Kilby Blades is this week’s guest! We have a fantastic (and topical) conversation about what it means to write feminist romance, genre expectations in women’s fiction vs romance, and how understanding food and food writing helped her write her steamy scenes. Plus we dig into Alpha and Beta heroes. And for the first time on the podcast, Kilby shares a First Time scene from her book The Art of Worship.
Connect with Kilby online:
https://www.kilbyblades.com/readersubscribe (Newsletter) ·
https://www.facebook.com/groups/kilbyskorner/ (FB Reader Group) ·
http://www.facebook.com/kilbybladesauthor (FB Official Author Page)
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kilby-blades (BookBub) ·
Today's guest is Kilby Blades. Kilby is a USA Today best selling author of romance and women's fiction. Her debut novel Snapdragon was a Holt medallion finalist and the Publishers Weekly booklife Prize semifinalist her recent novel The secret ingredient is a finalist in the rW a Vivian contest critics praise her for easing feminism and equality into her novels. That quote is from indie reader, and quote, "writing characters who complement each other like a fine wine does a good meal," Publishers Weekly. Kilby is a feminist and oenophile, a cinephile, a social justice fighter. And above all else, a glutton for a good story. Welcome Kilby to steam scenes.
Hello, thank you for having me.
Oh, my God, your bio is awesome. And at first I was like, Oh, no, in a file in a file, and I kept practicing it. And then I was like, watch, I'm gonna say she's a gluten for a good story.
I am and I am an oenophile. I had to look that word up because I you know, for me in my head, I was just like, I like wine. But there is a name for people who like wine. So it turns out I am an oenophile.
I looked that up to because I thought it meant music lover. I've no idea why.
Yeah, there are all sorts of files and you know, like all sorts of like weird words. You know, it turns out that stamp collecting, like the love of stamp collecting is called Philately A, which I think is just the funniest word ever invented.
It's like phlebotomist, but it's not. Right. Has nothing to do with blood. So weird this English language of ours is so weird. So that like this is kind of cool. Because like the you know, file can lead us into actually one of my questions for you. We're totally jumping over a whole bunch. But you're a sommelier. Did I say that right?
I am a sommelier.
Oh, that's a process.
It is a process. But you know, when you're setting for the sommelier exam, you can also expense wine. So that's tax deductible.
Well, that's a good, that's a fun thing. So what made you decide to do that?
I decided that I wanted to be a food wine and travel writer at a moment when I had been, and everybody else had been, laid off from my job. I was working as a VP for a fortune 500 company. I had just left the company that I worked for, in like September of 2008. And then by December of 2008, the entire economy had collapsed. You know, Lehman Brothers had gone under, and I had just, you know, the company that I went to, went bankrupt. So I had this moment. And so this is around December of 2008, I was laid off permanently along with everybody else at my company on my 30th birthday. While I was on a business trip to a place in the middle of nowhere, that wasn't that cool place to be on a business trip,
They laid you off while you were on a business trip. How did that conversation even go?
Well, because I worked. So I live in San Francisco. So I worked in the San Francisco office, but actually headquarters are on the east coast. Okay, so I was at headquarters, the business trip,
Okay. It's not like you were in like Duluth, like, like meeting a client, like meeting one of their client MBA and then be like, oh, by the way, by the way.
So I ended up in a dive bar with myself and my other counterparts who all got laid off on my 30th birthday, drinking cheap liquor 3000 miles away from home. So and this is, this is like a much longer answer than you asked for. But so this is December 2008. So my husband and I had this baby bucket list. Like all these things we wanted to do before we had a baby. So I had this trip to Tanzania planned and we were going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and hang out in Tanzania for a month. So I was in this weird position where I couldn't go out and look for a job because I couldn't start a job because I was about to go to Tanzania for a month. And then so I was just in this weird situation where I realized I probably wasn't that employable because everybody was out of a job and looking for a job. So I said, Alright, this is the year I'm going to become a writer. My first pursuit was, you know, I had just moved to California a few years earlier, not being from California. And I really like the culinary world. So I decided I was going to become a food wine and travel writer and it was going to give me an excuse to see everything in California and cover one country and that's exactly what I did.
Wow. Okay, so see this is this is actually great. So is this when you so this is when you realized you want it to be a writer before this you weren't sort of like, you know, tucking away romance novels on the side or anything like that.
Oh, I totally. I started writing. So I'm one of those people who's always written and I come from a family where we all right, so my sister's always written in my dad has always written. I started writing stories about my friend group and boys I liked when I was a tween.
Oh, I love it.
I wrote these stories. One of the only places I was allowed to go as a tween was the roller skating rink.
I remember those.
Like, kind of don't exist anymore. Yeah, my best friend Robin. And I would write these stories starring us, of course, and the cute skater boys who we really liked. And there were these sort of fantasy stories like, oh, what if we had to go to California to a skating competition with our crew? You know, what would happen if we were like, all staying in house in the beach and be like, hooked up with the boys would be like, that sort of thing. This is awesome. Yeah, I wish I mean, and this is like your so this is like I'm writing these stories in my bedroom with her sitting next to me and us giggling together on my apple to see and like printing them out on my dot matrix printer. Like real old school stuff.
So do you have them still?
You know, I'm one of those people who saves everything. So I would hazard a guess that they really are somewhere, but I haven't seen them in 30 years. Okay. All right. This is great, though. I love it. I absolutely love it. That's where I got my start. And then I wrote a fair bit of fanfiction once I figured out what that was, okay, because I've always had opinions. You know, I'm a big TV and movie person. I've always had opinions about who the pairing is, and sometimes they get it wrong. So that's where my fanfiction career came from. And I wrote fanfiction for a long time and never entertained the idea of right like publishing original fiction. But I was writing a really big fandom, and then people who were writing at the same time as I was who I would run into at Comic Con, because we were all there, you know, being fans of our shows, you know, then I they all started self publishing and becoming huge, huge authors. And then I was like, why are they doing that? And I'm not doing that. So then that's how I ended up doing this.
Got it. So were you. So prior to 2008? Did you start writing your original work? Or did that happen after 2008?
No, so I had I mean, I had so much fanfiction in the bank. Actually, the early novels that I published under Kilby Blade were rewrites of fanfiction that I had already published.
Oh, what was that process like?
Well, you know their fanfiction is not fanfiction is not fanfiction. So in the fanfiction world, some things are canon. And that's fiction that really takes place in the world that the author has built, right? A lot of fanfiction is what's called alternate universe. And alternate universe doesn't really alternate universe a lot of times it's just a way to get people to read your work because they feel like they're reading characters that they already know in life. But a lot of times it really doesn't have a lot to do with the original world. And I was already writing a lot of alternate universe fanfiction. So it didn't really take a lot for me to take it out of the world that I originally wrote it for.
Okay, okay. Um, so I sort of just take a step back what it sounds like you were always writing some sort of romance starting in your bedroom with your best friend. What drew you to romance? Do you have any idea?
I so I've always been a reader. In addition to a writer, I think my reading pattern when I was younger was to read things that I didn't, that were hidden worlds to me. So I remember being in elementary school and reading the sweet Valley twins, because I wanted to know what Middle School is going to be like. And I remember being middle school and reading sweet Valley High because I wanted to know what High School was going to be like. And I remember, the first year before I went to summer camp, I wanted to know what summer camp was going to be like. So I read books about summer camp. I think that romance was the same for me that I started reading romance because there were things that I didn't really understand about dating and boys and how that whole thing was supposed to work. And to that extent, I think that I really treated reading, like research almost and like previewing whatever my next stage was going to be so that I could kind of try and figure it out before I experienced that.
That's really fascinating. So what did you walk away with doing sort of like romance, romance reading, as research did? Was it accurate or was it sadly, spectacularly inaccurate?
Well, some more accurate than others. So it just singly, I, you know, like I just admitted a few minutes ago, I keep a lot of stuff. And I recently helped my mom sell her house, and therefore found a lot of my belongings. And I found a copy of Forever by Judy Blume, which was absolutely every teenager at the times manual for what is sex going to be like, right, because that was the first sort of really mainstream book that had a sex scene. And interestingly, I found this copy and it is absolutely a copy of that I borrowed for the library and never gave back. Because it still has the little library card and the little sticker that says YA on the spine. So I probably owe my local library that a million dollars by now. But I also found VC Andrews books, which I was also reading, which had these really problematic romantic relationships in them. Which turned out not to resonate with my actual life. But I do think that at the time that I was reading them, they were an exploration of, like, how does adulthood work? And like, what's a good relationship? And what's a bad relationship? And right, all of those sorts of things factored in, right?
So when you actually sat down, okay, so wait back up for a second, my downline when you were writing the fandom? Did you get graphic with your sex scenes within the fandom? Or did you sort of hold back on those?
I did get graphic in cases. I think. In some cases, it depends on why I was writing the fanfiction. So for example, I wrote West Wing fanfiction at one point.
I had no idea that that was a thing.
Oh, it's a thing.
I had no idea.
It was actually West Wing fanfiction was really good. Because West Wing fans tend to be a little bit older, tended to be really smart. So it was pretty well written fanfiction. I had no idea. Yeah, some fandoms. Some fandoms. Like the age range skews a little younger. And the sort of demographic is a little bit less sophisticated. But that wasn't the case with the West Wing. So that was a show where I felt that Sam and Josh were the couple. But it was a network television show in the late 90s. And they were never going to have a gay couple as the lead. So sort of my imagination where that went was. I see that pairing and I want to write that pairing because I see the chemistry between the characters, right? In other cases, you would watch a show and it would be you know, there's clearly a lot of sexual chemistry. But because it's network television, they're not going to put it on the screen. Right? So you would see not just for me, you would see a lot of people sort of like, Oh, it's on screen, but it's not on screen. Okay, I see a lot of people kind of like answer that by being like, okay, we're gonna put it on the page since they're not going to put it on the screen. Right. Okay, so with with fan fiction, I felt like I sort of how sexy the the fic was really was related more to how much tension there was between the characters as they were written by the original creator.
Okay, got it. So then what? So what was your first scene? Okay, so what was the first sex scene you wrote? Was it within the West Wing fanfic world?
No, actually, wow, this is this is going to take you even farther back, but they wrote in with Dawson's Creek.
Wow. And that was your and that was your first and that was your first steamy scene, like your actual foray into steamy writing? I think wow, what? Do you remember what it was like to write your first one?
I don't. I've read my I've gone back and read some of that. And it as I reread it, it's so clearly reflective of my understanding of sex at that at the age of that I was at that time. Okay, which was about I was about 19. And I was writing that, and I was still forming my own sexual identity at that point, right. And it's interesting, because the sex that I write now is just so different because my understanding of sex is different.
Can you sort of like give me an example of of what what was like what you were writing then versus what how you would write it now. It's okay, if you can, I'm putting a totally putting on the spot.
I think that at that time, the way that sex and sexuality had been presented to me was, and based on my experience that I had had in relationships at that time. My love sex was a fairly sort of goal oriented thing? Where it's like there was kind of like, you know, first base second base third, you know, it's like, right, you know, and then someone's gonna hit a home run. Right. So, and I think that my, my vision, my view of sex has has evolved, right? Like, does sex always equal penetration? Is it not over until there's penetration? Like, you know, right, just these sort of like views about sex, whereas I think the older I got my views of what sex could be and what it means to have sex. And, you know, even have a climax. And when is sex over? Like, all of those things have expanded for me?
Okay. Okay, cool. So do you have? Do you have any sort of like process for writing a scene? Or is it just me, it's just like a normal, whatever you sit down to write, and it could be, you know, making dinner, it could be having sex?
No, I have to be inspired to write sex scenes. And if I'm having trouble writing sex scenes, I'll back up, I always write the scenes that I'm motivated to write in the order that I'm motivated to write them. So I might start a book. The first words that I write of a book might be chapter 19. If I see chapter 19, really clearly.
oh, that is unusual.
Yeah, that is unusual. I realized that about myself. Actually, it's hard for me to it's one that now that I do more traditional publishing it like it's interesting to work with editors. I'm working on a book right now where it's like, okay, let's talk at let's write the first half of the book, and let's talk and then write the second half of the book. And I had to have a conversation, it was like, that's not necessarily how I write.
And were they okay with that? Or did you have to shift your the way that you write?
No, they're okay with that. But there, there are a moment I actually Oh, the first half of the book, and about a week, but I have written scenes already in the second half of the book, because I was in the flow. And I was inspired to write scenes that I that are not due yet,
So do you outline or your pants?
I do both. I initially pants. And then I reach a point where it needs structure. And I then I start giving it more structure. But I'm somebody like, I really see the whole story in my mind, I can see an entire book in my mind before I, before I sit down to write it.
That's really cool. I wish I could do that would make my life a lot easier. So what? So in terms of writing these steamy scenes, and so so let's say you start in your like chapter nine, and here is it? Is there anything particularly that sort of like, inspires you that you're like, Okay, I know the scene that I'm going to write in terms of the steam? Is there anything that grabs you or catches you? Or makes you go? Oh, that that's it? Yes.
There is? And I don't know, I don't know what it is. Exactly. It's more and maybe this goes back to me being a visual thinker, like I can see it, I can't explain why I can see it, but I can see it. Okay, in my mind's eye, right?
I'm also sort of curious about, you know, piecing it back together, you know, because I know, so many writers, you know, have said to me, no, I need to write linearly, and they don't even do that, if they're struggling to write the intimate scenes, they don't even do that insert sexy in here, they will sit there and just sort of fight their way through it, no matter how long it takes before they're able to move on. So in terms of like, sort of writing the way that you're writing, um, I can see like, actually a lot of prose in terms of, you don't have to go back and rewrite, if you've made changes into like, you know, Chapter 19, for example, because you, you kind of haven't written the beginning of the story yet. So you can actually, you actually are able to write that in.
Yeah, that's true. There are pros and cons to it. Because sometimes if I think of a better idea, though, sometimes I think of sometimes I've, I'm writing and I think of something that's better than an original premise that I wrote, and then I have to go back and change it for continuity.
Right, right. I mean, I don't know, do we all do that no matter how we write, whether it's or not, I think so. Right? I mean, I mean, where you get to that point, you're like, Oh, no, crap, I like this better. Now. Let me go back and fix every single thing that you know, every chapter I have to go back and look at every chapter and fix that. Um, so you've written women's fiction, romance and erotic romance correctly. Like all three categories? Yes. And is there one that you prefer? To me?
The romance and the women's fiction bleed into each other. So I've never written a romance that didn't have that didn't feel women's fiction ish. And I've never written a women's fiction that didn't have a romance. I think I mainly send that signal that I'm a women's fiction writer, because there are things that people won't find in my romance novels, like I'm not an instant love person. Okay. And therefore, it always feels a little slower. And it always feels a little bit more character driven. And I also have, I also have heroines that have their own stories that I really go into. So talking about the fact that I write women's fiction is really more about signaling to readers that it's going to feel women's fiction ish.
Okay, can we break that down a little bit more, because I'm super fascinated by this in terms of, you know, sort of diving a little bit deeper into a woman's story, because I think this is nice struggle with romance is when I read a lot of romance, like some do dig in a little bit more, and some don't. And I prefer the ones that do and so I'm super, like, fascinated by those. Yeah. I
So I have trouble writing women who are not me. So all of my stuff is autobiographical.
Is that no, is it really?
It really is?
Oh, wow. Okay, keep going.
There's nothing that's happened to characters in my books. That hasn't happened to me on some level.
So when I like my first book, my debut novel called Snapdragon is an erotic romance. And, you know, if you just call something an erotic romance, a lot of people are expecting an alpha hero, and instead love and all of those sorts of things. But it's all from her point of view. She is a billionaire. She is the daughter of a very crooked senator. And she's dealing with living in her father's shadow who she who she really doesn't want to be associated with, but who she can't not be associated with, because she's always in the public eye, right. She is elite educated and very good at what she does. But she and she's a psychopharmacologist who works at a hospital, but she has a misogynist boss, who thinks that she has a whole lot of unearned privilege. And she does have privilege. But she also is very good at what she does, right. And she really can't like casually date because she's a quasi public figure. So if she decides she wants to see somebody, it becomes complicated, because then there are tabloids, and other things. And it's also complicated, because she's ambitious. And a lot of men say that they want a smart woman. But a lot of men really don't want to deal with a woman having her own career priorities. Very so the book really is about how they're this character who you know, wants to have a sex life and who wants to have love Even though she doesn't believe that she can have love given her life? It's really about how is how does a woman who is ambitious? And her career stars rising? How does she managed her life? And how does she have a sex life? Like the books about her? Right? So that's, that's kind of where I do my signalling, because I don't want people to think that they're, they're going to get a book that isn't really talking about my heroine in her life.
Okay, so how how to readers sort of react to that, because you are giving them I guess, a little bit more? It feels I don't know, I feel like it's like you're giving them more. But maybe they're, they get impatient with that?
I don't know. They do. And it's all about signaling. So I put the word feminist right in my profile, because people who like that word are going to be like, Yes, I want to read this book. And people who don't like that word are going to be like, bye, which is what I want.
And I tried to put other things in my description to let people know that to some people, it's going to feel like a slow burn. So usually my bad reviews are It was too slow. But my good reviews are like, I really loved the characters. I really loved how realistic it was. But yeah, I mean, it's it's not instill love in it. You know, instill love is definitely a thing, especially in erotic romance. So the best thing to do is just like try to let people know, right?
I mean, you've written you wrote a piece for Heroes and Heartbreakers about rewriting the contemporary heroine in romance, and I thought that there was some such valid points and what you were writing that we can do better in terms of equity and in terms of balance between the hero and the heroine in our books. Do you do you write alpha males at all? Are you just like, Nope, not not going there?
I think I have heroes with. I think my heroes have sort of like an Alpha Dog that can come out when they need to. Okay, but overall, my heroes are sort of woke to the fact that my heroines have their own problems, and that they don't need to sort of make choices for them.
Yeah. Yeah, I think, go ahead. I'm sorry.
No, I think that's where the alphas comes in, like the alphas are in charge. And it's like, but like women need to be in charge of their own lives. And women who are in charge of their own lives need to be with men who make them more in charge of their own lives, not less in charge of their own lives.
Yes, I would completely agree with that. I don't know why. You know, I don't know. I don't really understand. Because Let me try this again. I guess they're called beta heroes. And I don't know, I think that they're super sexy. And I would love to read more of them.
Yeah, and that term, as I heard that term debated, it's like, well, beta heroes doesn't really make sense about why don't we have gamma heroes, you know, like, all sorts of sort of puns. I, so I say, I say, beta in the streets alpha in the sheets, like, that's who I write.
Oh, I like that.
I think that's really the fantasy, I think the fantasy is to, you know, have somebody who will be sort of who will take over when you want them to write and he will step back, right? And let you do you, right, when you don't want or need them to take over. Right.
And I do think this sort of conversation about fantasy is a very important one, you know, in particular, around romance I, you know, because I've, I've sort of found, you know, I found people can be really dismissive of the genre, because there is an assumption that there is like that the books have not progressed beyond VC Andrews. Right, right. And this sort of like, the problematic romance from, I guess, the 70s, and 80s. But let's face it, like TV was problematic in the 70s. And 80s. movies were problematic. You know, Drew, you know, it's sort of the evolution of our culture, and, and our politics and our and our social contract, and all of that needed to evolve so that we can change. And I think that there's a lot of people that still look at romance that way. And you know, but at the same time, it has completely turned the tide. There are so many writers out there that are writing strong, you know, strong female protagonists and writing women who are completely in charge, and comfortable with sex and their sexuality, and they're not sort of like learning from the hero.
Yeah, and I think there are authors who have distanced themselves from romance because of that stigma, right? So for many reasons, there is a movement to women's fiction, there are so many romance authors right now who are writing romances that they are categorizing as women's fiction. There are other reasons why people have left romance I mean, the RWA debacle and mass exodus to WFWA, so Romance Writers of America, you have a lot of authors who left romance Writers of America and Women's Fiction Writers of America said that they got like 300 new members in like a very short period of time at what there was a moment last year where they're like, Yeah, we got 300 new members this month. So for various reasons, romance authors are more comfortable if not overtly motivated to associate their work with women's fiction if they feel that has that more of the component that we're talking about. Right? Right.
Um, so when you're writing women's fiction, do you do tend to close the door on your, on your, on the steamier things? Or do you just move forward like a regular like you would with romance.
I tend not to close the door, but that's not necessarily a great decision if I want to sell manuscripts to be honest with you, really. Yeah, because a lot of times if the genre seems muddy, then publishers get nervous that it's not gonna meet genre expectations.
And so fiction has no sex in it is that or it's very close the door.
Not necessarily it can have sex, it doesn't necessarily rise to the level of being feeling as erotic like it has sex that can be a little bit more tame. Okay, call erotic romance. But there are other rules, like usually women's fiction is going to be from the woman's point of view. Even if the story really is about her, like I wrote a story about a family feud, where you really need both points of view, but it is actually her story. And it's about the story of her, her sort of processing her family's position in the family feud. And, but she has to play off with him. So it's just there are more rules.
I mean, I hate to it's kind of I'm sure it's kind of like picking your favorite child. But do you have a preference?
I don't know that I have a preference I I write stories that I write stories the way I think they need to be written. And as a result of doing that, and not necessarily writing to market, then I sometimes have stories that I have a hard time selling, because the publisher is like I really like this story. And I don't know where to put it. I think that's changing. I think now especially I think a lot more publishers are really, publishers themselves are getting more on board with women's fiction and are getting more on board with working with romance authors as women's fiction authors. So I actually think that this year is going to be this year or next year, we're going to be good years for me in terms of publishers wanting to buy my stories. I feel like that was a couple of years ahead of the market. Whereas some of the stories that I wrote, maybe publishers would have preferred that they were a little bit more Insta love. Right? Now they're like, Okay, well, yeah, we need it, we want it to be a little bit more. We want it to be less that more what you naturally. Right.
Right. And then and that allows for really the growth of the characters. And the you know, instead of is tricky, and you know, I can I'm a fan of it. I don't I don't or I should say I don't have a problem with it. But there is something to be said for watching the evolution of the romance sort of Spark.
Yeah, and you know, I don't know why I don't get into love because I totally fell in love with my husband. Oh, my God. Like one thing I can't write. Funny, right. But my own love story was like, we like met each other. It was like, okay, we're just gonna do everything together now.
Oh, my God. Now how long was it between like the meeting and the getting married part.
A few years ago, I met we met in school. So there were these moments we met when we were in grad school. And we were in grad school in a city that neither of us was going to live in. Okay, so we were in this weird position where we had just met, and we had we had just met, and we had to almost immediately decide, are we going to look for jobs in the same city? It was early in our relationship that we had to kind of decide whether we were going to commit to like going to the same place and living together.
Wow. And I'm guessing that you did or did you try and do like a long distance thing? I'm gonna go I'm totally being nosy. I'm sorry,
We did. But I mean, Business School goes very fast. A Business School is a two year program and your inter like, as soon as you get to business school, like in the fall, you're already interviewing in the winter for internships, and the goal is to get an internship that's going to yield a job offer. So all like you need to know immediately when you go into business school almost immediately, you need to know what career track you're on and where you're open to moving because you're interviewing with those companies. Oh, my God. That's your three months. Yeah.
So fast. I didn't realize that it happened that fast. Yeah, that's kind of crazy. And so you guys just decided that this was at like you were going to, you're going to do it together.
Yeah. So we we interviewed for jobs and similar, we basically said West Coast because I went to business school in the Midwest, we basically said, Okay, let's both look for jobs on the west coast. And then we ended up moving to San Francisco, which is the place where both of us got offers that we were happy with. Like he got an offer. And like, we were looking at Seattle too. And like he got an offer in Seattle, and I did not get an offer in Seattle. So that was like that helped make our decision.
So Seattle was sort of like off the table. You know, it's sort of fascinating because you as you had said, like you write stories that sort of, you know, can mirror your life and true, you know, stories that were true to you. And I think that you're kind of like living proof to of having two very high powered careers and making that work. romantically.
Right. Exactly like both of us are both of us have high powered careers. Like we went to a really fancy school and have really fancy jobs. And you know, like, I was a C level marketing executive before I started offering so this, like it absolutely, the books that I write absolutely reflect the lives of my characters. I mean, I remember being on airplanes, writing scenes about my characters being on airplanes, because I was on an airplane all the time.
And now are you have you stepped away from corporate and you are a full time writing at this point.
I stepped away from corporate and I took a much, much easier day job. So I still have a day job. But I took a day job that I'm like grossly grossly overqualified for that's five minutes away from my house, that does not require me to travel any place so that I have time to write because we're where I was two years ago was like 70 hour weeks flying across the country on red eyes, usually, yeah. Because I have little kids and I would fly, I would take the red eye because I didn't want to, like lose an extra day with them. Yep. And, you know, in some cases, like driving into the I live in the Bay Area, so like driving across the bay to get to the office, and all of those sorts of things. So I just had a moment where I was like, I don't not want to have a career I want to write because I did have years where I was home writing. And I was so I was bored. Like I needed social interaction. So I picked a job. That's an easy job for me where I get to go hang out with my office mates and like, go have lunch with them every day and like, talk at the water cooler and like have fun doing my little job. But I also have way more time to write than I did when I was commuting and traveling etc.
Yeah I was gonna say with your schedule as like, you know, sort of Fortune 500. You know, VIP, like, juggling that with a writing career with the kids with the family with the husband with like, that's a lot. Yes. It's a lot. That's a lot of pressure. That's a lot of time. That's a lot of not a lot of sleep.
No, it's not a lot of sleep. And you know what I I reached a point in my career where I didn't need I had already gone as high as I was going to go, I didn't need to go higher. Right? I had had the XP like, where else am I gonna go? Do I want to be a CEO? CEO? No, I was already cmo. I'm not gonna I don't need to be a CEO. I don't want to be a CEO. And I, you know, worked for some companies that, you know, I live in the Bay Area, and I work in Silicon Valley, I work for some companies and had some stock options and like those worked out, so no, like, it's all good. It's awesome.
So before we jump into your steamy scene, I do want to talk about food and sensuality. Because I you wrote a book, The Secret Ingredient, which is, um, about food. Now, I don't remember exactly what it is. But I have a note here. And the fact that you are a certified ssommelier. How has that helped you with your steam writing? If it has at all? I'm assuming it has?
Yeah, I mean, I think that I think that sense, excuse me that sensuality is needed in order to write good sex. And I think, for me, there's a sort of, I think good sex has to involve five senses. And I also think that characters who are highly attuned to one sense can often just be more sensual people. Like if you're somebody who enjoys wine, you're you're attuned to smell and you're attune to taste. And, you know, I mean, people think that wine is very snooty, but like, there's something called mouthfeel. Right? But, um, you know, I think that you know, even like people who really love music, I think that being tuned into the sense of that experience just taps into for what a lot of people maybe like a sort of core sensuality, and I play core sensuality up and all of my books,
After you got certified and you had this sort of like this, this knowledge that is a very essential, very physical knowledge or taps into very physical sensations. Did it change your writing at all?
I think it made me more creative in my descriptions people make fun of wine reviews. Because you'll get, you know, you'll get a wine writer who tastes something and they'll be like, well, I got pensive tobacco and shoe leather with, you know, red currant overtones. I mean, the the language that's used to sort of differentiate wine is can be tremendously ridiculous. But I do think that I learned a vocabulary and I learned a level of describing something in detail and being able to be spontaneous about being able to be I guess, open to how something tastes or feels, or what it evokes. I think becoming a smelly a made me more sensitive to that. Okay,
That's really cool. It's something that I would really love to do. But I find the whole thing. So intimidating. I don't know why, like, it's just wine is intimidating.
Well, you gotta you got to look at it as an author as that experience, it's a unique opportunity to be exposed to quirky personalities. I always say that. authors are lying when they say that they're that the characters are fake, the characters are never fake. The characters are always real people who we have come across.
Yup somebody that we know, or have experienced or have interact with? Absolutely, absolutely. It's so funny, because I actually took a just finished a course in intimacy coaching and Relationship Coaching, to try and sort of, you know, help my writing, which I'm still trying to figure out exactly how to, you know, incorporate what I've learned, but it was really fascinating. It was just a very fascinating experience to go through, because I've never been through anything like that before.
So it takes I feel that it does take, you know, if not necessarily training just giving yourself space to think about it. You don't know. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It's so expansive. Like taking that space to think about it is expansive. Yeah.
And I think, you know, getting a vocabulary, or at the very least being able to sort of like hone in on Oh, well, this is, you know, this, this whole idea of like, when they talk about this, something that's been on my mind, actually, today, as I'm kind of like going through some writing stuff is like, oh, you're always supposed to talk about your characters needs and wants, right. And sometimes what they want isn't necessarily what they need. But if you kind of look at it in terms of relationship, and intimacy coaching, and, and sort of you look at the idea of desire, desire is wants and needs, and oftentimes, what you want is indeed what you need, they are the same thing. And so to be, you know, it's just, it's like, it's a very different way of looking at it than what we're sort of normally, like, usually told, when we're, you know, as when we're, when we're talking about our writing are sort of like taught in writing. So it's something that I'm trying to sort of, because that whole thing of what does she want, but what does she need? Always, always rang false to me?
Yeah, and yeah, and I think that's what's really exciting about really great sex scenes in particular, because they're not really about what people expect to happen. Like, what's exciting about a good sex scene isn't the mechanics of it, it's about tapping into that, tapping into tapping into coordinate in a different way. Right, not coordinated the way that we always talk about it, but like really coordinated.
Right, and getting and getting it getting to that coordinate through that particular act with that particular person.
Right. And I always say sex never ever ever starts in the bedroom.
No, it does not for you, where does it start?
I mean, it's like, even if you're writing sort of, even if you're writing a bar trust among strangers, you know, where somebody sees somebody else from across the bar and like raises an eyebrow, and then the other person like juts their chin towards the back and they go have like an alleyway encounter, right. There's still something that happened in that exchange. Yeah. And there's still something that each of them needs and you can still write a really effective, you know, alleyway encounter. That absolutely is Hot and absolutely makes total and complete sense in a non cliche way, if you make it clear what that exchange was, and what your characters getting, and maybe in that case, what your character needs and is getting started before that moment and lead them to be sitting there at the bar. And if you but if you have characters who, you know, they know each other first, and then the sex happens later, you know, just every encounter that they're having, and everything that's going on in their life leads up to the sex and what they need out of the sex.
So I'd love to get into the scene that you sent me. And this is from the art of worship. And I'd love for you to set this up for us.
So The Art of Worship. I always tripped over saying this is a young adult erotic rom com, which should be an anomaly, because why a is not supposed to be erotic. So I've got two 18 year olds who are in high school, first loves, and both of them are virgins. And its dual point of view. But the the basic premise of the story is that the hero Reed really wants to go all the way with his girlfriend, Aubrey, but realizes that he doesn't really know what he's doing, and accepts his father's offers of help, which is just so super awkward. So super awesome, because it turns out to be this bonding thing for Reed and his dad. And it's just sort of like his dad giving him the talk, but the real talk, and it turns out that his dad's dad gave his dad the real talk. And it's this like, tradition passed down from father to son. So there's just this super awkward 18 year old getting this real sex instruction from his father. And then kind of going out into the field and trying out what he's learning. But his dad is actually giving him really good sex advice. And it's really not about the mechanics of sex, and his dad's really giving him an education on but what is sex all about? And what is it supposed to be for you? And what is it supposed to be for her? And he the dad's really trying to turn him into a good partner, and a person who can be a healthy adult in terms of his sort of sexual relationship relationships?
You know, these are conversations that I wish more dads or even moms that that you know, we're having with their sons?
Yes And I'm a mom of boys.
So you will be having this conversation, I'm assuming. Because I think that it's I think it's important to have I think that a lot of times, you know, kids are getting their information from the internet or from their friends, which is not necessarily a great source, or from porn, you know, and I think particularly boys, and we really are setting up. We're, we're, you know, for, for all the focus that is on girls and women's sexuality and all of that, I think that we do a disservice by not talking about boys more.
Yeah, I think so too. And it's funny. So there is absolutely a moment in the book where the dads like, Listen, don't listen to what those other boys are telling you in the locker room. It's like the blind leading the blind, right? That's it. That's exactly what it's like. So I agree with that. And actually, the reviews for this book, this is one of those weird little books where it's just like, it's a little novella, and it's not tied to a series. And it's not one of my bigger books is one of the earlier books that I put out, but it's got like a 4.8 star review. And if you read the reviews that people are like, Oh my god, they should teach this in high schools. Like, this is the this is what I wish I had had when I like, I wish my dad had had this talk with me. Yeah. So I love that. I agree. Yeah,
I love the point of view. I you know, from the scene that I've read, it's or the scenes that I read, it was it was very, it was sort of very heavily on read, and I know that it is dual point of view. So I'm a little bit curious about about apres sort of trot like her journey through this book, in particular to
An interesting contrast about Aubrey is that she had an absentee mother. Okay, so Aubrey lives with her dad and doesn't sort of have that parallel situation where she's got a mom who's helping her Understand how to grow into her adult sexuality. But there are these scenes with her dad, where her dad is kind of aware like her dad knows that she and Reid have been dating and that they're together and all of those sorts of things. And with her you see this dynamic of her dad's not really trying to encourage it, but her but they have a conversation about it as well. That is sort of a more reserved does definitely, you know, not nearly as open as read and his dad, right. But I think it draws that contrast between it really matters who you have to talk to matters who you have available to you. Yeah, at one point in the book reads mom, sort of knowing that her mom's not around at one point reads mom has a pretty funny, open conversation with her about, you know, whether she can read or having sex.
I love I love that. I love that. Okay, we're gonna dig into this. Alright, so I'm going to start in Reed's point of view. Playing the piano usually relaxes me, but as I stare at the ivory keys, I can’t bring myself to touch a single one. No song fits this occasion. No melody will calm my nerves. No distraction will keep me from looking at my watch every forty-five seconds. It was a stupid plan anyway. The volume of the music will prevent me from hearing her car in the driveway, from knowing the exact second she arrives. Sitting on my bench, with anxiety instead of calm, makes the piano itself feel foreign to me—as if it isn’t even mine. This is akin to what it feels like those first moments when I sit at an unfamiliar piano on an unfamiliar stage, sensing critical eyes and expectant ears on me, the anonymous crowd hungry for a perfect performance. I’ve been here before. The only way out is through it. This time, it’s my mother’s wisdom that infiltrates my mind. In this situation, there is only one decision to make. Do or die. Fight or flight. Show up or don’t. And if you opt to do, or fight, or show up, the only thing to do is to start playing—to trust that all the practice you’ve put in will pay off.
Oh, he's a jumble of nerves. I love that I loved how his anxiety has his anxiety leading up to like he knows this is the night this is the this is the night they're going to actually have sex. And you know, based on some of the scenes that came before that I've read like they've they've been fooling around, they've come close. He's made her orgasm, but they've never actually had penetration. And this is the night and I was like this was such a great way to describe his nerves leading into their first time, and his anxiety and his excitement. And I really appreciated seeing this part because I think particularly with men, we assume that they don't have anxiety over sex.
Yeah, I do that a lot. In my books, I do a lot of reversals that just go against type, you know, like my, my one book, you know, Snapdragon, I wrote a billionaire, and she was the billionaire, right. And he is the one who sort of pulled himself up from his bootstraps. This was pretty deliberate in this book where I wanted to draw attention to exactly what you're talking about that, you know, I feel like almost every high school boy we see portrayed in the media is either really geeky, or really sex driven. Right? And it's like, obviously, obviously, the guy wants to go as far as possible. And obviously, he's ready and in control and just waiting for that moment. And I just, I think it feeds into toxic masculinity and you need to rewrite that narrative.
And he knows exactly what to do. And he's confident, you know, he's confident in his abilities, even though he's never done it. Yeah, it's really kind of an extraordinary thing.
Ya know, what, even you know, even in, even in stories about adults, like if you read new adult, you read these sort of, like young 20 something men who are so good and bad, and it's like, well, who taught them?
Because I don't know that my experiences were the same as all that. Yeah.
Right. I don't Yeah. So it's, yeah, the big mystery of where men get all of this experiences a mystery.
Yeah, yeah. And I so that's why I love that. We had this peek inside the the anxiety of the because And like, like I had said before about how our society does a real disservice to boys and men, is that we don't let them see this part. Right? Like, yeah, we don't let them see this part we don't we don't let them say it's okay to be awkward and you're not going to get it on the first try. And this might take some practice and be patient with yourself and be patient with your partner. And you know, you guys are in this together and have conversations and talk about these moments between you two. And I guess if you can't talk to your parents about it, how are you going to talk to your partner?
Right? And how are you going to, you know, there is that sort of posturing that happens with boys. And I mean, with girls too. But, you know, among your friends, there's a lot of social status that, you know, if you're in high school, you're really invested in social status. And regardless of what your gender is sort of not wanting to appear weak or knowledgeable in front of your friend group, I think there are things about being a teenager that can be really lonely, because you really shouldn't know everything about everything, there's a lot that you shouldn't know, yet our society is pretty is pretty hostile to certain kinds of vulnerability.
Yeah, and also, at the same time, that we're telling them, kids that they shouldn't miss you, they should know these things. We're also not doing anything to teach them. That's right. You know, there's sort of like this flipside, like you should know about this, but we're not going to tell you about it. You just, I don't magical thinking, you're just going to know, it's just oh, no, it doesn't work like that. Like, we've got to have these conversations.
Right? And the absolute worst is that that parental quandary of like, you don't want your kids having sex. So then you you, therefore, like, don't want to encourage, you don't want to encourage your kid to have sex. So let's just not tell them anything. Let's not tell them, let's not tell them what they really need to know. That's the whole like, that's the whole thing. It's like, Well, I'm not going to talk to my kid about suicide because I if I talked to them about it, I'm afraid it's going to give them ideas. Like we know that that doesn't work with respect to many, many things. Right?
Yeah, right. Okay, so jumped down. Now he's there together now she has arrived. Things escalate quickly. We go from kissing shoulder-to-shoulder to kissing with her tucked under my one arm, to my erection stalking her hot, slippery center like a cruise-guided missile when she maneuvers to sit side-saddle on my lap. We’d been submerged to our shoulders, but her new position has placed her breasts just above the water line. When she arches her back at some point instead of returning her lips to mine, I know what she wants. So I lower my mouth to her beautifully puckered nipple, which may only be so hard and pebbled as a result of the cold, but, holy shit, it turns me on. This is the first time we’ve both been completely naked—skin to skin—and beyond each of us writhing and rubbing down below to create more friction, the coolness of the night air against my warm skin and the motion of the spinning jets feels sublime.
This again is sort of like a great moment leading up to the moment, um, so many different ways the first time can go right. What was it about the jacuzzi that you wanted to play with by making it a big part of their first time together?
Um, you know, I did feel that there needed to be, I felt that it was a process. Okay. And I felt like some sort of like a progression of locations symbolized a process.
Okay, yeah, absolutely. Yeah,
I think there were just also some pieces of so the bigger context for this is that his parents are out of town for the night. Right. So there's also the sense of, they have the run of the house, and they've never met, you know, they've been making out a lot, but they've never been naked together. And all of the sorts of things that you sort of have access to as you're an adult. I mean, like, if you're a kid and you're sexually active, the one thing you don't have is like privacy, right? So it was sort of like just a little bit of them having the run of the house and having the use of the property and everything that was you know, just like having access to the jacuzzi is so was part of the novelty of of that privacy of the whole moment. So cool.
All right, so we're back in the jacuzzi. Are we back in the jacuzzi? Yes, we are. When she becomes too breathless to kiss, her hand grips the back of my neck and she arches back once more. I feel her pussy coil even tighter around me as my mouth lavishes attention on her other nipple. I am rock fucking hard and my other hand holds her waist to better-allow my hips to mimic my finger’s rhythm. My cock is right there, closer than he’s ever been to heaven. “It’s like you’re fucking me,” she says in a lust-filled voice I’ve never heard. And the small part of my brain that isn’t preoccupied with these astounding new sensations, pieces something together. I’m beyond thinking. Beyond planning. Beyond worrying about what I should do. The only thing in the world that is important right now is making us feel good, and my body is so sure of what it wants that instinct is taking over. “Is that what you want, baby?” I practically growl as I interrupt my own rhythm to give more attention to her g-spot. Holy hell. Who are you and what have you done with the real Reed?
Oh my god, I like spit out my water at that when I read that. Because I was like, Yes. What have you done with the real read? I loved how he sort of like as he is like, I don't know, it was like he was gaining confidence through their whole like their moment in the jacuzzi. They're not having sex. their finger fucking for lack of a better term. And, and he's sort of like gaining this confidence that is super cute and really kind of sexy. And I'm like, go read like, I'm totally rooting for him now. So did you I mean, like, what brought him to this epiphany were you too as the writer to give him this epiphany? Well,
You know, I so for me, it was a little bit of the balance, which was you do have teenagers. So first of all, teenagers are still getting used to like, this is like, what is my body going to do? And how in control Am I of my body. So I wanted parts of that to ring true for all of his meticulous planning, because fundamentally, he's trying to control the situation. Fundamentally, he's trying to sort of engineer their first time because he wants to not be embarrassed, and he wants it to be good for her. And he wants it to bring them closer. But he had to reach a point where the plan was sort of out the window, and it just had to happen. what was gonna happen?
All right. Oh, it was I thought this was so cute. I just loved this sort of first time. I think this is my very first first time like virgins that we've talked about on the podcast, which is so cool. I don't know that I would have the I don't know. I kind of think it takes balls of steel to write like the virgin like two virgins. I love that you did.
I think it's a Yeah, that's a it's such a weird little book. It doesn't fit into any genre because there are people who write deflowering romance and it's it really doesn't feel like other deflowering romance.
This is definitely I would, I haven't having a hard time even thinking about this as deflowering romance like like this is just to it's just really sweet. And it's really beautiful. And I think it really taps into that sort of first time. The the anxiety and the beauty and the stress and the excitement and all of those things that go into your very first time. Yeah, you know, which I thought was really gorgeous. Okay, so we are now in office point of view. So we're going to jump right in here. I don't want to lose control. He looks down into my eyes and I think I almost did I like that he shakes his head down there. You have no idea how close I was to fucking you. But you didn't I point out Oh, yeah, I'm sorry. Maybe I should set this up a little bit. They've now left the jacuzzi. They've almost had sex but he's like and she almost is he stops it there is no condom she almost tells him to keep going but then cooler heads prevail prevail they get out there in their in reads bedroom condoms are at the ready. We're good to go. Alright, so here we go. I don't want to lose control. He looks down into my eyes and I think I missed it. I liked it. He shakes his head down there you have no close eye watch how you have no idea how close I was to fucking you. But you didn't I point out you took care of me. You've got us here. And now we're going to do it right. Something in his eyes changes. He kisses me deeply one more time before rising to his knees and putting on the condom. And it's all happening so fast is typically my entrance. The first few inches he pushes in the pain followed by the pleasure. Key says he's out of breath even though he's not moving. I don't think he's all the way in but I love the way he feels inside me. I can feel everything. I can feel him throbbing every few seconds can feel how hard he is can feel his amazing girth. This is my new favorite feeling the very best in the world. I love to she was so much more more sure of this than he was in a way you know. He spent so much time worrying. But she spent a lot of time feeling and being comfortable with her desire, which I thought was a very interesting twist. Because we're often taught the opposite unless I'm picking up on this wrong Because I haven't read the whole book. And but that was sort of my reaction to this that she had. She had a more of a comfort level with it than he did.
Yeah, and I wanted to write that too, because I'm somebody who the first time I had sex, I knew immediately that I really liked sex. And I feel that whole like sex positivity thing. is like, I wanted to write a heroine who is sex positive. I love right, where it wasn't like, Oh, this hurts and like, like, I like the whole book. She's kind of like, she, you're right, she's ready. Yeah,
it's sort of amazing to sort of think about how much of our neuroses are really wrapped up in shame. And it's something that I've been thinking about a lot now that, you know, when we're recording this, it's may it's national Mental Health Month, and I'm like, sort of sitting here going, you know, saying to myself, mental health is sexual health, mental health, sexual health, like that is really a big part of it, and letting you know, letting letting go of our shame or not letting our shame kind of, like consume us. And I think, you know, particularly for girls or women with their first time with losing their virginity, it can be a very raw, you know, fraught experience and a very shame filled experience. And I loved that for her. It wasn't, she was, yeah, she was so confident with this decision. It was great. Yeah, I was. I'm cheering for them. Now we're back to read. Ba guys say technically, it's everything I've been led to believe it will be hot, tight, slippery, wet, the heaviness of my balls, but it's so much more than that. I'm seeing stars every time she coils more tightly around me. It's lightning bolts every time her pussy twitches. It's the tingling that starts in my back building toward an orgasm that I can already tell will be different from any I've ever felt before. But most of all, it's wanting to move because amazing, as amazing as this feels, it's not enough and moving will make it so much better. I want to close my eyes and piston my hips. I want to drive into her until I can feel her entrance on my balls. But I don't want either of those things more than I want her to enjoy this. And fuck I can see that she does. And that's a turn on all its own. My movements are slow and only about half of me is inside of her but her body and her words are confirming that she likes this. Every word of praise brings me closer, every rise of her hips to meet me egged me on. I'm going slowly but even with that, it feels too good. We've only been at it for a minute, but I know I'm going to come. Oh, first times. Awkward and beautiful. And all the bangs. Yes. What was it like to write it? I'm writing a first time for from from a male point of view. I that I also think it's really interesting. Um,
yeah, I wanted him to have that moment of joy. You know, it's like, this is actually this is everything that it's supposed to be, right. And this is like, this is my first time and I don't really have much stamina. Like, it's, I just wanted him to have that moment where it's like, so many things are happening at once. Like, he's paying attention to her and his body's feeling all of these sensations that he's ever felt before. And, you know, I think that sex can be overwhelming. Right? I just I wanted, I wanted that overwhelm to show through. Bad overwhelm sex can be overwhelming in a super good way.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And that's, you know what, I guess what I really loved this moment was not quote unquote, romance novel, perfect. But it clearly worked for both of them. And it reminded me of an earlier scene from a different section that you would sent me where he is so excited to bring her to orgasm, that he actually ejaculates in his pants. And so like, that was like this really like I was like, wow, I wasn't expecting that, you know, you don't expect to read that. You know that in a romance novel that I do think that's, you know, I love that there were absolutely no unrealistic expectations that like or unrealistic moments that were written into this, it was all very, very real. Thank you and relatable. And I enjoyed it. I don't know if I enjoyed it as much as read, but I definitely enjoy it.
Yeah, I mean, and that's, I don't know there's so there is something sweet about you know, kind of looking back on young love and first encounters. You know, they're not perfect, but they have their place.
Yeah, yeah, they do. And I kind of it makes me a little sad about my first because I'm like, oh, it could have been like this. Probably should have been like that.
You know, yeah, no, definitely my first time was not like that either.
we don't know what we don't know, right?
No, we don't, we don't. And it's, you know, it's, it's, I think, you know, it can be healthy to go back to that place and just, you know, go back and think about your yourself at that age and, you know, kind of forgive yourself for what did or didn't happen, because when you go back to that age, you realize how little you knew.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And, you know, if we had people that would have these conversations with us, we would have been better prepared for sure. Right with whatever was going to happen. Right. So Kelby what's coming up for you? What do you have next?
Um, what I have Next I have. So I have written a book for the Penny verse. This is Penny Reed's universe. I've written a book in her Green Valley series that it will be coming out in the fall and I'm really excited about that. Penny is Penny's books are one reason why I decided to write original fiction. I had sort of been in a rut and I decided to publish because I went back to reading romance and I loved her books. So I'm just super excited to be writing in her universe.
Oh, that's really, that's really cool. That's really cool. Um, on the internet, where's the best place for readers to connect with you?
I'm on Instagram a lot. So Instagram, I'm at kilbey blades, at kilbey blades on Twitter as well. And I'm at kilbey blades, author on Facebook.
Excellent. And I will have all of the links and all of that fun stuff in the show notes can be thanking me. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I really appreciate it. It was great to talk to you and connect.
Thank you so much. I appreciate it as well. This has been great.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai