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June 2016

The Story Behind: INVICTUS

Invictus Book SmallWith the Awakened Series now moving into book four, it has become interesting for me as a storyteller to see the response from readers about the direction a story takes and specifically some of the surprising relationships that have developed within the story. Within the previous book, Legacy, I didn’t start out with the idea of “shipping” some of the characters the way they turned out. But I indeed developed those relationships because they felt to me to be a very natural kind of progression.

Some beta readers found the surprise “ships” awesome and intriguing, while others hated the relationships that developed because they simply didn’t want to see those particular characters in certain relationships. Whether some readers like the relationships or not, I was heartened that the readers were invested in the people within the story to really care.

As a story and a novel series, the Awakened Series breaks all the rules of mainstream publishing.

Things happen within Harley Austin books that are not “politically correct”, not “mainstream”, not “socially acceptable”, deeply “controversial” and even “highly offensive” to some. There isn’t a single individual who won’t in some way be offended by a Harley Austin book. For this I make no apologies. That’s life. Although a fiction series, there are many things within these books that will always hit a little too close to home, because they are indeed a deep reflection of our own true-to-life circumstances, personal desires and current real-life events.

Invictus no less carries on this same Harley Austin tradition of the earlier books in the series; perhaps going even deeper than the previous ones in bringing to light things we as people think about, but would never discuss openly—with anyone.

I believe within all of us there is a hidden curiosity that seeks to know “what if”? Stories in many ways allow us to safely explore within ourselves those “what if’s” and live out within the lives of the fictional people we read about our own secrets, our own desires, our own private fantasies and our someday hoped-for dreams.

For the record, the Awakened Series is not specifically a “gay” book series because a novel (or a few of them) within the series has a non-straight romance. There are a number of non-straight relationships that happen within this series, not because I am pushing some pet personal agenda, but because that is who we are as a people.

I wrote this series from the outset to be something both men and women would enjoy reading. I have been greatly heartened by the very positive response from straight men and women who see the people in the story for who they are. Just people, like all of us, just trying to survive.

I hope you enjoy reading Invictus the Awakened Series as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

~ Harley