Kasi Alexander on BDSM, polyamory, and why mainstream readers are ready for her book

Have you gotten positive feedback from readers so far? Any negative feedback?

Yes. Luckily, as far as my ego goes, it has been very positive for the most part. We have had one negative review by someone who didn't see eye to eye with us about the value of the book and thought it was boring. If a person is looking for a really steamy, sex-driven book then Becoming sage will be a disappointment. Don't get me wrong; it has what we think are some really good sex scenes, but they aren't the point of the book--the feelings and experiences of the characters and the relationship that they are defining and building for themselves is the point.

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Do you think that mainstream readers are ready for subjects like BDSM/polyamory to be presented to them in a realistic way?

I think they are. The recent phenomenon of 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James proves that. Her book is billed as a BDSM story and it made it to the number one spot on the New York Times best seller paperback list, which is fantastic--congratulations, Ms. James! Add to that the popularity of the show Sister Wives (three seasons on the TLC channel), and the regular use of lifestyle-related terms like "safeword" on prime-time shows such as Hot in Cleveland and Family Guy, and we see that the general public is becoming more aware and tolerant of the concept of alternative lifestyles.

The rise in popularity of eBooks has really helped the mainstream public get ready for more realistic stories of alternative lifestyles as well. People can buy and read them with no embarrassment since a person can browse, purchase and read them in complete anonymity on their Kindles and Nooks. This freedom allows for a greater diversity and willingness to read controversial subjects.

Are there any particular BDSM/polyamory myths that you hope to dispel with the book?

Lots and lots of them, but for brevity I will focus on what we think of as the big three. The biggest fact about BDSM that we hope to educate the general public about is that BDSM is NOT abuse. Yes, participants in various types of BDSM play often experience intense sensations which may or may not include pain. In an abusive relationship one party has all of the power and uses non-consensual pain to manipulate and control another for no constructive purpose. In BDSM all actions are--or should be--well negotiated and agreed to by all participants.

For polyamory, those who have little or no experience with the lifestyle often think it is all about cheating on your partner or indicates an inability to commit to a relationship. This is far from the truth. It is a relationship dynamic which requires incredible communication skills and a willingness to discuss your and your partners' needs in detail. Most poly people don't have any more of a little black book than anyone else, but if you look at their calendars, they are probably much fuller than the average person's.

Polyamory can be set up in an infinite number of ways, none of which are right or wrong, as long as the arrangement meets the needs of those involved. It can be a network of relationships or a closed, committed arrangement like ours. We have been a polyfidelous triad--none of us has any outside romantic relationships--for over five years. We find this works well for us and that we avoid many of the pitfalls traditional two-person relationships encounter. It's much harder to blame all of the troubles of a relationship on the other person when there are two other people whose viewpoints you have to consider.

Finally, but far from least, is the idea that power exchange relationships are all about manipulation or loss of accountability. In a healthy power exchange relationship, both parties are responsible for making their needs known and for honoring the negotiated way those needs are to be met. Doormats who allow themselves to be walked all over figuratively make horrible slaves or submissives. It takes a very strong person with self-confidence and a sense of personal responsibility to thrive in the submissive role.
They have chosen to transfer their personal power to their dominant or master because they find fulfillment in doing so. The dominant or master is responsible for making the decisions that are in everyone's best interests and to find opportunities for the submissive to grow and become more than they would be on their own. Both positions require trust, good communication skills and a willingness to work together to make the lives of all involved better than they were singularly.

Are you writing more books? Will readers get to know what happens next with the characters---especially sunni's transformation, sage's trust issues and Sir Rune's poly-household management?

Yes. The next book in the Keyhole Series will be Saving sunni, which will be available through Omnific Publishing this summer. We also write for Siren Bookstrand under the name Cassidy Browning, and the first book in that series is due out in eBook format this June. That series deals with a BDSM bed and breakfast on the California coast, and shows a different poly perspective than the keyhole series by having two male characters and one female instead of the two female, one male characters in Becoming sage.

Here's the old "why-should-people-read-your-book question"--what would you like Westword readers to know about the book?

We want people to understand that alternative relationship dynamics like BDSM and power exchange don't need to be non-consensual or even dangerous to be erotic. The sensationalized versions can be fun but it's important to know that it is also practiced by real people who lead normal lives, raise kids, pay their taxes, and go to church. We think there is a place for both fantasy-based and reality-based alternative romance. If a story is told well, then even if the reader has no experience or interest in the lifestyle portrayed, they will at least have a better understanding and tolerance of other viewpoints.

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