Jen: It’s the final day of our look into BDSM novels and today’s guest is Kallypso Masters. Kally, will you share a short bio with us?
Kally: Kallypso Masters writes emotional, realistic Romance novels with dominant males (for the most part) and the strong women who can bring them to their knees. She also has brought many readers to their knees-having them experience the stories right along with her characters in the Rescue Me Saga. Kally knows that Happily Ever After takes maintenance, so her couples don’t solve all their problems and disappear at “the end” of their Romance, but will continue to work on real problems in their relationships in later books in the saga.
Kally has been writing full-time since May 2011, having quit her “day job” the month before. (After writing as a “hobby” for 30 years, it was the only job she thought she might be good at and needed to be successful at something fast or go in search of another day job.) She lives in rural Kentucky and has been married for 30 years to the man who provided her own Happily Ever After. They have two adult children, one adorable grandson, and a rescued dog.
Kally enjoys meeting readers at national romance-novel conventions, book signings, and informal gatherings (restaurants, airports, bookstores, wherever!), as well as in online groups (including Facebook’s “The Rescue Me Saga Discussion Group”). Kally also visits the Fetlife “Rescue Me! discussion group” on occasion, but since she works one-on-one with her BDSM experts now, she doesn’t have to go on FetLife as often as she once did). She hopes to meet you in her future travels whether virtually or in-person! If you meet her face to face, be sure to ask for a Kally’s friend button!
To join the secret Facebook group Rescue Me Saga Discussion Group, please send a friend request to Karla Paxton (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004338888051&fref=ts) and she will open the door for you. Must be 18 to join.
For text alerts about new releases and pre-order sales, go here and enter your cell phone (available for US phone numbers only): http://url2txt.com/1pfO7kb
For her newsletter, go here to sign up (available worldwide and includes expanded information from the text messages plus a whole lot more that won’t be sent via text message—and there’s a book Gift Card given away in each one—lately in the $50 amount): http://blogspot.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=c5caf1c20fc5da535929b2e1e&id=6b24aac454
You can contact Kally by e-mail at kallypsomasters @ gmail.com (remove spaces)
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Kally: My last release was Somebody’s Angel, book four in the Rescue Me Saga. I knew when I finished book one (the Nobody’s Angel portion of Masters at Arms & Nobody’s Angel) that Marc had had almost zero character growth. He’d had his foundations shaken a bit, but was so shut down that I just barely shed a tiny bit of light onto his character. Nobody’s Angel, the earlier book, was about how Angelina grew and began exploring the BDSM lifestyle. While writing Nobody’s Perfect (book 3), I began to understand more of what was going on with Marc, but that book was already 472 pages and Marc’s issues were too big to handle as a subplot, so I made the decision to write his story next and try to get him to face his fears and dig up the past. Man, did he ever. More about where ideas come from in the next question!
Excerpt from Somebody’s Angel (Rescue Me Saga #4), by Kallypso Masters (copyrighted material reprinted with permission)
Angelina lay curled into a ball on the humongous, empty bed. The thermostat had been set low because she and Marc liked to share body heat, but without him here, she was freezing. Lying with Marc, tangled up in his arms and legs, she’d always felt so cherished, protected…loved.
Dio, she missed him. Her heart ached.
Why was he running from her? Heck, maybe she was the one who ought to be running. What wasn’t he telling her about Melissa? If the woman truly meant nothing to him any longer, he wouldn’t get so emotional talking about her.
Maybe she should have let Tony take her home after all. She and Marc had a lot to work out, but they weren’t going to do that in a place like this. She wanted to get back to what resembled real life and get out of this messed-up fantasy.
Funny, but she’d come here fighting her own insecurities. Marc had worked hard to get her to accept herself as beautiful, at least in his eyes. Melissa’s hurtful comments about her weight didn’t sting nearly as much as they would have four months ago. At dinner last night, she’d forgotten all of her insecurities. Marc’s family welcomed her as if she belonged in their world, and their lives; they even seated her as the guest of honor.
Now she didn’t know if Marc was even going to return to their room tonight. She’d been accepted by his family only to be rejected by him. Well, rejected was too strong a word. Neglected, maybe. But this weekend, she had discovered Marc had a few insecurities of his own. That knowledge endeared him to her even more. Marc sometimes had an arrogant Dom swagger, but at other times, he seemed like a lost little boy. He accepted her, along with her insecurities and imperfections. How could she expect him to have none? She wasn’t looking for a perfect man, secure in himself all the time.
Still, Marc had been used by so many women in the past. No wonder he didn’t trust her gender. Would he ever be able to let down his guard with anyone—with her? To think she thought she was the one with trust issues after what Allen had done. Clearly, if she was going to establish a lifelong commitment with Marc, they’d have to work on some of his issues.
“Don’t wait up.” His hurtful dismissal reverberated through her mind. As if she could sleep without him.
What if he didn’t return tonight? If she had a clue where to find him on this monstrous property, she’d search him out, but maybe he needed to regroup and come back on his own terms.
What was he running from this time? Was it what Melissa had said? He didn’t seem to give any credence to her claim that he was adopted. Then what was it? Tonight Marc had started to open up to her, only to pull the mask back in place and run from her.
Tired of shivering, she tossed the bed’s coverings back and went to the thermostat near the closet to adjust the dial. Soon the hum of the heater drowned out the deadly silence.
Angelina heard the lock on the door behind her whirr to life, and her heart tripped a beat. Marc! Relief flooded her as she turned to watch him kick the door open with his foot while struggling with a server’s tray laden with two room-service covers. The only light in the room came from the bathroom. His gaze homed in on the empty bed first, and then he scanned the room until he found her standing naked by the closet.
Angelina rushed to hold the door open and noticed the bottles of club soda and the familiar rectangular one of amaretto—the makings for an Italian tickler, her favorite cocktail. Maybe she was in store for an Italian tickler of another sort tonight, too.
He smiled at her, and for a moment, the world righted itself. Her spirits lifted.
“I raided the kitchen.”
Her stomach growled at the mention of food, even though she couldn’t smell anything from the tray he set on the bed.
“I’d planned to order you to strip first, but I see you’ve taken care of that already.”
What happened to alter Marc’s mood since he’d gone downstairs a couple of hours ago? Who cared? He was back with her. She walked into his embrace, loving the feel of her cheek against his shirt and his warm chest.
“I missed you, Marc.”
“I wasn’t gone long enough to miss, was I?”
Maybe not in chronological time, but she felt as if he’d been light years away. “You scared me. I didn’t know if you’d come back at all tonight.”
He grasped her upper arms and held her away, searching her face. “I’m sorry about earlier.”
She thought he might explain what that was all about, but he didn’t.
“It’s too late to take you out for dinner, but I’m going to make sure my girl is fed at least.” He pulled away and gazed down at her. “Wait here.”
He was leaving her again already? She stifled a groan, watching as he disappeared into the bathroom, returning with several fluffy white towels. He spread them over the pillows and the center of the bed and went to the bar to retrieve the ice bucket.
“Don’t move. I’ll be right back.”
He set the latch on the door to keep it from locking automatically and carried the bucket out for ice. Soon he returned to the room and placed the bottle of club soda in the ice bucket on the bedside stand. Why didn’t he just put it in the refrigerator?
He turned to her again.
“Lie in the center of the bed. On your back.”
A mixture of excitement and disappointment warred within her, but when he walked to the closet to retrieve some things from his toy bag, excitement won out. She crawled onto the bed and assumed the position he’d requested. Her Sir was back in control and taking care of her. Everything would be okay. Later, they could deal with whatever had happened earlier. Right now, it was Marc and Angelina and the rest of the world could go to…
Jen: With the Rescue Me Saga, you have introduced some hunky Alpha heroes. How do you avoid the cookie cutter stereotypes and create such original characters?
Kally: The best way to avoid cookie cutter characters is to just listen to the characters who show up when you’re writing. These people are very real to me and none of them is like another. They present very real problems—ones I know many readers deal with, too—and then dump them in my lap to try and resolve. Sometimes they help me along by sharing very detailed scenes. Sometimes they only get so far as laying out what the problem is and leave it up to me to suggest scenes that might help further them along on their journey. Usually when I run into roadblock, I know they have either rejected that scene OR just aren’t ready to face it yet and need more time. So I go on to other scenes while I wait to sort out which is which.
I also do not rush the writing. There’s very much a demand on indie authors nowadays to produce new books as if they’re writing machines. I think it’s very difficult to continually put out book after book (even the shorter ones) and remain fresh and creative. It’s easy to revert to formulas just to get another book out. I don’t plot or plan my books. They’re totally driven by the characters and sometimes I get help in brainstorm sessions with my editors to try and figure out what to do if the characters and I are both stuck.
Over time, layers can be added to a book. I like to have at least six weeks from when the first complete draft is written where I can go over and over it and add nuances and foreshadow future events, and lay little breadcrumbs for my many readers who like to read the saga over and over so they can enjoy the rereads as much as the first reads. For instance, after reading Somebody’s Angel, many people commented on how it explained so many of the questions in book one. Multi-layered characters don’t solve all their problems in one book either. While they may get to a happy place (Marc and Angelina achieved “happy for now” in book one, but didn’t get closer to happily ever after until book four.) And Adam and Karla had a wonderful happily ever after in Nobody’s Hero (book two) but they still have some things they’re going to have to work on to maintain that happiness. I don’t believe HEA is the end. It’s just the beginning. That’s why I write in saga form, so that I never write “the end” at the end of a book, because there really will be no end. Luckily, I take my time writing each epic-length novel, so new readers can easily catch up at any time! While each book is long (although not as long as Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books!), readers tell me they are compelling page-turners, so you can devour them quickly. (Only you might then want to go back and savor them more slowly to see what you missed in all those layers!)
Jen: Can you talk a little about the new book covers and explain the swap?
Kally: My reasons for new covers are two-fold. While I intended this series to be an erotic romance one and had more erotic covers in the beginning, I’ve seen with books three, four, and now five that they are more Contemporary Romance, albeit still for an audience that is 18 and older. When there is sex, it’s going to use explicit language if that’s how a character thinks about body parts. And it will be erotic. But sex isn’t the primary journey. Sometimes it’s more about tackling tough social and psychological issues and I think even the first two books (although they did have more sex in them than the last two I’ve published) really are like that, as well.
This ties into the above question about cookie-cutter characters. If I were writing an “erotic” romance series, then I’d have to make them all have a similar heat level and that just isn’t the case. Some of my characters aren’t ready for sex until the epilogue—and some are ready in chapter two. I write to the characters.
Another reason for wanting more “contemporary romance” covers is to have places like Amazon and Apple be open to promoting my books some day in their newsletters and other promotions. Unless they are doing an erotic newsletter, they just won’t promote books with “adult” covers. Even in their search engine lately, some books have fallen victim to requiring they be altered to have an adult filter removed. For instance, Nobody’s Perfect’s original e-book cover had Damián wearing leathers with a coiled whip on his belt loop. It was slapped with an adult label and suddenly stopped showing up in searches (unless you knew how to get around that filter) and wouldn’t show up in “also bought” and “also reviewed” promotions any longer. That’s a killer for sales. Once I removed his whip, they had no problem. But I didn’t like the cover without the whip! I do love the new one. While it might appear to be sweet, truly, their romance is very sweet and innocent—even if he is a sadist Service Top with a whip! BDSM in that book is more about healing than for sexual titillation, so I think it works.
When my artist did the new covers, she worked her magic. Even though you will see these couples on other people’s covers, if you look closely (or sometimes not even closely), you’ll see her creative touches that make them MY covers. On Nobody’s Hero, note the cougar claw marks and shrapnel wounds on Adam’s back and Karla’s nails, lips, and ring are darker than on the original. We also highlighted her hair. On Nobody’s Perfect, the original photo you might see on other people’s covers shows a guy with a farmer’s tan and a lot of scruff on his cheek. We gave him a shave, evened out his skin tone (Damián IS Hispanic, after all), and even shortened his nose. Also made the hair flowing over her ear more natural looking. On Masters at Arms & Nobody’s Angel, we reversed the orientation of the couple because it was more aesthetically pleasing to the eye on my cover, but everyone else uses them in the original unflipped version.
Jen: What kind of research do you do to ensure the BDSM elements are accurate?
Kally: For the first book, mostly just talking with people online and reading non-fiction BDSM books. Then a submissive introduced me to her Dom, Toymaker on FetLife, and he helped me bring the Shibari scene in Nobody’s Hero much more authenticity and emotion. While he doesn’t write out the scene, he offers ideas. “What if…” types of discussions. I then say, “Oh, but what if he does THIS instead?” And he then says I have some very good ideas. That Shibari scene came from my own imagination in the beginning (love when my guy plays with my hair), but he then suggested unraveling the rope and using it as a flogger to warm up her skin. Brilliant. I then had a video of a scene I wanted to depict and he helped me use the correct terminology when in Adam’s head (who would know what those ties/knots/positions were called). But in Karla’s head, I pretty much described things the way a novice would.
Toymaker was a great help in Nobody’s Perfect, especially with the clothespin, violet wand, and slut scenes. But his original idea on the clothespin one was to do a zipper line and have Damián remove them all at once and make her feel that. Instead, I suggested that my whip master remove each clothespin one at a time and demand that she say aloud some memory she needed to release. He loved that change.
The longest dungeon scene in Somebody’s Angel is actually more a military interrogation scene, but I used Eric Pride, a BDSM interrogation scene expert to help me get it right. I also used Top Griz (Jeff Griz on Facebook) to help me get the military aspects right because he’s a Marine and this is very much using the Marine Corps’ survivor and resistance training module.
I consult with experts in all kinds of things in my books, not just BDSM. I have two psychologists, as well, who beta read and let me know if I’m portraying the psychological aspects correctly. I love the psychology and know many readers gain help for their own issues by seeing how my characters work through things. (Not that ANYONE should try an interrogation scene like that at home. Marc’s a risk-taker and it was a very dangerous scene that could have gone very wrong. That’s the only Risk Aware Consensual Kink—RACK—scene I’ve ever written. Usually I stick to SSC—Safe, Sane, and Consensual.)
Jen: What five adjectives describe your writing?
Kally: Intense, gritty, emotional, multi-layered, original
Jen: You have a very active online presence, two special events planned for October, a newsletter, your Facebook Rescue Me Saga Discussion Group, and your Street Brats street team group. With so many books available at our fingertips, how do you ensure that you are on top?
Kally: I’m not sure I remain on top other then when I have a new release (which only happens once a year since 2012), but I have the most loyal and devoted fans ever. They will wait patiently for me to be satisfied enough to release a new title when I am ready and not before. And then they tell anyone and everyone they think is open-minded enough to read about the alternative lifestyle I write about to READ THESE BOOKS. Fortunately, my books aren’t dark BDSM or hardcore kink, so I have brought in many readers who have never read anything about BDSM or who just want a well-told story and don’t care as long as you make it realistic and believable so they can get immersed in the stories.
I also make appearances on blogs like this one (thanks for the invitation) when time permits. Recently, I hosted a One Millionth Download Party on Facebook to celebrate having more than one million of my e-books downloaded, which is an incredible milestone, so apparently readers ARE spreading the word.
I’ve tried running a few paid ads and promotions, but truly, word of mouth is where I get the most exposure. Oh, that and offering the first book free. Who can resist free? But there are so many other free books now that you have to have readers talking about the books to get yourself noticed on someone’s e-reader so you aren’t languishing in their TBR pile for months unnoticed. So I definitely encourage my readers to tell others.
The Fifty Shades trilogy helped open doors to sexier books, too, so that readers aren’t ashamed of what they enjoy reading as much as they might have been in the past.
I think I stay high in the rankings, too, because I write in a unique way. Not many other authors use BDSM as a tool for healing PTSD, incest, abuse, rape, and other major traumas, at least not unless that healing is secondary to the kink and titillation aspect of their books. I give readers something much deeper than a sexy read. Often they tell me they laughed, they cried, and they scream—all on the same page. That’s powerful and wonderful to hear.
When they are caught up reading the saga, I like to invite people to join my “secret” Rescue Me Saga Discussion Group on Facebook because it’s a support group to hang out in and to be able to keep talking and guessing about the story lines and characters while waiting for a new installment. I also go there to pose questions that help me with story issues small and sometimes large.
And, of course, just about everything I post on my Facebook timeline is public so even those who aren’t friends can read and private message me if they want me to add them as a friend. (I’ve only got about 100 more spots, tho, and only friend those who promise to post comments or engage on my wall more so than just liking things.)
I am active on my author page there, too, and am trying to use that as a means of updating the progress of the writing as we get closer to a new release this year.
I am an extrovert and I get energy from readers, whether virtual or in person. But I do try to attend one or two big national reader/author events each year, as well as just announce that I’m in a certain city and having dinner, who wants to join me. Those informal gatherings are a great way for readers to meet me who can’t travel to or afford the national cons. As you mentioned, I’m also hosting two events of my own in October 2014. First is KallypsoCon, Oct. 10-12 in the Seattle area. Six fellow BDSM author friends have accepted my invitation to join me and at least 75 readers (including some couples). They are Lexi Blake, Eliza Gayle, Annabel Joseph, Kennedy Layne, Red Phoenix, and Cherise Sinclair. What an incredible once-in-a-lifetime lineup! It will be an informal gathering with lots of one-on-one time with the authors, too, including a speed-dating session which is a great way for less outgoing readers to get some one-on-one time with each author to break the ice. We’re also inviting in some people in the lifestyle to answer questions one evening and demonstrate some scenes from our books (well, they will remain fully clothed and we’ll have to adhere to hotel regulations, since this won’t be held in a dungeon). Learn more or register at: http://www.kallypsomasters.com/kallypsocon_2014
Later in the month, I’m hosting a busload of readers for my second annual Rescue Me Saga Sightseeing Tour. Last year’s initial run had a few problems (such as my not being aware you have to not only know when it is low tide, but also when there is a new moon if you want to get inside the beach cave frequented by Damián and Savannah in two scenes in my saga). My original eleven “beta riders” have all agreed to return for another run and I’m hoping to add a few dozen others as we explore the places I have written about in San Diego and Orange counties in Southern California. And next June, the third annual tour will take place in Colorado, where many more of my scenes are set. See the link in this blog to learn more about KallypsoCon 2014. There’s still room and the block of hotel rooms will be held at the group rate until Sept. 8. My personal assistant, Charlotte Oliver (charlotte @ kallypsomasters.com—remove the spaces first) can give you more information about these events.
Jen: What is the most memorable scene you have ever written? It is difficult to top the bus station scene between Karla and Adam!
Kally: Wow. There are so many that are memorable to me. The most difficult one to write was the scene with Damián and Savannah in the bedroom after the slut scene in Nobody’s Perfect. I delayed finishing that book for three months because I just could not write parts of that scene. I don’t want to give anything away for new readers, but it included a major trigger for me and I truly found closure and healing as a result of having written it. But it took a Dom and a couple of submissives, including one of my editors, urging and hand-holding me through it to write it.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Kally: I’m finishing up Nobody’s Dream (Rescue Me Saga 5) that focuses on Luke and Cassie, as well as Adam and Karla who have major chapters devoted to them and the continuation of their happily ever after. I hope to have it to my first-round content editors in early September and then we’ll see how it looks and if I can set a pre-order date for it. I plan to offer pre-orders at $4.99, a dollar off price once the book goes live. I hope to give readers up to three weeks to pre-order at Amazon and may do pre-orders at other sites where possible, as well. Stay tuned later this fall and we’ll see when that will be!
After I finish that book, I’m going to start a spin-off series with “vanilla” (non-kinky) fire fighters. Tony Giardano will be my first in the series of four books about Angelina’s brothers, all fire fighters at two different fire departments in Colorado. Readers have seen all of the brothers before, but got a glimpse into Tony’s potential story in Somebody’s Angel when he encountered Marc’s sister, Carmella. There definitely were sparks flying, so I want to see if there’s anything more than that. And Matteo shows up in Nobody’s Dream briefly to whet the appetite. Perhaps he’ll be book two in that series. These books won’t be as long as the Rescue Me Saga books and will definitely be stand-alone books within the series. I don’t foresee that series going on forever, although I’ll probably provide cameo updates for them in later Rescue Me Saga books. (I don’t foresee the RMS series ever ending as long as I’m able to write.)
Oh, and I forgot to mention that book one in my saga is FREE. Nearly 500 pages and all free. AND since this is a saga and needs to be read in order, it’s crucial that you start with Masters at Arms & Nobody’s Angel or you won’t know what’s going on with all the interconnected characters.