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Lauren Beukes

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

The Spark: Jassy Mackenzie’s Switch

The Spark is a weekly guest blog series by African writers talking about what inspired the big idea for their new novels.

Want to write one? I’m open to submissions for 2014. If you’re an African author or publisher with a new book out or coming up (or that came out in the last six months or so), please email me a query after you’ve read the guidelines here.


Jassy Mackenzie normally writes critically-acclaimed crime novels, but she recently made the switch, as it were, to erotica. In this week’s The Spark (the guest blog series where African writers talk about what inspired their new novels) she talks about what got her excited about her second playful, funny, sexy caper of a novel.

jassyThe Spark for Switch by Jassy Mackenzie

Female domination is a topic that fascinates me. Not so much in an “I want to try this” way, but more in a “Do people seriously do this and can I be a fly on the wall?” way. Although having said that, most red-blooded women could surely become accustomed to having an obedient submissive to do the household chores and cater for their every whim.

“Vacuum the carpets and clean the stove, slave!”

“Yes, Mistress.”

“And hurry up. My underwear needs to be hand-washed this morning!”

“I’ll get it done before I make you lunch, Mistress.”

“Stop answering back. I need to put my feet up for a while. Come here and kneel down in front of me.”

When I decided to write an erotic romance featuring a dominatrix, I knew it would be impossible to make it serious. The idea of a man-slave crawling around wearing fishnet stockings and pink panties is inherently hilarious. How can you do anything but giggle at the vision it conjures up? I decided it would be easier, and more sensible, to keep readers giggling most of the way through the story.

The second challenge I had was making the heroine sympathetic. I didn’t want her to come across as callous or brutal or overly kinky, so I decided I would land her in a set of horrific financial circumstances where the only way out would be to open a dungeon in the unrentable, black-painted cottage that her tenant has abandoned. She would be an accidental dominatrix – a reluctant mistress – terrified by what she was planning to do, and out of her depth from the time she opened the door to her very first client.

The final challenge was to turn a submissive man into a sexy romantic hero. Now, the interesting fact about submissive men is that they’re no shrinking violets in real life. In fact, the opposite usually applies. They are men who shoulder immense power and responsibility, successful CEOs and professionals, high earners and leaders in their fields. As a result, they crave balance; to set their corporate cares aside for a time and hand over their power to a woman who must be equally strong in order to shoulder it.

My first erotic romance, Folly, saw the heroine Emma Caine meeting and falling in love with the dangerously attractive Simon Nel – a relationship that was complicated by the fact he was also her occasional dungeon client. “It’s a great story,” my agent told me, “but I’m not sure about the ending. I think we need a better HEA.” In romance novel language, this is an acronym for “happily ever after”.

“No,” I told her. “I don’t want a HEA. I’d like to leave the story open for a sequel.” After all, I had so many questions. Would things work out between Emma and Simon, given the unusual circumstances in which they met and the logistical challenges their relationship faced? What would happen to Emma’s husband, severely brain damaged and in a care home after a car accident? Would his revoltingly materialistic and tight-fisted family get their come-uppance? And what would happen if Emma’s fledgling business faced a serious threat – like having a psychotic dominatrix accuse her of stealing clients?

A year after Folly launched into the South African market, Switch has answered these questions… well, most of them. There are a few issues that I’d like to resolve more fully – perhaps in a third book? After all, writing romance is fun, and erotic romance is even more rewarding. And as for humorous erotica, well, it’s the most enjoyable of all!

Buy the book on Kalahari (South Africa)

Buy the ebook on Kalahari (SA-only)

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