Monday, January 20, 2014

A serious note about KARI OKAY

Hey there sistahs,

I've been talking about my next release, due out later this week, for some months now. I'm proud of it in many ways, but it is a change of pace for those of you who only know me by my erotica. This book is different, and we need to talk about why for a moment.

Anyone who's read my erotica knows this about me: What I enjoy writing about most is first-time lesbian experiences. They're fun tales, and that's all erotica is meant to be, I think: a sexy bit of fun.

And originally, Kari Okay was going to follow in that tradition. But something happened on the way to writing The End.

The first thing that happened is that the story began to grow. Originally I was expecting this story to run around 10,000 to 20,000 words. Instead, by the time I was done, I'd unwittingly written my first full-length novel: Kari Okay runs 54,200 words.

But I've been playing around for about a year with the idea of stretching myself into new genres; crossing over into things like science fiction and thrillers, and mixing parts of those genres with the fun erotica I enjoy writing. I expected this story to be more like my last release in August: a bridge between my pure erotica and my crossover stuff.

When I reached about a quarter-way through my story, however, I realized two new facts: first, Kari Okay was going to become my first crossover novel. And second of all, I couldn't let it become confused with my other erotica titles... because of a particular chapter and its fallout.


Anyone following my Holiday Bliss stories knows that I started including a minor theme of social menace in my stories for a while now. I wanted to include the reality that those who become open about their lesbian lifestyle don't exist in a perfect-world bubble where everyone is as accepting and pleasant and "okay with it" as they ideally ought to be.

So in one of my stories, I had a bully harass Jaz in a fast-food checkout line. I had a similar scene in another of those tales. But I kept them brief and not too dark, using them to serve as ways for Jaz to bond with new girls she had met.

But in telling a novel-length tale, I had the room to tell more about the life of my new tale's main character. And it had to involve more than just a simple seduction scenario. There had to be more story to tell to sustain such a long narrative.

So I went in that direction and started building Kari Oakley's life out as I wrote, and before I knew it, I reached a scene that had to be written, but which was too dark, too disturbing, and too serious to make it part of a light-hearted sexual romp. That scene entirely changed the book as I was writing it.

Here's why:

Kari Okay contains a scene in which the main character undergoes a violent rape that has serious and lasting repercussions on her for the rest of the novel (and, it is implied, beyond).

The scene is violent and brutal and a bit unexpected. I do not spend an undo number of words describing it, but the rape scene may still be upsetting to many readers, especially those who have endured a sexual assault themselves.

The scene is not written in any sort of remotely erotic way. It is portrayed for what it is: an act of violence, domination, and control that leaves Kari forever changed, and not for the good.

I'm aware of how controversial such material can be. Rape is no light-hearted matter, and is in no way arousing to anyone. (Or at least it shouldn't be.)

Realizing that scene was necessary for the story I now understood I was telling changed what I felt comfortable doing with the rest of the book. When I decided to include the rape scene, I felt uncomfortable including erotic lesbian content in the rest of the novel.

The reason should be obvious. First, it's very disconcerting for readers to endure a rape scene, and then feel in the mood to be aroused by a more sensuous love scene later on. Erotica and rape just don't mix.

Also, I knew that a rape scene can make retailers nervous all by itself; add in "light-hearted, sexy fun" in other scenes, and it sends a mixed message to the reader, and one could easily draw the mistaken conclusion that Kari Okay portrays the rape that way as well. (It does not.)

I didn't want to break trust between me and my readers in that way, let alone my retailers and me.

While lesbian attraction is a subplot in the novel, I have downplayed that element carefully to avoid the impression that rape in any way, shape, or form "causes" lesbian attraction. And again, there is no erotica content in the book. It's a different kind of read, and for very good reasons.

I hope many of you can tolerate both the rape scene and the lack of erotica content in Kari Okay, and are willing to take a chance on my tale. Despite the dark theme, it is a tale of suspense, coming of age in college, and even has some laughs in it in aspects of the tale that involve social satire. It's not so much slapstick humor as it is funny in the way parts of Breaking Bad were funny. In-tone comic relief used to release the tension.

I also promise that not all my books outside of erotica will be this dark and serious. I have more erotica in me, and tales of suspense and science fiction that mix in erotica content without verging into this.

But ultimately, keep in mind that Kari Okay is primarily about survival, not victimization. It has unique characters, fun themes, and makes for a suspenseful ride. I don't mean to make it sound unappealing; I believe it's a compelling read, and I hope you'll consider giving it a chance.

I would not have felt right, however, had I not warned you in advance.

Peace, love, blessings and joy on you all. Never give up!

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