Monday, April 18, 2011

Becoming sage - A New View of a Different Lifestyle

Happy Monday!!

First things first…let me take care of business and announce the winner of my Easter Hoppin’ Blog Hop Giveaway! The lucky commenter is ereader89! I’ll be emailing you to get all of your information so I can get your prizes to you! Congratulations!

Now, for today’s fun! Today we are talking about BDSM and polyamory! What could be more fun than that?

I have always been a reader. Growing up, I read anything that I could get my hands on, but I was never a big romance reader. I think the reason for that was that my mom read the old school, Fabio pirate with the ripped shirt books all the time and I didn’t want to read what my mom read. Probably the only books I read that contained any kind of sex as more than just a piece of the story were the Sleeping Beauty trilogy by Anne Rice. I wasn’t sure how I felt about them because I was a bit put off by the fact that she was kind of being held captive, so I didn’t read anymore smexy books for a long time. Then a friend introduced me to The Black Dagger Brotherhood and I was sold.

I have never been shy about announcing that my mostest favorite smexin’ scene EVER is the V, Jane and the sink scene in V’s book. That book had me thinking that maybe some of the BDSM stuff out there would be kind of interesting. So off I went to read!

I found that most of the stories I was reading were about a sweet kindergarten teacher (or other equally goody-goody profession) who has a kinky side that she wants to explore so she goes to a club (or starts reading internet ads) and finds someone to experiment with. Now, don’t get me wrong…I like these stories, and will admit to having several of them on my Kindle. Then if you throw in another participant, yeah…I think that I might be revealing a little too much about my reading preferences?? But you get the idea!

I was lucky enough to be probably one of the first people outside of her circle of critique partners to read debut author, kasi Alexander’s Becoming sage, and got a new and different perspective of the BDSM and poly lifestyles. I was fascinated and enamored by this book.

Summary: With a failed marriage behind her, Jill Marten was looking to start a new chapter in her life. She had no idea that running into her old friend, Jessie, would unlock a whole new world. When she accepts Jessie's invitation to a party, in order to "try something completely different," it awakens a need to discover her place in a new community. Jessie, also known as sunni, is a submissive slave who is in a loving relationship with her Master, Sir Rune. When Rune and sunni ask Jill to be a part of their family, Jill begins her journey into submission, bondage, and polyamory, even as she questions everything that she has been taught about love and relationships. She begins to face her own desires and fears as she struggles with feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, and self-worth. Once she opens the door to a life she never imagined, a peek through the keyhole is no longer enough, and she must learn what it means to become sage.

One of the things that I really loved about this story is that it is told in first person from Jill’s point of view. So, the reader has complete access to her thought process as she makes new discoveries about herself and what she wants out of life.

This isn’t a story about Jill just participating in the BDSM lifestyle, this is about her finding out about where she belongs in the lifestyle and how much she wants to belong there. A word of warning here…this book isn’t what I consider Erotica – it’s not about the sex – it’s about the characters and how the sexual lifestyle impacts them.

I was drawn into this story because her thought process answered all of those questions that I have when I think about some of the aspects of a BDSM lifestyle. She goes through worrying how other people are going to react, and how as an independent woman she could give up control of her life in such a total way. Rutger and Jessie live as a D/s relationship as part of their life. They don’t just “play” on weekends, they live their lifestyle. So, while Jill discovers that she enjoys the sexual aspects of being dominated (most especially rope play), she isn’t sure about giving more control over to Rutger/Rune.

Not only is Jill confused about what she wants in her sexual life, but Rune and sunni offer her much more – they want her to be part of their family and to live together in a polyamorous relationship. This really throws Jill into a world of questioning her own values and desires.

For me, one of the most powerful scenes is where Jill (now sage) realizes that she’s where she wants to be and that she can give up control, and trust that Sir (Rune) will have her best interests at heart. In this part of the story, Rune has invited another Dom and his sub over for dinner and to “play” afterward. At one point during the “play” sage feels someone behind her and since she can see Rune and what BOTH his hands are doing, she realizes that it is Sir Matthew. For a second she panics, but then understands that Rune would have negotiated all aspects of their scene with Matthew, and that he wouldn’t allow anything that would hurt her. Up until this point, she has been wavering in her decisions as to whether or not she wanted to remain in the relationship. It is in that moment that sage knows this is what she wants and that she can give up control and trust that Rune will make decisions for her benefit.

kasi Alexander takes the reader through a true journey from negotiations to establish the amount of control her new Dom will have over her life (which in this case is almost total), to the inherent jealousy that both women must work through as they learn to share Sir. As a reader, I loved being given that little glimpse into the real world that these characters live in and realizing that it isn’t just about kinky sex, but about how a person feels about themselves and their place in the world. My belief is that as long as everyone is of age, and everything is consensual (and often negotiated before hand) then each person needs to decide for themselves what is right for them, and kasi Alexander does a great job of letting the reader see that it isn’t always an easy or quick decision, and that Becoming sage is a long thought out journey.

And, as a special treat…I have an interview with the author of Becoming sage, kasi Alexander!

Tell us a little bit about you and how you started writing.

I grew up in a small town in Michigan, have spent the last few decades working intermittently on a bachelor’s degree (which I will finally get in May 2011), and have lived in upstate New York, Colorado, and Arizona. I knew I wanted to write when I was very young, but I was never able to produce anything of substance until “Becoming sage.” Now I have someone who holds me accountable for my writing and is very supportive and encouraging. That really helps!

Becoming sage is classified on Omnific as “Alternative Romance.” Can you explain what that means?

I like the way Omnific put it: Romance isn’t always just ‘boy meets girl.’ I think alternative romance could be anything that’s a little different than the usual relationship style: same sex, polyamory, power exchange, group sex/marriage, BDSM, and probably lots of other stuff I’m not even aware of!

Now, in the title and throughout the book, names often aren’t capitalized. Can you explain why that is.

In many (but by no means all!) power exchange relationships (domination/submission, master/slave), the submissive/slave does not capitalize their name. This is totally optional and there are lots who do. I thought it would be an interesting aspect of the book, keeping their relationship status in view at all times.

I know that you live a D/s poly lifestyle, how much did your story parallel sage’s journey?

This is kind of tough. In terms of sage’s emotions and a lot of the M/s aspects, there are a lot of parallels. In terms of the actual action of the story, not so much. It is basically a very, very fictionalized account of my experiences with M/s and poly.

As an author, I sometimes struggle to find the right voice to tell a story in. In Becoming sage, you went with first person point of view, which I think was perfect. Did you know right from the beginning that you needed to allow the reader to be in sage’s head, or did you try any other voices before finding sage’s?

I felt strongly that the only way to tell the story was to be firmly grounded in sage’s head. I wanted readers to go through every experience from her point of view, even the experience of realizing that other people’s attitudes were not quite what she had assumed. It’s very much her story and I wanted to keep her perspective front and center.

I read that Becoming sage is the first installment in “The Keyhole Series”. Can you tell us what other stories you are working on?

I am currently working on a second book told from sunni’s (the sister slave) perspective. Then hopefully there will be a third told by Rune. There are short stories about Rune and sunni that may be coming out in anthologies from Omnific in the future. So far, sunni’s story is quite different than sage’s. It isn’t quite as introspective and emotional, but it reflects sunni’s personality better, I think, and deals more with life outside of their household. If the series goes well, there are lots of other characters who could easily come out and tell their own stories!

kasi, thank you so much for taking time to answer these questions for us. I’ve told you many times, but I really did love Becoming sage and can’t wait for the other stories! And, at least in my case, you definitely accomplished you goal in helping a VERY “vanilla” girl get an understanding of the real world of BDSM.

Oh, and check out kasi’s blog…I returned the favor and answered a few interesting questions about D/s relationships as they relate to my writing. Who knew?? I just like me a big, strong, protective man!

1 comment:

  1. The description and interview makes me even more excited to read this novel. Thanks, Kasi and Jessica! I'm a very independent feminist so I'm eager to eager the thoughts and experiences of the main character.