MVF: Today I have the pleasure of having my friend and author Jenna Barton here. Her debut book Closer and Closer will be out tomorrow! I decided to have fun and interview her hero, Walt, a bear of man who has only one weakness, the heroine, Erin.
Closer and Closer Blurb:
Dominance and submission. The delicate balance between hurts so good and too hot to handle. They’re not just kinky trends for the members of The Enclave, a tight-knit group gathering in a Gilded Age mansion secluded in the North Carolina mountains.
For Erin Proctor, life has always been about working hard, creating stability, and succeeding. She plays it safe, watching from a distance. Then she encounters an unpredictable, sensual world she’s always known was there, but didn’t believe she could belong to.
Walt Easton is straightforward and unpretentious, a big, earthy man in possession of himself—and a fierce set of solid leather floggers. Once he and Erin meet, their attraction is undeniable. Walt wants a full relationship, not just fun in the playroom. Their kinky adventures can be negotiated later.
They've finally found a relationship that can let them explore who they fully are. But can Walt accept that while he's in charge in their private lives, when it comes to her job, Erin is the one in charge? Will Erin take the risk of letting down her walls and allowing Walt in all the way?
The biggest risk, after all, isn’t mixing pain and pleasure. It’s finding yourself—in love.
Jenna: Hi M.V! Oh look, you made me some of my favorite Earl Grey tea! Be kind to Walt, he’s concerned he’s not going to have anything interesting to say. Such a modest bear. *giggle* Have fun! J
MVF: Jenna, so glad you are here! *pours some tea* Oh, he’ll be fine! *Turns to bear of a man with a gentle smile.* Hello Walt, a pleasure to meet you---
Walt: Hi there, M.V., it’s good to meet you, too.
MVF: You're a Park Ranger, how long have you held this job? Does it get lonely?
Walt: I’ve been with the park service for close to fifteen years. I don’t think I’d quite added up all that time at Poplar Branch. I guess I’ve been busy doing other things.
Lonely? Not really, for the better part of it, no. I like living up here at the park, and when I’m ready to let loose, my friends Lucy and Tate are close by. They live over on Lake Arden, about seven miles over the mountain from Poplar Branch State Park.
MVF: So what constitutes letting loose?
Walt: I like anything challenging that gets me outside and makes me work hard. Paddling the local whitewater, mountain biking, trail running. Lu, Tate, and me are all pretty competitive. Maybe a little too competitive.
MVF: What is considered a good day for you? The worst?
Walt: Well, for a few years, I’d say a good day for me involved no run-ins with lost hikers who want to sue the state park system for wear and tear on their brand-new REI gear or an evening over at Tate’s house, maybe with a friendly bottom to play with for a couple of hours. I like simple.
MVF: No run-ins is a good thing! But you are a Dominant, so tell me, what do you look for in a good bottom?
Walt: I don’t call myself ‘a Dominant’. I’m not interested in being that guy to just anyone, I never have been. It’s a big damn responsibility and not something I’ve cared to get into. That’s just how I look at things; everyone’s got their own approach to how they navigate the lifestyle.
What I am, though, is Erin’s Dominant. Different thing entirely. And we’re figuring it out, day by day.
One thing I’ve learned since I met Erin and we realized this - she calls it a causeway, but I think of it as a connection between us - was real and we wanted to get deeper into it… well, it’s not a one way or no way thing. A D/s relationship is personal. And it’s specific to the couple. And it changes over time, too. That can be good change or bad. Again, it depends on the couple. On top of that, she’s my girlfriend, too. Sometimes being a couple is more important than being Dominant and submissive. Sometimes being D/s makes being a couple a hell of a lot more fun. *grin*
As to your question, ‘what do I look for in a bottom’? Well, to be honest, before I met Erin, the number one quality I looked for in a play partner was enthusiasm for rough sex, heavy body impact, and hard play with big toys. And right behind all of that, a willingness to do it. I’ve been called a scene whore in the past. For the most part, I don’t think that’s fair, but I can see the truth in it, too. I like throwing whips and swinging floggers and canes. I like pretty girls. I like making them make lots of noises. You can see how those interests might make me an active guy to hang around at a play party.
I don’t Top any more, though. Since Erin… I’ve just lost the taste for it. Maybe I will again, who knows. But right now the kind of intimacy I have with her beats a scene with someone I don’t really know.
As for my bad days, the bad days are days I have to jam myself into a plane to get anywhere. It’s not a friendly place for a 6’5” guy. I’ve had to make a couple of trips in the past few years that were hard, painful business. And damned if they didn’t involve me getting on a plane.
MVF: Yikes, that sounds painful!
Walt: No, not my favorite way to spend the day.
Since meeting Erin, a good day is with her. Any place, doing anything. Maybe even cooped-up on a plane.
MVF: Now that’s love!
Walt: *grins* Well…
MVF: You have some interesting friends, how did you meet Tate, Lou, and Claire?
Walt: Interesting? That’s pretty generous of you. They are characters, I’ll give you that.
I met Lucy about a hundred years ago—or what feels like it—when we were freshmen down at Clemson University. Lu is a beauty, you can’t deny it. Long legs and long blond hair have always made an impression on me, and when she strutted into that calculus class, I took notice. So did our friend Brady, who was in my Army ROTC cadet cadre. We went head-to-head for Lucy’s attentions until she made a point—loud and in front of the entire calculus class—that the only attention she was seeking was from a little brunette named Lauren. For some reason, Brady and I recovered from Lu’s first of many ball-busting moments, and we stayed friends. Tight. Like family. Lu’s the closest thing I have to a sister.
MVF: Now that is friendship! Lu sounds fabulous—I like people who speak their mind.
Walt: Have to admit it, she can be abrasive, but she’s also real. I appreciate that about her. You don’t run into many people who will tell you the truth. Could she ease up on the ball-busting? Yeah. But that wouldn’t be Lu, either. I’d miss the rascal in her if she toned it down.
Lu and I met Tate down in Atlanta sometime around graduation. She was looking into a grad program in architecture down there, and I came along for the weekend. We all met up at a TNG party. In the lifestyle, that’s a kink event restricted to people under 35 years old.
We attended the same party and, once we started comparing notes, realized his house at Lake Arden was just a couple hours’ drive from Clemson. He had just started having parties up at the house he inherited from his uncle and was getting a reputation around the kink community in the Southeast for putting on something special up at his house. And the first time we drove up to The Enclave, Lu nearly fell over. Some big name architect designed the house for the Jernigan family, and another one designed all of the landscaping. I don’t keep up with that stuff, but Lu could tell you. For hours and hours.
MVF: Ah! So Lu fell for the architecture, and you enjoyed the company!
Walt: *chuckles* I don’t know about that. Have to say, Lu’s had some pretty enjoyable moments in Tate’s house over the years. And I’ve gotten to know the place pretty well. It’s comfortable for such a big house, and I like being up there.
Claire and her husband—or her Master—Paul had been coming to Tate’s for a while when Lu, Brady, and I were invited up for our first party. She was young, closer to our age than Paul’s, and just fit right in with us, right from the start. If Lu’s like a sister to me, Claire’s the other one. I’d say she’s definitely my baby sister. She’s one of the most generous people I’ve ever known, and I’ve never seen her utter an ill word toward anyone. That makes me feel real protective of her. Her husband—and her marriage—has changed a lot over the years, especially with the latest stream of new people showing up, interested in the lifestyle. And, to be honest with you, I’m not sure how I feel about that. Or, for that matter, how I feel about how that affects Claire.
MVF: Claire sounds like a real care-taker, and she’s lucky to have you as a friend.
Walt: She’s done a lot for me over the years. I’m pretty lucky to have Claire around.
MVF: What do you admire most about your heroine Erin? What frustrates you?
Walt: Well… damn. Everything.
I’d like to just tell you something about her ass, or maybe the pitch of her head in certain moments. *grin* But I’d be leaving out how damn smart she is about servers and networks and computer things I don’t even know the names for. Or how she took on a lot of adult responsibilities way before she should have, just to keep her mom and her sister and her afloat. I like how she lets herself talk a little dirty once she lets go and stops worrying about meeting a checklist somebody else came up with on how a smart, strong woman is supposed to act.
That part of Erin—the one that keeps measuring herself against someone else’s idea of what a successful, independent woman is—has made her pretty damn hard on herself. I’d like to see that change. She thinks she has to take care of everything herself, and I wish she’d see asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness.
I want to protect her. I can do that and not damage her self-reliance. I wish she could understand that.
MVF: Erin sounds very special—because to me it looks like you don’t let people in easily—and she sounds wonderful.
Walt: Well, I think Erin’s far more guarded than I am. But I guess we’ve both got our reasons to be a bit wary of people.
Erin… you know. She’s something else.
MVF: Name three of your favorite things, three you dislike.
Walt: I’d have to say one of my favorite things is dessert from this restaurant Erin and I like down in Callahan called Trattoria Stella. The lady who owns it, Isolde, always sends me home with one of these Italian desserts she makes and she always gives me a little extra.
Walt: Without getting too woo-woo about it, the woods around the park I manage and back my forest when we first met, and the idea has kind of grown on me. I do love being out there. It’s the place I can really let go of any stresses I’m feeling.
MVF: I enjoy the forest myself—but mine is surface level; you really know it.
Walt: And it’s not really a thing, because it’s attached to her, but Erin’s skin is right up there at the top of any of my favorites. She’s so pale, it looks like pearls or something, and when it flushes… turns pink… *cough* Erin thinks the pale thing is ridiculous. Says it’s a data center tan. *laughs*
MVF: See? She’s awesome.
Walt: She is. That’s very true indeed. *grin*
As for my least favorite things, I’d say real estate developers buying up the Blue Ridge are pretty much the top of my list of least favorite things. Really anything people do to destroy this area. I don’t care for the color yellow. And I hate capers.
MVF: Bummer about the capers!
Walt: Yeah, they’re just not good at all.
MVF: What is your deepest desire?
Walt: I just want to see my people looked after. I don’t care for money or fancy cars or fame. I just want to make sure the people I care about are safe and feel loved.
Isn’t that what all of us want?
MVF: What makes you laugh?
Walt: Brady and Lucy, for sure. Those two were like one of those odd couple comedy acts together. And when we met Tate, things just got funnier. I guess I like crass stuff, like a guy would like, and all of those slapstick comedy routines. There was a guy on Saturday Night Live back in the day—Phil Hartman. He was the funniest guy I’ve ever seen on TV. And John Belushi, too.
MVF: *nods* I can understand this. Phil Hartman, he was so funny!
MVF: What is the one thing you want to give Erin but fear you cannot? Excuse me if this is too personal, but...
Walt: No, it’s not too personal, I suppose. I mean, just look at what I’ve already said. But thank you for being concerned, all the same.
I don’t worry about taking care of Erin in my way, about being able to protect her when she lets me, or about making sure she’s happy in the ways I can influence. But Erin is a successful woman in a world of successful men. She’s good at what she does, and her career is starting to take off because of that. I don’t even really understand what it is she does beyond knowing she’s always writing computer programs to make her servers talk to each other. My lack of business acumen—and lack of money because if it—has never mattered to Erin, but it secretly matters to me a bit. What can I say? I’m an old-fashioned guy raised by an old-fashioned grandfather. I do wrestle with the knowledge I’m not making more money than her, and I have don’t have the prestigious career.
MVF: Ah, this I can understand and I have seen. I hope you can find a balance.
Walt: I’m working on it. Erin’s worth it.
MVF: Thank you Walt for letting me chat with you!
Walt: Hey, this was alright. Hope I wasn’t too boring, anyway. *laughs*
Thanks for having me, M.V. I’ll be sure to check out your stuff. I’m always looking for something good to read when the park shuts down for the winter.
MVF: You certainly were not boring Walt! And thank you, I hope like the story. And Jenna, it was a wonderful pleasure!! I look forward to your book being released, and hope you stop by again!
Jenna: Thank you for having us over, M.V. – it’s always lovely to talk to you! And thanks again for having some lovely tea to enjoy while you had your way with Walt. He seems to have survived the experience and isn’t nearly as nervy as he was when you started your questions. Didn’t I tell you there would be plenty for you to say, Walt?
Closer and Closer is available in Ebook and Paperback: http://amzn.com/B00T9U3Z0O
You can find Jenna here:
After many years spent onstage mouthing the words of other writers, Jenna Barton found her own voice while playing with an online community of mouthy broads. Writing down her own stories proved to be far more satisfying than dodging the human and inanimate hazards that come with backstage life, as well as alleviating the need to walk and talk and gesture while inhabiting 89.37% of someone else's reality.
Mostly settled into a life of carpool lanes and checkout lines, Jenna happily resides in suburbia with her husband and their two children. Sadly there are no drooly, furry, corpulent lapdogs at Chez Barton. For now. For. Now.