Today, we welcome Maren Smith for a two-part interview! Please comment on both today’s post and Monday’s post to enter a drawing for a very special surprise…a bottle of cinnamon oil. Cinnamon oil, you ask? Read more about it on Minelle’s blog.
Anastasia Vitsky: Hello Maren, and thank you so much for joining us at Governing Ana! We’re doing a two-part series to celebrate the latest release from your Castle series, Mira’s Miracle. Today I’ll host you on my blog, and on Monday you’ll host me on your blog.
Maren Smith: Thank you for having me, Ana. I don’t do this very often, so it’s always such a thrill when I get to visit with others.
Anastasia Vitsky: I’ve always admired your work, from way back before I knew you personally. I’ve said this a few times before, but I love your Pets series. I admire how you can create an entirely new world, challenge your readers, change how we think, and still give a rip-roaring story chock-full with spankings and all things delightfully kinky.
Maren Smith: Thank you, but that’s what we all do, isn’t it? From Becoming Clissine, to Cara’s Breeder, to Pets. That’s our job. But more than that, I don’t think we can help it. It’s too much who we are as authors.
Anastasia Vitsky: Speaking of Becoming Clissine, that marked the beginning of our collaboration, didn’t it? I wrote to you, nervous about writing my first honest-to-goodness story with ageplay, and pestered you with questions and requests for advice.
Maren Smith: Yes, it did! But I wouldn’t call it pestering. 🙂 You had an awesome story idea, a world that spoke volumes to both the kink of spanking and ageplay, and the emotional impact that really made that story. It was a pleasure to work with you in that regard and it led to our collaborating in the Castle series, which has been a delight right from the start.
Anastasia Vitsky: When you and I first talked during the creation of Becoming Clissine, I found your thoughts both helpful and challenging. Then when I read what would later become Kaylee’s Keeper (while basking in the sun at an IKEA cafeteria, if you truly want to know!), I became consumed with the world you had created. Right from the first page, you captured my imagination. The setup was pure genius–Kaylee, a novice, makes every rookie mistake and opens the story for those new to the kink lifestyle. Yet she enters a world full of respectable professionals in the Castle, and there is enough “serious business” to keep longtime players interested. I remember writing to you, “I’m so jealous you thought of this setting first!”
Maren Smith: My idea for the Castle was two part. I wanted to come out of the fantasy a little and introduce something meaningful and real from the aspect of someone who lives the lifestyle. Everyone knows about 50 Shades. Although these kinds of stories have been around for years, it wasn’t until 50 Shades that the door really opened for us and brought in the kind of audience that legitimizes this genre. But, 50 Shades is not an accurate reflection of this kink, real Doms or real submissives. There’s nothing really accurate about that story, in that it doesn’t reflect real people or emotions. I wanted to show what I’ve seen over and over again. Novices who come in not knowing what they want or how to get what they need. I wanted to show that it was okay to not know everything. I also wanted to show that there is more to BDSM than spanking. There are so many different aspects of TTWD, that are every bit as beautiful and fascinating and worthwhile, apart from my main literary focus which has always been the spanking.
Anastasia Vitsky: That’s the beauty of Kaylee’s Keeper and Kaylee herself, that she makes all the worst mistakes (no spoilers!) and places herself into bad situations, but she still finds her happily ever after. (She’s similar to Mira in that way, as a matter of fact.) Master Marshall then leads her through all of the various kinks available at the Castle.
Except, and anyone who knows me will anticipate this objection, I was disappointed to find that the Castle was a M/F world. I adored Kaylee, I adored her experience, and I adored your writing (as always). Yet when Master Marshall introduced her to kinks ranging from violet wands to ageplay to pony play, we did not see any F/F couples. In fact, the intake forms mentioned M/F. In addition, the reference to the “Rainbow Room,” the central gathering place where people could interact out of character, specifically mentioned it was not in reference to LBGT. I wrote to you, with a great deal of trepidation, mentioning that I loved the story but had trouble with those points. Imagine my surprise when you not only took my words seriously, but you made the changes and invited me to write a F/F installment to your Castle series! I nearly fell to the floor in shock. I’ve had many experiences as a F/F writer in the oddly M/F-centric world of kink, but the kind of instant acceptance and understanding you showed me was unprecedented. For that, you will always have my respect and gratitude.
Maren Smith: But that’s what I had always seen and wanted for the Castle. I had always imagined it to be a world where anyone could find their specific niche. That it would be met with acceptance. That we are all of us united by this thing we do, whether we like to get our bottoms spanked or dress up as Littles or put on tails and paws and kitten ears and crawl around being petted by a room full of strangers. I write predominantly M/F because that’s who I’ve always been, but that’s not what I wanted the Castle to be. I wanted to show M/m, F/m, F/f. I wanted it to be that reflection of reality in which we are not all carbon-copy people. We have variances and subtle and not-so-subtle differences. And yet, it wasn’t until you pointed out where I had fallen short of my vision that I realized I couldn’t write all those different nuances myself. I don’t live them. I don’t feel them. I would not be able to do them justice. But you could, at least in regards to F/f. I’ve read your work before. You have a very clear, concise voice in regards to what you’re passionate about. You have skill and vision and I knew if I could get you to come into my world, you would do it justice. You’d take it seriously and write one hell of a good story, and I was right.
Anastasia Vitsky: The world of authoring is both fraught and competitive, and despite the surface happy-happy-joy-joy many of us struggle (established authors, too!) trying to make ourselves heard and to push our own books forward. I respect and appreciate your generosity in saying, “Here, Ana. Here’s my sandbox. Come in, make yourself comfortable, and do everything that I couldn’t.” Rather than falling short of your goal, I felt that you were both honest and straightforward. None of us can write an entire world by ourselves, and none of us can represent all of the different perspectives. The genius of the Castle is that your storyverse begs us to fill in our own postage stamp of space. If it had been a world I created, I might have felt uneasy letting someone else into it–and yet you gave me keys to the kingdom and complete trust. Didn’t you have any qualms or concerns before letting me run around in your Castle?
Maren Smith: Yes, actually. Which was why I asked you to follow a few rules. My biggest concern wasn’t that you’d do something outlandish in my world or alter my vision for how it might work. It was that you’d write me into a corner with one of my own characters. lol, I was a little leery of giving up total control, which was why it worked so well that you didn’t come in and just take over. You kept me in the loop. You asked tons of questions about what I wanted to do in this regards or that, or in other aspects of the world. And you brought with you some really awesome ideas in areas I hadn’t yet thought of. That rocking chair in the Castle Nursery was pure genius. So were the kittens. I could see that happening.
Anastasia Vitsky: Because this was my first straight-up ageplay, rather than a story containing ageplay elements (Becoming Clissine does contain ageplay, but it’s within a socio-political context rather than the pleasure of ageplay in its own right), I had to negotiate a balance between respecting ageplay versus not alienating my readers who are not comfortable with ageplay. I am a sucker for kittens, as I think many people are, and the thought of holding and getting to name a newborn kitten brought out all of the childlike delight in me. One thing I’ve learned as a writer: if I love what I write, readers will, too. Your addition to the kittens idea (I won’t say in order not to spoil the story) was pure genius, as well. For me, that was the best part of writing this story. Mira and Hana were my own creation, already existing in their own world from Desire in Any Language, but within your world I got to see them grow and interact in new and interesting ways. I loved going to you each step of the way and saying, “Maren, who would be your school teacher? Who’s in charge of the Nursery?” It felt as if we needed a tourist map and a visitor’s brochure!
Maren Smith: I’ve had people who’ve sent emails saying that, too. They want this to be a real Castle so they can pay to visit.
Anastasia Vitsky: Me, too!!
Look for part two on Maren’s blog on Monday! Find out more about Mira and Hana’s visit, as well as behind-the-scenes discussion of how the story came to be. In the meantime, look for Mira’s Miracle to go on sale at Blushing Books tonight! I’ll showcase eight sentences for the weekend snippets, and next week we’ll talk more about cinnamon oil as well as the process of reviewing published books.
Enjoy your visit to the Castle, whether it’s your first or fourth!
Desire in Any Language (Book one in the Mira series)
Mira thought she wanted a spanking. What she got was love.
On her own for the first time, Mira is studying abroad for her translator’s certificate. Unfortunately, the heady excitement of dance clubs, late-night parties, and endless shopping quickly distracts her from her educational goals. Mira’s advisor offers her private tutoring, but the combined pressures of culture and language difference threaten Mira’s progress at school. She is unable to get her act together until she makes a discovery that horrifies and tantalizes her: in her new country, corporal punishment is a way of life. The secret to her academic success just might also fulfill her wildest, unspoken dreams.
Sexy. Seductive. Dangerous. A poignant and compelling read.
Mira’s Miracle (with Maren Smith, book two in the Mira series)
Whisked away to the fairytale Castle for a dream vacation, Mira confronts her darkest fears.
Vacationing at Master Marshall’s world-renowned Castle should have spelled Fantasy Land, but for Mira the trip means paying a debt. She promised to work hard at her translator’s certificate course while her advisor went on maternity leave, but distraction arrives in the form of her first love. Diplomat Hana Takahashi, from Desire in Any Language, captures Mira’s total attention. Between Hana’s stringent embassy security and Mira’s draconian school dormitory curfew, their stolen kisses drive Mira wild with desire. Hana makes a bet with Mira: keep up with her schoolwork or take a trip of Hana’s choice, according to Hana’s rules. No veto power.
When Mira presents her inadequate end-of-term report, Hana books a dream vacation—of Hana’s dreams. Safe within the Castle, the elaborate role playing kink haven, Hana turns Mira into her little girl. Complete with a private nurse, playroom with its nanny in charge, and a schoolroom filled with naughty pupils and a stern teacher, the Castle’s ageplay wing reduces Mira to a child from the moment of her arrival. Hana’s word is law, and all of the Castle employees carry out her orders for Mira.
However, Mira’s natural resistance leads to tantrums, defiance, and spankings from every adult who assists with her care. When she encounters a tutor who triggers her deepest fears, she must face her residual trauma over the duplicitous “Mistress Susan.” Is Mira ready for the maternal nurturing offered by Hana, or will her unhealed wounds drive everyone away? Can she become Hana’s little girl, or will she safeword out of the Castle to return to everyday life…without Hana? Will there be a miracle for Mira?
Warning: contains ageplay, mouth-soaping, spankings, and sex scenes
Remember–you need to comment on part two on Maren’s blog on Monday in order to enter the drawing for the cinnamon oil!