I’m really excited about today’s guest – fellow Evernight author, Katherine Wyvern. As you may be aware, a few years ago I wrote a romance featuring a transgender heroine, and to this day Gina in Aphrodite Calling is one of my favorite characters ever. When I heard Katherine had released Spice & Vanilla, a romance featuring gender fluid characters and concepts, I was delighted to be able to interview her and hear more about her writing and books.
Welcome, Katherine! Can you share a little about your journey to publication?
I have always been writing stories since I can remember. As a teen I wrote short fantasy stories with an element of Romance in them, which became more and more sensual in time. In my late twenties I started sharing short erotic stories with a group of online friends, and I noticed that people really liked my writing style, the way I described sex encounters. A few years later again I was struggling to find any erotica to my taste on Amazon, and I decided, ah well, if you want something done properly, you got to do it yourself, so I began to write my own. I dusted some of those short stories I had written years before and some of them came together and took a life of their own and became my debut novel, Black Carnival.
How long did it take to get published?
Exactly a week! I submitted it to Evernight Publishing without much hope and was blown over by getting an acceptance that quick! I threw the laptop off and ran full tilt across the pasture to tell my husband! Black Carnival was really almost pure Erotica, but my later stories are Erotic Romance, as I became more and more interested in using sexy and explicit tales to explore character development in greater and greater depth.
Tell us about your latest release, Spice & Vanilla.
It is a story about split personalities, shattered personalities, hidden personalities, and changing personalities.
There is Di, whose whole sense of self revolved about her tough, outdoorsy life, training and riding horses. When a near-fatal car accident turns her into an invalid, it is more than just bones that are broken, it’s her whole sense of worth.
Raphael is a whole collection of personality traits all by himself, a gender-fluid, bisexual, very kind man with a dark side to him … and all these personalities come into disastrous conflict as his female self, Lucie, blossoms into a complete new person who needs to find expression…
And there is Hugh, who might appear as a pretty solid no-nonsense Dominant type of guy, but has a whole hidden turmoil of emotions under his tough skin, one that even his sub of over fifteen years knows little about.
It was a beautiful challenge to unravel all these tangles and weave them together again as Di discovers a new sense of self, Raphael and Lucie find a balance and a modus vivendi, and Hugh’s hidden demons find a way out in the light…
Can you tell us a little about your current WIP?
It’s called A Muse to Live For, and it’s supposed to be a short story, but I am notoriously bad at predicting the final length of my books. I have been tinkering with it since February. It’s a Protean creature that keeps changing shape, tense, gender combinations and POV, but now that Spice & Vanilla is all finished and done with perhaps I will manage to focus and get the hang of it…
It’s the story of an artist who has lost his (?) will to paint and live, and of the mystery woman (?) who becomes his muse and unleashes his creativity again. It’s a story about the exhilarating but also terrifying and sometimes devastating power of an artist’s muse, or inspiration. It’s a spin-off from Spice & Vanilla, although it is set in Victorian London, instead of being a Contemporary story.
Is there a genre you’d like to try writing and haven’t yet?
I would love to write some paranormal tales, perhaps because despite not being religious at all I have a very strong sense of the supernatural.
I have started a couple of paranormal stories, and I hope I’ll get to finish them some time. To be honest there is to me, privately, a paranormal aspect to the last books I wrote, Woman as a Foreign Language and Spice & Vanilla, in that I see these gender-fluid characters, Julia/n and Raphael/Lucie (and also Gabriel, in my current WIP) as some sort of fallen (or incarnated?) angels (not really in the Christian sense, mind), who can almost, almost remember, but not quite, a former existence where they were not male or female, but complete beings… for a while I considered writing out this aspect of the stories, but it required so much world building … it would detract from the intensity of the characters, and it was ultimately unnecessary. Still, to me, it’s there, and I brushed just the very fringes of it is some scenes, where these characters’ “angelic” natures shines through just a little…
Do you have a favorite character in your books?
Yes. It’s Julia/n, the main character from Woman as a Foreign Language, who also makes a brief but fundamental appearance in Spice & Vanilla.
It was such an amazing journey to write them and create (or rather discover) this incredible gender-fluid person who has somehow managed to preserve all this warmth and kindness through all the pain they went through. I gave Julia/n the most important and profound piece of dialogue in Spice & Vanilla:
““I totally screwed up,” he (Raphael) repeated wretchedly.
“It happens, darling,” said Julia, very softly, so softly that he could hardly hear her over the din. “You are so full of pain and fear and longing that you cannot see beyond that. There is no space left for empathy. But you know, love, respect, acceptance, all these things, they are a two-way street. You owe them as much understanding and patience as they to you. More perhaps, because you have known people like them all your life, while you are quite possibly the only person like us that they have ever met. It’s up to you to help them understand. If you want them to understand, that is…”
I really wanted this book to send a plea for empathy and tolerance to *both* transgender and cisgender readers.
Thank you for interviewing me, Jen, it was great! 🙂
(Exclusive for this blog – thank you, Katherine!)
She sat on the bed, her right leg folded under her, her left off the edge of the mattress, and regarded Lucie with a sort of awed, helpless love, while Lucie cleared some clothes, Raphael’s clothes in fact, from the opposite side of the mattress. It was as if he had been shed there, like an empty husk, as Lucie came to life.
This was too strange, even now, for Di to be totally comfortable.
Lucie herself was so gorgeous, so tall and impressive that she did not directly inspire tenderness and intimacy. Di could not help thinking that not only she was not the only woman in this room, which was strange enough, but also that this other woman was considerably more beautiful than she was, which made her doubly insecure. She looked at Lucie with distracted love, feeling very, very small.
Time was, when she was whole, when she would have not doubted herself. Now that she was something different, something less, something damaged, she had an absurd, acutely physical ache for being on horseback. She had never felt so pitifully inadequate, with a horse between her legs.
Well. She had learned to feel whole again with Raphael. She would learn to feel whole again with Lucie, too, she supposed.
Lucie sat beside her, took both her hands and whispered, almost shyly “Are you ok? You look so unconvinced. I don’t want to scare you off again. If this is too bizarre, we don’t need to do it. It doesn’t need to be that way.”
“No. No. It’s not bizarre. It’s not that… It’s that you are so impossibly gorgeous. A little in-intimidating in fact. It’s ridiculous, I know, but right now you make me feel a bit bashful.” Di smiled, to take the sting, the possible sting, out of her words.
Lucie returned the smile, but her eyes were grave, troubled. Her thumbs caressed Di’s hands in circles.
“It’s still me, you know?”