Thursday, October 18, 2012

BDSM, Hair, Ghosts, Sweet Romances -- Kissa Starling Does Them All!



What looks like a great novella is being released today! (The timing just happened right; I didn't plan it this way, but YAY :-) ) It's  Celtic Destinies: Book One- Clarissa by Kissa Starling. Kissa is a versatile writer; she writes short stories and novellas and is finishing up a novel. But more than that, she writes sweet romances AND erotica. She writes about fetishes, BDSM, you name it. I've said this a lot of times--I am in awe of erotica writers. I think I could do pretty much any type of writing, but with erotica, I would need (pardon the pun--or nah, just revel in the pun) some sort of master/mentor. It isn't something I can read a few books on and whip out. Goodness knows I've tried!

OK, enough about me. Let's get to the interview with Kissa!

*****

Easy first question...share a little about yourself!
A little about me- I live in Georgia with my husband and many pets. I love old movies, board games and almost anything outside.

Including the stink bugs?
Hahaha, well, maybe not those and the mosquitoes!

Georgia... I have to ask this. Are you a Braves fan? I love 'em!
I love the Braves. I remember when they won that national title so many years ago. I hopped on a bus in Marietta which took me to MARTA. There were thousands of people and every time the doors would open people would jump on. I got so close to the parade but ended up going back home and watching it on television. I wondered how many of those people were fly by fans. 

I grew up watching them on TBS (used to call TBS "The Braves Station"). These days, the Braves don't define TBS. Kinda sad, I think. Childhood's gone! But we're not here to talk about that! Oh, and I know you're not feeling well today, so should I attribute any wackiness to that or to you just being yourself?
I'm always myself. Consider me wacky all the time. 

I’m really excited to discuss a book you have coming out today. Can you talk a little about that?
Celtic Destiny was released at Lyrical Press, Inc. as a sweet romance about an ex stripper from Atlanta who moved to Scotland to be a governess. While there she encountered a ghost couple who needed reuniting and found she was their miracle oracle. Finding her own love was an added plus.

I got the rights back to this story, and it will now be published at Red Rose Publishing. I added about 10K words to it and made it an erotic romance. I've also changed the title a bit since I plan to write two more in the series: Celtic Destinies: Book One- Clarissa.


Celtic Destiny, K. Starling



OK, first I have to say your ideas sound awesome! Just to be sure we're on the same page, what genre (other than erotica) is this in? Like, say, lesfic or het fic?
This one is het fic. and paranormal. I write in many different genres. Whatever strikes my mood is what I usually write.

Do you usually write novellas?
No, I usually write short stories. I am writing more novellas recently though. I am working on finishing my first full length novel. I got way too comfortable with short stories and doubt that I'll ever give them up, but I do want to expand my creativity.

Oh that's great. I just got finished with another author, and we talked a lot about short stories. How they're different from novels, how some people think short stories "don't count" and such.

I'll ask you one question I asked her. I'm curious to see how the answers stack up!

Anyway, get ready for a nerdy-author question! Some readers (authors, too) have wildly varying word count/length expectations for short stories. For example, I recently released a fairy tale novella that is 23,000 words. Some readers are calling it a short story! smileIn my head, short stories are 10,000 words and less (the ones in my three collections range from about 1,000 words to 5,000 words--the collections as wholes are from 17,000 words to 21,000). What do you think is the highest a story can go in terms of word count and still be a short story? I've noticed a new term, "novelette," popping up for these stories between 10,000 words to 20,000 words.
Hmm, good question! I think that this is usually up to the publisher and I've seen it differ widely among just the ones I work with. I think of anything 9K or under as a 'short'. Heck, some of my short stories are only a thousand words. Novella I think goes anywhere from 10K to around 40K When you get up to 50K or higher I think of that as a full length. I can't imagine what you call stories that are 100K or longer!

I call 'em long-ass stories! winkSagas, probably. Here's another one.

Do you ever get an attitude of "short stories don't really count" from people? One of my friends said recently that she wants to try writing but would start with a novel (I had suggested she start with a short story). She said that she doesn't feel short stories really count. I wonder if high school teachers used more short stories if that would change attitudes some. But anyway, I'm trying not to get off track here! If you get these attitudes, how do you address the issue?
I don't know if I get the 'they don't count' so much as I do the 'wish they were longer'. I get that one constantly from readers, publishers and reviewers. There is a place in publishing for short stories. They aren't meant to be longer. If they were they'd be novels.

I get that a lot too-- the "I wish they were longer." Probably a good thing, right? So, what made you decide to expand "Celtic Destiny"?
Well, Celtic Destiny was already a novella, haha at least in my terms. It was around 15K when published as a sweet story. Red Rose Publishing contracted it as a reprint. I got to thinking that all of my sweet romance readers had already bought this so I doubted they wanted to read it again. I also knew that none of my erotic romance readers bought it because of the 'sweet' label. Hence, my idea to change it a bit. I expanded it necessarily to add the sex scenes, but once I got started a lot changed and the characters demanded a longer story. I haven't finished official edits yet but I'm at around 33K right now. I added so much about secondary characters that a few of them want their own story. That is how the trilogy idea came up. So now Celtic Destinies is the series name and Book One- Clarissa will define the first story.

I'm sure you get this question a lot, so shoo me away if you don't want to answer it yet again, but how do you write all these sex scenes and keep them fresh and exciting?

Also, great series idea!
I am really getting into series lately. I love reading them and that has spurred me into writing them. It is so much fun to stay with the same characters for a little longer and learn more about them. As far as the sex scenes go, I have a great imagination! I often get in various, um, positions, to make sure they are really possible. There are some BDSM scenes that I research before writing. While I do have several fetishes I enjoy, I don't engage in all of them that I write about.

I think it's kind of funny how readers sometimes think all the sex stuff an author writes about MUST be from her own experience. Authors write characters who are, say, actresses or presidents, and readers don't assume the author used to be president or an actress. Anyway! I'm not sure how to approach this-- do you want to get personal or not?
You are welcome to ask anything. Doesn't mean I'll answer it.

I just never want to make you uncomfortable that's all. I know some erotica authors talk about their personal lives and others don't.

OK, so question-- you brought up you enjoy several fetishes so now I'm curious what they are!
I don't talk a lot about personal things but this is okay. Ahhh, fetishes. I love anything to do with hair. That is a big one for me. Earlier when I said I loved anything outside, I didn't mean only swimming and walking. Reading erotica is a huge one as well. I probably would never have thought to write erotica if I didn't read it myself.

For you, what is the hardest (and easiest) part about writing erotica? And, do you write a lot of sweet romances? Or are you done with them, at least for now?
Sweet romances--I love them! Like short stories they have their place. When I am in the mood for sweet and sappy that is what I write. I'm not done with them. I definitely write a lot more erotic romances than sweet. Sweet doesn't sell well at all, especially from an erotic author, but like said, I will continue to write them as the ideas come.

The hardest part of any writing for me is the distractions. I am easily distracted. When I am deep into a project and a submission call comes through, I think I could write something for that. I've reached a point in my career where publishers and editors sometimes come to me asking for stories. That is a pleasant surprise and one that I welcome. (but I still read all of the submission calls I can find!) Sometimes I wish there were two of me, but my husband says he couldn't take it! haha 

So is the bulk of your work indie work?
No, I'm not an indie author as of yet. I did help edit one anthology, Sapphic Planet, that ended up being self-published but the initial plan was to go with a traditional publisher. I'm not so great with the techie side of publishing. I would love to learn more about creating book covers. I paint and draw and would love to someday do my own covers. The formatting, editing and getting the book into hands of readers- I'll leave most of that to my publishers.

Do you write full time?
I do write full time. I had another day job, also full time but quit that back in May. Two full time jobs was a lot. Now I am writing full time and working part time when I need a break. Stepping away from writing for a few hours is the best way to get the MOJO going. I'd love to travel and write one day in the near future.

This is probably another question you get a lot, but how do people (such as your family) react when you tell them you write erotica? Or do they know? I know one erotica author who is embarrassed to have her granny read her stories!
I wouldn't say I'm embarrassed but I am cautious. I live in the Bible belt. My husband knew from the start and I told my son soon after I started, only because he was old enough to know. I've since told my mother and brother, but I don't go into details with any of them. I tell them about new contracts and exciting news, but I don't think they understand the impact of my news as much as my writing friends do. I told my brother I wrote about fetishes and his response was, "What's that website?" haha I love them to death and appreciate their support.

Yeah, I don't blame you for being cautious. I think it's a shame that sex is still so hush-hush and taboo. Do you think erotica is becoming more mainstream?
50 Shades of Grey has definitely changed the mainstream. I can't believe the people who are reading it. I'm ecstatic, don't get me wrong, but there are people reading that book who I didn't think even had sex! haha I can only hope that erotica, and lesbian erotica especially, will one day be more widely accepted.

Oh, I think most everyone has a secret sex life, if only in their head. The brain--a powerful sex organ, indeed! What would you say are the qualities of well-written erotica? I admire what you do. I tried writing erotica once (after reading a few books on how to write it, too). Couldn't get far!
Well-written erotica can't be beat. Like any other story it takes the reader to another time and place, allowing them to become one with the characters. Unlike other genres, erotica allows the reader to bring thoughts, feelings and even ideas back with them. I'm working on a couples erotica story right now that will open up communication and allow couples to reveal fantasies without worry.

I think pretty much any story well written (erotica or not) allows readers to bring thoughts, feelings and even ideas back with them! A big thing is, the reader has to be aroused at least a little, right? I'm really interested in that couples story. There seems to be such fear about honest communication in couples.
You are right, there are thoughts and ideas to be kept with oneself in every genre but erotica is different I think. Very few fiction books allow you to bring back a new sexual position or read scenes in a bubble bath with your significant other. Yes, erotica should definitely arouse- not only the reader but the author too.

What's your favorite erotica story you've written --and what's your favorite by another author? Any advice for wannabe erotica writers?
My favorite erotica story is Angel's Wish. It is the first one I wrote. I love the characters in that one. My favorite by another author would have to be Anne Rice's Beauty series. I have an extensive erotica library and love to re-read books.

My advice for writers of any genre is don't give up. If you stop writing it will never happen. As long as you persevere there is a chance. Hang out with authors you admire. Find a mentor. Read what you like. Reviewing books is another great way to figure out what is hot in the industry.

I'd love readers to drop by my blog and read my serialized story, Fantasy Inker. I'm posting 500 words every Wednesday in October with the conclusion coming on Halloween day. This one is lesbian erotica and tattoos. What could be better?  http://www.kissastarling.com/blog

Count me in! Another question: How do you find out about new fetishes, positions and the like? I mean, you do hands-on research, obviously, but HOW do you know to research these things? Hope that question makes sense!
I have many friends in the lifestyle and they are all into different things. I believe every fetish has its place and as long as it is between two consenting adults then it is okay. I do a lot of online research and I visit dungeons as well. 

Maybe more than two consenting adults too? Three, four, sky's the limit!
Very true. Poly seems to be making its way into the mainstream also. I never used to hear about it and lately I hear about it almost daily. 

I wrote a poly book. It hasn't sold too well, but maybe it will later, who knows! It also has parts of sci fi and historical fic (Anne Boleyn, one of the queens of Henry VIII is one of the three), so that may've hurt it too.
I was going to ask what you wrote. You wrote a poly book with no sex in it? 

There is sex, but it isn't an erotica book. I am not sure I can ever write erotica well, which is why I am in such awe of you! Speaking of "Third," which has time travel, let's talk a little about a time travel story you wrote.

Angel's Wish

BLURB: 

Angel is nothing more than a two-bit mechanic. She dreams of vintage pin-up girls and old cars. Nothing else excites her. She takes a cat nap one day at work and wakes up in the 1950’s. Old cars are now new and classy women are abundant and sweet. Can she find hers before she’s yanked back to her own time? Lust, love, or luck- she’s bound to find one of the three when she wishes upon the star on a tree!


I love everything about the 50's. I am a huge fan of old cars, the fashion of the era and even the movies and industrial age movement. I probably had more fun researching than writing for a while! The challenge was I wanted everything to be 'right'. I researched the cars, what movie would have been playing at the theatre, what clothing a boyish girl would wear and even how the state home for the elderly was run. Cars are a huge thing in this story since Angel is a mechanic. The idea began with thoughts of a pin up calendar, which moved to a daydreaming mechanic. Love this character so much! 


Excerpt:
“What time of year is it?”

Why December, Mum, I mean, Maam. Very near to Christmas. In fact the familywill be getting the house ready soon.

“Thank you, Mary. Come stand in front of me.” I removed her maid’s garment. Her breasts were small and perky. Her areolas were light pink and smooth to the touch. The cleft between her legs was thick with dark curls. Her curves were heavy and her ass was well rounded. Just my type. I couldn’t stand those twiggywomen.

I need a switch. Go behind the house and find me a sturdy twig about two feet long.

But mum, there is snow out there, I get ever so cold. What if someone sees me outside?
I smiled at her and grabbed her by the hair. There was just enough to hold onto. I pulled her to me and placed my face in front of hers. I tried to keep in mind that she was a novice; she had a lot to learn. I was just the woman to teach her.

****

Thanks so much for the chat! I love ‘visiting’ with people online. To learn more about me and my writing visit http://www.kissastarling.com.



2 comments:

Georgiana Louis said...

i can't believe Kissa's favourite story is one I haven't read! Buying right now! Thank you

Kissa Starling said...

Oh, Georgiana, you will have to let me know what you think, I hope you enjoy Angel as much as I do!