Hurt me

A chat with Laura Reese, author of the sexual thriller "Panic Snap."

By Karen Croft

Published May 26, 2000 7:00PM (EDT)

Laura Reese is the author of "Panic Snap," what some have called an S&M thriller set in the wine country of California. It is about passion, obsession, love and death and has very graphic scenes that feature whipping, harnesses and swings, fist-fucking and other things that are not usually associated with wine tasting.

Reese writes about S&M, but she gets embarrassed talking in front of people and blushes easily. Of course she does. It would have been too perfect if she had met me at the office carrying a leather whip.

She arrives without any implements, but with a friendly smile. She has long, wavy brown hair, lovely blue eyes and the demeanor of someone who was brought up right.

She tells me right off that most of her readers are not in the S&M community; they see the book as a way to learn about what other people do, or just as a good story.

And her background is not in any way filled with violence or chains. She was a reporter in Davis, Calif., ran a couple of restaurants in Southern California and was born in Iowa, of all places. She decided to write as a kid, after reading Nancy Drew. "I thought, maybe I can't be a detective, but I want to be a writer."

The obvious question is, how do you know so much about S&M? Are you into it?

I decided from the first book ["Topping from Below"] not to answer that. It doesn't make any difference. As a result, because I don't answer, people have written that I was an S&M queen. I am a private person; I don't have a need to tell the world about my private life. A reporter once asked me if I was straight or lesbian. I said, "I'm open-minded."

Does anything embarrass you?

I blush very easily, but not on sex stuff. I can talk or write about anything. It's important not to censor yourself.

Why is sex so important?

This is the 21st century and we're still so puritanical. Parents scream if kids see sex, but not violence. I think we have this attitude that if we talk about sex people will go crazy. I think we need to go back to pagan days and put sex in its place of honor, where it deserves to be.

Is it erotic or porn? What's the difference?

Well, people say that "what I like is erotica, what you like is porn." Erotica may be a little softer, but they're really the same thing. I wouldn't call "Panic Snap" erotica or porn. It's fiction, literature.

Why do people like S&M?

Well, the classic reason is they want someone else to call the shots. There are people who are in charge all day and then they want to say, "Do me." Of course there is the flip side: the prim and proper librarian who brings out the whip. But you can never tell. As Carl Jung said, "Summoned or not, the gods will appear."

Are there a lot of people into this that we don't know about?

In my experience, people say, "Oh no, I'd never do that" about S&M, but then they say, "Oh, occasionally we'll use a blindfold" or "One time we did a little spanking." That's S&M, but there's just a broad spectrum.

Why is S&M so important to people?

You can check in your control and intellect; you can find out who you really are. You may have these other needs, but if you don't allow it to show, it will come out in different ways. For some, [S&M] can be therapy; for others, it's acting out in an unhealthy way, of course; but for women especially, it can be good in that S&M can draw out the sexual experience and prolong it. It can take hours. Some are into rituals, scripted scenarios and talking about it beforehand. It can bring about a high degree of communication skills.

What, then, is the theme of "Panic Snap" for you?

I write love stories. But they are real love stories [not fantasy romance]. "Panic Snap" is about obsession, seduction and the blurry line between seduction and violation. It's about the fact that love doesn't always take you where you think it's going to.

Karen Croft

Karen Croft is the editor of Salon Sex.

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