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Interview with a Demon: Part 6

 

Due to his escape-proof prison and the promise to his jailor, I have not yet been totally possessed by the Guardian. Yes, I know that’s black humour, and I should probably touch wood. Being with him continues to be very unsettling, and it becomes more so as his story unfolds. The one thing I hadn’t considered in this interview is that a demon might actually be frustrated.

If you are coming to these interviews late but would like to catch up, follow the links below this instalment.

 

 

Part 6: A Demon’s Frustration

 

I wish that I could have disagreed with the Guardian, but I don’t know what I would have done imprisoned in stone for millennia, how I would have felt. I’m not patient when I have to wait a long time for a bus with nothing to read. Anyway, it didn’t matter. He didn’t give me time to dwell on it. But then I suspected he already knew the answer whether I did or not. Instead he picked up where we had left off as though there had been no interruption.

“Annie immediately made an offer, which was accepted just as quickly. I’m certain the sellers just wanted to be rid of the place, evil as it was.

“In all fairness, there had been no other perspective buyers who had given the place any real consideration, though I had a great deal to do with that, I confess. I told you I choose wisely and very carefully. At the time, I had no idea just how well I had chosen.

“You see, Annie Rivers was an estate agent herself by trade – a very good one, who could afford to buy and renovate what she was already affectionately calling Chapel House from the moment she took possession of the keys. She was, by your modern day standards a true beauty with hair that glistened golden in the sunlight and eyes that were cerulean blue. From the moment I first had her all to myself I was jealous of anyone who had kissed those full lips. I was jealous of anyone who was capableof kissing those lips, of touching her, of holding her. You must understand I could do none of those things, not in the sense of true flesh and blood. All I could do was make her believe that I touched her, that I kissed and caressed her, make her desire me to do so more than anything in life. Well that is what I would have done had I been free. As it was, in my imprisoned state, I could do little more than observe her, be near her, give her intimations of well being, of arousal, of being loved and desired. Because she was beautiful anyway, because she was desired and loved, all I could really do was enhance those sensations. Oh, KD, you cannot imagine my frustration at not being able to give her more.”

The idea of the Guardian actually giving Annie something when I knew what his attention had cost her and what the end result would have been without Susan’s desperate and dangerous intervention seemed totally absurd. He was silence for a moment, as though he waited for the response I only thought. I chose not to consider the disturbing likelihood that he already knew those thoughts.

When he continued he stood to pace once more, the chair he’d been sitting in vanishing as he did so. “No, I am not an incubus. As I said I am only a guardian spirit, but one who has, over the ages, become very much underestimated. Demon, some would call me, but debating my true nature would simply be splitting hairs so long after the fact, so long after what I’ve become, what I’m still becoming. You see, while I would have loved to possess my Annie, to enter into her body and experience the pleasures of her flesh as she herself did, I learned long ago that to do so with a mortal is to hasten their death. Oh, I’ll admit that there are those whose deaths are of little consequence to me, but the pleasure of possessing their flesh for that brief time before they can no longer serve as a vessel for me is so fleeting that it’s hardly worth the effort, nor the unwanted attention it brings to me.

“So I am reduced to eliciting the emotions, the sensations, the bodily needs in another and living them vicariously. To do so means that I may savor those I choose. I may linger with their pleasures and pains and passions until they become too weakened to please me further or until I become bored with them. Then I leave them their lives to do with what they will. Sadly most don’t choose to live once denied my attention, but thus is the curse of what I have become, of what my needs have made me. I suppose you could say, if you were to speak in human terms, that I am as addicted to humanity and its pleasures as those I choose become addicted to me. And Annie, my dear beautiful Annie, was strong, resilient, with a sharp wit and a hunger for life that could not but attract me to her like a loadstone. And though I cannot take credit for what might have been had I remained so imprisoned there in Chapel House, I can say that Annie would have lived a long and happy life there with me, for I would have been able to take so little of her, while always giving enough back to keep her happy and contented, even healthy and young beyond her years. That would have been the gift from my imprisonment at the expense of my perpetual frustration.” He settled once again in the chair that appeared instantly as he did so. “I suppose you could say that my imprisonment forced me to monogamy and fidelity, knowing full well, as I did, that it was not likely I should find another to companion me at Chapel House any more easily than I had found Annie.

“So, with thoughts of a long and happy, if frustrating, relationship with Ms. Rivers, I set about drawing her to me even before she moved into Chapel House. Oh I was very subtle. I approached her with the greatest of care and tenderness not wanting to frighten her. I wanted, indeed I needed, for her to desire me as I did her. And she was not a skittish milquetoast of a woman, fearing ghosts and ghouls and anything that could not easily be explained away. In fact she invited that which she did not understand. She longed for ghosts and apparitions and things that go bump in the night. From the very beginning my darling Annie all but begged me to be real, all but flung open the doors to her inner workings and invited me in. Imagine my frustration at not being able to fully accept her gracious invitation.

“While she brought workmen in to give her estimates, she joked with them about Chapel House being haunted. She relished making them uncomfortable as she told them that sadly there were now no corpses in the crypt. Why, she told one jumpy electrician, she had only recently sent the last of them off to the Museum of London. Then she laughed that delicious throaty laugh of hers, and I shall never forget what she said.” And here he startled me again by speaking in Annie’s voice. ‘“Of course all the corpses are long gone, but someone ishere. There’s a very definite presence. I’m sure of it. I can feel it.’ She wrapped her arms around herself and sighed with such pleasures that I had wished with all my heart I’d had flesh at that moment for I should have embraced her with such delight. You see, I had been so careful not to frighten her, so careful that in my presence she should only feel welcomed and safe, and yet here was a woman longing for what would terrify most as much as I longed to give it to her. It was that day, as she left with the electrician, chatting about mood lighting for the bathroom, I resolved to find a way to make myself known to her when next she came to Chapel House. Happily I didn’t have to wait long.”

 

 

 

Interview with a Demon – the interview so far:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

 

Interview with a Demon: Part 5

I’m happy to announce that I did not freeze to death, no thanks to the situation in which I found myself in the last instalment of my interview with the Guardian. The truth is, as this strange interview unfolded, as I spent more time with the Guardian, I can’t tell you that I felt safer with him. I’m not even sure I could tell you that I knew him better or that I understood him better. But between him, Susan Innes, and the rest of the gang, by the time I was shivering in the Guardian’s prison, I realised I was most definitely a captive audience.

 

If you’ve missed any of the interview so far, please follow the links below this instalment. 

 

Interview with a Demon Part 5: The Confusing Semantics of Humanity

 

“Susan, I am sorry,” the Guardian said.

“I don’t care that you’re sorry. Annie’s story is not yours to tell,” she replied, and then she yelled into the frigid air, “Goddamn it, Talia, I said pull K D out.”

By the time it became clear Talia had no intention of obliging, I was pretty sure I was developing frostbite.

“Susan, you must stop this.” In spite of the raging wind, I could hear the Guardian as though he spoke right into my head. “Clearly the succubus is not listening, and our little scribe should not suffer for your anger. I won’t proceed if it upsets you so, only consider what you’re doing.”

Those were the last words I heard before I woke up in the big bed with a jerk, and the bones in my neck popped as though I had been falling. Talia was sitting next to me with her hand on my shoulder. In spite of the blizzard I’d just come out of, I was drenched in sweat and desperately thirsty.

Susan was pacing at the side of the bed like a caged lion and the air around her crackled with the same electricity I’d been feeling when I was pulled from the dream. Before I could reorient myself, she turned on Talia, yanking her off the bed with a hand fisted in the collar of her shirt. “I told you to pull her out!”

I had never feared Susan Innes until now. Though I knew well what she had become, she had never exuded that same threat factor I felt around Alonso Darlington. But in that instant, I was fully aware Darlington had most definitely not cornered the market on being terrifying. Heart racing, I shoved myself up and crab walked to the other side of the mattress, all but falling out on the floor before I caught hold of the bedpost. That I suddenly found myself fearing for the safety of a succubus said something about just how scary an angry Scribe turned vampire, turned prison for a demon could be. Susan paid no attention to me, as her other hand settled around the woman’s throat. “If you can’t keep her safe, what good are you?”

Talia went deadly still. If anything her calm was as frightening as Susan’s rage. “Take your hands of me, girl, or shall I show you why I could hold a demon in thrall while you were whimpering and dying in Alonso’s arms?

And then I did fall off the bed. I’m not proud of it. I would have run and not stopped until I was back at JFK and safely on the next plane home. But my legs wouldn’t stop shaking enough to support me.

The two jumped apart, and the tension was suddenly broken. Susan, once more herself, came to my aid, but the last thing I wanted was her help, and I found my legs worked just fine when properly motivated. The look on her face, as I shrugged away from her touch was wounded and pained, and I didn’t much care at the moment. “I’m sorry,” she said softly. Then she spoke to Talia with a voice still laced in the ice of the blizzard she’d caused. “What the hell took you so long to pull her out?”

“I didn’t pull her out,” the Succubus said. “I wouldn’t have pulled her out. Not just because you had a tantrum. “Your prisoner cast her out. Seems he was a lot more concerned for her than he was for your wounded pride. Though really, Susan, I never figured you for a coward.”

“I don’t give a damn what you figured me for, Talia, and what’s between me and the Guardian is none of your business.”

To this, Talia only laughed. “None of my business, is it? You brought this whole shit show to my door, to my home, and Alonso’s — you and Michael and good old Magda fucking Gardener. You made it my business, all of our business.” She sat back in the chair and folded her arms across her chest. “I didn’t volunteer for transportation duty,” she said nodding to me. “You dragged me back in, lest we forget. I don’t like your damn demon and he sure as hell doesn’t like me. Still you asked me to get KD to him for the interview. That, I did.” She stood and slipped into her shoes next to the bed. “Now, I’m out of here. If the demon’s your prisoner, then he’s your prisoner, but if he’s something else, then maybe you’d both better agree on what that is before you drag other people into your mess. You’re the one who promised him his voice for this interview. Maybe you should have made it clear to him that what you really want is for him to parrot your voice.”

Suddenly the bedroom door burst open and Michael blew in, nearly shoving Talia off her feet. With his focus so clearly on Susan, it was as though he hadn’t even noticed the succubus. He filled the room with his presence in the way only an angel could. His blond hair was wind blown, and crisp clean mountain air was the wild scent he exuded in spite of the carbon and heat smell of the city. He wore faded jeans and a plain black tee shirt along with an old pair of Conversehigh tops. He completely ignored the rest of us and went straight to Susan, scooping her into his arms. “He said you needed me. I came as soon as I could.”

“The demon?” Talia asked. “The demon sent for you?”

Michael only nodded as Susan all but collapsed against his chest. Whatever he whispered into her ear as he smoothed her hair and stroked her back, was too quiet for the rest of us to hear. But the shudder that ran up her spine and the sob that followed was impossible to miss. For a long moment, they stood freeze framed against the backdrop of the open door, clinging to each other desperately, Michael speaking softly in her ear.

At last she pulled away, took a deep breath, then turned to face us, still clinging tightly to Michael’s hand. “Don’t go, Talia. I’m sorry, but I need you to send her back in if you would please. And if you would, K D.”

The succubus studied her silently for a minute, then looked up at Michael, who gave her a reassuring nod, to which she only shrugged and turned back to me. “Shall we,” she said with the twitch of a dry smile, as she nodded to the bed. After two very large glasses of water, I settled beneath the duvet once more, and within minutes, I was again in the Guardian’s fell-side prison staring at his back, while he stood on the edge of the cliff looking down into the beck. It was still high summer, not a snowflake remained, and the owl still trilled somewhere nearby.

I was too disoriented and exasperated by this point to be cautious. “What just happened?” I blurted out.

For a moment he didn’t answer, and then he sighed. “I reminded Susan that what I did to Annie was not her fault.” Once again the wingback chair appeared and I all but fell into it, as he began to pace back and forth along the cliff top. “You see she blames herself. That is the real root of the problem — not that I was about to tell you my version of the events that unfolded at Chapel House, but that she believes those events could only occur because she released me from my prison.”

“Well?” I could certainly understand why she thought that.

All at once I felt the giddy sensation of falling, and then of soaring above the beck in an embrace that was most definitely not human. Then a cool wind swept over me and the Guardian’s presence surrounded me as though he were guiding me down onto the warm grass, as though he mantled me with the body I knew he didn’t have. And then he was moving inside of me. I don’t mean sex. I mean something deeper, as though it were no longer Susan’s heart he existed beneath, but it was my own. In the odd mix of terror and arousal, of losing myself in something I was sure I could never come back from, I was more than a little bit shocked to discover that arousal was winning the battle. Then just as quickly as he had approached me, he backed off, and I was once again seated and watching as he settled into the chair next to me.

He waited for a moment, waited until I could gather enough presence of mind to focus on his words and not what I had just experienced. Then he said quietly, “you see, she believes that she had a choice in the matter.”

“Jesus.” I chafed at the goose bumps on my arms and shifted in my chair trying not to think of how willing I would have been to let him do to me whatever he wanted. If he had forced the issue, I wondered if I would have made any attempt at all to call out to Talia for help.

“You would not have,” he answered my question for me, and I felt his reply like a punch in the gut.

“Please don’t do that again.” My words came out breathless and shaky with way less authority than I would have liked. “Don’t read my thoughts.” There were too many suppositions and fantasies I myself had had about him for me to want him wandering around inside my grey matter.

“Oh I didn’t have to read your thoughts, K D. I read only your body. And your face. I would never betray Susan’s trust by going where I’m not welcome.” Then his voice softened like velvet brushing against my ear. “But I would have been welcome, wouldn’t I?” He didn’t give me long to squirm with the truth of the matter we both knew only too well, but continued — this time at a more polite distance. “You see how the semantics of humanity confuse me at times.” He raised a hand as though he could wipe away that disturbing thought. “My point is, that while Susan’s first visit to my crypt prison was a complete coincidence, once I realized who she was, what she was, she had no more choice in the matter of giving up Annie to me, than if it had been her fondest wish to do so. In fact by the time she left my crypt, she was completely convinced that to free me was the deepest desire of her heart. And of this fact, K D, she was not even aware. You see, I gave her no choice. And I daresay you would view my actions somewhat more sympathetically had it been you Magda Gardener had held imprisoned in stone for so very, very long.”

 

 

Interview with a Demon – the interview so far:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

 

 

 

Interview with a Demon Part 1

Part 1 (my notes on an unauthorized interview with the Guardian)

 

As a scribe, albeit a low-level one, I’ve had some pretty harrowing experiences with my characters, many of which have straddled that dark line between what’s real and what comes from my imagination. I’ve been invited to a vampire’s home where I was soundly threatened and warned away from the story I was writing – a story too personal for his liking, a story I was forced to write anyway. I’ve met Magda Gardener/AKA Medusa on the Manhattan Bridge, where she all but hijacked me into her consortium. I’ve even walked in the storm tunnels of Vegas with Hades and Cerberus/ AKA Jon and Gus. I was pretty jet lagged at the time though. I’m still not sure that wasn’t just a dream.

 

While I’m not a Scribe in the true sense that Susan Innes is, Magda seems to think that as far as simply recording the stories she wants told, I’ll do. That means I’m often put into, shall we say, unusual situations. While vampires are terrifying, and somehow Medusa, in her Magda guise can be convincingly safe, if she wants to be … as long as you don’t look too closely, the interview I’m about to share with you is completely unsanctioned. Not a chance it’ll stay beneath Magda’s radar, and yet, when I was asked by the interviewee to tell his story, how could I refuse? In fact, I’m not sure refusing was an option. I don’t mind saying that interviewing Hannibal Lector through the bars of his prison would have made me less anxious. You see Susan Innes has approached me to interview the demon now imprisoned inside her body. Since she is both his prison and only one of two people to survive a full possession by him, neither of them felt she could possibly write his story objectively.

 

Susan meets me at the door of the penthouse apartment in Tribeca, which she shares with Michael, who is a fallen angel, or retired, as he prefers to call himself. He’s the only other person to survive possession by the demon. It’s night, and the lights of Manhattan are like jewels flung out beyond ceiling to floor windows of an open planned living space big enough to pass as a small ballroom.

 

Susan is a vampire, but that’s not why she asked me to come to her at night. Because of her demon prisoner, she could have easily met me in broad daylight on the Manhattan Bridge or in Central Park. But this interview will involve a bit of dream magic. The demon I’ll be interviewing, known as the Guardian, has insisted that it be him I speak to without using Susan as the intermediary. That means I have to approach him through dreams.

 

You’re probably wondering how I could possibly sleep in the presence of a scary-ass demon and a vampire. With the help of a succubus, of course. In the guest bedroom where the interview will take place, Talia Zephora looks up at me and smiles. She sits in a wing backed chair flipping through the pages of Cosmoand sipping red wine. “We meet again, KD.” She doesn’t offer me her hand, which is just as well. I know exactly what I would feel if she did, and I’ll experience enough of her magic very shortly anyway. “You manage to get mixed up with some rough characters, don’t you?”

 

I just smile stupidly. There’s no good answer to that one. “How’s Alonso?” I ask. She works for him.

 

“He’s got his hands full now that Reese has joined the growing ranks of the undead.” She offers a low throaty laugh. “Though he’s so cute when he’s hungry. Reese, not Alonso. Alonso is never cute.” She lifts her glass to me. “Want some. It’s a good one.”

 

“No thanks,” I manage, hoping no one will notice the little tremor in my voice that I can’t seem to get rid of in spite of all the fail safes I’ve been assured are in place.

 

She nods. “Just as well. You won’t need it to make you feel good, I promise.”

 

The fight or flight response kicks in, and I take a step back and reach for the door handle involuntarily. She laughs out loud. “Just kidding. I’m just here to get you inside,” she nods to Susan and shrugs, “Wherever the hell inside is. I suppose it’ll be up to you to find his cell. After that, well then you’re on your own.”

 

Susan flips Talia the finger and the succubus blows her a kiss for her efforts. “It’ll be okay, KD.” Susan says nodding to the bed. “All he wants is a chance to tell his story. He figures you know him better than anyone … at least you think you do.”

 

I can’t help wondering if that last little bit is Susan speaking or the demon.

 

I kick out of my shoes and lay down on the enormous brass bed. Ideal for handcuffs and rope, a thought I wish I hadn’t just had. I’ve worn a soft pair of track bottoms and a tank top, something comfortable but not too intimate. This is an interview, I remind myself. That’s all. Susan pulls a blanket up over and tucks me in. Her gaze moves to the pounding of my pulse in my neck and she pats my shoulder. “Just relax. It’ll be all right.”

 

It’s damn near impossible to relax as Talia crawls under the blanket next to me, still fully dressed, so we are keeping it all business-like. Then she takes me into her arms and pulls me close, and I realize it doesn’t matter what she’s wearing. I’m completely at her mercy, that is until I meet the Guardian, then a succubus might well seem like a waltz in the park. Even as her kiss pulls me under, I can’t help remembering what the Guardian has done to others, what he’s capable of doing to me. Promises of safety suddenly seem ridiculous, and just when I’m about to reconsider, throw off the blanket and make a run for it, I fall fast and deeply asleep.

 

Scarlet Ladies: Reclaiming Women’s Sexuality Part 1

Scarlet Ladies-logo-medium

 

Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of being included on a panel on porn and female sexuality sponsored by the totally amazing Scarlet Ladies –Jannette Davies and Sarah Beilfuss. They have a plan for world conquest, as Sarah says, it includes “empowering every women on this planet. We want to have an impact on shaping sex education in this country and every country. Basically we want to change views on how people think of female sexuality.”

 

The Scarlet Ladies host women only events in London to talk about sex with the aim of normalizing the conversation Scarlet Ladies pic Unknownaround female sexuality, its problems, pains and pleasures.

 

Theirs is a plan, I can happily support. With that in mind, I invited them to a Skype interview so that they could share it all with you. The interview was so full of exciting information and so intriguing that it will be in two parts. The first one is here on my blog today, and the second half will be on The Brit Babes Blog on Monday the 23rd of May. Be sure to put that date on your calendar. You won’t want to miss it.

 

A Scarlet Lady is a woman who is or wants to be in charge of her sexuality and her needs. She understands her needs, desires and is not ashamed to get what she wants. From her work life to her personal life she is the author of her book.

 

This is the definition of a Scarlet Lady front and center on the Scarlet Ladies website. I personally think aspiring to be a Scarlet Lady is a very worthy goal.

 

“It was actually a rant at Costas about sex that got the idea of more women sitting around talking,” Jannette tells me.

 

“Everything came about really organically — two women talking about sex.” Sarah adds. “We just wanted to give other
women the opportunity to talk about sex the way we did that day.

 

Jannette nods her agreement. “The more women we met, the more they started introducing us to other people. A few Scarlet Ladies pic 3months down the line we launched Scarlet Ladies and here we are.” At this point, Sarah’s cat, Kira, hops up onto her lap and both women laugh. Sarah says a pussy is the perfect mascot for the Scarlet Ladies.

 

Sarah and Jannette met at networking events. Sarah is a personal transformation coach specializing in burn out and fatigue, and ‘getting your BOOM back.’ She uses those skills in the group coaching environment to help women overcome sexual challenges in SLT Scarlet Ladies talks.

 

Jannette runs an online website and magazine, Chareemag to which women contribute stories as well as fashion, lifestyle, sex and relationships articles. “It’s a place for women to have their voices heard,” she says. She was a beauty therapist before that. She also worked in Ann Summers. “That allowed me to be comfortable with sex and seeing it as a natural thing.”

 

The two tell me that while Jannette was more liberated, Sarah really had hang-ups around her sex life. Jannette’s goal is to create a space where women can talk without being judged. Sarah sees her goal as supporting the kind of women who aren’t that open, would like to be more so but don’t quite know how.

 

The Scarlet Ladies have clearly discovered that women want to talk about sex; they just needed the opportunity and a safe place, but I wonder if it was hard in the beginning to get them to open up?

 

The answer is a resounding No! Both women assure me that even before there was a group coming together to talk, the Scarlet Ladies59044624women just turned up, and they just talked. “It’s an amazing release,” Jannette says. “We don’t struggle to get them to open up. The panelists lead the way to that opening up.”

 

The bigger challenge, Sarah says, is getting women through the door, because there’s lots of stigma around women’s sexuality. “Initially the reaction I got was that it was a bit smutty – ‘you just want women to go and sleep around.’ That is precisely what SL is not,” she emphasizes. “It’s about pleasing yourself. It’s about what we want. We need to learn what WE want. In promo, however, it’s still a bit of women’s little dirty secret.”

 

I ask what they think frustrates women the most about ‘the politics of sex. What frustrates them the most?

 

Jannette thinks a lot of frustration comes from how women really are and what they and popular culture think they should be. “Even though now women are more sexually ‘out there’ than before,” she says, “everything about life and society pushes women to be a certain way — the expectations of what they should be and what they need to be in their sexuality and the way they look.”

 

“While appearing not to be sexual, but virtuous,” Sarah adds.Scarlet Ladies pic 2Unknown

 

Sarah goes on to say that she thinks one of the biggest problems is gender inequality – the idea that certain thing’s are ok for men but not for women and how that inequality puts women at risk. “Our attitude that ‘boys will be boys’ is not protective of women,” she says. “We have to teach boys how to act around women.”

 

The lack of sex education is another problem they both see. Sarah states the sex education that used to be taught in the UK was barely worth having, but now even that’s not mandatory.

“Society says men always want sex, but women want it all the time; they think about it, but don’t communicate it,” Sarah says. “I think women are a lot more sexual. In the very ancient cultures the female energy is where all sexuality sits. Tantra is a good example. The loss of that freedom was to suppress women to take away their power. If a woman is at the top of her game, her vagina will be part of her.” Then she adds sadly, “Most women end at the neck.”

 

I ask what surprised the two of them most when they started Scarlet Ladies.

 

“That we’re all so different and that it’s all normal,” Sarah says without having to think about it. “For example, while Scarlet Ladies friends-966489_1920
women may like lesbian porn; it doesn’t make them lesbian. Very often women come back to us after the meeting
saying, ‘Oh, I’m normal!’ We keep it to ourselves so much that we don’t really know what normal is.”

 

Check out The Scarlet Ladies website for more about their mission and for all upcoming events.

 

Be sure to check out the second half of my interview with The Scarlet Ladies on The Brit Babes Blog Monday the 23rd of May. You won’t want to miss it.

 

 

 

 

Sex and Relationship Therapist, Sarah Berry Talks Shop, Kink & ‘What’s Normal’

It’s my pleasure to welcome Sarah Berry, good friend, sex and relationship therapist and all around fabulous person, to A Hopeful Romantic to talk about her work with us.

Sarah BerryKD: Sarah, when you and I first met, you were the editor of Forum Magazine, and you were also a very talented writer in your own right. During the time I’ve know you, you founded the Fannying Around Women’s Group and always had an understanding of what was lacking in the area of women’s sexual health and the information and sources of information that are available. Becoming a sex and relationship therapist was the logical next step for you. What was the biggest change for you?

SB: Thanks KD. I think learning to be myself was a challenge. As a journalist at events I had to be larger than life as I was competing with a lot of other journalists to get the column inches. That said, when I was interviewing people on a one to one basis, I was much happier and relaxed.

When I started training some years ago, I thought therapists had to be this blank canvas with no discernable personality. I stopped wearing colourful clothes and tried to be very serious. But I realised that being human was very important to the process and that the way I was in my journalist interviews was more the person I should be as a therapist, things fell into place.

Now I am a professional version of myself, which means I am not trying to be something I am not, so I can concentrate fully on the client. Rather than being stuffy, disconnected and serious, I am warm, empathetic and down to earth. The relationship I build with the client is a huge part of the process in person centred therapy, as is being genuine, congruent and transparent.

KD: Sarah, you recently said to me, and I quote, ‘I actually think while some (people who lead alternative lifestyles) are having the life of Riley others are confused while others assume all therapists wouldn’t understand alt lifestyles (and I hate the word alt like I hate the word vanilla).’ Could you comment on this statement and tell us how that has affected the direction your career as a sex and relationship therapist will take.

SB: The media is quick to sensationalise kinksters, assume they are all survivors of abuse or fear they are all wannabe criminals. So the kinksters defend themselves by pointing out how the BDSM scene is very well policed and their mantra of being safe, sane and consensual. So there is a “them and us” type situation.

The reality is some people have a great time, some are working out what they want, some are new to the scene, some are veterans, some are still learning, some spend their time spouting dogma about the “right way” to do things… You don’t need to label yourself as a kinkster to enjoy a spot of spanking, and you don’t have to relish pain in order to be kinky. Some kinksters have been abused and successfully use kink to work through their pain while others can harm themselves by reliving the trauma. It is complicated; things can go wrong and things can go right. I will be blogging about being kinky on my new website http://www.LondonKinkTherapist.co.uk.

Because of this difficult backdrop I try to listen to my clients and not make assumptions about what they do or how they think. Just because someone is into BDSM (which stands for bondage, discipline, dominance, submission and sadomasochism) it does not mean this is the cause of their problem. Sometimes people do use kink to harm themselves but it doesn’t mean they must eschew all kinky practices in order to have a healthy sex life. Each person, couple or group I see is different and we work out what they want and need together then we work out how to help them get there.

KD: Sarah, I know a little more about the journey that led you down the path to therapist than most people do, and it’s an amazing journey. Would you share some of it with our readers please.

SB: I think you’re meaning that I have overcome my own psychosexual issues. My struggle with vaginismus inspired me to start Fannying Around. But even though I have overcome it, I think sex is a journey for everyone – whether you choose to have it, can’t have it, are alone, have a permanent partner or enjoy a variety of partners at a time. I am always learning and open to new thoughts and ideas. If I wasn’t I think I would be a rather jaded therapist.

KD: Are there future plans for Fannying Around?

SB: I do really want to bring Fannying Around back. It was a wonderful forum and I learned a lot from the members. I will be sure to let you know.

KD: What was most difficult about your transition from editor/journo to sex and relationship therapist?

SB: I think it has actually gone pretty smoothly. I always cared about what I wrote and I had the luxury of writing for the people that I was covering – rather than being sensational. Now I am even more mindful of being inclusive of sexualities, genders and preferences which can be a bit tricky when giving quotes to heteronormative places that want you to fit into their neat way of thinking.

KD: What do you think keeps people from seeking out the help that’s readily available for them, the helpSarahBerry therapists like you provide?

SB: I think people assume you need to be experiencing real tragedy or be really “fucked up” in order to see a therapist. But everyone has stuff, and at different times this can affect our relationships, work and social lives more than others. To be in therapy doesn’t mean you are a victim. In fact I have a great respect for anyone who walks into my office.

Therapy can help you unpick a problem, work out solutions, help you improve communicating – especially if your arguments always follow the same pattern and neither one of you feels heard – or deal with unresolved issues or grief from the past.

Some people fear seeing a therapist will open a can of worms, maybe if they have experienced grief or do not want to disrupt a currently amicable relationship with a family member. But it is possible to deal with any disruption from past events by looking at what is happening in the here and now. If you do not want to relive the past you do not have to. You are in control at all times.

KD: Could you talk a little bit about ‘what’s normal’ from the standpoint of a therapist? I know this is something that is always a hot topic, and more than likely one of the main reasons people seek you out.

SB: I’m always hearing statements like: “I just want to be normal,” “I want a normal relationship,” “Our sex life isn’t normal. But the idea that there is a normal is massive misconception. Everyone is different. We all have different ideas of what good sex is or what we want from a relationship – if we want one at all. And what this idea of normal does is alienate anyone who feels they are normal; it creates freaks out of anyone who feels they don’t want a lot of sex, or who maybe has a fetish or who doesn’t want to be married. A “problem” is only a problem if it impedes your own sense of what you want, disrupts your work, social life or relationships and/or if you are causing harm to others. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to completely change yourself to fit in with the norm. It could be that you can find a new way to express yourself. Life would be boring if we were all the same, fancied the same people or had the same desires.

KD: What does the future hold for Sarah Berry, sex and relationship therapist?

SB: Well I will continue with my private practise and carry on learning about the world of sex and relationships. I would also like to do more group therapy and more writing.

KD: How can people get in touch with you?

SB: You can contact me through my website sarahberrytherapy.co.uk, via email at sarah@sarahberrytherapy.co.uk or call me on 07581 231313.

 

 

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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