Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kallypso Masters talks about alternative romances (Guest Author)

Today's author interview is with Kallypso Masters. Kally and I met in a local writer's group. I asked her for an interview as a writer/representative of an alternative-lifestyle sub-genre because her debut novel this year just happened to be one.

A word of caution here to readers of this post, Kally's work is definitely meant for the 18 and over age crowd and her blog site requires that you attest to your age in order to gain access. 

In my blog post The Naked Truth or why I write romances, I mentioned that the romance genre has expanded over the many years I've been a reader to include stories that focus on "alternative lifestyle" relationships. While I don't write these stories myself, many authors of traditional romance novels also write in some of these edgier sub-genres. In Kally's case, she chose to debut her full-time authoring career writing a series about friends in the BDSM alternative-lifestyle. For those who don't recognize the acronym, "BDSM" stands for bondage-discipline-domination-submission-sadism-masochism and possibly other things. While these words can have negative connotation to some readers, if you check sales of these books, it is obvious that they are sought by many readers. I think I have mentioned before, but will iterate again--some readers of my books also read Kally's books and many others. Minimally, every romance author should be aware of all the books that sell alongside their own.

Though she is going to talk about her romances, Kally says Master at Arms is not "classically" a romance. She instead describes her first book as an introduction to her series. Interestingly, Masters at Arms (with it's great cover) has been on Amazon's best-seller "war" genre fiction list almost since it debuted in August. It provides prequels to romances for three Marines (including a Navy Corpsman), two of whom actually have their "first-meet" scenes with their future heroines in this book. There are no HEAs in Masters at Arms which is why it's not strictly a romance. Kally says the first four books in the series are not stand-alone stories, so she recommends readers wanting to read the series start with the first one.

For a free copy through Dec. 31, go to Smashwords and use coupon code LN28Q at checkout.

Donna:   So, let's get started. Hi Kally. Welcome to my blog. Will you describe yourself (in 1 or 2 sentences) for my readers?

Kally:  Hi, Donna! Thanks for having me! I'm 53, live in Kentucky, and have been writing romances on and off (mostly off) since high school more than 35 years ago, but only ventured into getting one published this year. I've been married for 28 years and have two grown children.

Donna:  Will you describe your writing for the benefit of readers who don't know you?

Kally:  Cherise Sinclair is my favorite author (and a good friend and mentor) I used to love the "bodice-rippers" back in the 1970s and 1980s--Kathleen Woodiwiss, Rosemary Rogers, and Johanna Lindsey among my favorites—who also wrote about dominant men and submissive women (and sometimes the women were chained to the beds—long before there was a BDSM subgenre).

I fell in love with erotic BDSM romances after reading Cherise Sinclair's Club Shadowlands two years ago. Before that, my opinion was that BDSM was about violence, rape, and humiliation. I was a women's studies minor in college—so that didn't sit well with me. But with Sinclair's books, I saw the healthy, loving side of the lifestyle—strong women and equally strong alpha men who provided for their women's needs to be dominated sexually, but in a safe, sane, consensual, and very erotic way.

I write extremely emotional stories about broken people who find rescue, redemption, healing, and love while exploring their sexual interests in some aspect of the BDSM "spectrum" lifestyle. (My characters will be all over the BDSM spectrum, from bondage/discipline with domination/submission in the bedroom or club scene only to safe, sane, and consensual sado-masochism.) People often ask me how I know so much about activity in the BDSM lifestyle and I tell them I'm not a Marine either, but the military folks who have read Masters often compliment me on getting that correct. It's research, plain and simple. I correspond with many people in the lifestyle and they share their stories, feelings, and emotions with me.

Donna: What do you think is the difference between "erotica" and "erotic romances"? You and I have had this discussion, but I thought it would be interesting and informative for my blog readers.

Kally: It's really quite simple (in my mind)—so why can't publishers and readers figure it out? I'm being sarcastic. It's like the word "obscene". Ask 100 people to define it and you'll get 100 different answers.

To me, "erotica" focuses more on the sexual relationship and "erotic romances" focus more on the romantic relationship, but with sexually explicit love scenes that use earthy language, rather than euphemisms to describe the act and body parts involved. There also are some edgier types of sex scenes—not just "vanilla," as those in the lifestyle describe non-BDSM relationships/sex.

I tried writing erotica (hey, sex sells and I needed to make a living, too), but discovered that I am much more interested in exploring the psychological and emotional connections in the relationships than focusing mainly on sex. Some of my characters can go for many chapters without being involved in a sex scene while I take them through a more realistic journey toward their "Happily Ever After" ending, or at least a "Happy For Now" with a commitment to each other.

But I love to read in all genres, as long as the books are long-ish (short stories frustrate me—give me at least 50,000 words). They also need to be well-written, have compelling characters I can sympathize with, and tell a good story. Like people who read "sweet" stories who can't read erotic romances, I'm just the opposite. Close the door before a sex scene and I may close the book, or at the very least scream in frustration.

Donna:  How many more books are you planning in your series? I noticed your third book in the series is releasing soon.

Kally:  Yes, Nobody's Hero will be releasing in about a month. At this point, my series is limitless, like Gabaldon's Outlander (and just as much of a saga, with two main characters—Adam and Karla—who will continue to be prominent throughout the series). I love having cliffhangers in an epilogue at the end of each novel that sets up the next novel in the series. I also like to bring couples from earlier romances back into later books to show how they are progressing toward or maintaining their HEA endings. Let's face is, HEAs take work in real life, as in my books.

Some of my novels take place over a short span of time, too, (like six days) so an HEA ending isn't as believable to me in just one book. But I do make sure the main couple in each romance will be at least "Happy for Now" at the end of their romance. To date, I have seven books planned through the beginning of 2013 (about three per year). But I am sure there are many other secondary characters who will want me to tell their stories, as well. (I just haven't met them or their significant others yet.)

My books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, BookStrand, and All Romance eBooks.

Donna:  Last question--how can readers contact you? I will also remind my readers that your blog requires an age 18 or over verification to gain access.

Kally:  Thanks for having me here, Donna, and for encouraging the discussion of the various romance genres and the labels used for each. The saying "don't judge a book by its cover" is as true now as ever. There are some pretty racy covers out there with some heart-wrenching, beautiful romances. So, if your blog readers have an adventurous streak, they should give some alternative romances a try!

My blog, Ahh, Kallypso…the stories you tell, is where I publish excerpts of current and upcoming novels, share guest blogs, and have other content on at least a weekly basis. I'm also available by e-mail at kallypsomasters@gmail.com and love to hear from readers. I always respond, so if you don't hear back, rattle my cage again because it might have gotten lost in ether.

Those preferring snail mail can write to me at Kallypso Masters, PO Box 206122, Louisville, KY 40250.

But the best way to reach me is via Facebook (http://facebook.com/kallypsomasters) where I hang out many times a day (I'm an extrovert—and they feed me the energy to keep writing), and on Twitter (@kallypsomasters), which I check every few days.
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