Saturday, April 26, 2014

An interview - by one of you

A few weeks ago I got an email from a semi-regular commenter on my blog, who goes by "K" in these parts. K was taking a writing class which required him to interview a stranger, and he wanted to use me as his subject. After I put the poor guy through the wringer, making him prove he was a real student writing a real paper (as opposed to a random sleazeball trying to make money off my name), I submitted to his very kind, insightful inquisition. As you can see, he produced a fantastic article. So thanks, K, for choosing me as your subject - and for letting me post the results on my blog.

A. Regina Cantatis: A Muse’s Puppet

Imagine for a moment you’ve been put in a chair. People around you are working with various devices you don’t recognize. They surround you and strap you into the chair. A long cord is then inserted into the back of your neck with a slight pinch and a solid click. Then you start feeling parts of your mind being rearranged and altered with the difficulty of reorganizing the files on your computer. Some memories are removed (you never had a dog, so why are they mentioning one?) Memories are altered, some are subtle (of course blue was always your favorite color its why your phone case is blue) or maybe they are less subtle (it is great that people stopped worrying about memory redesign isn’t it?) In the end none of that is a problem as all your memories and personality are stored away in a little file, in case they are ever needed, and all that remains is a drone waiting for instruction. A. Regina Cantatis is an author with a passion for writing stories centering on the concepts of altering the mind and identity. She writes scenes like the above (amongst other things), sometimes they are treated as the unfortunate fate of the villain’s victims; other times the scene is something where there is no victim and the person is a willing subject.  
Because the material she writes is of an erotic bent name A. Regina. Cantatis is a pen name chosen for when she writes erotic work. The pen name is to allow her to alleviate her worry about the response it might garner if her real name were attached to these stories, “I’d never do anything that might hurt or embarrass [my loved ones] - and I won’t risk my job, either. There’s no telling what my boss or coworkers would do if they knew the truth.”  The name was picked for two reasons first, one of the possible translations is “enchanted by the queen” and the other point is because it sounds like a real name. Ms. Cantatis is occasionally amused with the response the name gets because of how realistic it sounds. “A lot of people on Facebook call me ‘Regina.’ I always laugh about that because I’m on the opposite end of the dominant/submissive spectrum from the queen.”
The name A. Regina Cantatis was created when she began e-publishing. Of the roughly thirty stories she has put out online she has released seven stories as eBooks. There’s  less pressure in attempting to get work e-published as opposed to using a normal publisher as the author is allowed to decide which of their works to release.  The other concern that she had felt when dealing with publishing was that she feared costs trying to get her works published would cost “I assumed there’d be an up-front publishing cost to eat into my profits and maybe even lead me into debt. “ She learned through her experiences with e-publishing that the process is still complex and difficult, but as far as costs go “There aren’t any up-front costs; Amazon and similar organizations just take a cut of your profits. It’s not a huge cut, and it’s completely worth the time you spend in publishing something.” While she wants to get all of her works published eventually, but Ms. Cantatis has started publishing her stories based on how likely she thinks the story is to sell, so that it can help build her name. This means that her stories are not necessarily published by her whether or not a story is her favorite.  Though the first work she published was the story Sleepwalkers, which Ms. Cantatis had been mulling around in her head for most of her life and as a result is her favorite of the works she has written, “That’s my baby. I came up with the original concept when I was about eleven, and since then I’ve spent three decades trying to turn it into a novel. I’m proud to have finally succeeded, and I’m even prouder about the praise it’s received.”
Ms. Cantatis has had a fascination with mind control from a young age which she reasons is a result of her upbringing. As a child Ms. Cantatis was always told to be a good girl, and she believes that mixed with her innate desires to please and be responsible. These factors led her to two facts about herself, that she was fascinated with the idea of mind control, and that she found she favored being controlled not controlling. Cantatis believes that while her mindset is mostly the result of how she was raised she does admit that her nature had to have some impact on it, “It’s my desire to please someone else that makes me want to submit: if I’m controlled thoroughly enough, I can never displease. On the other hand, my sense of responsibility can be a burden sometimes. I could shed it if I were someone else’s puppet; then I wouldn’t be responsible for my own actions at all.” It is important to understand that in spite of her fascination and enjoyment of the idea of mind control and depersonalization. They are things she believes should be fantasy only and are not things that should be done or attempted in the real world.   However, in these fantasies the thing that intrigues Ms. Cantatis the most though is not being a puppet or just controlled, but is much more involved with her love of science fiction.
A common element in Ms. Cantatis’ work is individuals being turned into drones of one type or another, predominantly robots. As to why she enjoys robots as opposed to puppets. The answer is first that she likes the shininess and second, “it’s a combination of loving science fiction and being fascinated with really deep levels of depersonalization. A doll is more human-like than a robot, so a doll is less interesting to me than a robot.” Ms. Cantatis finds the idea of depersonalization appealing, although she will point out that she is happy with herself and has no self-esteem issues, but it goes along with her interest in the idea of being controlled combined with a desire to not have to deal with the pressures being a person brings. “Standing out in a crowd is stressful, especially when you’re a kid who wants to fit in but doesn’t know how; and that’s how I grew up. I wanted to be like everybody else, so I fantasized about losing my individuality; and those fantasies still resonate with me today because I grew up with them.” Thus she uses her stories to explore and share her fascination with the ideas of depersonalization and mind control. Some of her stories can be used to compare the difference between different levels of being an individual.
In her story Willing Subject Cantatis has the main character, Missy at the start of the story, go through different levels of being controlled and experiencing depersonalization. The main character starts out as a fully free individual intrigued by an individual claiming to be an ancient sorceress as part of a stage hypnotism show called the Black Pearl. Over the course of the story Missy develops her submissive personality that wants nothing more than to serve the Black Pearl called m (lowercase is part of the spelling at this point in the characters arc.)  Eventually Missy and m are actually arguing over whether to return to being Missy or continuing to attempt to become a perfect servant like m wants.  In the end there is no Missy or m, there is only a thrall without identity. The thrall, in contrast with m, isn’t striving to serve because it is incapable of wanting anything at all. This story is a good example of how Ms. Cantatis demonstrates the different levels of a controlled individual and how it can be used to play with the idea of identity.  You have the different types and, with the exception of the thrall, the personalities eventually come into conflict over what they want.
Ms. Cantatis plans to continue with her publishing and is presently working on a special edition of Sleepwalkers, as she’s trying to get the cover right. For those considering getting into e-publishing she notes that getting the right cover image is very important, and that while the process of getting a book e-published is not expensive it is still a difficult process to get through. “That’s why I gave up on trying to publish anywhere but Amazon and Smashwords. Those are troublesome enough.” She is proud of the works she’s done and is looking forward to getting more of her work put out in the future. For those who have any interest in reading her work look her up on Smashwords or Amazon.

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