Two notes before we begin. First: spoilers lie ahead! I’d recommend reading Compliance and Acquisition to completion before proceeding. Second, I’ve been swamped this past week so if I owe you email, please be patient just a big longer!
“You big softy!”
So said Tabico, after she’d finished the advance copy of the story I’d sent her.
She’s right of course. But things didn’t start out that way. When I sat down to write the story that eventually became Compliance and Acquisition, I had three goals in mind and a happy ending sure as shit wasn’t one of them!
First, I wanted to write a story that dealt with a duo who faced off against an evil mind controller. I envisioned a Dom/sub couple whose relationship would be tested to the limit by the the events they experienced.
Secondly, I wanted to write a thriller. Something that would hold the reader’s attention with suspense, dramatic anxiety and the shameless use of cliffhangers. As I’ve said elsewhere, SoVeryFascinated’s Kat and Mouse was constantly on my mind in this regard and I wanted to attempt to tap into his excellent use of tension and release.
And, finally I wanted to end with a heart wrenching twist. The couple would triumph over the corporate plot that drove the narrative… only to lose each other as the Domme left her lover to submit to the evil hypnotist they’d encountered during the course of the story.
So, armed with this plan I sat down to write and we all know how it turned out. Just ask Tabico.
I can’t tell you exactly why it didn’t work out other than to say that I just couldn’t write the ending I’d originally conceived of. I couldn’t write a conclusion where my two lead characters didn’t end up together, happy and free. Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with Lily and Samantha.
Because I’m a big softy.
But, I did have a bit of fun trying to have it both ways with that final piece of misdirection. I really wasn’t sure how the redemption twist was going to play with readers. I worried that perhaps I’d end up causing plot twist fatigue or some such. However, it seems to have gone over well so I guess I got away with it.
It’s startling to realize how much time has passed since all this started. The first work on this (back when it was going to be a caption for a photo manip) began way back in 2017. I think somewhere around late 2018 or early 2019, I’d let go of that plan and allowed myself to start writing outside the confines of the original Pleasure Professionals concept.
When I read Kat and Mouse last summer it really galvanized my resolve to write a proper erotic thriller. The only problem was I didn’t quite know how. So, I decided to learn.
I had been gifted a Masterclass subscription the previous holiday season and I put it to good use during the summer of 2019. I watched and re-watched every lecture I could find from authors and writers. I especially benefited from the insight of mystery & thriller authors like Dan Brown and David Baldacci. Hearing them break down their craft paid immediate dividends for me as I continued plotting my own story.
All through the fall I was making progress, writing thousands of words each week. Then, I got busy with something and set it down for a couple weeks. When I came back I decided to read everything I’d put down at that point. I thought it’d be a good chance to see the story with fresh eyes.
It was a really good idea. Because it sucked. Big time.
I’m being a tad hyperbolic, chapters 1-4 were largely the same as they are now. But act two went in a wildly different direction. So different that it actually felt like Lily and Samantha had left their story and entered a different one. And the new story was a remake of Willy Wonka’s Freakout Boat Ride. Directed by David Lynch.
I was paralyzed with not knowing what to do. I felt like I’d used up every good idea I was ever going to have just to reach that point. I knew that I was gonna have to throw a bunch of it away to get things fixed and I just didn’t have the energy to do it. I gave up, set it aside and didn’t really give much thought to whether I’d ever pick it up again.
And, then one night earlier this year connie k and I were chatting, having one of our epic conversations, and she asked about the story. How was it coming along? I confessed that it had stalled and I’d written myself into a corner with it.
I could dig back through the IM history and figure out exactly what was said but I’m lazy so I’ll paraphrase it thusly: (connie slaps Callidus across the back of the head) “That was a good idea, you should finish it!”
And so I dug it out and read it again. Yup, it still sucked. But, I did have one idea that I thought was worthwhile. I thought that it would be a shame not to see Agent Lily return at some point during the story. I mentioned this to Madam Kistulot during a conversation with her shortly thereafter. We bounced some ideas around and out of that came the notion that Agent Lily would go on a real mission. To get the evidence to clear Samantha’s name.
That was the single drop that broke open the flood gates. Working that angle unlocked other ideas until I was back to writing thousands of words per week on this new angle. I stopped and re-read what I’d done. I didn’t hate it so I kept going.
Eventually I got to the ending… and we all know how that worked out.
It took time. I’d say the better part of five months this year was spent writing and rewriting until I reached a point where I could recognize that the story wasn’t going to get any better. All I could do was polish a phrase here or there. But the story itself was done.
I sent some emails to some people and told them what I’d done and offered to let them take a peak. I incorporated some of the feedback and then, one night, I realized that I was ready to send it Simon. I fired off the first two chapters on a Friday and was pleasantly surprised to see the story go up the following day.
As someone who has harbored the aspiration to write a proper short story, it was a pretty neat feeling seeing it on The Archive like all those wonderful tales that I’d read back in the day. The ones that got me so hopelessly kinked. Great, great fun.
Speaking of fun, Vanderbilt and I have been trading emails of late. He, correctly, has picked up on my love for 90s thriller cinema. Movies like Rising Sun, Disclosure and Basic Instinct were, no doubt, in the back of my mind as I worked on Compliance and Acquisition.
He suggested a really fun list of how C&A might have been cast with the actresses of the day, had it been a lesbian erotica contemporary of those films.
Helena Bonham Carter as Tiffany. Demi Moore as either Samantha or Beth. Uma Thurman or Winona Ryder as Lily. Personally, I like Demi Moore for Beth. I suggested Jeanne Triplehorn for Samantha though I wouldn’t turn down Sigourney Weaver if she were interested 😉
And speaking of casting!
Last time I teased that I had, in fact, cast the story in my mind during the writing and I’d share some of that with you next time. Well, it’s “next time” so here we go:
Given that the story began as a caption for a photo, I suppose it will come as no surprise that Samantha and Tiffany are Samantha Bentley and Tiffany Doll from the Pleasure Professionals shoot that inspired this whole thing.
Beth, I’d imagined as Isabel Ice during one of her blonde phases. I didn’t really care for the name “Isabel” for the character so I tried “Bella” for a bit then settled on Beth. ‘Vish I thought should be a bit younger, closer to Lily’s age, and so Angel Constance came to mind.
As for Lily herself? Well, ever since I was a young man who saw Return of the Living Dead, I’ve been a sucker for redheads with short hair. Thusly, our heroine Lily was cast as the one, the only, Lily Cade.
That’s not to say that things didn’t shift around a bit over the years I was working on this. At one point, I decided (for reasons I can’t quite remember now) that Samantha should be a good deal older than Lily. Closer to 47 than the 37 she’s presented as in the final version.
During that phase, I began thinking about Madeline St Michaels for Samantha. In fact, I whipped up an image of her and Lily Cade together when I was still mulling over whether or not to attempt any manip work to accompany the story.
At some point, I changed my mind and went back to Samantha for Samantha. Though I did still make her a handful of years older than Lily.
Some of the other photoshop work that I abandoned included an image of the moment that Agent Lily briefly held Samantha at gun point during chapter one.
I suppose it’s worth saying that the primary reason I decided not to pursue any photo or video work with this story is that it was just too complicated. Most of the “cast” have never worked together. I haven’t been able to find any shared photo layouts or video shoots featuring Samantha Bentley and Lily Cade for example.
I could’ve recast Lily as someone else that had worked with Samantha Bentley but then that new model might not have shared any work with the actress portraying Beth. So then I’d have to find two new models.
That’s the limitation of manip work. I can do an awful lot with photoshop but the end result is only as good as the source material. Sure, I could photoshop Lily Cade so she was standing beside Samantha Bentley in a photograph and sandwich that between a couple paragraphs of text.
But I don’t think it would’ve been all that good.
Not nearly as good as what your imagination conjured as you were reading. And speaking of your imagination, I’d love to hear what your casting choices might have been. How did you see the main characters? Did my cast of adult models and performers line up with what you saw in your mind’s eye? I’d love to hear all about it.
Thanks everyone who read Compliance and Acquisition. Thanks, especially, to everyone who took the time to share their thoughts with me.
As always, your comments questions and suggestions are welcome.
I’ll see you all next time!