Today on the site we’ve got two familiar contributors: Judith Utz, owner and curator of Binge on Books and Open Ink Press, whom you may recognize from this interview, and Kris Ripper, author of more than thirty queer novels (many written about here) with gender and sexuality rep all over the spectra. They’re discussing Ripper’s latest, Kith and Kin, a multi-POV look at family, connection, and perception that releases today from Brain Mill Press:
What does it mean to have a family?
Singer and Lisa Thurman did everything right for their entire childhood. Their mother wanted a perfect life, and they knew how to fit that vision.
Then they grew up. Singer came out of the closet and Lisa joined a cult.
Singer and his partner are adopting a son. Unfortunately, all that practice being the perfect child didn’t prepare Singer to be a merely adequate father. Lisa’s just trying to get through the day. After three years in a cult, it’s almost impossible to leave her bedroom, so redemption is going to have to wait.
What does it mean to be a family?
When their mother shows up and attempts to reclaim the illusion of her perfect family, old lives clash with new ones.
Recovering from perfection is messy, complicated, and fraught, but the riotous clan that rises from the ashes is full of joy—and the best kind of trouble.
A groundbreaking, honest, and provocative novel, Kith and Kin is contemporary family drama that grafts an entirely new species of family tree.
Family is what you make of it.
Buy Kith and Kin
And now, here are Judith and Kris!
Judith: Ripper, hi! Thanks for joining me on LGBTQReads to celebrate the release of Kith and Kin. Tell me all about this latest book that is “not a romance”.
Kris Ripper: Kith and Kin is a great big family drama. Its code name for a long time was Domestic Rock Opera because it gives the impression of a whole lot happening at once (but no actual rock, sorry).
Whether it’s a romance…I leave genre calls to readers. But if I read this, I wouldn’t read this as A Romance. It does have loads of romantic relationships, all of which end on a positive note!
I come from a huge family of origin, and I built a family of choice. This book is essentially about the intersections between all different forms of family.
Judith: With such a big family, did any of your own experiences infuse Kith and Kin?
Ripper: My experiences infuse everything I write, but I don’t veer autobiographical. Though some of these scenes have been redrafted so many times that they feel like memories. I’ve written six versions of the first scene. The one that’s in the book was written the night before copyedits were due.
Judith: Since you are constantly reworking scenes and drafts, was there anything that was edited out that you wish you could have kept in?
Ripper: Ohhh, good question. Absolutely not, in that the book is stronger without everything I cut. But man, I cut a lot. I cut an entire scene when K&K was in copyedits. I’ll eventually release all of those either on my blog or on Patreon, so if you’re into cut scenes, check that out!
Judith: Can you talk about your creative process. How do the ideas come? How do you process them? How much research goes into a story?
Ripper: HOW ARE ALL OF THOSE ONE QUESTION?
Ideas come from everywhere. The shower and during a run are my favorite places to get them. Or a friend says, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to place a book in a comic book shop?” And then you plan a series in a comic book shop.
I will always have more ideas than I can write. There’s basically a big holding pen in my brain (I picture it as a netted off area of ocean) where all the ideas swim around. Some are bigger than others. Some eat others and get bigger. Some die off. I go fishing and hope I catch something good.
Every story requires some research; some require a metric shit ton of research.
Judith: With all these characters and books percolating in your mind, which of them do you most identify with and why?
Ripper: All of them and none of them, I guess. I know that’s a boring answer, but I don’t write a lot of “this really happened” into my books, even in small ways. People have told me I remind them of Hugh Reynolds in the Scientific Method Universe books, which is kind of hilarious. (Hugh’s an arrogant know-it-all control freak. I can’t say that assessment is inaccurate…)
Judith: Ha! Well, I won’t comment about the veracity of that here but knowing both you and the character? Umm….well….uhhh…on to the next question! Would love to hear about what are the top influences in your writing?
Ripper: Watching people—in bus stations, in coffee shops, on street corners, in grocery stores. Listening to the way people talk to each other. I’ve learned a lot about series storytelling from Lois McMaster Bujold. I love Stephen King and Nicola Griffith and Guy Gavriel Kay. I could lose myself forever in Audre Lorde. I also really love TV, but I haven’t hit anything that made my fingers itch to write lately.
Judith: Speaking of writing lately, who would you most want to write a book with and why?
Ripper: What like, collaborating? Please see “control freak” comment above. I’d be a horrible collaborator. And if I ever did it, I’d want to do it old school, like Peter Straub and Stephen King, trying to trick readers into thinking certain lines belonged to the other author.
Judith: And lastly, after Kith and Kin, what’s up next for Kris Ripper?
Ripper: The next thing I’m super excited to write is the Scientific Method Universe New Year’s book, Let Every New Year Find You. The narrator of that one will be Davey, whom we last saw in Roller Coasters, dumping Will on a sidewalk, and I’m so damn excited to see how he’s doing that my fingers tingle when I think about it.
Also, this is Amy Jo Cousins’ fault. FYI. She’s always been a book rec machine, but I had no idea she could reach into my brain, snap her fingers, and make stories appear.
Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a toddler, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and prefers the z-based pronouns because they’re freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.