From Torture to Titillation

Erotica author Kate Willoughby talks about the origins of the type of bondage that hero Max practices in her new novel Fit To Be Tied. And be sure to check out the *Web Exclusive Review* at the end of the post!

When I began writing Fit To Be Tied, trying to flesh out the hero of the story, I thought it might be fun if he were into bondage, but not your run of the mill “let’s try handcuffs, baby” bondage. Something different but not too kinky. Thank goodness for the Internet! After some web surfing, I found out about Japanese rope bondage, or shibari, and was fascinated.

Shibari originated in the 1600s as a martial skill called hojojutsu in which samurai used cord or rope to capture and restrain prisoners. The basic rules of hojojutsu were simple: do not allow the prisoner to escape his bonds; do not cause any physical or mental injury; do not allow others to see the techniques; and oddly, make the result beautiful to look at. An elaborate system developed wherein the style of binding, and rope color and length depended upon the crimes committed, the social status and/or profession of the suspect, and sometimes even the season.  

On the other end of the spectrum, rope was also used to torture. For the “prawn” or agura position, the prisoner was bound with legs crossed in front, hands behind the back. He was then bent forward, head tied to legs, and left this way for hours. This became extremely painful. Over time, the prisoner’s body would change colors, first red, violet, and finally, pale blue. Since death was not the objective, once the person turned blue, they were untied. However, sometimes this cruel practice was repeated for days. Another technique involved binding the wrists and ankles behind the back, after which the prisoner was suspended. Heavy stones could be placed on the back to increase the pain considerably.

Modern Japanese rope bondage still encompasses both intricate binding and suspension but if done properly, the captive embarks on a mental journey, achieving a profound inner tranquility that can last even after being untied. Erotic pleasure is often sought as well. A number of wraps directly stimulate the breasts and genitals of the submissive. In fact, some people enjoy wearing the ropes under their everyday clothes. 

Because Max was a spider expert at the local museum of natural history, shibari seemed like the perfect type of bondage for him. Spiders weave webs…and Max would, too, except he would use rope, and his aim would be pleasure, not capture. Also, shibari is not for the impulsive. It takes time and patience, hallmarks of many Asian arts, such as cultivating bonsai trees, and Max had loads of patience, much more than your average person. What I needed to create next was a heroine—someone who reveled in being bound in an exquisitely beautiful web of rope and who could give him the trust and obedience he craved. In Fit To Be Tied, hopefully I succeeded!

- Kate Willoughby  

You can read the RT *Web Exclusive Review* and then visit the author’s blog for more about her stories. Be sure to check out her profile page at the online publishing house Liquid Silver Books where you can download your own copy of Fit To Be Tied now!