Monday, April 8, 2013

Kay Berrisford's Back with Moggies, Robin Hood, and a Giveaway!

I am so pleased to welcome back to the blog the very awesome, very patient, very historically-fantastic and kinkeriffic Kay Berrisford! Kay put up with my questions about being British and writing ye olde BDSMe a few months back. She also recently put up with Lisa Henry’s and my shenanigans on her blog. So this time I owe her a rich, thought-provoking interview in which she doesn’t have to worry about being hounded for advice on how I can be more British, or being asked to school me in the ways of history…

And maybe I don’t exactly deliver.

But Kay always elevates my silly questions with her intelligent and entertaining answers. She’s the author of Bound for the Forest, Bound to the Beast, Catching Kit, Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone, Lord of the Forest (out April 9th!), which I am so excited for, and a freebie short out soon, Prisoner of the Mountain Watch. And she's got a GIVEAWAY for you (details below). Please join me in welcoming back Kay Berrisford!

1.     Tell us about Lord of the Forest!

Lord of the Forest – out tomorrow! – is my m/m retelling of the Robin Hood legend, with lots of m/m sexing and a dose of kink. My Robin’s a lone warrior, on the run from the law, who bands up with Cal (a brattish and totally untrustworthy royal spy), Herne the Hunter, and various others, to do the Robin Hood thing and save England from the clutches of the evil barons. Of course, along the way, he finds love in the most unlikely of places…

Lord of the Forest was a joy to write, and I’m hugely excited about it (if a little nervous.)  It’s very different
from most of the recent movies, that’s for sure. For some reason I was too terrified to watch any Robin Hood films or TV shows when I was writing it, instead comforting myself with fifteenth and sixteenth century ballads. I took them as my inspiration as well. Um, I’m a bit weird like that.

I was going to say that Lord of the Forest has a bit less kink than the rest of the Greenwood series, because being set in medieval times with real castles and dungeons and all the associated whump, meant my guys weren’t much into tying each other up for fun.  That said, I managed to get in, among other things, an accidental variant on tentacle porn, and a short,  not-quite-domestic-discipline scene, which was added to the story after a chat with, er, J.A.Rock no less!!!

Anyway, here’s the blurb…

Lord of the Forest (The Greenwood.)

England, 1217. Dark forces are rising. In the Greenwood, foul spirits grow powerful, and greedy barons plunder the lands. Only one man dares fight back—Robin Hood.
Robin’s band of brothers is broken. Now a lone warrior, he denies his famous name and laments the friends and lovers he’s lost. When the fair folk capture Cal, a beautiful young forester descended from the Greenwood’s ancient protectors, Robin rescues him and forges a new alliance.

Despite a sizzling attraction, Robin senses Cal isn’t like his old comrades, and he’s right. Cal’s been raised as a royal spy. He plans to seduce and betray Robin, but can’t harm the man he’s falling hard for. Mistrust and arguments spill into passionate lovemaking, as Cal learns the meaning of loyalty, fighting beside Robin, the only friend he’s ever known. Even the enchanted forest seeks to bind Robin and the returned protector ever tighter.

Their connection will be tested by nature’s wildest forces, Robin’s past, Cal’s lies, and in a baron’s darkest dungeon. To survive, Robin and Cal must admit their love and embrace their true destinies. Only then can they save England and each other—and win their happiness ever after.

The Greenwood series can be read in any order. If anyone needs a refresher or a quick-glance guide to the universe, check out my A to Z of the Greenwood here:

Sounds awesome! I wish everyone would heed my advice and add discipline scenes to their work. I’m only trying to help.

2.     I was re-watching one of my favorite movies the other day, The Last Unicorn, (because I’m an adult)—and the Greenwood was mentioned! I didn’t know what this meant as a kid, but thanks to you, I’m all over it now. Where else might the Greenwood have popped up in my day to day existence without me realizing it?

The greenwood is cool because everyone kind of knows what you’re getting at, even if you’re not all thinking about exactly the same thing. In English mythology (though there are variants in other northern European cultures and beyond) the greenwood conjures romantic images of the land before industrialization and modernity—of untamed sprawling woodlands, rich with mystery and magic, and populated (conveniently for me) by folk like Herne the Hunter, Robin Hood, and druids. English greenwood lore can be fairly clean and innocent, not to mention patriotic and sometimes a tad royalist. Though we do have our quotient of bloodthirsty fairy tales, I imported some of the darker elements of my Greenwood from the much gorier Germanic forest lore.

Where have you heard about it before? Well, plenty of fantasy writers use it, including Tolkien. Mirkwood was the Greenwood, before the nastiness associated with the return of Saurun set in. Another example, which I’ve blogged about elsewhere—E.M.Forster refers to it in his novel, “Maurice” (written in 1913-14). The tortured hero, unable to live openly as a homosexual, turns to the greenwood as the imaginative space in which he and his male lover can exist unfettered, in stark contrast to the homophobic reality in which he struggles to survive.

That’s another cool and liberating element of the greenwood—it exists outside modern laws, including the sexual ones.  That’s why literary lovers have long escaped to the forest realm, as in Midsummer Night’s Dream, of course!

My Robin hails from Sherwood—and was born in Inglewood, in Yorkshire, where some of the earliest mentions of Robin hail from—but the bulk of Lord of the Forest is set in the Greenwood. My Greenwood is roughly based on the New Forest and its myths and legends (which I waffled on about in my last interview here!!) My version is much larger and denser than the New Forest and has less caravans and tourists in it.

I love Maurice! I forgot about the Greenwood fantasies.

3.     Who is your most out-of control character? The one who just won’t listen when you tell him what you need him to do?
In the past, it was Herne the Hunter (who features in Lord of the Forest and Bound for the Forest as well as his own book, Bound to the Beast.) I had a hell of time getting a hold on his character, particularly when I wanted him to explain important plot points. He just wouldn’t. He’s a great, brooding ancient warrior, and words don’t come easily (er, unlike to me :P)  However, I think I’ve got a handle on him now, as we seemed to be a little bit more in tune when I was writing Locking Horns (my sequel to Bound to the Beast.) I just had Tam do all the talking.

4. I make fun of my Australian co-writer Lisa Henry a lot for spelling words like color, favorite, harbor etc. with a “U.” When the Brits do it, though, I admire it. I think I have it in my head that you guys did it first, and Australians are copycats. Can you confirm this for me, regardless of whether it’s true?

Of course it’s true.  Then again, I am a whinging pom.

I don’t know what that is, but I’m picturing a flying Pomeranian.

4.a. Teach me three new British words. Go:

          Moggy – cat. (as in, right now a great fluffy moggy is trying to walk across my keyboard.)
Don’t let the whinging pom get it!
          Puff – breath (as in, “I’m out of puff.”)
          Lurgy – minor illness/cold. Okay, I think I used this one in an email, but I’ve just had the lurgy again. Booo!!!

Edit: the Australians are copymoggies.

4.     One thing I love about books like Bound for the Forest and Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone is the way sex (or the suggestion of it) factors into ritual—and becomes a necessary means for the characters to achieve some larger goal. I recall from my Marion Zimmer Bradley days that sex often factored into pagan rituals. How do you see sex working in your historical fantasy books, was it really a big part of old-timey rituals, and why are we so prudish now? That was three questions. Sorry.

As far as my books concerned, if there’s going to be a ritual, my first thought is—hmmm, how kinky can I make it?  My second thought is—hmmm, but is that kinky enough?  How can I really make ’em squirm.

But there’s more to it than that. In erotic romance, sex is supposed to move the plot and the relationship between the main lovers on. Mixing sex with ritual pitches that onto a whole new level, heightening the process of transformation and connection both physically and supernaturally. So that’s fun.

Was it really a big part of old-timey rituals?  Well, that can be answered a million ways.  Sex has certainly long been an element of *fantasies* of pagan religious rituals, as featured in many a Victorian “penny dreadful.” As for the actual pre-historic religion that I took my inspiration from in the Greenwood novels, well, we don’t know a great deal about the substance of rituals. What we do know often comes from accounts written by the Romans, and they were keen to portray Ancient British and Germanic peoples as (pervy) savages anyway. However, we know for certain that sex and fertility rites were pretty damn central to prehistoric religion. The first of my books I opened to seek an example just now fell open on a picture of a female figurine sculpted in the shape of a phallus (dated from 5600-5300 BC.)  I rest my case.

5.     I’m lucky enough to have read the first three chapters of Lord of the Forest. I won’t ask you to for spoilers, much as I want to, but tell me about writing historical figures/legends. Is it hard to inhabit a character like Robin Hood, who’s already played a role in so many stories? Or does that just make it more fun? Did you feel any pressure to make your Robin fit with readers’ preconceived notions of that figure?

And thank you for reading :)

I didn’t have as much trouble as I did with Herne (see above.)  Knowing all those other stories about Robin made it easy to concoct his past and understand his background and values. After that, his character flowed relatively easily. To start off with, I was worried my Robin was a bit angsty, but to an extent, that was unavoidable given the stage of his life I decided to join him at. After over a decade as England’s outlaw hero, my Robin has left Sherwood after the death of his friend Friar Tuck. He’s not a damaged character as such (we’ve got Cal for that) but he’s somewhat weighed down by the weight of his fame and legend, which was an interesting element to play with. Plus, he’s never found his soul mate, of course…
Robin Hood's a total fox.

Do I feel pressure of people’s preconceptions? I’m bloody terrified! Maybe that’s why my Robin openly acknowledges the pressures of being Robin Hood, the most famous man in England. As I said before, I tried to make my story different from the recent movies and TV, but I’m hoping my Robin is still recognizably Robin. He’s involved in plenty of swashbuckling action. There’s castles, dungeons, torturers, and nasty barons, as well as the stuff you’d expect if you’ve read my other Greenwood books—fairies, kink, walking trees, more kink, foliage kink, and folk on quests to find the truth of their mysterious origins.

I love all of those things. Especially foliage kink.

Improve My Historical Accuracy

I am not a history major. You are. I use vague terms when I’m talking about historical eras or events to cover my lack of knowledge. I’m going to provide you with a list of terms I use and what I mean by them. Will you please tell me why I’m wrong/what I could do better? Maybe throw me some new terms I could use to impress people in future conversations?

Term: Old-timey. Example: Sex factored into a lot of old-timey rituals.

What I mean: Any point in history prior to 1990.

How could I improve?
Old-timey is a bit like the Greenwood, isn’t it? It evokes a fantastical image of ye olde worlde, though trouble is, you can’t be sure that the person who you’re communicating with has the same image. As long as you don’t mind that you might be referring to Ancient Rome and the person you’re speaking to has images of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII in flagrante delicto, ’tis all good. So, um, you could be a bit more specific, but it’s all happy really.

Term: Victorian. Example: I love the elegant costumes and restrictive societal values of the Victorian era.

What I mean: Any era where women wore corsets and men had sideburns.

How could I improve?
So, the reign of Victoria (1837-1901—no, I didn’t wiki it, because I’m sad like that :P). Not to be confused with the splurge of decades before it, which people describe as Regency. The Regency, strictly speaking, is the relatively short period between 1811 and 1820, when George, the Prince Regent, ruled in proxy to his father, George III, before becoming George IV, but in romance terms seems to refer to books set between circa.1760 and the start of Victoria’s reign.

To be honest, you don’t really need to better this, just check up on dates and details, and try not to confuse too much with Regency, or people will start to slash Sherlock Holmes with Mr. Darcy.
Oh, and this *all* only works for British (and possibly British Imperial) history…

Term: Ancient Greece. Example: Cicero was one of the most important people in Ancient Greece.

What I mean: Ancient Greece or Rome. I can’t tell the white drapey cloth societies apart.

How could I improve?
Hmmm, I’m trying to think of a witty way to draw parallels between Regency/Victorian and Greek/Rome. I’m somewhat failing, apart from those are two overlapping corset!worlds and these are two overlapping white drapey cloth!worlds (Or, as I personally prefer to think of the latter, men-in-leather-miniskirt!worlds.)  So, the Greeks peaked a bit sooner, as it were, and then the Roman’s nicked all their best stories, column designs, and gods, and were a lot better at admin. And the Romans all copied Alexander the Great’s hair. There’s a longer version of that answer, but I think that covers the important tuff.

Term: Postmodern
I never use it; I just want you to tell me what it means.

Hmmm. Depends.  Historically, it can mean the current period, which is of course, after the “modern” period, which in some timelines can from the end of the medieval period (fifteenth century-ish) onward.  When the modern period became the postmodern period, is also debatable. And it seems a shame nobody could think of a new word. I mean, the medievals got medieval, right (which sounds vaguely kinky. Hurrah!)
Postmodern is also that deconstruction-y fun with texts, about arguing how nothing has a fixed meaning, and pictures of floating blobs, and, err… I’ll shut up now.

Please don’t tell my school I had to ask you that. They’re about to give me a Master’s in English.

6.     Are there any WIPs you want to tell us about? Maybe any that involve librarian warriors training bratty palace slaves? (You are going to rue the day you dropped a hint about that one. ’Cause I’m not going to let it go.)

Haha, oh yes, I have plenty.  Before I forget, I do have a free read coming out the week after next, Prisoner of the Mountain Watch, which is my first foray into all out fantasy, though there’s quite a bit of that on the WIP list..

Anyway, I promised you a list, so here’s a quick overview.

1.     Locking Horns – this is a Greenwood novella, and a sequel to Bound to the Beast. It’s not like the other novels, in that the main characters are not new. We’re revisiting Herne the Hunter, and his lover Tam. Because it’s set in 1804 (Herne and Tam are immortal) it also serves as a prequel to Bound for the Forest, and we get to meet some of the characters from that book too.  It’s a standalone little story in its own right, and features, er, Maypole kink. This is likely to be the next thing out.

2.     Dark Towers – a working title I have for a medieval-style fantasy story that I’m about to start finishing.  Honest. This one’s quite dark—but it’s going to end up fluffy.

3.     Sci-fi prison shifter story.  I’m quite excited about this…

4.     Victorian theatre kink. With canes and corsets. I started this two years ago now, so it’s been on the WIP pile for ages. But it needs to come off.  Soon.

5.     The other, much sillier medieval-style fantasy, about the warrior-come-librarian training the very crap sex slave. Also needs to be finished. Soon!

6.     Greenwood #4 – the fourth full-length Greenwood novel.  Will be set in the English Iron Age (before the Roman invasion) and explain how all the spirits came to be bound to the forest. There will be lots of ritual and blood sacrifice in this one. Just because.  Also, I have an idea for a Greenwood Xmas story set in WW2.

These won’t all get finished this year, but will do soon, I hope!

Ohhh my god, theater kink! Bad slaves! Sci fi shifters! Are you sure you can’t finish it all this year?

Thank you so much for coming by, Kay.  I feel significantly smarter now. Wishing you a huge success with this book! It sounds wonderful.

Thank you for having me! It’s been great fun, and sorry about all the waffle!!!!

I love waffles. One time in Spain I ate one with chocolate sauce and when I was done I licked the container in front of a bus full of people and they judged me.

Here's a li'l blurb for "Prisoner of the Mountain Watch," available for free April 15th:

Once a great warrior, Ivenhal now leads a lonely existence, banished by his people because he’s lain with other men. When he captures an enemy elf, his life takes an unexpected turn.

...and here are Kay's giveaway details!

If you’d like a chance to WIN your choice of Bound for the Forest or Bound to the Beast, in your choice of paperback or ebook—PLUS a $20 Loose Id or All Romance voucher—all you need to do is leave a comment here or at any of my stops on my Lord of the Forest blog tour. You can enter the draw as many times as you like at the different blogs I visit on my tour - scehdule ishere. (URL-  There will be more chances to enter here at my blog over the next couple of weeks, or if you’re uncomfotable posting your email anywhere, you can email me at You will be entered :)   Two runners up prizes will be a choice of any of my back catalogue titles in ebook format, excluding Lord of the Forest. Draw closes 4/12/13.


  1. Thank you for another opportunity to win.


    1. My pleasure, Karl - it's always way too fun answering JA's questions :D

  2. Please count me in. Thanks!!!


    1. You're in - thanks for dropping by, Gigi :)

  3. Awesome interview! I always feel smarter after reading Kay's interviews too. But J.A. knew I'd say that, because I'm a copymoggy.

    1. Actually, I feel smarter after *answering* those questions - I had to think kind of hard, which feels like being back at school (in a good way!!) Talking of which--aw, no, I'd be the copymoggy, I'm sure (particularly if you're good at chemistry?!?)

      Glad you enjoyed :)

  4. Okay, I've just got to add how much I love the bonus piccies, esp. the flying Pomeranian. Thanks for making it all look so awesome!!!!!

  5. Wonderful interview, great questions (and asides) and of course, fabulous answers. Getting a Masters won't help you with the postmodernism question. I'm proof of that! Thanks!
    brendurbanist at gmail dot com

    1. Haha, no indeed!! But seeing as it's postmodern, we can make up all our answers anyway - yayayayayayayayay!!

      Thanks for dropping by, Urb :)

  6. Thanks for stopping by, everyone, and thanks for being here, Kay! (The flying pomeranian is the best, isn't it?)

    And Urb, I agree. I am starting to think that not only does nobody really know what postmodernism is, maybe it doesn't even MATTER.

    There, I said it. Do the grad school gods strike me down now?

    1. Agh, grad school gods are too busy discussing the substance and nature of their thunderbolts to worry about little things like aiming. You're safe!

    2. Eeeeee! Yes, and I wantz and flying pomeranian (though I fear Siena might chase him!!)

    3. LOL! "The substance and nature of their thunderbolts." Perfect.

      I think the pom could get away. Look how fast s/he is!

    4. Heh, glad you agree :)

      And I think s/he would make it too. Siena might even be scared, actually (she's been officially labelled a 'wussy puss' after being intimidated by all the other local cats, when Florence--her predecessor, and half her size--was officially top cat and made massive ginger mogs cry!!!

      Go flying pom!!!

  7. You had me at 'an accidental variant on tentacle porn'! I am frighteningly intrigued! And also the Disney fox Robin Hood! I am always looking to find this one on DVD!
    OceanAkers @

    1. I agree--"accidental variant on tentacle porn" is the most intriguing phrase I've heard in a while!

    2. It actually *started* as tentacle porn written on a whim after a nice glass of wine one evning. Then I started to ponder what the hell a squid was doing in the middle of the Greenwood...

      I'm kind of craving some Robin Hood movies myself now. Well, maybe soon. I actually couldn't watch any when I was writing/editing the book, as the very notion sent me into some irrational panic :P I think I could cope now. Well, with the Disney version, anyway ;)

      Thanks for your lovely comments :) :) :)

  8. Good to know that you have an A to Z guide to Greenwood as refresher to readers if needed. Such a cute Pom - like one big ball of fluffy fur.

    strive4bst(At) yahoo(Dot) com

    1. I had lots of fun putting the A-Z together - kind of useful for me too!! I totally love the Pom too - *cuddles* :)

      Thanks for your lovely comment :)

  9. Great interview! Sign me up: juliangriffith1801 at gmail dot com

    1. You're signed up - thanks :)