Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Interview & International Giveaway with Kitty Thomas

I'm so excited to have Kitty Thomas join me on AsianCocoa's Secret Garden today! Kitty's new novella Awakening was released in August.
AsianCocoa: Welcome Kitty. It’s a pleasure having you here on the blog today. Please tell us a little about yourself and why you became a writer.
Kitty Thomas: I'm not sure there is a reason I can give on why I became a writer. I think it's one of those innate things for a lot of people. It's sort of like how little kids who kill stray animals become serial killers. People who have stories in their heads all the time and have a tendency to start writing them down, become writers. It's just inevitable.

AC: Your new book Awakening was just released this month. Would you tell us a little about it? Why did you want to write a story with a mermaid heroine?
KT: Awakening is about a mermaid named Nerina (literally means sea nymph in Greek) who swims too close to the shore and gets caught in a fisherman's net. The people on the island eat mermaid fin as a delicacy, but Kyros, the master of the property where she's caught, decides to keep her instead. In the book there is a legend that if a human can awaken a mermaid's sexual desire, the mermaid will turn human and be forever at the mercy of the human's lust. Nerina believes it's a scare tactic to keep merfolk in line. But Kyros believes in it wholeheartedly. Mermaids really have no frame of reference either for love or sex, so Kyros has his work cut out for him. Nerina is afraid that when she can't turn human for him, that he'll have her killed.

I wrote a mermaid story because my cover artist found a great image. She said: "OMG, Kitty you HAVE to write a mermaid story so we can use this image for your cover." Ten minutes later I came back to her and said, "I think I just got an idea for one." So Awakening wouldn't be here without my cover artist. Ironically we ended up using a different cover image than what was originally picked out.

AC: You’ve published 4 other books since your incredible debut novel; Comfort Food was released in October of 2010. How do you get your incredible stories to paper (or computer screen) so quickly? Can you describe your writing process to us?
KT: Most of these ideas in one form or another have been percolating in my brain as fantasies for longer than I can remember. In fact, the novella I just finished, The King's Pleasure, (completing the set of three), is a story like that. It still has to be edited and formatted, but I'm hoping to have it out by sometime in October. The entire opening scene was part of one of my "bedtime stories". I have all these stories in my head that I fall asleep while they play, and a lot of my books start out as those stories. They change a lot from my brain to the page sometimes. So that's part of why it happens so fast. A lot of these stories, the rough draft is already in my head and has been for years. The other part is that I just write a lot and I don't second guess myself. Editing is for second guessing, not writing. So, while all my work is professionally edited, I have more work TO edit much more quickly because I just sit down and do it.

AC: You write mostly dark BDSM erotica. Do you think that BDSM is becoming more main stream? Why or why not?
KT: I honestly don't really class my writing as BDSM erotica. I consider it dark erotica that deals with the psychology of ownership. That might seem like splitting hairs, but BDSM is a consensual practice and what I write isn't about "consent". It's about power and surrender. This isn't to say that no story ever starts or ends with consent or that I won't write anything consensual, but it's about the totality of ownership in a fictional context where such things can be safely explored. I think BDSM is a very different thing. And while I'm sure my work appeals a lot to BDSM practitioners, I'm sure most of them would agree with me that what I'm writing isn't exactly what they're doing. My work may have many BDSM trappings and look similar on the surface, but I don't consider it BDSM.

Re: the mainstreaming of BDSM, I'm not sure but I think what you're really asking is: do I think erotica that pushes more envelopes and takes us out of the Ozzie and Harriet world is becoming more mainstream. And what I mean, of course, is overt power exchange. I'm not really sure if it is or not, but I don't understand the question. I'm not saying I don't comprehend what you've asked me, I just don't understand why BDSM is or ever could be controversial to anyone. Maybe it's just the way my brain is wired but I see dominance and submission games in nearly everything human beings do. And it's been like this throughout history. Human beings are mammals. Most mammalian sexuality is based on hierarchies of dominance and submission. People just get a little more creative about it. But to me a whip or bondage gear isn't the THING itself. The thing is the need of one to submit and the other to dominate. On the surface we all say we want egalitarian relationships. And maybe some people do. But I think what we really mean is that we want fair and caring/loving relationships. Otherwise the majority of women wouldn't be so sexually attracted to dominant badasses and sexually repulsed by men who are "too nice". (Which isn't to say that maledom and femsub is all that is out there or all that's okay, but it represents the social majority and it's what I write. So no judgment on other sexualities is intended in this answer.)

AC: Which character out of all of your novels was the hardest to write about? Who was your favorite and least favorite character?

KT: I'm not sure I can frame it as "which character was the hardest to write about", but I can say which book was the hardest to write, and that's Comfort Food. I opened a vein for that book. Emotionally it drained the fuck out of me. Later I realized it was because it was so personal. I didn't realize until after I'd written it but the whole book was largely a metaphor for how M and I weren't communicating at the time, at least not verbally. It was a rough period in our relationship and Comfort Food was what came out of that.

With favorite and least favorite characters, I'm pretty fickle. My favorite is usually whoever I'm writing about at the time. And least favorite... I don't write characters I don't like. Even villains who I wouldn't like in real life, I like them as characters because of what they contribute to the story. Like Lucas, the villain in Tender Mercies. I loved him as a character because he was just so scary and gave this wonderful contrast for when Asher bought Grace and took her out of that situation. If Lucas hadn't been so awful, it wouldn't have been such a relief to Grace (or readers) when Asher comes along and turns out not to be the monster she feared he would be.

AC: What was the last amazing book that you have read?
KT: Room. I found the book because someone compared Comfort Food to it. Of course Room and Comfort Food are very very different books in a lot of ways, but I can see where the comparison came from.

AC: Other than writing, what other things interest you?
KT: Psychology. How people think and how ultimately predictable we all are. Except crazy people. But even they follow their own bizarre internal logic, so even they can be figured out if you have their secret decoder ring.

AC: Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers? Are there any new projects you’re working on?
KT: Right now I'm in edits for The King's Pleasure. It's about a half-gypsy named Abigail (yes, she was purposely given a non-gypsy name), and a king named Niall. She is caught stealing bread in his castle and rather than allowing his guard to chop off her hand for it, he takes her as his personal slave. The book has a lot of worldbuilding for a novella with regards to their culture and how different it is sexually from ours. They have wholly different conceptions of sexuality and privacy from what we do. The King's Pleasure will round out my 3 novella series and will also be combined into a print anthology, so my readers who still read in print or just like to have my stuff on their shelves, it'll be available in that format. After a lot of 1st person stories, The King's Pleasure is back to 3rd again.

I'm also about halfway through The Last Girl, which is my first full-length novel since Tender Mercies. It's told in first person, present tense by Juliette, the main character. I know a lot of people don't like present tense, and many don't like first person, but I really think it's the only way this particular tale could be told. It makes it very immediate. It's a vampire story, which is fun to do because I love metaphor and vampires are really all about metaphor. I really shouldn't be but I am utterly in love with Christian.

For those who felt my writing has gotten a little tame with Awakening (and I agree that the mermaid story is "kitty-lite"; it's just what that story called for), The King's Pleasure ramps the dirty meter WAY up. (I'm not sure what it is about me and books with the word "pleasure" in the title, but... I go a little crazy.) And The Last Girl is rather dark and in some ways reminiscent of Comfort Food, but still a very different story.

AC: Thank you so much Kitty for  stopping by the blog and answering my questions.
KT: Thanks for having me!

For more information on Kitty Thomas:

Giveaway Time:

Kitty is giving away an e-copy of her fantastic novella Awakening  (my review) to one lucky winner. Open Internationally.
To Enter:
Leave a comment or question for Kitty with your email address.
Entry deadline: Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 at 11:59pm (PT)

Winner will be announced and emailed soon after and will have 48 hours to respond.


  1. Awesome interview! Kitty, I love how you distinguish the difference between BDSM and dark erotica, I agree that there is a difference. I have had your books on my TBR for awhile, I have heard very good things about the series :) Thanks so much for the contest, I'm looking forward to reading the books! Book Savvy Babe
    booksavvybabe at gmail dot com

  2. the book sounds interesting - especially that the heroine is a mermaid and has to be seduced.

    witchvela at web dot de

  3. Since I have been saying forever that I should read a book by her then yes I am entering :)
    blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

    My question. You have touched upon so many genre when writing, this mermaid one, sci-fi and more. Is there something you still want to try?

  4. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read her books.

  5. @Book Savvy Babe, thanks! I was hoping my distinction between BDSM books and dark erotica books was clear. I think labeling it BDSM would be a disservice to BDSM practitioners because there is a struggle to be understood as not being abusive or weird. And so fiction that blurs those lines of emotional/physical abuse, if classed as BDSM, creates a real problem. Early on I had people telling me I "couldn't" write dark erotica that had dubious consent or not consent. Even though "rape fantasy" is the top female sexual fantasy, I couldn't write about it because it "sent the wrong message", particularly with regards to the BDSM community. So that's one of the reasons I'm always very careful to distinguish between what I write and BDSM fiction, because there is a lot of BDSM fiction that focuses on the lifestyle and consent and "safe, sane, and consensual". I just don't think fiction and fantasy should ever be constrained by those things. There is no other genre where people can be so sensitive about "bad things" that diverge from our accepted moral compass for real life. Think about how no one really gets appalled by gruesome serial killer fiction, but you even hint at dubious consent and someone is going to preach to you about how you're eroding society and ethics.

    @Yto, thanks! A lot of people have commented to me on how my mermaid mythology is different and a lot more realistic than what they're used to. So I think a lot of people who try it may be pleasantly surprised by that element.

    @Blodeuedd: You crack me up every time you've said on a blog comment here or there that you're too scared to try me. hehe. I learned a long time ago that even if I think someone can handle my work (and honestly I think most people can), not to push or say that because sometimes I'm wrong. And it's really not my place or business to tell someone else what they will or won't enjoy or can or can't handle. But definitely Awakening is an excellent entry into Kitty world since it's tamer in a lot of ways but still has the same kind of psychology and writing style going on.

    re: your question: What I like about erotica is that you can do a LOT of genre bending and still write under the same pen name. Selena Kitt does this a lot. She has contemporary things, mythological things, retellings of fairy tales, etc. There is almost no genre you can't touch on when writing erotica. So in a lot of ways, even though it has it's own issues as a genre, erotica allows the most freedom when it comes to exploring different ways of telling a story. I have a lot of things I want to try but right now most of my ideas fall into the same categories of the stuff I've done. Basically a sort of "magical realism" erotica, plus some fantasy/sci-fi elements in a few stories. I can see myself doing some fairy-tale style stories or retellings. And I have some more fantasy ideas including a werewolf story that's percolating. I've got a really interesting idea involving the dreamworld as a major component. But I also have more ideas that are in the contemporary setting with no magic or mythical creatures. But I do enjoy the flexibility of going back and forth.

    @Victoria, thanks!

  6. I do not know this author, because in Italy the books were not published. I really like the plot with the sirens. I love Disney movies.
    The siren is a figure that attracts and mysterious. So I'd like to read this book.
    Thanks to all

  7. Wow, a mermaid story. I don't think I have read one since my Ariel days. I never considered it before but after reading your post I really can see a difference in what is BDSM and dark erotica. "Power and surrender" refects it well as opposed to something that concerns permission. I think this will be one mermaid story that is different from what I read in my younger days. Great interview.

    Cambonified (at) yahoo (dot) com

  8. This sounds like a great book the only one I have not read yet! Great interview thanks for sharing and great giveaway thanks for the chance!

  9. I love all of Kitty's books and this one is on my TBR it sounds great. Thanks for the giveaway. Frisbyla(at)yahoo(dot)com


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