Monday Morning Fika: Maren Smith on writing Pets

Maren Smith, also known as Darla Phelps, is a familiar name in the spanking fiction world. In fact, I received quite a bit of enthusiasm when I let people know that she would visit us for Fika today.

While many people know Darla Phelps for her ageplay, it is actually an old sci-fi story that remains my favorite. Now known as “Bach’s story” because Maren has written a companion story from Pani’s viewpoint, Pets is one of the most creative stories I have ever read in the spanking genre. It’s romance, kink, sci-fi, ageplay, edgy play, and non-con all in one! I have read many spanking stories over the years, but this one stands out most clearly in my mind. I asked Maren to talk to us about writing this story and how she came up with the idea. I thought it would be better than letting her describe feeding her family bugs and brains. Ask her yourself. If you dare.

I had no idea when I first wrote Pets that it was going to become the most popular story I’ve yet done. Invariably, the first question I’m always asked is: Where did you get the idea? The answer is really very boring: I bought a parrot.
Solly is a green-wing macaw. She is smart, has a sense of humor, a sense of self, a sense of play—and I was totally unprepared for just how smart she really is. I was trying to describe some of what she does to a non-parrot owner, who listened indulgently while I tried to explain how she likes to amuse herself when she’s playing in her cage, and then he said, “They’re not really smart, you know. It’s just mimicry.”
That seems to be the human answer for a lot of things. Elephants are smart, so are dolphins, so are apes, but they’re just elephants, dolphins and apes. They aren’t people; they’re animals. Never mind the fact that Koko the gorilla cried when her kitten, All Ball, was hit by a car and killed. Never mind that elephants will mourn their dead and comfort one another when they are grieving. Never mind that dolphins can recognize the emotional states of human beings and react to them accordingly. Never mind the fact that all three—dolphins, elephants and apes—show evidence of being self-aware, intelligent, capable of feeling a wide range of emotions, capable of being artistically inclined. But they’re just animals. That’s just mimicry, taught behavior, wishful thinking.
Where did the idea of Pets come from? It came from a single thought: What if the situation were reversed? What if humans were ‘animals’ and the people of that world lived firmly in the belief that we could never be anything but? What if, in spite of all the ways we demonstrate our individuality, they still treated us the way we treat our pets? This was the foundation of my story. It occurred to me while I was on a plane speeding across the ocean from the U.S. to England, and over the course of my nine-day vacation there, I wrote the first Pets story. I did it entirely from Bach’s point of view deliberately because to switch back and forth within the same book would have robbed the story of a lot of its impact. I caught some flak for not making the alien culture ‘alien enough’, but I did this deliberately. I wanted my readers to see themselves or someone they knew in Bach and his people. I wanted my readers to be forever unable to look at their dog or cat the same way again without first seeing Pani.
Do I think this is a book capable of changing the world? No, I’m not that arrogant. But maybe those who do read it will look at their own pets differently, and hands and voices will subconsciously gentle, even during those daily moments of stress and aggravation when we’re all inclined to snap. Maybe someone will take the time to pick up an extra sandwich when they buy their groceries to feed the stray that lives in the parking lot, because someone abandoned him there to starve or get hit by a car. Maybe someone will even take him home. And maybe, just maybe, a new parent’s knee-jerk reaction when they bring their precious infant home won’t be to take their dog or cat to the pound because cats steal a baby’s breath or scratch and dogs can be rambunctious or bite.
For the woman who put her 2-year-old Irish setter to sleep because she redecorated her living room and he no longer went with the new color scheme, I don’t think any amount of reading could help. But in the very back of my mind, even knowing this series is entirely fictional (hell, I wrote it, for crying out loud!) a part of me kinda wishes there were an alien race out there, one inclined to take humans as exotic household pets, and in that dark, unflattering, vindictive part of my mind, I’m still holding out hope that that woman gets abducted next.


Pets: Bach’s Story

Bach never gave much thought to owning a pet until he lost his wife and children. He goes to Exotics, Inc., and buys a human, the latest fad in the pet-trade. Pani is everything he ever hoped for: smart, mischievous, both looking and acting so much like a real child that Bach can almost forget she’s only a pet. At least until her actions begin to go beyond the limits of the subspecies’ intelligence scientifically accredited to the human animal. She speaks, she writes. When she draws a picture of Earth’s solar system, Bach must face the realization that perhaps humans are more than just small, adorable, child-like animals. They might actually be a race of people in their own right.

17 thoughts on “Monday Morning Fika: Maren Smith on writing Pets

  1. katherinedeane says:

    I love this idea! Switching things around is always a fun thing to do.
    I love you, Maren, but have never read you as Darla before.
    This will be added to my tbr list.
    I love sci fi
    Thanks for sharing


  2. SH says:

    I loved this series, I have read all three, because it was such a different approach! It was fun to read and really made me stop and think. I have read most, if not all, of your books written as Maren or Darla because you are one of my favorite authors. You really write a fantastic story!! Do you have any new books coming out?


    • Maren Smith says:

      Yes, I’ve got three books coming out. I’ve got a new Maren Smith I’m just finishing up. The Castle should hopefully go to the publisher next month. And I’ve got two new mainstreams under a different name to publish in April and May as well. 🙂


  3. Celeste Jones says:

    What a thought provoking idea. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention Ana. Maren, I’m looking forward to reading this book.

    BTW–are the humans allowed to sleep on the couch all day like my dog does? 🙂


    • Maren Smith says:

      Depends on the household. 🙂 Just like here, some people treat their pets better than others. In the first book, Bach makes an initial effort to tell Pani to get off the furniture, but he quickly relaxes that stance the more he gets into being a ‘pet’ owner.


  4. Corinne Alexander says:

    This book sounds so famiar that I must have read it or at least excerpts when I’ve been on a reading bender before. Either way I am going check it out again for sure. I have several of your books in my read, to read, and wishlist. I will have to see if I own the sci fi because I love a good sci fi! Great Fika, Maren!


  5. Minelle says:

    Oh my gosh I almost missed this Fika! Ana!!! You should have reminded me!
    I love your work Maren. I have not read this story, however it is on my next list. Great concept!
    Both our dogs sleep with hubby and me. They are tiny and Burrough beneath the covers. Actually they frequently try and get between us. They are jealous buggers. And anyone who has phoned me knows they are spoiled rotten.


  6. pao says:

    Oh wow, that’s an interesting concept. I have not read your books, Maren, but I definitely want to read them now when I get the chance 🙂 So this is what I’ve been missing out on in e-books!


    • Maren Smith says:

      Thanks, Pao.. There are a ton of really good ebooks from fabulous and talented mainstream and indie authors. I never thought I’d enjoy using my Kindle, but I’m actually using it more than I’m reading paperbacks.


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