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Monthly Archives - May 2016

The Story Behind INVICTUS

With 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

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The Story Behind LEGACY

Now that the Awakened Series has indeed taken flight, I am very encouraged that readers have been writing me asking for more. Although I have been writing my entire life, I have kept my stories fairly tame. Awakened allowed me to step outside of my own boundaries by writing a steamy romance that was well received by male and female readers alike.

Within Dominion, I spread my wings a bit more and ran with some new themes and even some new “ships” between the people in the story that I felt naturally drawn to and subsequently developed. I was heartened and deeply moved to hear that readers were staying up all night reading Dominion, utterly riveted to the story. Still, within Dominion, I admittedly restrained myself in not opening up more detail about some of the relationships that occurred within the story. I just didn’t think readers would be interested in them.

As the story of Legacy began to take shape, something happened within the plot that never, ever occurred to me while writing book one, or even book two for that matter. Since this isn’t a spoiler, suffice to say that Legacy represents, for me anyway, a no-holds-barred, plunge into the Awakened milieu that I honestly hadn’t planned on taking.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Harley Austin is a relationship junkie. My propensity to “ship” different people in the story in ways that are—a little unexpected—continues within Legacy. Readers have both praised and hated me for it. Still, it makes me feel good to know that readers are interested enough in the people within the story to send me accolades and hate mail.

Although the Awakened series sets up and delivers powerful romance within a very different kind of story, I have never really wanted to bill the series as “romance”. I did not want to pigeonhole the story as only appealing to this or that type or brand of audience. It is simply a story—to be taken at face value.

Anything can happen.

Don’t be surprised when it does.

Finally, I am going to remind readers that Awakened is a series, an epic story told over the course of many books; how many books at this point is anyone’s guess. As such, we will see people suddenly show up within the story that we know very little about. We learn more about them as the story progresses.

Also, there will be things that happen within a book that will go unresolved—and indeed will remain unresolved perhaps until the very end.

I hate authors who spin up a plot and then deliberately end the book in a kind of cliffhanger in order to get you to buy the next book in the series. I don’t do that; not on purpose anyway. But as the Awakened story heats up, trust me, there are going to be loose ends that cannot be resolved within a single book. Nor do I intend to resolve them in one neat, tidy little package.

For the record, the Awakened books write themselves. I’m often just as much in the dark as you are about what’s going to happen next. Legacy ended in a way I personally was not expecting. I, as much as you, am waiting to see what develops as this epic story continues to unfold.

~ Harley

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