AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: S.L. ARMSTRONG AND K. PIET
We have cornered the writing team of S.L. Armstrong and K. Piet to chat with us at Joyfully Reviewed, let’s see how they do answering our inquiring minds…
[S.L.] Cast the Cards came out on Halloween. It’s an anthology with six erotic short stories put out by Storm Moon Press.
[S.L.] Tarot has been a part of my life for decades now, and so when we needed a theme for our first anthology, it seemed right for it to be something I’ve used in my daily life since I was a teen. We intentionally left the call for submissions vague; wanting to see what authors could present us without much direction. What we wound up with is two M/M, two F/F, and two M/M/F stories by some great authors that are erotic and romantic, tinged with sadness and hope and love, because all tarot cards have the positive and negative in their meaning. I think all the authors captured that essence perfectly.
[K.] While the tarot weren’t as meaningful to me, I fully supported the idea when S.L. brought it to me. There are limitless possibilities with the tarot because they can be interpreted differently for every single person in many different situations or stages of life. It was that vast realm of possibility that drew me to the concept. As S.L. said, we’ve managed to put together a great anthology with talents of both seasoned authors and first-time authors alike. We’re incredibly excited to offer the collection to readers now in both print and e-book formats.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
[S.L.] I almost always try to have the story plotted from beginning to end with chapter notes to help me keep the pacing and stick to a tighter narrative. When I try to write by the seat of my pants, the characters go wild and the story can wander. I need my outlines. *laughs*
[K.] I’m exactly the same way. From college essays to fiction, if I don’t outline first, I end up losing all track of the plot and getting bogged down in details that are usually unimportant. When we write together with the intent of publishing, S.L. and I almost always use an outline.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
[S.L.] I jump genres quite frequently. In 2011, I have several releases that are in various genres: western, contemporary, BDSM, paranormal, literary, and mystery. I create characters and the characters tell me what genre their story belongs in. I used to write only in fantasy, though, and while I still love fantasy and have a large series of books planned for release in the future, I have grown to love all sorts of genres to both write in and read.
[K.] I started writing with fantasy and paranormal romance, and while I love them, I’m always open to genre jumping. My short story in Cast the Cards is a contemporary, BDSM piece, and the longer I write, the more I expand to new genres.
What made you decide to work as a writing team? How does this work for you?
[S.L.] It actually came very naturally to us to write together. We usually meet up twice a year, for two weeks at a time, to do all our plotting for various projects, and then write together the rest of the time via instant messenger. However, K. is planning to move to my current city mid-summer 2011 so that the writing can go much more smoothly.
[K.] Our writing styles are similar, which makes it possible for us to truly co-author scenes, instead of having one of us write a scene while the other works on a completely different scene or swapping back and forth like some co-authors do. We also constantly share ideas with one another, so that helps evolve our plots and characters beyond what one of us might have conceived on our own.
Your new independent press is something our readers would love to hear about. What made you start it etc…
[S.L.] We had a very specific idea in mind for what we wanted our work to be. After a couple of years discussing it, planning for it, and working towards that financial investment, we took the plunge this year and founded Storm Moon Press. Initially, it was solely to produce our own works, but we quickly decided we’d like to work with a small pool of other authors that maybe write a little outside the box and don’t quite fit in with other niche publishers. Our goal is to publish quality fiction—both erotic and non-erotic—that spans everything from gay and straight romance to polyamory to BDSM. We’re also going to dip our toes into literary fiction in the very near future with our first non-erotic release, but our core focus will always be the erotic and romantic fiction.
[K.] The quality of the final product is foremost in our minds. We are definitely the types of people who pay attention to detail. We have an excellent circle of others we hire to help us out, from our amazing cover artist to exemplary editors to a wonderful typesetter. We even have a lovely voice actor who has recorded our first audiobook. What we’re after is to put out products that meet or surpass the standards most would associate with traditional publishers.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
[S.L.] I do, though he hasn’t shown up in anything published yet. Keegan happens to be a character I rather adore, and he shows up in a fantasy series K. and I are working on. He’s a complicated character, part of a long-lived race we call Maith, and he’s been through hell. Mind you, half of that hell is of his own making, but the other half is what poisoned him and allowed his self-hatred to take root. Out of the books I *have* published? My favorite character would have to be Dhakir from The Keeper, because he is a simple man who is complicated by an unlooked for romance.
[K.] Darron is definitely one near the top of my list, and he is an Elf from the same fantasy world Keegan is in. He’s a very complex character who is outcast by the House of Clouds for going against their pacifistic policies and getting involved in the Guild War that was going on. He is a very jaded character and likes to act as if he doesn’t care about anyone. Trust and faith issues abound with him, and the romance that creeps up on him starts a very slow change of heart. I can’t wait until the books with him in them are finished.
Do you have a character that you look back on now and don’t like?
[S.L.] At the moment? Not really. I don’t tend to write characters I don’t like in some respect. Even my ‘evil’ characters are characters I’m quite fond of.
[K.] As I mentally go through all the characters, there’s not a single one I distinctly dislike. They all can sometimes be pains to write as they go through the difficult portions of their character arcs, but I still don’t look back and dislike them.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
[S.L.] Nope. I must be an odd author since none of my characters are actually based—even loosely—on actual people. I will put parts of myself into characters, but not parts of other people. I don’t really know why.
[K.] I take certain mannerisms from people I observe randomly every once in a while, but I don’t actually base characters on real people that I know. I draw inspiration from everyday events and everyday people, but it’s a general bank of knowledge that those details go into.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
[S.L.] Ending a story. It’s not hard to find the ending, it’s just hard to *write* the ending. I tend to not want the story to be over. I don’t like leaving characters I’ve fallen for behind, and so I usually drag my feet when we reach the last few chapters of a story we’re working on.
[K.] I have the most difficulty with beginnings. It’s that first thousand words or so that are supposed to really grab the reader; those are the words that always seem to stick in my proverbial throat. I tend to have to rewrite my beginnings several times before I’m happy.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
[S.L] Hmm. I like ghost stories, horror novels, and scary films, but I can’t stand slasher flicks or torture porn.
[K.] I really dislike dogs. It’s nearly one of those irrational fears, but my heart-rate goes up when they’re all excited and jumpy around me, especially if they’re big dogs. I’m just kinda terrified of them. On the other hand, I adore cats.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
[S.L.] Anita Blake books. It’s like a train wreck I just can’t look away from.
[K.] Cookies. I love cookies, and I tend to indulge quite often, especially when I feel I need a sugar boost while working my day job.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
[S.L.] A strong cup of English Breakfast tea with plenty of whole milk and sugar. I need that caffeine jolt most of the time or my brain just sputters aimlessly.
[K.] I actually don’t have anything in particular that gets me into the mood. Perhaps a little conversation ahead of time, just to remind myself where I am and where I’m going. S.L. usually provides enough of that, or I can go back into instant messenger archives to read up a little bit before we dive back into a given manuscript.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
[S.L.] It oftentimes sparks ideas. Usually a chorus or a line or two will cause a story to form in my head. Right now, none of our current releases have any theme songs, at least, not that I’ve assigned them. Some of our unreleased stories do, though.
[K.] We both tend to not listen to music while writing, since we find it distracting, but when we hit difficult scenes, we’ll sometimes break to pump ourselves up with an inspiring song before continuing.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
[S.L.] I’m not sure, actually. I’d probably want to cast obscure actors for Oneiros. I’m far more interested in new talent and no using big name actors, especially since I tend to write M/M stuff.
[K.] Since my story, Surrender, is a contemporary BDSM piece, I would definitely have to cast relatively unknown actors. Travis would preferably be an actor with Native American blood, though. I actually pictured him as being of Iroquois descent.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
[S.L.] I was thirteen. It was one of the Harlequin lines. My mother and grandmother read them a lot, and I wasn’t allowed to. But, I remember vividly being alone in the house and finding one on a table and picking it up to read it. I don’t remember the title, but I remember how shocked I was to read the hero masturbating in the shower.
[K.] I can’t remember the exact time, but I remember I was on vacation with my family, so it was in my early teens. We had rented a cabin of some sort or were at a bed and breakfast. There were books already there, and I remember picking it up and opening to a random page, which happened to be one of those sex scenes that has crazy euphemisms for genitalia.
If you still have one of those pesky day jobs what is it?
[S.L.] I am lucky enough to write and publish full time thanks to my partner having a job he loves.
[K.] I’m a massage therapist, but I’d hardly consider it a pesky day job. I love it! It’s the perfect complement job to my writing, since it’s a very interpersonal job that is physically expressive and makes me feel like I’m easing the pains of others.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
[S.L.] Right now, we’re working on a non-erotic, mainstream novel called 312 Days, as well as putting the finishing touches on Rachmaninoff, a M/M vampire story that will be available December 1st. In March, we’ll be releasing Catalyst, a contemporary M/M BDSM novel. We have several releases planned for 2011, including some more vampire stories, a western romance, and a contemporary polyamory novel, among other things.
[K.] We will also be offering two anthologies in the summer of 2011. Wild Passions is a M/M anthology of anthropomorphic characters while Daughters of Artemis is a F/F anthology showcasing werewolves and the concept of the ‘alpha female’. For more information on submissions for those anthologies, feel free to check out the Storm Moon Press website at www.stormmoonpress.com.
What is your reaction to people who say one of the following…”Oh you write romance, I thought you were a real writer”, “Romance isn’t a real writing career” or the ever popular “Oh, one of those books”.
[S.L.] I tend to shrug it off. I have far better things to do than argue with people who view my romance writing as frivolous or pornography. I know better, and so do my readers.
[K.] I also don’t tend to get into arguments over it, but it’s usually clear by my expression that I don’t like my hard work being brushed off. *laughs* If the last of those comments comes up, I can follow it with, “Yep. Buy my book and read it. Then you can tell me how much you hate it.” I’m a shameless self-promoter.
Where can readers find you?
S.L. Armstrong can be found at
@peachesnjasmin on Twitter.
K.Piet can be found at
@yventide on Twitter.
The press can be found at
http://on.fb.me/9s3ybl on Facebook
@stormmoonpress on Twitter.
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
[S.L.] I am a huge fan of 56% dark chocolate, preferably Valrohna chocolate.
[K.] Definitely dark chocolate between 55% and 75%. I especially like Chocolove’s 55% with raspberry bits in it. Yum!
We’d like to thank Tanya and Joyfully Reviewed for this opportunity!