Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Guest Post and Giveaway with S.L Armstrong

I am really happy to have S.L Armstrong here today talking about the experience involved in writing Catalyst. A book I enjoyed reading so much and wanted to know what it took for the authors to create such an original and deeply moving story. I am really thrilled S.L took the time to share the experience.

Check Review Here
Post Title: Writing Catalyst

Did any writing situation make you feel sad or uncomfortable for your characters?

About three years ago, K. Piet and I sat down to write a novella collection centering on different forms of vampirism. Rachmaninoff was our traditional take on the myth (and eventually became its own novel), and then there was the kernel of inspiration for Catalyst. Originally, Catalyst was going to be about a psychologist treating a patient with Renfield's Syndrome, but when we sat down to write the story, it became something else entirely.

The heart of Catalyst is about personal expectation, personal responsibility, and addiction. The outward expression of those things were a BDSM relationship that went from questionable to downright unhealthy as Kasper, one of the main characters, goes through a period of transformation. It wasn't a difficult process, really, as we knew exactly where we were going and what we were trying to say. After spending several months developing Kasper's and Logan's characters, learning their interaction with each other, we dove in to writing the manuscript.

Something we did intentionally was to make their struggles and relationship very insular. The reader is introduced to Adam and Shawn, to people in Kasper's life, but they are as empty as the rest of the props in Kasper's life. As much as Kasper loves Adam—and Adam has been a longtime participant in Kasper's life—Adam is just one more point of failure to Kasper. His first real friend, his first lover, Adam is merely an accessory to a privileged and prosperous facade.

It was up to Logan to see beneath that facade. Yet, when Logan did look, he didn't understand, and so the events unfolded as they had to. Kasper was introduced to a way to make his emotional masochism into physical masochism. He's a painslut. It's hard to be a painslut because limits are difficult to define, and since Logan had never been exposed to someone like Kasper (and Kasper himself had no idea), Kasper was allowed to manipulate situations, top from the bottom. I maintain Kasper didn't do it intentionally at first, but there came a point where he began using Logan. When Logan left, he used everyone else, hellbent on self-destruction in a very passive-aggressive manner.

Taken beyond the edge of safety—beyond the edge of sanity—Kasper embarked on a crusade to become a submissive with no limits, always looking for subspace but unable to find it no matter how much he pushed. While Kasper tore his life down, Logan built his life back up, and it was only through that work, through his own self-realization and self-reliability, that Logan was able to step back into Kasper's life and take control. He took control from Kasper, channeled it, and showed Kasper the way back to safety, sanity, and trust.

I think the hardest part of writing Catalyst was finding a way to put the boys back together without losing the BDSM or disregarding all the terrible things Kasper did to himself, to Logan, and to the BDSM community. We couldn't shy away from him going through withdrawal, both from the prescription medications he was abusing and from the near-constant pain he inflicted on himself. We also had to be careful not turn Logan into a father figure, demanding Kasper conform to his personal demands while ignoring Kasper's own needs.

Did we ever go too far? No, no, I don't think so. We could have gone a hell of a lot darker, but I don't think anything would have been served by doing that. We wanted to crack the characters, not irreparably break them. I did wonder if readers would understand, would accept the world we were showing them, the darkness we were leading them into. It's difficult to anticipate a reader's reaction to your work, but I knew readers would either see something special in Logan and Kasper's tale, or run screaming from the intense BDSM themes we wove into the storyline.

As for discomfort during the writing of Catalyst, I don't think either of us were ever uncomfortable writing the events of the story. We were sad at several parts, empathizing with Kasper's driving need for perfection and Logan's unwavering stance on that need for perfection, but we also understood that there was a light at the end of the tunnel for both of them. That happily ever after we had planned for them was what kept things from getting too dark for us while writing. We also loved logging into AIM and writing future scenes that would never see the light of day, five or ten years post-the events of Catalyst, where Logan and Kasper are married, have a dog and cat, Kasper's a pediatrician like he'd always wanted to be, and Logan keeps a strong rein on BDSM and Kasper's masochistic tendencies. That helped a hell of a lot. :D

In the end, Catalyst is one of our favorite books. The characters are deeply important to us, and I put a lot of me into Kasper. We wanted to tell a story of pain and change and need while also taking the reader by surprise about just who the story was about. I think we did that. I think we told a story about how low someone can go, and how you just need one person to love you, believe in you, to make it worth scraping yourself off the ground and trying again.

Kasper will always be a masochist, a painslut with few limits, but understanding that about himself—and Logan seeing and understanding the needs himself—there can be love and joy and deep satisfaction. Which was the moral of the story for Kasper. He just needed to see himself, accept his imperfections, and love without reservation.

S.L. Armstrong and K. Piet are the co-authors of Other Side of Night: Bastian & Riley and Catalyst. S.L. Armstrong can be found at or on Twitter @_slarmstrong, and K. Piet can be found at or on Twitter @k_piet. For more on the authors' thoughts on Catalyst, read Authorial Thoughts On Catalyst here:

S.L has kindly offered up a PDF copy to one lucky reader. So be sure to leave a comment with your email for a chance to win this amazing book. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Contest runs until December 13th 12:01 EST


  1. I have read Catalyst - it was my first Piet/Armstrong book - and won't be my last!!

    It is uncomfortable to read; it does make one wonder how the MC's are going to survive, let alone get together; but it is deeply emotional in a good way! I ended up cheering near the end - only by realising that there was going to be a resolution between Kasper and Logan - no matter what!!

    Super interview SL - thank you :)

  2. I am really looking forward to reading this book. It sounds amazing.
    Loved reading about the creation of it!


  3. Sounds like one hell of a book!

    Erica Pike

    eripike at gmail dot com

  4. This sounds like a great read.

    jacobzflores at gmail dot com

  5. Sounds intense. I'm in. :)

  6. It an incredible book. Intense but mixed with a little sweet. It an awesmazing read ^_^

    Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I love dark and intense stories, that make me think. So I'll try my hand in this giveaway, too! :D

    japoki at inbox dot lv


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