This will be a first for me on my blog, this one or the old one. I’ve not interviewed authors. And I’ve only had guests for my birthday celebration back in February and one other time when I just couldn’t blog. Otherwise, it’s been me, just me, only me. So, today will be a little different.
A few weeks ago, a friend asked if I’d heard of author Kitty Thomas. I had not. But, I went to look her up. She writes what she calls, dark erotic fiction. It’s not dark in the spooky or horrific sense, though for some people, I can see where it would be. She writes mentally dark, sexually dark and that can be even scarier. It can make you face things you really never wanted to face, see things within yourself that you never wanted to see. Some people can’t tolerate opening those deep places in the mind where the truly forbidden and taboo fantasies are hidden. I say some, but, would actually clarify it as most.
Her book is titled, Comfort Food. It is raw, explicit, erotic, graphic, edgy, painful, emotional, stripped, and a complete mind fuck. I loved the book. In places it hurt to read it. In others it was breathtaking. It is not your typical BDSM erotic romance. It’s harder in some ways than a lot of BDSM erotica that I’ve read over the years. I applaud Kitty for her storytelling. This story is in many ways, haunting.
I’ve asked her some questions and she’s answered them openly and honestly. I will post information at the end of the interview where her book may be purchased.
Emily Vargas has been taken captive. As part of his conditioning methods, her captor refuses to speak to her, knowing how much she craves human contact. He’s far too beautiful to be a monster. Combined with his lack of violence toward her, this has her walking a fine line at the edge of sanity. Told in the first person from Emily’s perspective, Comfort Food explores what happens when all expectations of pleasure and pain are turned upside down, as whips become comfort and chicken soup becomes punishment.
Disclaimer: (Taken from Amazon.com)
This is not a story about consensual BDSM. This is a story about “actual” slavery. If reading an erotic story without safewords makes you uncomfortable, this is not the book for you. This is a work of fiction, and the author does not endorse or condone any behavior done to another human being without their consent.
*Author’s Note: Several readers have emailed me after reading the book saying that they were nervous about reading it because of the disclaimer. Comfort Food is not “brutal” or particularly “violent”. The disclaimer is because I don’t want people to assume they are reading “BDSM romance” fiction with safewords. That’s not what this is.
Lissa: I really want to know the person behind the writer of this book… I want to know who you are and what moved you to write this book, this way…
Kitty: I really don’t know how to answer the question “who I am”. I’m a writer. I’m someone who has particular views about the world as well as about power dynamics that I find best shared in the safe space of fiction.
Lissa: Talk to me about your feelings about BDSM. And what role you identify most within the lifestyle…
Kitty: I fit an odd category I think. I’m most definitely an alpha female, but I’m not a dominatrix in a sexual relationship. I’m a sub. But it has to be with the right person. I prefer to be 24/7. I definitely have an “ownership kink” in that I don’t like the idea of BDSM as a “game”. Though at the same time, I don’t think a sub should just “give herself” to anyone. There are a lot of bad eggs in the kink scene. I get pretty concerned when I hear those who identify as slaves just throwing their submission at the feet of any random “Master”, whether said master deserves it or not. And I put that in quote marks intentionally because I’ve been very unimpressed with a lot of the men running around calling themselves masters.
Lissa: How did the story of Emily come about? What was your inspiration?
Kitty: I really can’t remember what my inspiration was. There was a sexual fantasy and then it became a book. I know that I really liked the idea of him not talking to her, and their connection being completely primal and based on nonverbal communication including body language and touch.
Lissa: Why did you choose first person POV?
Kitty: I felt like it was more immediate. The kind of story I wanted to tell, I really needed people to be “with” Emily. If you can get inside her head and understand her, you’re more likely to understand her choices and why she makes them as she does. Third person I don’t think would have worked here. Though I did use the third person perspective in part of the book to show her trying to detach from the sex. Later when you read you find out another reason the sex is in third person, but I won’t spoil that here. I want people to discover it in the reading of the book.
Lissa: Do you think your book is for the average romance reader? I’ve read it and I’m not even sure what audience it’s intended for. I loved it, but then I’ve got my own opinions on power exchange… You mention on your website it may not be for the BDSM erotica reader used to safe words… That being said, who is your book intended for?
Kitty: Hmmm that’s a tough question. To “me” Comfort Food is ultimately a love story. It’s a very immoral love story, in that how these people come together is absolutely not within the bounds of the law or morals or anything that we define as “good”. And yet… they each have something the other desperately needs, to own and be owned. And the truth is, that this is not some big ugly smelly guy locking her up in his basement. This is a physically beautiful male who she would sleep with in any other set of circumstances. And as he sets up the rules for her, he makes it very clear through everything he does that not only is he in control of her, but he’s in control of himself.
He isn’t going to lash out in anger. He’s not going to “harm” her. If she submits to his will, she’ll be safe. Again, totally immoral, completely not something I advocate in a real world setting, but this is fiction, playing on the “rape fantasy”.
And at the end of the day, this book is about these two people as if they are the only two people left on the planet. What social rules fall away when it’s just you and one other person? What do your rights matter when you can’t enforce them?
I think a lot of people could walk away with something from this book. Some it will turn on (whether that fact makes them feel guilty or not), some it will horrify but they’ll still identify with something in it. Some will find it fascinating from a psychological angle. Some will see the twisted love story underneath the rest of it. Many have wanted the two to end up together, despite how it starts out between them. (Which means I’ve done my job as a writer here.)
Lissa: Why did you choose to write a BDSM story this way? Without safe words, without the benefit of Safe, Sane, Consensual?
Kitty: Because I think a book like this gets to the very heart of what many submissives, especially those with an ownership kink “feel”. This isn’t about the literal reality, this is about the fantasy. I can’t count the number of women (and men) who have sexual fantasies of this nature. I mean… who masturbates to a safeword? Safewords are all fine and good. I don’t think every kinky relationship “needs” a safeword, and a safeword wouldn’t keep you safe from a genuine monster anyway. But I think there is a real place for fiction of this nature that doesn’t have safewords. Fiction that is expressing the secret, private fantasy. This isn’t about a reality anyone actually “wants” just like this. It’s about the sexual fantasy. But I hope goes beyond just spank material to make an actual social commentary.
I think we should remember that books like Story of O don’t have safewords either. That is clearly a story of nonconsent. O’s lover tells her that she will go up to the door of the Chateau, knock, and do whatever they tell her to. If she tries to run away, they will come out and get her. That doesn’t sound like consent to me. It’s the same thing as Comfort Food, only written decades earlier and featuring several strangers sexually using O. Comfort Food is more personal and more private.
Lissa: Why did you choose to self-publish?
Kitty: I don’t feel that publishers would have touched this book without asking me to change everything about it that means anything to me.
Lissa: Do you wish you’d gone a more traditional route with a publisher with a somewhat built in reader base? Would you do it all the same way again?
Kitty: I think it’s a mistake to think you have a built-in reader base with a traditional publisher. Each author has to build their own fan base one reader at a time. And yes, I’d do it the same way again and intend to do it this way for future books.
Lissa: Do you think it’s important as an author to find common ground with other authors, things in common, be friends with? Do you see it more as competition with other authors?
Kitty: I think we can help each other and cross-promote. I don’t see other authors as competition. Most people don’t read one book in their lives. The more connections you make, the more people hear about your book. I don’t understand a lot of the nastiness that goes on between some authors. If your book is good and can stand on it’s own, it doesn’t matter what other authors are doing or how many books they’re selling. The only thing that matters is writing the best book you can and connecting with your audience.
Lissa: Why should another author recommend or promote your book, Comfort Food or you as an author?
Kitty: If they read it and love it, they’ll promote it. If they don’t, they won’t. There is nothing I can “say” to make someone want to promote me. My book has to do that talking for me. My job is to get my name and book in front of as many people as possible so they have the opportunity to read and make a judgment on the work themselves. Authors are regular people just like other readers. If someone likes a book whether they are an author or a reader they will tell others about it.
Lissa: What are you working on now?
Kitty: I’m working on my next book. It’s called Guilty Pleasures. It’s told in the third person, so that’s a little bit of a departure from Comfort Food. It also may push more people’s buttons than Comfort Food. I am a little concerned that people who like Comfort Food will hate Guilty Pleasures. But I’m hoping not. It’s all in the execution, so hopefully I can execute it in such a way as to get people to go through the fantasy with me. I guess I would almost call what I write kinky magical realism. There is a level of reality to it that makes some uncomfortable. Like it doesn’t happen on another planet where it’s “safe” for everybody to fantasize about it. And I don’t use safewords in the fiction to wrap you up in a bubble of safety.
But just as with Comfort Food, it’s not particularly “brutal”. As a writer, I try to lull the reader so they’ll go along with me for what I’ve written. Fiction needs to be a safe space where anything can be explored. Just like in actual BDSM you may see some things that look a little harsh to you from the outside, fiction isn’t literal reality. Fiction should always be a place we’re allowed to explore what we can’t explore in real life.
You can find Comfort Food at the following places for purchase online:
I want to thank Kitty for being here, answering some questions, shedding some light on her view of BDSM.
Y’all have a great Monday!