Like so many people who grew up before the days of cable television with its sexy vampires and serial killers, author Joannie Kay’s favorite coming-of-age shows were Westerns. As a writer, she has kept those old-fashioned themes alive in books like Jake’s Secret and Unwilling Bride. Kay’s dedication to the timeless nostalgia of the Old West has translated into a loyal following among readers who prefer windswept plains and romance with a disciplinary theme to more hardcore offerings.
But Kay admits that much of her traditional view isn’t solely due to a fictional influence. Her books mirror her real life experience in the Domestic Discipline – or DD – lifestyle, reflecting the evolution of a relationship dynamic she discusses on both the personal blog and forum she maintains as a resource for other couples. And as if she weren’t busy enough, she also publishes a blog devoted to her writing.
Recently, Joannie Kay took time to answer some questions about her popular books, her inspiration and what plans she has for fans who are always waiting for her next book to show up on the horizon.
Blushing Books: You’re pretty open about your personal life on your Web site and blog. You’re a veteran writer who is open about her long-term D/s lifestyle. You even run a forum to share information and support with other couples. Just how long have you been writing? How did you get started? And how did you get started with erotica?
Joannie Kay: Well, first of all, I live what I refer to as a Domestic Discipline lifestyle with traditional values. I do have a forum for couples who live this same lifestyle; we provide each other with support, and many of us have become friends off the board as well as on the Internet. (A few of us just met for a long weekend at my home, and we had a wonderful time.) I feel it is very important that we have a social network with others who understand and accept that ours is a normal way to live. It might not be for everyone, but for some of us, it is as normal as breathing. I like to incorporate DD into my stories because it is natural to me to do so. How long have I been writing? I wrote my first ‘spanking’ story when I was fifteen years old for an English assignment. It was actually pretty terrible; a combination of Rawhide and Wagon Train, which were westerns on television at that time. My teacher was a young woman named Vernie P. and she loved the story. She gave me an A+++ and she embarrassed the death out of me by reading it to the class. (I was also thrilled to death she was actually reading it to them!) Most of my classmates were kind enough to tell me they enjoyed my story; they did pay attention, and no one laughed or hooted at me. I think that incident gave me the idea of writing professionally. When I suddenly found myself home with our first child, I started writing to have something to do, but it was a long time before I accepted a dare from some friends and wrote a story for a contest on Bethany’s Woodshed. That was the beginning of my dream career, and I feel blessed to be able to do something I love so much. Erotica? I don’t consider most of the stories I write as erotica. I know that many people spank as foreplay, and some of our DD’ers do, too, but I write mostly about Domestic Discipline, and create characters who aren’t afraid to incorporate DD into their relationship in a loving way. I think of erotica as very sexy stuff, and I do add a touch of that to my stories. After all, making love is a part of our lives and very normal and natural between the characters I create.
Blushing Books: Do you have a favorite writer who has inspired you?
Joannie Kay: So many writers have inspired me…! It would be hard to name them all. I have been a voracious reader since I was about ten years old and devoured every Nancy Drew book in the local library. I think that some of my favorites have been the authors who did add a spanking here or there, or made that threat. (I’m sure many of you can relate to looking for the spanking scenes in the older romance books…?) Johanna Lindsay is absolutely wonderful, and I have read and I own all of her books. Jane Ann Krentz is another of my favorites; I especially enjoyed the books she wrote under her Stephanie James pen name. I love mysteries, too, and time travel. This list is so incomplete…
Blushing Books: How has the growth of the Internet and eBook trade affected or influenced your writing?
Joannie Kay: As authors we can reach so many more readers. One of the women on my forum posted just yesterday that with her Kindle she has more privacy to order books she never felt comfortable ordering before. I think that freedom for readers has brought to our attention that more and more people are like us, and they want something to read besides the main stream stories that are politically correct. As a reader, I am thrilled I can go online, see something I want to read, and within a very few seconds it is downloaded on my Kindle and I am reading!
Blushing Books: So much of your stories have an old-fashioned, Western theme. What appeals to you about that setting and genre? Do you consider yourself a romantic at heart?
Joannie Kay: When I was a little girl, westerns dominated what was on television. I loved them, and I still do. As an adult, I know that life was not easy in the old west, but it was a simpler time in many ways. I used to love those vacations when you could go somewhere without a telephone and television and truly escape. When I write about the old west, I feel it gives all of us an escape from our daily reality. Yes, I am a romantic. I would like to see everyone have a ‘happily ever after’ in their lives, and I try to give that wondrous feeling of ‘happy’ to my readers. While I do write in many different genres, westerns are my very favorite. There is simply something very sexy about that cowboy, and no matter how strong the lady in question, you simply know that he is going to have her purring before the end of the book. She might not be sitting too well, but she is madly in love with that handsome cowboy.
Blushing Books: You often have husbands giving their wives discipline spankings in your stories. Do you ever worry that readers will think the women in your stories are weak because they permit a man to give them a discipline spanking?
Joannie Kay: I write about very strong women. I portray women as capable, and the men do respect them, even though you can bet he is going to do his best to keep her out of trouble and safe. It is the love factor that causes her to want to please the man she loves, and besides that she wants the man to be take a disciplinary role, so being spanked isn’t something that’s done to her without her consent. My strong female character sees spanking as an expression of her man’s love for her. I also hope my stories make clear that there is a huge difference between domestic violence and a discipline spanking given with love and consent.
Blushing Books: With the growth of the Internet and now the ease of shopping for books discreetly using e-readers, the market for erotica is booming. But what, in your opinion, makes a book erotic – especially a book that includes spanking as its primary theme?
Joannie Kay: I love erotic books, but for me there is a big difference in erotica and discipline type spanking. I am not saying that a discipline spanking never ends with lovemaking because it does… But the sexy kind of spanking that is used as foreplay is what I consider erotica. I also think that the ‘man in charge’ is very sexy for some of us. While I primarily write discipline type spankings, I love to write the sexy spanking scenes, too. One great advantage to E-books is that we can all find exactly what we want to read, and the privacy afforded by the e-readers is fantastic. I have had several of my friends tell me that titles of books, and the pictures on the cover, play a huge part in whether or not to buy a book in print form. I honestly think this is why the e-readers are so popular. Also, they are so easy to take with you if you are waiting for kids to get done at sport practices, or if you are waiting for an appointment somewhere.
Blushing Books: In crafting scenes and scenarios, do you try to work from the woman’s perspective or from the couple’s perspective? Do you ever find yourself planting little “lessons” in the story for your readers based on your own experiences?
Joannie Kay: When I write, depending on which pen name I am using, I write in a certain style. I put myself into each character’s mind and try to imagine how they are feeling in each situation. I try to decide how she is going to react to his words, and vice-versa. I don’t think anyone is perfect in real life, and none of my characters is perfect. Even the worst ‘bad guy’ might have something ‘good’ in the way he acts. The time period has a lot to do with how my couples interact. Do I plant little lessons? I never plan to do that, but my own beliefs, based on the time period, come into play. The simplest of things I observe just going about my normal day might end up in a story. I am a people watcher.
Blushing Books: For many prolific writers, favorite characters will spawn sequels to the original story. In your case, those characters are Laurel and Joseph. What is it about that fictional couple that inspired you to continue their tale?
Joannie Kay: I laughed out loud when I read this question. Laurel and Joseph are not fictional, and I thought by now everyone knew that Laurel was the feminine form of Larry, and Joseph is the masculine of JoAnn, my husband and myself! Lol! Yes, I was that awful, hot-headed brat and Joseph is my long suffering husband. By now I should be working on volume 4 of our life… but as I tell my forum friends, I am such an Angel these days that there isn’t as much to write about. Lol. Laurel and Joseph are real episodes from our life together,; however, I have written several serial stories using the same fictional characters. To be honest, I fall in love with some of my ‘people’ and I can’t bear to let them go. I feel the need to continue the story because I want to know what is going to happen to them. When I do write a second or third story with the same characters I try very hard to make sure they are as much fun to read as the first story.
Blushing Books: What are your plans for the future? Do you have any projects you’d like to preview for your fans?
Joannie Kay: My plans for the future are to keep right on writing as long as readers are enjoying my stories. I plan to develop the Amish series I am currently working on. I have a five chapter time travel story coming out for Spanking Romance, and it will appear on Blushing Books shortly. And, of course, more westerns. I have also been working on a longer book that spans over a hundred years, taking place in the present, and sharing journal entries that tell the life of the woman who raised her great-niece, and recently passed away. The characters in the story have become dear to me, and this project is taking a long time. I think it will be worth waiting for, and I hope you will all think so, too. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for reading my stories, and for making me feel so special. Happy Reading!