One of the joys of writing these books was having the opportunity to research a subject I only had a passing familiarity with. To close the gap, I started reading several psychological and human sexuality studies which revealed that people who engage in BDSM are far more emotionally healthy-particularly when it comes to sexuality- than the general population. But that was just one element of my work. I also reached out to the community and was put into contact with a number of BDSM practitioners (Doms, Subs and Switches) who begged me to "get it right."
They repeatedly shared how much they disdained pop culture and most porn depictions of their world. More often than not, they argued BDSM is often shown as violence and rarely takes into account the three spheres of sexual play and its negotiation and aftercare. Yes, there certainly are extremes to anything-but that isn't the norm. Worse, they found that the popularity of "that other book" created a dangerous environment because of its depiction of what they called emotional and sexual abuse. In the simplest terms, they pleaded, the Sub has the power and the Dom has the rules. More important, all of it is negotiated among willing-not coerced-partners who talk about the experience and build a trust and intimacy that ensures neither partner is emotionally or physically damaged because they know exactly when, where and how to strike and engage.
Here's the thing, if you fantasize about trying it, then take the time to learn about it. There are groups out there (be very careful with one major Fetish website, it's trying to purge itself of abusers who have come onto it lately) who conduct workshops, conferences and other training and support for newbies/'cherries.' They can teach you how to be Safe, Sane and above all Consensual in everything you want to try.