Interview with Kitty Thomas, Author of The Escape Artist
21 Jan 2020
What can you tell us about your new release, The Escape Artist?
Ari, the hero, first showed up as a minor side character people kept thinking of as “The Viking” in another book I wrote. (Note: These are standalones, and for new readers I recommend The Escape Artist first.)
A lot of my readers loved him. A few people asked for an Ari book. I don’t really take requests so I just put that on the back burner. I didn’t know of anything I could do with this guy that could sustain a whole book. He was just too “nice”. Not that I didn’t like him, but I didn’t know how I could write a book of the kind I write that would be compelling and keep reader interest with him.
But then I found Claire, and everything changed. Claire was kept captive for a while by a psychopath intent on killing her after he was done with all the other unspeakable things he’d done to her. But she escaped. Since then she’s lived a sort of half-life for a few years, too traumatized and always looking over her shoulder to really live. She basically finds the guy (or stumbles upon him), captures him (with some unsuspecting help and her trust fund), and goes about torturing and breaking him down with the plan to kill him. She thinks if she can do this, she can be free and happy.
But she’s got the wrong guy. So… with this plot I found I definitely had a way to make Ari “intense” enough for my readers to go along for a whole book that isn’t just puppies and kittens and frolicking lovemaking in a field of lilacs. Ari and Claire meet in the most twisted way, but they are each the other half of a complete whole, and despite everything, they belong together.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
I’m not sure because I wanted to write since I was little. But I know I was super into the RL Stine Goosebumps books when I was a kid. My first novel-writing attempts were a few very Goosebump-type books when I was twelve. I wanted to be RL Stine.
What inspired me to write the type of books I write now though were things like Story of O and Nine and a Half weeks… these dark erotic books that decided to moralize to you at the end with “Oh this is so bad and wrong… we can’t be together because society…” ugh. no. I wanted these women to end up with the guy. Who cares how twisted it was? They were both made complete by their arrangement, and really it’s nobody else’s business but theirs.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
It would be impossible for me to tell you the top five books I’ve ever read. And I know this is where people break out the “look how smart I am” books, listing “literary masterpieces” but I like what I like and this is what I like: (I can’t even narrow down the top five books for the past year. But here are my top 6 for the past year):
1. You and Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes. Technically that’s two books, but it’s a series, so I’m counting it as one.
2. A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole (a long time favorite)
3. Merciless by Willow Winters
4. Total Exposure by JA Huss
5. Hold by Claire Kent
6. Wall Street Titan by Anna Zaires
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
At this point, most authors in my genre that I truly love, I’m in contact with. So I don’t sit around imagining what I would ask them because we talk. So if I had a show, I’d just host my author friends. I’d bring in several and we’d just talk about whatever came up. But I hate TV, so… I wouldn’t have a talk show, literary or otherwise.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
Getting reactions from my long-time readers. Some of them are in my Facebook group and they’ll get into messenger with me and I get play-by-play reactions to things which is always nice. Because by the time you get to release day, you’ve gone over it so many times you think it’s awful. And you are so far beyond the point of initial excitement about the story, so it’s nice to live vicariously through the readers who are getting to experience the book in that way. I can’t really read and enjoy the story until about 6 months after release, when it feels “new” again.
What is a typical day like for you?
I’m a night owl, so I’m rolling out of bed around 10 am. I try to get breakfast, cleaning, and exercise all in first so it gets done, and so I’m not living like a hobo. I listen to audiobooks while I’m doing all that. Then I dig in to whatever I’m working on. Though I’m too busy right before book release and into release week with all the work I have to do for promo to write new stuff. But I tend to get a lot of ideas during that downtime. I got an idea this morning that might have to be bumped to the top of the list. I have to make myself leave the house and be social because I just always have so much to do and my work is more compelling to me than most of what is going on in the world outside my door.
What scene in The Escape Artist was your favorite to write?
My favorite scene is when Ari turns the tables on her and she first realizes that she tortured an innocent man, and now… he’s got her. It’s kind of a relief in a way because taking him and torturing him wasn’t what she thought it would be. It’s broken her down even more, and she can never function in the real world as a normal person again after both the things that have happened to her and the lines she has crossed. By this point she needs someone to just take everything away. And Ari obliges.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
I try not to boil my life down to pithy T-shirt sayings. So maybe that’s my philosophy.
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