A sit down with Kris Ripper where I ask about kinky pirates.

Catalysts-TheScientificMethod-Facebook (2)

Gray: Where did the idea for Will and Hugh come from?

Ripper: Will Derrie has existed as “one of the Derries” in my personal canon since I was about fifteen. But he didn’t have a story until one day years later I pictured him standing on Hugh’s doorstep and needed to know why he was there, and what happened next.

Gray: I love moments like those as a writer.

Ripper: Part of my favorite part of being a writer is the constant obsession with a question. It might be a bunch of questions, or just one, but there’s always something in my head demanding I keep writing in search of answers.

Gray: I get these little flashes of scenes, and I have to turn them over in my head until I understand them enough to write. I call them marinating stories. -laughs-

Ripper: Oh, for real, marinating is the perfect word for it.

Gray: I love the open relationship dynamic you have going on in Catalysts. Was it hard to go against the usual one couple HEA rut queer romance seems to be stuck in?

Ripper: I had no idea that was a thing when I started this book, which I realize sounds kind of ridiculous. My understanding of genre expectations has developed alongside this story, and it never occurred to me that it could be anything other than what it is. It’s really about one guy who isn’t necessarily sure who he is and moves through an exploration of identity (that’d be Will), one guy who thinks he knows exactly who he is and is forced to reexamine a lot of what he knows (Hugh), and a third guy who’s way more stable and is delighted to dive into any adventure the other two invite him along for.

Gray: I love how you handled Will throughout the story. I thought his character growth was exceptionally written.

Ripper: Aw, thanks, man!

Gray: Are you more like Will or Hugh?

Ripper: Oh, Hugh, definitely. I’m not Hugh, but I’ve got a lot more Hugh in me than Will (or Truman).

Gray: I didn’t see any Truman in you, but I see a bit of both Will and Hugh so I had to ask.

Ripper: I don’t feel very Will-like, but having said that, Will’s POV is maybe the easiest for me to slip into of any I’ve written, and tends to crop up in other books most frequently. I edit out a lot of Will in my first pass on every non-Will book.

Gray: Maybe it’s because you have a similar voice? Whatever it is, I see it when I read Will. Jesse is the easiest for me to write, even though I’m more Goerge like.

Ripper: I bet Jesse’s a fucking blast to write. George too, but perhaps not as flat-out fun. Jesse is also way more fun to torture, I feel like. For that matter, in some ways so is Will. I’m far more likely to get people telling me I talk like Hugh than Will, though I see both of them in different moods.

Gray: George I have to be in the right frame of mind to write. It’s odd. Now I am going to be looking for the Hugh in you. -eyes you-

Ripper: Perhaps I just haven’t sent you enough ornate email missives yet. I’ll add it to my list of things to do.

Gray: Now I’m intrigued.

Gray: Which do you prefer to read, first or third? Write?

Ripper: I’ve written everything. I don’t have a preference. Different stories require different perspectives, and that’s true both for stories I write and the stories I read.

Gray: I feel the same. Different characters express themselves differently.

Gray: What is your process? Tell me a little bit about it.

Ripper: Ooh, process. Delicious process. I used to be a straight-up discovery writer; I’d just sit down at the keyboard and write in whatever direction I felt like writing in, which led to a lot of incredibly long, disjointed books. I was under the impression I couldn’t outline or it would kill my mojo (and it certainly seemed to).

But. BUT. I stumbled into a method of outlining that works for me, which is to say doing it well in advance of writing the story. The book I started writing last week was outlined six months ago, and it’s a lot of fun to now go back in, look at my notes, and “re-discover” the book. And I’m using “outline” loosely; I generally just index card a bunch of scenes, reorder them until I can see the throughlines of the story play out, fill in here or there as needed. I never capture all the things that need to happen, and I always end up writing more than I’ve outlined.

After that I write hard and fast through the first draft, let it breathe for a few days or a few weeks, go back in and revise hard, then send out for beta feedback. Some books require another pretty serious revision, some don’t. I love every stage of writing a book, but I think it’s important to note that there’s a moment in pretty much every book when I really hate that book. The brief period of loathing seems to be an integral part of my process.

Gray: I think every writer goes through the ‘I hate this piece of shit’ stage. The loathing makes us human.

Gray: Why is there no pirate BDSM?

Ripper: Because we haven’t written it yet, clearly!

Gray: We need to get on this.

Gray: Why does Hugh mess with the thermostat so much?

Ripper: Hugh’s a control freak. The thermostat is definitely a manifestation of him trying to control every aspect of his incredibly neat, everything-in-its-place environment. (It bears mentioning that if you asked him, he’d say it’s because he wants his guests, especially the naked ones, to be comfortable.)

Gray: I love the little details like these in your work. It shows you really feel the characters.

Gray: It felt very much like Catalysts had three acts. Each one told from a different perspective, but where as I first thought the book was about Will it seems to me the book is more about Hugh and his growth. Is that what you set out to do?   

Ripper: Yeah, that’s one of those things where when you write a little outside genre convention, you lose the easy road map for how the book spins out. Both Hugh and Will have arcs in which they change a great deal from first page to last, but with the addition of Truman halfway through, I knew this wasn’t going to be your typical dual-perspective romance novel.

Catalysts doesn’t hit all of the usual milestones (I’m actually picturing the checkpoint flags out of the Mario Brothers games). It’s a little bit odd, and only readers can say if I pulled it off, but I certainly intended it to be a book far more about the process of discovering love–of self and others–and opening up to different possibilities. This is a book about the journey, not the destination.

Gray: I hate those checkpoint flags. I love when a book surprises me by going a different direction than I expected and yours certainly did.

Ripper: It’s an interesting line to walk, and reminds me of relationships in life. You want the framework of your intimate relationships to be somewhat recognizable, but who wants a lover who never surprises them? No one.

Gray: Well I’m sure there are some people… lol

Gray: What is your favorite thing you’ve written?

Ripper: God. That’s a cruel question. Catalysts has a special place in my scribbler’s heart for inspiring so many people to fall in love with these characters. My favorite book to reread might be Surrender the Past, which is largely about how two very different couples play with the idea of absolute power exchange. And I’m proudest of Home Free, in which I tried to write an ordinary love story about a woman who’d survived horrific abuse and assault (the warning for the book reads “no flashbacks, nightmares, or PTSD”), and a transman who has his own dark moments. An issues book with no issues, if you will.

Gray -adds to my ever growing list of your books to read- I love damaged characters.

Gray: Favorite recent read?

Ripper: I’m in the middle of Mercedes Lackey’s Magic’s Pawn series, and it’s killing me to do anything other than read. (I’m about ten percent shy of finishing book two in the series, for those of you who know what I’m talking about.) This is fantasy at its best: lightweight worldbuilding that weaves in the background to provide immersion without exhausting the reader; realistic family relationships with all the complex emotions they entail; and enough action to keep you flipping pages (or tapping the screen, in my case).

Gray: This was our buddy read, and I could not put the books down. I felt so much for Van throughout the series. She has such a way with characters.

Ripper: And Van so believably aged. It’s not nothing, taking a character from early adolescence all the way through until *mumble mumble* (I…may have lost track of how old he was toward the end). But while he matured and grew up, he never grew perfect, which I very much appreciated. 

Gray: What upcoming release are you looking forward to?

Ripper: Oh, that’s a good one! There’s an anthology coming out in November, I think, that will benefit The Trevor Project and is all YA short stories. I’m not a huge short story fan, but two of my favorite writers–Amy Jo Cousins and Alexis Hall–wrote trans kids for this collection, so I’m definitely looking forward to it!

Gray: I love The Trevor Project. It is one of my favorite charities to give to. I can’t wait to read the anthology because AJH!

Gray: Thanks for stopping by, Ripper.

Ripper: Hey, any time. Thanks for having me!

About Catalysts

2015-10-06Sometimes all it takes is meeting one person to turn your world upside down. Will Derrie likes girls but he isn’t honest with them; he wants kinky sex and lots of it. When Hugh offers to dominate him, no sex required, Will realizes it might not be so easy to separate the two.

Sometimes all it takes is a new angle on an old idea to change everything you thought you wanted. Hugh Reynolds holds the world at arm’s length. He lives alone, works alone, and he thinks he’s as happy as he’ll ever be. But Will gets under his skin and once he’s gone, Hugh realizes he doesn’t want to go it alone forever.

Sometimes all it takes is a random encounter to open your mind (and your heart). Truman Jennings hits on a cute guy at a conference and he’s smitten by the end of their first date. Hugh’s not the kindest or the easiest boyfriend Truman’s ever had, but he brings one thing to their relationship that no one else could: kinky, adventurous, sweetly submissive Will.

Sometimes you can’t find the right man till you find the wrong one. Three men. Three sides to love, and intimacy, and laughter. Three people who didn’t know what they were looking for…until they found it in each other.

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About Kris Ripper:

Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a toddler, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and prefers the z-based pronouns because they’re freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.

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2 thoughts on “A sit down with Kris Ripper where I ask about kinky pirates.

  1. Oh Kris, “Jesse is way more fun to torture” is the best line ever, it totally sums up how I feel about him! I hadn’t been able to put it into words before 🙂
    I read “A Scientific Method” (the original edition) and really enjoyed it. I just got Catalysts, but haven’t started reading it yet (it’s supposed to be my weekend indulgence). But I really like a story where the characters go through exploration and learn about themselves, so I’m really looking forward to the whole series now. And it adds an extra level for me to learn a little about the authors I’m reading, so thank you for sharing this!

    1. Seriously, though, Jesse? With all that control wrapped around him like a warm fuzzy blanket? Oh yeah, baby. Wreck that boy.

      I’m glad you liked The Scientific Method, and I hope you like Catalysts as well–maybe even better! I love a story that follows a journey and isn’t solely invested in the end game. I want the end to be satisfying, but I want it to be *earned*, if that makes sense. I like to think these lads earn their endings, both in this book and in the rest of the series. Thanks for commenting, Carey!

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