In preparation for the start of her blog tour tomorrow I thought I'd post Kally's interview today so you could get to know her, and a little about her characters before the big kick off. Be sure to come back tomorrow and join us for the big kick off. There'll be a drawing for a $10 gift card and you can put your name in for the July 1st drawing for a $200 gift card.
Tell us what inspired your story.
As an incest and child sexual abuse survivor myself, I have found that Romance novels helped me recover and to be able to go on to a happy marriage of 29 years with my own hero. But sometimes the books just glossed over the traumatic effects such abuse can have on a couple's sexual relationship and the ability to trust someone again in such an intimate way. Flashbacks, triggers, it's like a minefield for the partner, as well. I wanted to tell the story in more realistic terms. As I write this, very close to completion of the book, I can't tell you if Savi and Damián will even have sex in this book. But I do know that they will form a bond that will move them toward that in the future. As my loyal readers have learned from back in Masters at Arms and even Nobody's Angel, I don't get to happily ever for a couple in a single book. My RESCUE ME series is more of a serial.
While I didn't choose this path for my own healing (or even know about it), I've met a number of women online who were abused and have used BDSM to help them regain control of their sexuality. So, this story tells how a woman who has gone as far as she wants to with traditional therapy finds herself exploring sadomasochism in particular as a way to achieve that.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
It has definitely been an emotional roller-coaster for me to write, which is partly why this one has taken me much longer to write than the first three books in the series. I enlist the help of many experts to help me get it right and the clinical psychologist who read it told me my flashback scenes are some of the most emotionally honest ones she's ever read in fiction. (As they say in fiction, none of it happened, but all of it's true.)
Describe your hero and tell us a little about him.
Damián Orlando is the youngest of the Doms who own the Masters at Arms Club, but by far the most evolved emotionally. My Chicano hero has been through a lot—the loss of both parents at a young age, time spent in juvenile detention for beating the crap out of his brother-in-law (who had abused his sister), losing his job and his Harley as a result of rescuing Savi from an SM scene gone bad, having his foot amputated as a result of a combat wound in Iraq, and fighting his way back from PTSD (with the help of his combat brothers, Adam Montague and Marc D'Alessio, the other owners of the club). And all that's just what we learned about him in Masters at Arms! He's brave, selfless, and everything you could want in a hero.
Describe your heroine and tell us a little about her.
Savi Baker (Savannah Gentry in Masters) is a fierce mama bear who will do whatever it takes to keep her daughter safe from her father and his partner, even run to her daughter's father, who doesn't even know he is a father. She's a therapist who helps child sexual abuse victims cope with and move on from their traumas. She is reunited with Damián in Nobody's Hero when Damián's niece is raped and he takes her to the clinic where Savi works. While she's been through years of therapy, she's avoided dealing with sexual healing because she has no intention of having a sexual relationship with anyone. But when Damián discovers her hurting herself to try to cope with the pain that has built up inside, he proposes SM as a means for her to get the endorphin release she needs, but in a much safer way.
What brings the two together and what threatens to keep them apart?
While the threat of her father finding where Savi and her daughter are hiding is constant throughout the book, the biggest hurdle for them to overcome is their own hangups about needing to be perfect. While both are wounded, neither is broken. If they can lower their walls long enough, they might be able to see that together they can have a future. They might not get the storybook ending their daughter loves to read about, but it will be perfect for them at this point in time.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There is someone out there who is for them, even if they haven't found them yet. Never stop looking or give up hope. And don't put yourself on a shelf and think your life is over—ever!
If writing a series, which characters will you continue with in other books?
I'm not one to contain a hero and heroine to a single novel. Adam and Karla's journey took three books—and they'll come back later this year in Nobody's Home struggling with some unresolved issues keeping them from total happiness. Marc and Angelina first met in Nobody's Angel, but they only knew each other about a week. While they ended Happy For Now, some kinks in the armor were revealed in Nobody's Hero, and they have a major story line in Nobody's Perfect where they are faced with a major crisis of trust. Damian and Savi also have taken three books to get them to the point of a commitment, but they will continue to work on their relationship in future books, as well. The next book, Nobody's Dream (due out in September or October) will be about Luke and Cassie, but will include updates on all of the other characters readers have come to love. I posed the question on my Facebook wall and my blog recently about whether it was a distraction for readers to go off into another couple's relationship other than the main hero and heroine's, and they let it be known that's one of the things they love best about my books. Over and over, they tell me my characters have become their family, too. And family members don't just make cameo appearances in each other's life stories. They're a vital part of it.
One thing I try to convey in this day of disposable marriages is that Happily Ever After (HEA) is just the beginning—it takes maintenance to remain HEA. So, my characters will continue to have their ups and downs—but, while sometimes tested in profound ways, their commitment to each other can never be broken.
With more than 52,000 copies sold of my first three books since last August and an additional 25,000+ downloads of the introduction, Masters at Arms, on Amazon since it went free there on June 4, I must be giving readers what they want! (The introduction to my series will remain free at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and All Romance eBooks.)
A word of caution: Please fight the urge to skip ahead in the series to Adam's or Damian's stories because you'll miss important turning points for them if you skip any books. I recently learned that one reader was so anxious to continue Adam's story, she skipped from Section One of Masters to the third book in the series—totally missing where Karla and Adam were reunited at the end of Masters and several pivotal, emotional, and sexy scenes in their relationship in Nobody's Angel. So, be good and read them in order! At $3.99 for each romance and a free introduction, the price certainly is right!
As for Damian and Savi's story, final edits are taking place now for Nobody's Perfect and the publication date will be later this month at the same four places you'll find the first three books in the RESCUE ME "serial."
Savannah Gentry, now Savi Baker, escaped the torture and degradation forced upon her by a sadistic father for eleven years and has made a safe life for herself and her daughter. When her father threatens her peace of mind—and her daughter's safety—Savi runs to Damián Orlando for protection. Their one day together eight years earlier changed both their lives and resulted in a secret she can no longer hide. But being with Damián reawakens feelings she wants buried—and stirs up an onslaught of disturbing flashbacks that leave her shaken to the core with little hope of ever being a sexual being again.
Damián has his own dragons to fight, but has never forgotten the one perfect day he spent with Savannah in a cave at the beach. He will go to the ends of the earth to protect Savi and her daughter, but can never be the whole man she deserves after a firefight in Iraq. Besides, the trauma of war and resulting PTSD has led him to find his place as the Masters at Arms Club's favorite sadist. Savi needs someone gentle and loving, not the broken man he has become. But he sees that the lifestyle he's come to embrace also can help Savi regain control of her life and sexuality. How can he not help redirect her negative thoughts and actions if she needs him?