Psyched for Romance

Sports Romance & Romantic Suspense With a Psychological Twist

Monday, June 20, 2011

Author Kasi Alexander: Review and Interview

Thanks to those who entered my blogoversary giveaway. The random winner is . . .

DESI the BLONDE!

Congratulations, Desi. An ebook of With Good Behavior is coming your way.

Now on to the featured author of the day: KASI ALEXANDER! Are you ready for some alternate romance? Is your mind open today? If so, read on.

I cyber-met Kasi through my publisher, Omnific, which released Becoming sage. I had the pleasure of reading the story and interviewing Kasi. Here's my review:

Jill has recently divorced. She’s depressed and tired of relationship dynamics in which both partners fight for dominance, neither knowing how to deliver what the other wants. Enter Jill’s friend Jessica, who is a submissive slave named sunni. sunni’s master, Rune, wants to invite Jill to be part of their threesome power dynamic. It’s a big risk for Jill to try out this novel experience, but then again she's been disappointed by traditional relationships. She joins the couple as Rune’s slave, learning a lot about herself in the process of becoming sage.

This was one of the first BDSM/polyamory stories I’ve read, and I thought Kasi Alexander did an incredible job of laying out the alternative lifestyle in such concrete, understandable terms. The writing was so easy and honest that I had trouble putting the book down. It felt like peeking into sage’s journal (or peeking through the apartment door keyhole), with all of the appropriate self-doubt and angst.

Because I’m not an experienced reader of this lifestyle, I have many questions. The page numbers I reference for each quote are for the epub version.

1. It struck me for the first time how there’s a similarity between BDSM and homosexuality. Both can be considered an orientation that’s feared and misunderstood. “…the orientation made a lot of sense: some people enjoyed the stimulation of pain and were able to convert pain into endorphins and sometimes into an altered state of consciousness.” (p. 30). How do people in the BDSM community compare themselves to people in the LGBT community? Do folks in the BDSM community view their orientation as largely genetic or biological, like many in the gay community do? And another question based on the quote: How does “knife play” differ from self-injury like cutting?

2. “It’s the people who are afraid that they have no control of their lives who cannot allow themselves to submit to other people.” (p. 38). Hmm. I don’t really agree with this judgment. Is sunni saying that those who don’t want to be part of this lifestyle are afraid they have no control of their lives?

3. “The difference between submission and slavery was starting to become very clear to me.” (p. 105). Unfortunately the differences between the two are still a bit fuzzy for me. What are the differences?

4. “Before I came here, I had spent a lot of time by myself, and I had thought I missed it, but now it just felt lonely. I missed having Sir and sunni to point out interesting or funny things to. I just wasn’t used to being alone anymore.” (p. 111). This made me feel a little uncomfortable, like sage is becoming dependent on her partners. As a psychologist I’m constantly trying to help women speak their voice and take care of their own needs—-to like themselves more and learn to cope with the human condition (including loneliness) effectively. I guess if sage is choosing to be with her new family all the time then there’s nothing wrong with that, but something about it makes me uneasy. What’s the risk of dependency in BDSM compared to vanilla relationships? When BDSM partners split up, how well does the submissive or slave land on his/her feet?

5. “I had never gotten along that well with my mother and two brothers, and never felt like I belonged…but now I actually felt like I had a family.” (p. 115). I felt sad for sage that she didn’t get along with her biological family, but happy for her that she created her own family. I wonder if some of sage’s insecurity emanates from her unsatisfactory family relationships. They say psychologists often come from troubled backgrounds and we get into the field to try to heal ourselves (and it sounds like sage might be entering the counseling field—-maybe that’s why I identified so well with her.) Are BDSM partners more likely to come from troubled backgrounds as well?

5. “The reason I liked our relationship style was simply because I didn’t have to argue, or worry about getting my way to prove that I was a strong person; the fact that I could allow him to be in charge actually made me feel stronger than if I was making all the decisions and all the plans. It was very freeing. It was like we were combining our strength rather than trying to overpower each other.” (p. 122). I thought this was an excellent summary of sage’s attraction to this lifestyle, and I find the idea rather fascinating. Does Sir tend to find the relationship freeing as well? It seems like it would be a lot of pressure on the Dom.

I really enjoyed sage’s astute questions, as well as the relationship drama. I thought sage was inordinately patient with sunni, who is so immature and annoying she actually made me cheer for Sir getting out the paddle to use on her. But how cool that this story is not only about sage’s character development, but also sunni’s. (Sir Rune’s too?) It was a fun, satisfying ending and I definitely want to read the next installment in The Keyhole Series. Great job, Kasi!


You can see I had a gazillion questions, which Kasi has begun to answer on her blog.

And now onto the interview!

Jennifer Lane (JL): Welcome to the blog, Kasi! First tell us your journey to becoming a published author.

Kasi Alexander (KA): Thanks for having me on your blog, Jennifer. I am honored to be here and participate in this interview. It's been my goal since I was very young to be a published author someday, but I'd never been able to make it happen until I got involved in a power exchange relationship. Once in this, my Dominant and I decided to use the exercise of writing a novel as a growth opportunity both professionally and personally. We worked together on plotting the book and deciding on the deadlines, and I was held responsible for meeting my writing goals. Before we knew it, Becoming sage was a reality.

JL: For those who haven't read this excellent story, please explain the title Becoming sage.

KA: Becoming sage refers to the process of self-discovery of the female lead character, Jill. Throughout the course of the book and Jill's introduction to and exploration of the world of polyamory, BDSM and power exchange relationships, she transforms from who she was into the person she was meant to be, sage. As a clarification for our readers, in the world of power exchange relationships, it is common for those involved to assume a scene name, and for the name of the submissive to be written in lower case. This is not a sign of disrespect; it is just a convention used in the lifestyle.

JL: How has the release of Becoming sage affected your current relationship dynamic?

KA: I don't really think it has affected our dynamic significantly. Having a book to market has certainly added new elements to our lives. If it has changed anything, it has added a level of self-confidence and motivation to the work my poly partners and I are putting into the sequel.

JL: What's your favorite genre? Favorite authors?

KA: My degree is in literature and I enjoy many different genres. My all-time favorites are George Eliot, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, P.G. Wodehouse, Diana Wynne Jones, and lately I've been enjoying Charlaine Harriis' and Jennifer Cruisie's books.

JL: Congratulations on your recent college graduation. What's next for you career-wise? Upcoming writing projects?

KA: Thank you! I would love to pursue writing full-time, but until that happens I will continue with my current occupation as the director of operations for a nonprofit association while diligently working on the sequel to Becoming sage and making chainmail jewelry for our family sweatshop, Poly's Pleasures (www.polyspleasures.com).

JL: What do you like to do for fun?

KA: Fun? What's fun?? :-) I am addicted to making chainmail (fortunately), but I also love riding motorcycles, walking my Great Dane, and taking any opportunity to educate the public about our chosen lifestyles through my writing.
Thank you for allowing me this opportunity, and I'd just like to offer the parting thought that lifestyle and relationship choices aren't automatically bad just because they aren't the norm. Because, (as Omnific says), romance isn't always just 'boy meets girl'!

Thank you, Kasi. Crap, is it Monday again? Time for the Meet an Author Monday Blog Hop! Skedaddle over to Lisa Sanchez's blog, read the instructions, and please join us!

4 comments:

gabriellahewitt said...

Intersting Q&A. It still is a mystery to me too about the difference between slavery and submission. But I have read a few books in the genre that does a good job of painting the submissive person as strong and coming into their own. Thank you Kasi for taking the time to tell us about your book.

Jennifer Lane said...

Gabriella, after chatting with Kasi on her blog my new understanding is that each BDSM relationship is as unique as each vanilla relationship, so "slave" or "submissive" varies depending on the relationship. In Kasi's book, slaves very much contributed in structuring the relationship, and had safe words. I believe that might not be true in other master-slave dynamics.

Nicki Elson said...

I like how you pulled out specific quotes from the book and asked for clarification. I'll definitely hop over to Kasi's blog to see some of her (and I assume therefore Sir's) answers. I find the co-dependence that seems to be forming in point 4 a little creepy---no matter what flavor the relationship is (including vampire human---co-dependence is one of my biggest issues w/ the Twilight series).

Jennifer Lane said...

Nicki, I totally agree with you about the icky codependence in Twilight. That really turned me off, and I wrote a fic throwing B & E in therapy to learn healthier ways of relating LOL. Thanks for the code to your blog banner which I hope to put up soon on my blog!

 


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