afternoon, I’m generally either in a more experimental mood with any writing I do or I’m focusing on marketing/admin/business tasks that require more of my left brain. Overall though, getting consistent output in a week (or even better, every day) is THE most important thing. Momentum is important. Lose that and all of a sudden you’re playing a game of “I’ll do it tomorrow” while knowing deep down that tomorrow ain’t ever coming.

What’s the secret to a strong title and great cover art?

Research. And then research. And then research, research, research. This is certainly not an original idea, but a book is judged by its cover (and its title), and if you don’t take the time to research your niche (or even know what it is) and expect to be successful, not only are you being arrogant, you’re also disrespecting the readers of that niche and what they expect. Once you’ve researched a ton and thoroughly understand your niche, feel free to experiment, but don’t show up acting like you know better if you haven’t first done your homework.

Do you enjoy hearing from readers?

I do! I’ve yet to receive any heinous or hideous feedback, but even if I did I would appreciate that anyone cared enough to actually contact me. As it stands, I have lots of readers reach out to drop a note on what they liked or want to see more of–something I encourage–and I’m always delighted for them to share their feedback.

Which authors inspire you?

The stories I mentioned above are huge inspirations (The Manor, Ten Days in Another Town, The Breaking of Dan Newman), and I also appreciate some of the more classical erotica writers like Anais Nin or Anne Rice. But really, I find so much of my inspiration in non-erotica spaces, like horror, because I think the elements of build up and surprise relate so well to quality erotica writing. I’m a sucker for Stephen King, Paul Tremblay, and Shirley Jackson, and think some of my best kinky surprises have come from thoroughly reading those authors, despite their detachment from kink (that I know of).

How much of your work is based on personal experience versus fantasy?

I was fortunate enough to spend a number of years very close to the BDSM and femdom space, which gave me a deep appreciation for how actual kinkplay occurs, how to separate fantasy and reality, and how to think about scenarios in the realm of the possible vs. the realm of the truly fictional. Much of my work was definitely inspired by this experience, but even my more fantastical work was inspired by how you might take out-there BDSM/femdom scenes and envision them as full-fledged stories or worlds. I could go on and on about how important the “play” part is to “kinkplay”, but suffice to say, lots of my work draws upon the wonderful time I spent close to the BDSM and femdom scene.

Do you friends and family know that you are an erotic author? If so, how did they react when they found out?

Those who know only know it loosely–I don’t share my work with them, but only because I don’t share any of my writing work (which spans a number of genres) with friends or family. That’s a decision I made a long time ago, after I published a novel under my own name and it bombed, leading to my aforementioned depression. I realized after that how important it was to have a veil between me and my writing, so that I could truly experiment without someone coming up to me one day and saying “Hey ML, I read your space opera about cuckolds enslaving themselves to a gorgeous machine race of fembots who use milked cuckold cum as currency and thought it was total dogshit” or whatever. It’s easier to explore the universe of ideas when I don’t have the anchor of my own identity weighing me down.

What mistakes have you made in your career?

Ah, so many. Really though, the worst is not doing proper research. I blathered about this before, but if you want to be a successful writer (and you can define that however you want, but I define it as profitable), you really, really, really need to spend a lot of time knowing your market. You need to know others have already done it and probably better than you’ll ever do it. And then you need to lean into what they’ve done instead of trying to be your own special little snowflake. I think I (like many others before me) was so inculcated by literary writers and artistic darlings that were likely nepo-babies with mega connections letting them do whatever they wanted that I thought “if I write it, they will come”. But no. It doesn’t work like that and if you disagree, you’re wrong. Study the market, do “same but different”. If you don’t like it, well… you’re my competition so keep going, but honestly, you’re going to have a brutal time of it.

What have been your personal triumphs?

After coming out of my last two year writing hiatus in January, I’ve written 700k words of published material. For comparison’s sake, it took me 3 years to get my first (non-erotica) 100k novel out way back when. That is a phenomenal number for me and has helped me immensely with the imposter’s syndrome all writers go through. Whatever happens, I know I’m capable of Brandon Sanderson levels of output… albeit perhaps not with his level of global success (hah).

What advice would you offer a writer who wants to embark on a successful erotica career?

Gah, another tough question. Frankly, my first thought is that if you’re looking for easy money, this is the wrong choice. Even just through the lens of Amazon publishing, your marketing options are severely limited, so much so that you can’t even run ads, the sorts of stories and covers and titles you’ll want to use will likely risk you being dungeoned or banned, and that there are already millions of people ahead of you who have already stripmined the erotica world to hell and back. So yeah, don’t do it. Go home. Say a prayer.

If you’re stubborn enough to keep going well… just know stubbornness isn’t enough. Hopefully you love the niche(s) you’re writing in and genuinely enjoy it, despite how profitable it is for you. Go to reddit and read the eroticauthors subreddit. Pay attention, assume you know way less than the many people there making six (and in some cases seven) figures a year. Research (as if I haven’t said this enough). Be respectful. Work hard. Write something personally fulfilling and yet interesting to others.

And above all, don’t edge your readers over and over so that you leave them waiting for some big climatic idea when in reality you

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