Interview: Kyell Gold explains 'The Silver Circle'
Isiah Jacobs: Good evening, Kyell Gold! Thank you so much for joining me tonight. It's nice to have you on the show, at last!
Kyell Gold: Thanks! Glad to be here.
Isiah Jacobs: So, you've recently come out with your latest book, The Silver Circle. I assume that's a term for some sort of gay cult?
Kyell Gold: Actually, you are correct. It's an underground society of homosexual activists that was formed in northern Germany in the late 1800s to attempt to bring back the Holy Roman Empire. But that's not what this book is about. In this case, it's an allusion to the moon, and the metal silver, because the book is about werewolves.
Isiah Jacobs: But having read it, it has more than just werewolves, doesn't it Kyell?
Kyell Gold: It does. It also includes female characters. It even stars a female character.
Isiah Jacobs: And a straight relationship.
Kyell Gold: Potentially two, in fact.
Isiah Jacobs: Who are you and what have you done to the real Kyell Gold?
Kyell Gold: He's off working on his next fabulous gay football book. He asked me to fill in. More seriously, though...
As you may be aware, unless you have not gone to a bookstore or movie theater or website in the last five years, we have been overrun by teen paranormal romance. Among circles of authors trying to break in, the big thing is "write a paranormal romance." And it occurred to me that there were a lot of people being excluded from that--namely, people who were no longer teenagers.
Isiah Jacobs: There's a book out there for that. It's called The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice. Heard of her?
Kyell Gold: I think she's most famous recently for her diatribe against a reviewer on her Amazon page.
Isiah Jacobs: Are you trying to upstage Anne Rice?
Kyell Gold: Heavens no! I would never respond to a bad Amazon review with a long abusive letter.
Isiah Jacobs: Well, Kyell, you've been writing gay erotica for the past seven years or so. You know by now your target audience. You didn't get any bad reviews from your gay followers about this straight paranormal romance?
Kyell Gold: Strangely, no. Everyone has been very nice about it. I have gotten one letter from someone who claims to have read all my books and says that Silver Circle is his favorite. What I hear most is that people appreciate the mythology around the werewolves and the villains. (and probably the pacing; this is also a very short book at 55,000 or so words)
Isiah Jacobs: Was Bridges longer than that?
Kyell Gold: Bridges was shorter, around 45,000. [See the Flayrah review.]
Isiah Jacobs: So which idea came first? To do a paranormal romance or to make it straight?
Kyell Gold: Honestly, the idea was kind of all of a sort. I mean that it all came as one thing. I'm not going to say that it's easy to write a female character. But if I'm going to write a romance, it's easier for me to write a character who's attracted to men, whether that's 'gay man' or 'straight woman.' So it's not that far afield.
And for the situation in which the character finds herself, it is sadly a much more common thing for a woman to find herself adrift after a divorce in today's world. Though I'm uncomfortable saying that even...I think it's evening out quite a bit. But you still, I think, more often find women as the ones who blame themselves for the failure of a marriage. So I wanted a character whose marriage had failed, and she was carrying that around with her, but at the same time this is a pretty strong woman in other respects. And then of course she had to meet up with a sexy youngish werewolf (but not teen-young).
Isiah Jacobs: So, you're saying that there is very little difference between the mentality of a gay man and a straight woman?
Kyell Gold: No; I'm saying that if I am writing a romance, then at least those two characters have in common that they appreciate a male partner, which is something I can relate to. I actually think that gay men and straight women appreciate male partners in different ways, or they can, at least.
Isiah Jacobs: So if Valerie were replaced by a gay man, The Silver Circle would have been a different story?
Kyell Gold: Absolutely.
Isiah Jacobs: Point for you, Kyell. Right now, I'm in the middle of reading Green Fairy. I've also read a fair bit of Out of Position. There seems to be a recurring theme in your stories. The biggest of them being that there is always this critical moment in the character's recent past that drives the current plot. This event is never really gone in to detail. It's only ever vaguely described. What's your reason to constantly reuse this plot device?
Kyell Gold: Mostly I'm lazy and don't want to describe the event in detail. But really, this is a very common thing in narration. It has a name in screenwriting: the 'ghost.' It's basically something that has put the character's life in some sort of turmoil or instability. And it's a way of showing that the character has life outside of the scope of the story.
They have a history, there are things that happened to them; it's sort of like building a fake wall with a realistic picture of a town in perspective, like on a stereotypical movie lot. It gives the world and characters a sense of depth and continuity.
Isiah Jacobs: And for the Silver Circle, it's this divorce that Valerie has gone through, and an emotional outburst moments before the novel's starting point. Did you actually plan what happened? Or did you just want an emotional outburst because the plot called for it?
Kyell Gold: I actually wrote the emotional outburst; that scene was cut from the final release of the novel because seeing it wasn't as important as seeing her and her boss's reactions to it. The original starting point of the novel was her sitting in the conference room just having blown up at her boss with her nose starting to bleed. Then I went back and wrote the outburst. Then when I read back through it, that just seemed like padding. it was the kind of thing that would have an impact when you knew the characters, but it didn't have weight when you were first meeting them. And all the important stuff was being rehashed in her followup conversation with her boss anyway.
Isiah Jacobs: And it's in this conversation that you bring up another theme of office relationships and Valerie's disdain for her womanizing superior. First of all, I don't appreciate your stereotyping of straight men! It's disgusting!
Kyell Gold: Hey, don't blame me, blame society.
Isiah Jacobs: I'll be sure to remember that, Kyell. So, really, this whole story exists because of a stereotypical boss trying to catch her employee on the rebound by sending her out to his cottage in the woods. What do you have to say for yourself? I thought all those Ursa Major Awards meant something!
Kyell Gold: I say that most stereotypical bosses don't have cabins in WerewolfTown.
Isiah Jacobs: This is true. One thing I forgot to mention, this was actually released as an e-book, and then physically published. Why did you go backwards?
Kyell Gold: Well, I did put feelers out about having it physically published, but there wasn't a lot of interest from traditional publishers. So I decided to just put it out as an e-book because that's something I have a lot of control over. And after that was announced, I was talking to Fuzzwolf of FurPlanet press and he asked if I had plans for a print edition. I told him I didn't, so he asked if he could buy the rights to it.
Isiah Jacobs: Sofawolf didn't want to publish your straight paranormal romance?
Kyell Gold: Sofawolf has a very lean production schedule and are already committed to me for a book a year, which is a lot of their resources. In addition, 55K is an awkward length for them, while FurPlanet can accommodate a lot of different, um. This is coming out dirtier than I meant it to. The book wasn't a good fit for Sofawolf for a number of reasons.
Isiah Jacobs: I'm going to assume that what you mean is that they are gay erotica biased! So check mate.
Kyell Gold: I will let them answer that with this year's slate of book releases.
Isiah Jacobs: Awhile ago, you admitted that it wasn't easy to to write a female character. What sort of difficulty did you come across?
Kyell Gold: Well, they are generally subtle difficulties. I mean, when you get into dangerous action situations, a person is a person. When you have a romance, a lot of it is how your background fits with the object of your attraction, and what buttons of yours they push. So you have to take into account the different things women are exposed to when they are raised, and of course there are as many different ways to bring up a daughter as there are ways to bring up a son, so there's no ONE RIGHT way.
Isiah Jacobs: The Bible. That is the one right way.
Kyell Gold: But I know there are little things I never got exposed to because I was a boy, and no matter how many women I talk to, how many female characters I read or studies of the difficulties women face, I don't have that authentic experience to draw on. So I remain kind of vague, but you know, when I'm writing a gay male character and someone says, "I'm gay and I don't feel like that," I can always fall back on, "well, I do, so your experience isn't universal."
When I'm writing a female character, if a woman comes up and says, "Clearly you have no idea what it's like to be a woman," well, I'm stuck. I mean, I could say, "I have SOME idea," but that's just argumentative. At the end of the day, I'm more vulnerable to that kind of character criticism when I'm writing a not-me kind of character (and when I'm writing furry characters, of course, it's easy, because someone can say, "you don't know what it's like to be a fox," and I can say, "NEITHER DO YOU"), so I just went over it very carefully to make sure that Valerie is as fully-realized a person as I can make her.
I did think about consulting the Bible, but then she would have to have been sold by her husband to her boss or something and it would have complicated the story.
Isiah Jacobs: What's so complicated about it? The woman's rights are given up and then when she goes off to commit adultery with an abomination, she burns in hell for all of eternity. But if she apologizes to man she can't see, everything will be fine! So simple!
Kyell Gold: Technically not adultery, because she's already divorced. But you know, there is room for a sequel...
Isiah Jacobs: We'll get to that in a moment. You also mention how you've received praise about the mythos surrounding the story. Essentially, the bad guys are land spirits from Russia. Now, to be completely honest, I think you're the one who's been receiving the green fairy's gift. How much did you drink when you wrote this story?
Kyell Gold: Heh. About eight liters of Coke Zero probably. The land spirits (from Poland, actually) are a real thing. You can go check them out on Wikipedia. They are my favorite kind of reference: scant. So there's not a whole lot on them, but there's enough that I can build some cool stuff of my own.
I was trying to think about what mythical thing that is not a vampire would make an interesting opponent for a werewolf. And werewolves originally came from myths in Europe, in farming communities. I thought they would be perceived as corruptions of nature. So I wanted to find a spirit who was nominally a guardian, but also a violent one. And, you know, if I can imagine it, certainly someone in the past has. So I found the poleviki.
Isiah Jacobs: To side track for just a moment, you just said something that really caught my interest. You thought werewolves could be perceived as corruptions of nature. Now, as I understand it, you wrote a short werewolf story for a werewolf anthology in the past, is that correct?
Kyell Gold: I've written a couple werewolf stories in my time. I think it's impossible to be a furry and not do that. But I'm not sure which one specifically you mean?
Isiah Jacobs: I can't recall the title right now, but you've written gay werewolf stories, right?
Kyell Gold: Oh! Like a Moonrise, from Circlet Press. Yeah. Technically that was a were-FOX story, but sure.
Isiah Jacobs: Eh, close enough. So, with what you just said, do you think that lycanthropy can be a symbol for homosexuality? That whole corruption of nature? Or at least, thought to be?
Kyell Gold: That's interesting. I think certainly you have the aspect of something considered monstrous by society (in the past and in other parts of the world--not so much in the Western world today) that's invisible on the surface but comes out at night, or often in circumstances that might be embarrassing. And of course there is Buster Wilde – do you know that comic?
Isiah Jacobs: I'm not familiar with it. What's it about?
Kyell Gold: It's basically about a very straight guy – construction worker maybe, I forget – who turns into a very gay werewolf under the full moon. FurPlanet just released a collection of them. There aren't many but it's very cute.
Isiah Jacobs: First of all: werewolves? Horrifying. Gays? Terrifying. How do you get cute when you mix the two?
Kyell Gold: You just have to go check it out. I don't think I can do it justice.
Isiah Jacobs: Right, well, moving back to the topic at hand, what all were you able to find out about the poleviki?
Kyell Gold: This was years ago, so I'm honestly not too sure what I made up versus what I read, but they are guardians of the land. They appeared as white spirits and farmers would sacrifice to them to keep their farms safe. And sometimes they would just get violent in an attempt to protect the farm.
Isiah Jacobs: So then when did you initially come up with the idea for Silver Circle?
Kyell Gold: The first draft of it was written, I want to say, about three years ago. So the idea was probably about six months before that.
Isiah Jacobs: Yeah, that's right around the time when the first Twilight movie came out. Why is it only now seeing the light of day?
Kyell Gold: I wrote it and then got distracted with other things. When I was working full time, I didn't have much room to work on side projects, and I had other books that had deadlines. This one--I wasn't sure where it would fit, and I didn't really have the e-book channel at that point, and it was going to take more research to find it a home.
Isiah Jacobs: So I take it you did a lot of research on Native Americans?
Kyell Gold: Hey, some of my best friends are native Americans.
Isiah Jacobs: I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that! There's just a lot of Native American lore in the story!
Kyell Gold: I've done a lot of incidental research on the tribes of upstate New York, and some specific research on language and such. I wanted to avoid the stereotype of "wise people in touch with the land" but convey that sense of peace they'd need to have to be as long-lived as they are.
Isiah Jacobs: And this plays a role with the tribe being a non-war tribe. And the names you came up with were admittedly pretty clever.
Kyell Gold: Thank you. It's hard to do Native American names and not be worried about falling into one stereotype or another.
Isiah Jacobs: What was Breaker's full name?
Kyell Gold: Breaker of Ground, I think?
Isiah Jacobs: Breaker of Ground. Yes! A very clever name! Not going to give away why, but it's fitting! What about Valerie? Is there any symbolism in that?
Kyell Gold: If there is, it's the derivation from "valor," because she is pretty brave.
Isiah Jacobs: What about the antagonists? Anton and Karol?
Kyell Gold: Nothing really. They're just good Slavic names.
Isiah Jacobs: And Leon? I know that translates to lion. He plays a pretty big role in the story.
Kyell Gold: Yeah, just looking for a big strong name, really.
Isiah Jacobs: Alright, well, you said there is an opening for a sequel. Where could you possibly go with that? Would it be a full length novel?
Kyell Gold: Oh, I don't know. I mean, it ends with them leaving their old lives behind and striking out for somewhere new, so it could go really anywhere.
Isiah Jacobs: Can I make a suggestion?
I'll take your silence as a yes.
Kyell Gold: Oh, I was waiting for you to finish typing. Sure, go ahead.
Isiah Jacobs: Mars. They volunteer to be one of the first people to colonize Mars. And then, when they get there, they have low gravity sex-WAIT! Now I remember what I wanted to ask you.
Kyell Gold: Now I'm worried.
Isiah Jacobs: If you were going to include sex in this story, how come you didn't go in to full graphic detail like your other stories?
Kyell Gold: Well, for one thing, it's a shorter story. So a full-on sex scene takes up a lot more of the story.
Isiah Jacobs: Bridges was shorter!
Kyell Gold: For another, it's a different genre. The mainstream romance genre has different conventions than the furry erotica genre. And this is an adventure-romance, not just a romance-romance.
Isiah Jacobs: So your target audience wasn't furries?
Kyell Gold: Not specifically, though I thought furries would be open to it.
Isiah Jacobs: Furries are open to anything. The freaks. Well thank you so much for your time, Kyell! I look forward to having you and Rukis back on the show very soon!
Kyell Gold: Thanks again for having me! It's been a pleasure talking about the book.