1. Butterfly is the ultimate story of revenge – what would you say is the best form of revenge?
Kathryn Harvey: The best form of revenge is to achieve the perfect moment and perfect means for exacting that revenge, letting the object of that revenge be well aware that you have that power over him or her, and then not going through with it. I think that would be absolutely delicious. And it gives one the high road, doesn’t it?
2. Have you ever gotten revenge on anyone?
Kathryn Harvey: No, I haven’t. While revenge works well in a novel, and can be quite satisfying, in real life revenge (and plotting it) is counterproductive. We are on this earth with a finite amount of time. I would not want to waste it on something as petty and fleeting and unprofitable as revenge. Fictional characters live forever and have the luxury of using their time however they wish.
3. Butterfly can be quite racy in places – as can your book Stars which is previewed at the back. Along with other books, women’s erotica is becoming more and more popular. Why do you think this is?
Kathryn Harvey: I think it’s because women are finally allowed to read such books. Yes, allowed. We have come a long way from the days when ladies had to retire to another room after dinner while the men drank whiskey and smoked cigars and no doubt talked about sex and taboo subjects. Despite Women’s Lib back in the seventies, a lot of old standards have stayed with us. It was “unseemly” for women to read erotica, or even to want to! There was very little available back then. The double standard held. But times are changing, and the younger generation of women is more open and vocal about what they want. I love it!
4. Do you think it is causing women to become more open minded – both in the bedroom and in terms of their reading material?
Kathryn Harvey: Definitely. As I stated above, the old standards are being shattered every day. There was a time when the word “vagina” was whispered. Old taboos are going the way of the whale-bone corset.
5. When reading Butterfly, I immediately picked up on some of the underlining issues drawn upon such as neglect, rejection and self-esteem. What are some other issues you’ve written into the book?
Kathryn Harvey: Self-reliance, courage, and the power of Sisterhood.
6. When creating characters for Butterfly, did you base any of their qualities – or the characters as a whole – on yourself or on anyone you knew?
Kathryn Harvey: I based Beverly Highland on myself – or rather, the heroic woman I wish I could be. She is my personal fantasy. I would like to think that if I went through what she did, I would have the chutzpah to launch her plan of revenge and have the courage and strength of will to stick with it and carry it out. I’m not sure I could! Trudie is based on a dear friend and she sees herself in there. The others are amalgams of ladies that I know or have met.
7. Within the story you addressed the two very different sides of prostitution – the darker side where girls were forced into unsafe sex and living in horrible conditions – and at the other end of the spectrum, a more upper class, glamorous, exclusive and very safe side of it. Did you feel that it was necessary to explore both sides of paying for sex?
Kathryn Harvey: When it comes to sex for sale, all you hear about is the men’s side of it (and by the way, prostitution is NOT the oldest profession, but that’s for another book). When you do hear about women paying for sex, it’s in a sad and pathetic way, like lonely women hiring handsome gigolos to escort them places. Since I wanted to show what women really want and what they can really achieve when they put their minds and their libidos together (honestly, men’s whorehouses are SO unimaginative!), I needed to contrast it with the profession as it has been known for centuries. I’m kind of asking the reader: which would YOU prefer?
8. I noticed that the darker side of prostitution was generally dominated by men – men were the ones paying for sex and also the ones finding girls and taking advantage of them, forcing them into prostitution. But women were the ones who later on paid for sex in a much more safer and exclusive way – as well as women being the ones who launched the business idea. Is there a particular reason why you had women portrayed as the ones to go about with paying for sex in a more glamorous way, as opposed to men kind of doing the opposite?
Kathryn Harvey: Let’s face it, men and women are definitely wired differently. Men are very basic when it comes to sex. Women want more. This is why Butterfly is about costumes, characters, storylines – the patrons of the private establishment can request elaborate fantasies, or simple sexual encounters – in other words, Butterfly caters to every taste. For the most part, women aren’t as basic as men when it comes to sex. We tend to like interesting settings and men who are more characters than just men (e.g. a swashbuckling pirate or a dusty cowboy). In other words, exotic sexual encounters that we would never encounter in our daily lives. Something to transport us to another world. It isn’t just about orgasm.
9. We don’t often think of women being the ones to pay for sex – is this something you particularly wanted to bring up in the story?
Kathryn Harvey: I don’t think of the members of Butterfly as paying for sex per se. It’s the ambience, the settings, the costumes, paying for a safe and discreet environment and the guarantee of having a sexual partner who won’t suddenly turn into a creep or a murderer. Men don’t mind sex in the backseat of a car. Women like fantasy and role-playing. That can be costly.
10. Do you personally feel that somewhere like Butterfly should – if it doesn’t already! – exist? For example, do you think it’s necessary to have a more safe way to do this, since the wrong way like sex trafficking and girls being forced into it exists anyway? Or do you feel it will only add to the problem?
Kathryn Harvey: I have always thought prostitution should be legalized. Unfortunately, the trafficking in girls who are kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery has existed for millennia and I doubt will go away soon. But I think we are talking apples and oranges here. That awful trade has to do with a more sinister and darker side of the human psyche whereas an establishment like Butterfly is about free-will and the exploration of human pleasure between willing participants.
11. What gave you inspiration for this story?
Kathryn Harvey: The idea for my book came from a board game friends and I had invented for our personal amusement. We designed a board with squares, we had little movers, we rolled dice and we drew cards. The game was about women’s sexual fantasies, and we each contributed fantasies on the cards, plus “men.”(mostly in the form of movie stars). Some of the fantasies were basic, but most were elaborate and sounded like romance novels. One evening in the middle of a game, one of my friends said, “How come men have such easy access to sex? They can buy it whenever they want. But what’s out there for women?” Another player said, “Wow, a really neat bordello for women.” And I added, “I’d be there in a flash.” Mind you, we were all happily married and just speculating. But the idea had been planted.
12. How long did it take for you to write it?
Kathryn Harvey: Eight weeks. I was very inspired!
13. Finally, what advice or tips would you give to other writers?
Kathryn Harvey: To aspiring writers I say just do it. Sit down and write one page a day and at the end of the year you have a novel. Don’t let anyone discourage you or say it can’t be done. And don’t spend a lot of time sitting in classes on creative writing, or going to those expensive writing weekends. Just do it. And to established writers interested in getting into erotica, I say don’t get overly anatomical and think it’s sexy. Remember that the brain is just as powerful a sex organ as those others. So leave a few things out for the reader to fill in. Leave something to the imagination. Not all women like to read graphic or explicit sex scenes. For many, it can be a turn-off.
A big thanks to Barbara/Kathryn for answering my questions, all of which were extremely interesting and made me realize even more issues addressed in the story! Butterfly can be purchased on Amazon or other popular book retailers and you can find out more about Barbara Wood and her books here.