Hi sweeties! I'm very excited today because I've got a unique interview - not one but two fantabulous authors, who write as a duo. It's rare that you see a pair of authors, individuals, who compliment and work so well together. **the crowd roars** LOL Please welcome K.Piet and S.L. Armstrong to BRB!
Who are K. Piet and S.L. Armstrong?
[S.L.] I’m a wife and mother to seven cats and two dogs. I live in the hell known as Florida, but I long to live in a state where four distinct seasons exist. I’ve been writing since grade school, and I love to read. Most of my day is spent writing, reading, or interacting with readers and authors. I’m also a publisher, and own Storm Moon Press with K. Piet and my husband, and I’m very proud of what we accomplish there.
[K.] I'm a writer and massage therapist on the move! I grew up in Northern Arizona, but I'll be moving down to Florida to help run Storm Moon Press in closer proximity in the next couple weeks, which has me incredibly excited! In addition to my love for writing—which only truly developed once I hit college—I have a passion for therapeutic bodywork and a bit of an obsession with Cirque du Soleil and circus arts in general. I always strive for balance between my artistic and scientific sides.
How did you meet? And what prompted your collaboration?
[S.L.] We met through fanfiction, actually. I wrote heavily in a particular fandom K. read in, and she contacted me about my work. A friendship was struck then. A few years later, we began collaborating on fanfiction until I thought it was a silly idea, that we should be working together to make a living out of the writing, and we began our professional relationship then.
[K.] At that point, I was just finishing up my college education in Kinesiology (basically the study of human body movement). I hadn't truly dreamed of being a writer, but damn if the writing bug didn't bite me hard! Once we had that first original idea, it was followed by another and another. We both love what we do so much that I know we'll never turn back.
Where and/or how do you both find the greatest inspiration?
[S.L] Everything inspires me. It might be cliché to say that, but it’s true. Television, books, music, conversation, a drive in the car… I’ll find inspiration everywhere. If I had to pick one main source, I think it would be music. Music sparks the plot bunnies like crazy, which is why I always have to be careful about how much music I listen to.
[K.] I have to second S.L. here. Music is definitely a conjuror of vivid ideas for both of us. I occasionally have dreams that give me small elements that I build upon, but inspiration typically strikes me with a great song. Of course, when S.L. brings ideas to me, they instantly take hold and refuse to let go.
What made you chose to write gay erotic literature in particular?
[S.L.] I’m not quite sure. When I began writing, it was actually lesbian erotica that I was writing, but about two years into that, I was introduced to gay erotica and just… bam! It all connected in my head. I loved writing men, men in love, men having sex, and men confronting themselves, society, and every manner of obstacle I could throw their way. Gay erotica certainly isn’t the only thing I write, but it’s what I always come back to and take the greatest pleasure in.
[K.] For me, it ended up flowing very naturally. The first erotic material I read revolved around men, and it drew me in instantly. I would read stories online for hours on end, and that eventually led me to S.L. in the first place. When I took the step to write, I knew writing relationships between men—with all their trials and tribulations—would be the proverbial wellspring of inspiration that would never run dry. While I have been expanding to many other erotic configurations, I know I'll always return to gay erotica. I'm hooked!
What made you chose to write erotic literature in particular? And is there any other genre you’d like to write? And if so, why?
[S.L.] I like sex.
I like how personal sex is, how I believe most people are their truest selves in those sexual moments. It gives moments of vulnerability, both emotional and physical, and I like working with that, exploring it. I do want to eventually branch out into some non-erotic works, which would be literary fiction, horror, or fantasy, though right now, I can incorporate those genres into the erotic fiction I write, so I’m pretty content where I am.
[K.] She pretty much said it all. I'm utterly fascinated by sexuality and all the ways it can play on a person's mental, emotional, and physical reactions to everything around them. I like exploring how those intimate situations affect individuals and, through them, groups or society at large. It never loses its appeal. Like S.L., I'm looking forward to trying out fantasy and also murder/mystery and literary fiction, but even those ideas will likely strike on sexuality, simply because it's a way to expose a character to the core and see what havoc can be created or averted from there.
Which appears first when contemplating a new project: A character, the plot and/or the title?
[S.L.] It tends to go characters, plot, and then title. Characters drive fiction, and so they have to be clear and bright in my mind, and usually the plot coalesces around the same time.
[K.] I sometimes get plot before characters, but plot alone never really gets my creative juices flowing. It's when the characters develop that the plot really takes shape and deepens into something we find worth writing.
What’s the hardest part of a novel for you to write: Beginning, middle and/or end? Why?
[S.L.] I think it’s the end. I tend to become very invested in the story and characters, so when the end of the story comes, I don’t want to put it down. I want to keep telling the story, follow the characters through every up and down they have. But, all things must end, and so I bow my head in defeat and reluctantly wrap up the lose ends and give that satisfying ending.
[K.] I have a terrible time with beginnings. Those first few lines are just hell for me to get out because I feel such pressure when it comes to drawing a reader in and grabbing their attention. It was never my forte in my public speaking classes, and I still have trouble with it when I write. When those first couple pages are out, things tend to flow a bit better, and I fall into the rhythm.
Has your own life influenced your novels? And if so, how?
[S.L.] My polyamorous marriage has influenced my desire to tell multi-partner relationships, and my own personal experience with BDSM has me always interested in telling stories with BDSM flavors. I intend to, at some point, tell the story of a bipolar main character, as I live with Bipolar I, and I think there should be more positive fictional depictions of main characters with mental disorders.
[K.] My own life really doesn't trickle into my novels much. I'll observe human behaviors that eventually make it into my characters, but I don't pull from my own life very much. I tend to live vicariously through my characters to an extent. They're often involved in plots and relationships I've never experienced. I typically don't have the courage they have.
Writing sex/romantic scenes can be a challenge for some authors. Do you find it difficult? If yes, how do you compensate? If no, where do you draw your inspiration?
[S.L.] Sex isn’t difficult for me to write at all. It can be tricky to write, though, without becoming repetitious or falling into some of the horrible tropes of the genre. I think it’s easier for me to write the more loving, emotional sex scenes than rutting, but I’m getting much better at the rutting thing because I have some pretty wild characters now living firmly in my brain.
[K.] I don't have much trouble with erotic scenes either. They're a lot of fun for me, and I try to mix things up all the time and introduce new elements in order to keep every scene unique (avoiding the tropes like S.L. said). I have a very vivid imagination, which tends to help.
Do you have a method you use to write the sensual parts? Do you prefer the sex to be open and bold? Or left to the imagination?
[S.L.] I think a good fade-to-black scene, or one where it’s entirely focused on the thoughts and emotions of a character, have their place, but I’m partial to the open and bold scenes. I like having the picture painted vividly for me, and so I seek to do that in my own writing. I write what I want to read, quite honestly.
[K.] Same here. A well written fade-to-black can be fulfilling, but I often find myself going, 'And then...? Wait, don't stop there!' while I read, so I'm much more prone to writing boldly about sex. It's an aspect of relationships that I don't like seeing hidden away.
Are your characters based on people you know? Or are they completely fictitious?
[S.L.] Completely fictitious. I’ve yet to incorporate any person I know into one of my stories, and I don’t really think I will.
[K.] I never pull people from real life. Quirks and behaviors, perhaps, but never a full person.
Who is your favourite character, which you’ve created? And why?
[S.L.] Oh, such a horrible and difficult question! I’m still very partial to Kasper from Catalyst, as I spent a long time in his head, breaking him down and building him back up for his story. I also love Justyn and Jasyn, my twins, from a series K. and I are in the process of writing. I have a thing for twins, and when I created Justyn and Jasyn, twins who are one soul in two bodies, I knew they were going to be with me for the long haul. I can’t wait to share their remarkable tale.
[K.] I agree with S.L. This is always one of the most difficult questions to answer! Shame on you!
While there are many I adore, the one that springs to mind right now is Darron, an Elf from our Egaea book series that is still being planned out. He's exiled from his House for going against their pacifistic ways during a war, and he struggles with questioning his own worth, his ability to have faith in anything or anyone, and trying to open up when he's closed himself off and kept everyone at bay with an icy demeanor. The intensity of his relationships and his emotional and spiritual entanglements make him endless fun. He's also a kinky bastard, which is always a plus in my book.
Can you tell us about your latest release? Give a synopsis.
[S.L.] Our latest release is a short story in the anthology Wild Passions, which released with Storm Moon Press on June 17th. It’s called Alpha’s Pride and stars Nahele and Alec, humanoid felines who live in our fantasy world of Egaea (also the world where Justyn, Jasyn, and Darron reside). They live in a feral community removed from the primary race of the continent for their own safety, and as Alec comes into his own as an alpha of their race, it puts him at odds with the actual alpha of their tribe, Nahele, and puts strain on their friendship.
[K.] Alec is put in the position of having to defend his new claim on the title of Alpha, and with Nahele so accustomed to being the cat in charge, they're both in for quite a fight. We're also in excellent company with this anthology, and we're happy to give a peek to readers into the Egaea world, in which we have many more stories still to tell.
What’s your newest WIP? And when we can expect a publication date?
[S.L.] That would be Other Side of Night: Bastian & Riley, which is a vampire tale. It’s the first in a series (there are six novellas planned), and it should be out in September from Storm Moon Press. After that, in December, we’ll be releasing a novel entitled Polyfidelity that’s a M/M/M/F story of a triad becoming whole by finding their perfect fourth.
[K.] Following that, we have a broad range of ideas taking shape, from a contemporary M/M western all the way to our take on the biblical figures of Cain and Lilith!
How many novels do you have, that are currently published? Please list all the publishers, so the readers can locate you.
[S.L.] All of our work is published with Storm Moon Press. Very easy to find us. Our current titles are The Keeper, Rachmaninoff, Oneiros and Surrender (which are two short stories from the Cast the Cards anthology), Morningstar, and Catalyst.
[K.] And, of course, our newest short story collaboration, Alpha's Pride, which is in the Wild Passions anthology, also available from Storm Moon Press.
It's my understanding that K. Piet and S.L. Armstrong have started an independent micro-publisher 'Storm Moon Press'. I think this is wonderful and fascinating! So obviously you publish your own novels. Can you tell us a little about your company? Where did the idea come from?
[S.L.] Well, about two years ago, K. and I decided that we wanted to publish our own works. We had a good support structure with a great, honest editor, a typesetter we loved, a cover artist we enjoyed, and we had to skill necessary to publish and market the work. We wanted to receive the greatest financial rewards for all the hard work we put into our own fiction, and we knew we couldn’t get that working with another publisher. We’d lose a lot of the control, and it’s that control we value so much.
Storm Moon Press is an author-centric press. By this we mean the royalties are high, the contracts highly negotiable, we encourage authors who contract with us to give us feedback, our editing is sharp and in depth, and we help our authors with their marketing. We listen carefully to what each author wants for their book and we work with them to produce the best damn books we can. It’s very important to us, as we see publishing as a partnership. We are not an author mill.
Does SMP accept submissions from other authors? And, if so, are you getting a good response?
[S.L.] We do accept submissions from other authors. Right now, we’re working with Angelia Sparrow, Aleksandr Voinov, and Rachel Haimowitz for releases later this year and early next year. We’ve had great responses to our anthologies, and many of those authors have expressed a desire to submit single titles to us. We also understand we’re a press that hasn’t reached its second birthday, and so many authors are still hanging back, waiting to see if we fold or screw up with the handful of authors we currently work with. ϑ I think we’ll win people over, as we’re a rather unique company.
Where do you see your writing career in the next five to ten years? What are your aspirations for SMP in the future?
[S.L.] My writing career… I would like to see several of my series realized, have a substantive backlist, and have some financial security. For the press, I’d like to see us reach our goal of 24 titles released a year, be a known name in the industry, and a highly recommended boutique press for authors and readers.
[K.] Five to ten years feels like an eternity, but my goals are quite tightly aligned with S.L.'s. I'd love to have a varied and enjoyable backlist and make enough to take a bit of pressure off my need for a day job (even though I love my massage work). With SMP, I'd like to earn a great reputation in our niche market and recommendations from all the authors we work with. This is definitely a business where referrals are key, and I want SMP to be known for quality fiction and quality relations within our company.
Thank you so much for interviewing us! It's always a joy to share more information about our writing and Storm Moon Press. We hope everyone has enjoyed it and will check us out over at www.stormmoonpress.com We have some great things in store for the rest of 2011!
My pleasure ladies. Wow what a great interview! I wish you the best of success for the future! June 24 I've got a special guest, author Liz Strange. Also on June 24 I'm at RLJ - and I think I'm going to Vamp it up a notch!
Happy Yaoi Hunting!
Blak Rayne ^_^!!