Welcome, Kate. I'm so glad to have you here on Attention Is Arbitrary. Please tell us a bit about yourself. Surprise us.
Kate: I fired my first submachine gun in 6th grade, in our Civil Defense class in communist Czechoslovakia. My father blew the windows out of the house with a stun grenade, and as a chemist, he caused a number of “accidents” in his basement lab once we immigrated to the US.
AisA: That is a surprise. What about your writing career, how long have you been writing professionally? Do you focus on M/M primarily or do you delve into other genres?
Kate: My writing evolved from my translation work, and my first paid-for article was to the Black Belt Magazine many years ago. After practicing on fan fiction for a few years, my first two m/m romance books came out in 2013. Nowadays, I love to write crime and thriller, and I have a series of “family” stories and novellas in the works. They talk about my family and the way I grew up. Romance, both gay and straight, is my relaxation reading and writing, because it all has a happy ending.
AisA: Your latest book, Breakfall, has a strong central theme that revolves around martial arts, primarily Japanese Karate and Aikido with elements of jujitsu and sword techniques interspersed. It is apparent that your knowledge on the subject is extensive. Do you have experience in the field?
Kate: Martial arts are my mental health coping mechanism. When I was in high school and didn’t speak English, I got bullied. I ended up taking aikido for self-defense, and I found a sense of belonging at that dojo. In college, starting an aikido club was the first thing I did. I didn’t do any other sports, other than a brief fling with ballet and rugby. Even though I’ve never earned a black belt in aikido, I have been granted 4th dan in Shorin Ryu karate. That’s where I do my kobudo – that’s Okinawan weapons –come from. Sensei John Hamilton has infinite patience with me, and I returned to his sword class this year after a 20-year hiatus. He expects us black belts to go out there and explore other arts and gain perspective on what we are doing with him. That’s essential. It doesn’t dilute the “purity” of the style - it rounds us as martial artists.
AisA: I agree, I think a multi-discipline approach is essential. The other prominent theme in this book is sexual assault. That is a very sensitive subject matter. Why did you decide to tackle it? Did you have any hesitations about exploring such a heavy subject in your novel?
Kate: Well. It was time to write it, because I’ve walked a mile in Sean’s moccasins back in college. Back then, I thought I was pretty tough. I was teaching my own aikido class and people looked up to me and called me “sensei.” However, being attacked while in bed by a larger and
Synopsis: Fall Trilogy: Book One
Sexual assault doesn't discriminate. Aikido instructor Sean Gallaway learns that when he falls prey to a violent stalker. Asbjorn Lund, a karate sensei on campus and a Navy vet, yearns to teach Sean how to survive. How to overcome. How to recover. Sean feels hunted and alone as the stalker escalates, testing his boundaries. With the entire dojo at his back, Sean resolves to play bait. He will catch the predator stalking him and reclaim his sense of self if it's the last thing he does. Yet Sean's hunger for justice clashes with Asbjorn's protective streak, and their budding romance might not survive their war of wills.
Time, exposure to triggers, and competence heals. So does love and knowing that I left the world a better place. I’ve been getting fan mail from readers who have been in a similar situation. They thanked me for helping them deal with their own aftershocks, and that’s especially rewarding. I can’t teach them how to crush a trachea or gouge an eyeball, but if they feel less alone, I’ve done my job.
AisA: Not a question, here, but I just wanted to mention that I think an important aspect of Sean’s story is watching his progress throughout this story. He truly is dealing with PTSD, as would anyone in his situation.
Kate: Recovery is part of victory. I had help – author Linda Fairstein, a crime fiction writer, used to be a sex crimes prosecutor in Manhattan. She pioneered many victim protection practices we now take for granted. She’s distant family, but she was happy to talk to me and tell me what to expect in terms of recovery. I also underwent “rapid eye movement therapy.” With vets coming back with PTSD, this technique has become more mainstream for civilians, too. It’s fast, doesn’t require extensive talking and dredging up the details – it just helps the left and the right half of the brain compare notes and integrate highly alarming information. Even though I’m still aware of my surroundings, I was able to leave that sense of hyper-vigilance behind.
AisA: One of your main characters, Sean, seems to be rather innocent or perhaps a bit naïve while the other MC, Asbjorn is possibly too worldly. How did you come up with these two?
Kate: I was naïve back then, too. I was determined that nothing was going to change – yet everything did. I refused to leave, move, or give ground in any way. Asbjorn is a necessary contrast to this fresh, no-holds-barred attitude. Asbjorn might have travelled a lot, and knows a bit more about conflict, but there are chinks in his armor, too. Stay tuned for the sequel!
AisA: Another aspect of the book shows, what I am guessing is, a personal enjoyment of physics and other sciences. Do you have background in these subjects or is this just the light stuff that you play with in your spare time?
Kate: I come from a long line of mad scientists. My dad is a chemist and an inventor and I worked for his company for many years. There was a time I worked in a government research laboratory. The work was fascinating, the team was great, and I’m drawing on all that for Sean in Book 3, “Landfall.”
AisA: Getting back to the dojo, please tell us about the community feel that you’ve created here. There is a very tight knit group of diverse martial arts disciplines that pull together to help Sean. Is this just fiction or does that sense of comradery/brotherhood really exist?
Kate: The camaraderie is real, but the facilities are a lot better than in real life. Also, in real life, we don’t bloody one another like hormonal idiots. At the dojo, when we bow to one another, we give each other permission to violate social norms, get inside each other’s personal space, hit one another. Occasional injuries are rare, but they do happen. The dojo is a place of great trust. I’ve met people I’d trust with my life outside the dojo as well, and I feel privileged to know them.
AisA: Breakfall is part of a trilogy. Do the other books focus on new characters or continue on with Sean and Asbjorn?
Kate: “Breakfall” is Sean’s book. It shows the way he handles a difficult situation. The cliff-hanger portrays what used to be my greatest fear – and in “Swordfall,” we’ll watch Asbjorn deal with his own demons. “Landfall” is a book where, after 2 years of being permanently together, the men overcome obstacles and find a place of harmony.
Kate: I don’t have a release date yet, but “Swordfall” is in production already. My best guess is right before Christmas, or sometime in January.
AisA: Do you have other projects in the pipeline, or other subjects that you plan to tackle like you have here in Breakfall?
Kate: I sure do! My m/m fiction is released with Dreamspinner Press, and “Broken Gait” (sequel to “Wild Horses”) is coming out in September. I love working with their team! Other genres, and the m/m DPS didn’t want, are released with Mugen Press. I’m doing the last edits of “Cancelled Czech Files,” a story that documents how and why we defected, being a homeless refugee, and adapting to the amazing and often confusing life in America. There are some thrillers coming up, too, but those are purely fictional and not much romance is involved.
AisA: You do have a lot going on, very impressive. Well now, we’ve come to the Lightning Round. (No points awarded)
AisA: Facebook or Twitter?
Kate: Twitter. I love my FB friends, but I totally lack self-control and lose track of time!
AisA: Slippers or Boots?
Kate: Boots, or Vibram Five Fingers.
AisA: Opera or Grunge?
Kate: Neither. Comfort is key, but I still like my bling. A piece of jewelry, a good knife in my pocket… you know, just the basics.
AisA: Kate, thank you for sharing your time with us. You've really opened my eyes and given me some great insight. It's been a pleasure learning about you, your writing and your life.
Kate: Thank you for having me! This was a lot of fun.
Breakfall by Kate Pavelle
The Fall #1
Publication Date: June 27, 2014 Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, LGBT, Romance
I would like to thank IndieSage PR and Dreamspinner Press for providing me with a review copy in exchange for this interview.
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Visit Lisa T at Goodreads