Author - Harley Austin

The Story Behind BLUERAZOR

There is within every author, I think, that one story of a favorite character, a person, dare I say alter-ego, who exists only in our hearts and minds, and if we’re fortunate enough, we got to play that person as part of a group in a role-playing game setting. If you’ve ever played such games, you probably know what I mean. We love them; and in some way that only we will ever know, they are us.

BlueRazor is the story of such a person. Someone who grew up out of my imagination in my mid to late teens and became a kind of mainstay character played in more games over the course of some 20 years than I can remember. At some point, each of our fave alter-egos becomes so advanced, so powerful, they’re just no fun to play anymore, but we still love them. Everyone in our group of friends had such people that we loved to pay now an again, if only just because any one of us could have slain a red dragon in one round, or an entire hoard of orcs with a single spell. But I digress …

The story you now hold is borne from the experiences of those many years of running various role-playing games with long-time friends who have long since parted ways as life sent all of us in different directions. But the memories of those wonderful times together with those friends still run deep within me to this day.

I actually began writing BlueRazor in 2017 and took the story to some 250 pages. My beautiful wife is not really a fan of fantasy, but she loved the prologue and wanted to read the rest when it was finished. Fast-forward 5 years, and I have finally resurrected BlueRazor from my backlog and Graveyard of Forgotten Stories and completed it.

In between that time, I actually did finish another novel set in this fantasy realm called ARCUS, and also half finished another story called FaerieFyre that will now be published sooner than later for this series.

It is now inevitable that BlueRazor will become the first of many books set within my already well-established Awakened Universe, but with a fantasy, as opposed to a paranormal sci-fi, perspective.

I truly enjoy writing fantasy and I think you will see many more of these novels in the future. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the people within this story, because in many ways, some of them were the creation of real people brought to life in games that now live only in our memories.

~ Harley


The Story Behind EVOLUTION

One of the things being a fiction writer affords is the superpower of being able to explore people outside of the cultural norms we grew up within. I do this a lot in my stories on purpose. For one, it gives me as a Human being the chance to try to see things from the perspectives of people who are not my culture; and second, it’s fun and often very revealing (if not somewhat shocking) to introduce the reader to something they may have never ever seen or thought of before.

As Human beings we tend to live life in our own little bubbles of culture and we seldom, if ever, get exposed to anything unusual.

I really do try to pull stories and events from actual Human culture and experiences, and not just make them up out of my imagination for shock value. What is interesting to me, some would say my “kink” if you will, is inserting things from my own personal experiences and cultural studies into a story that people from most mainstream or so-called developed cultures would find different, strange, immoral, or even anathema.

I’m not the first writer to do this. I won’t be the last.

For me, the goal is not so much an attempt to educate someone, but to make the story interesting. I often do this within the context of intimate relationships.


Allow me to expand a bit: I believe in God, but I am not a fan organized or corporate religion. The imposition of these “corporate” faiths has left Humanity with a cookie-cutter belief system that all too often leads people further away from a deeper understanding of God, the Universe and everything, instead of closer to what should be the logical reasoned observable truth.

Nowhere is this dichotomy between rational reasoned truth and man-made corporate beliefs more pronounced than when discussing intimate relationships. For some reason, corporate religion has made sex into something “dirty”, and in some places, even illegal. You’re not even allowed to read about sex unless it’s been heavily purple-prosed within the Bible (or some other ostensibly holy book). “This is not what God intended!” gets preached fervently from the pulpit, as if the pastor has been texting God about it.

At the end of the day all we’re doing is listening to corporate religion’s opinions that then get preached as “the will or Word of God.” And if you know anything about a corporation, which I have plenty of experience with, none of us is ever quite as stupid as all of us. I’m dead serious here. And that is what corporate religion has become—a kind of cookie-cutter group-think, instead of a reasoned logical personal search for God.

Because of our corporate manufactured faiths, too many of us, including myself, were raised to believe that anything outside of our learned cultural bubbles was aberrant. That anything outside of our narrow personal experiences was some level of “sin”.

As I have matured in my faith and understandings of God, I have come to judge every belief by the Golden Rule: “Don’t do anything to others you wouldn’t want them doing to you.” It’s a very simple rule that guides my faith in everything I do.

Ironically, what following the Golden Rule has done is expose many of corporate religion’s nonsensical doctrines or “laws” or commandments, if you will, as just that—nonsense. I dare say that religion has created more “sins” than God ever thought of. The Golden Rule helps us to see these non-sins for what they really are, man-made and not really “of God”.

All of this is a long way of saying that just because some religion says something is a “sin”, doesn’t meant that it is.

A Harley Austin novel is often more than just a romance; but an exploration of the Human experience as told through the lives of the people in the story. Sure, I have my soapboxes, we all do; but at the end of the day all I am asking of the reader is to be entertained and maybe inspired to think and wonder and explore.

Without a doubt, religion and faith all have their place in our lives. But as I look around, there is a reason Romance is the number one selling genre of book the world over. As people, as Human beings, we crave certain kinds of fulfillment in our daily lives. Faith fills some parts. Romance fills another. I try to combine some of both within my stories. And then, of course, I like to toss in a measured dose of the unexpected.

I hope you enjoy reading Evolution. It was a lot of fun for me to write.

As always, I wish you all the best.

~ Harley


The Story Behind OBLIVION

As an author, you often just start writing a story because it's something you want to read yourself. Like most of my stories, well, all of them actually, this is how Oblivion began.

Even though high school was some thirty years ago for me, it doesn't matter how old you are or become, this time in our lives leaves very lasting impressions—memories, some good, and some we'd like to forget. But all of us can find something during our high school years that we would love to remember and would even relive given the chance.

I'm not going to tell you how much of the initial story of Oblivion is true and how much of it has been slightly embellished, but suffice to say the opening of the book is drawn on my own personal memories and a relationship that happened. Exactly when and who are not important; but it was a beautiful magical time in our lives. The relationship eventually fizzled as most do when people are young and care-free, but the essence of the memory has been captured within the pages of Oblivion.

As the initial story of Oblivion unfolded, I didn't really have a title for it at that point. Honestly, I thought the story would just end up in my graveyard of forgotten stories and be, well, forgotten. But that is not what happened. In a previous book, Legacy, we got to see what happens when high school teens find themselves in the Awakened universe. But Oblivion took that theme and greatly expanded on it. What if, I thought, as the story grew and unfolded, we had a whole high school of newbloods? If not the whole school, how about a good chunk of it? What would that look like with Humans and Gods living and learning side by side? Well, the idea for Oblivions was born.

As I recall, the working title for the book early on was simply "swimsuit". Which one of us in high school hasn't crushed-on, or fantasized about, someone on the swim team? Well, anyway, you get the idea. We all have.

I wasn't initially intending for "swimsuit" to turn into an Awakened novel, but as the little story snippet progressed, it suddenly became apparent to me that this story was going to be a great opener for an Awakened Chronicle. I continued writing, grooming the story until something wonderful began to appear from the pages. It would not be until the novel was completely finished that the name for the book would be chosen.

I began writing Oblivion in the latter part of 2017 and on into early 2018. By February of 2018 the book and story were pretty much complete, but I had a problem—where exactly did Oblivion go within the Awakened milieu and Chronicles? There were some huge reveals within Oblivion that really needed more pretext.

The truth is, Oblivion had been written long before Prism, Travada, Primal and even Atlantica had been. Even before some of my Fierce novels as well. The book was way ahead of its time. After Prism and Travada had been written I went back and re-read Oblivion. I now knew exactly what was going on in the back story. I needed another book―that book would be Atlantica.

In many ways, Atlantica would become the prequel that Oblivion needed to pull the stories together, and it worked out wonderfully.

I know I say this about all of my stories, but there is a part of Oblivion that will remain near and dear to my heart because of the memories that it conjures. And not only that, but the fantasy it allows not just me, but all of us to live out as well. I was raised in a small-town culture in time where same-sex relationships branded you an outcast, a "faggot", "sinner", or whatever other derogatory name ignorant people could come up with. Thankfully most today's high schools are not like the one I grew up in anymore. High school students just don't care who you're dating. As it should be.

In many ways, Oblivion gives me a way to relive my high school years the way they should have been. I hope it does the same for you as well.

All the best.

~ Harley


The Story Behind PALADIN

Sometimes I like to base some of my stories, or parts of my stories, on old tales or movies that I've seen. Aladdin and the Magic Lamp is one of the stories that that has captivated me since I was a kid. With the AWAKENED Series, it struck me that the story of Aladdin could actually have its roots with the history of the gods. It would be a fun tale to weave into the next AWAKENED book.

All the best.

~ Harley


The Story Behind ETHEREAL

Sometimes stores arise out of odd thoughts that are not necessarily unique, as authors and stories go, but they are unique to me and my own inimitable way of telling them. What makes a great author is not necessarily how well they write, but the stories they tell and how they tell them.

There is nothing new under the sun; and yes, all the stories that can be told have been told, basically. What makes a story unique is how it is re-told.

Ethereal is a not so much a new story, but it becomes new as told through the lens of Harley Austin within the context of the Awakened Universe.

My brother is an avid, dare I say rabid, reader of my stories and novels. He has become my biggest fan and as such my sounding board for thoughts and ideas as they are put to page. As a new story idea comes together, he is quick to come up with the root theme, lesson, paradigm, motif, dare I say “kink”, of what makes the story “tick”.

Ethereal came together during the whole Coronavirus pandemic and I was off work for a period of time. A remake of the venerable story of the “Invisible Man” had just caught my attention. I really liked the new take and storyline of the modern version because it added more to the story than just, “Hey, look, I’m invisible and no one can see me do stuff.” Modern audiences are looking for much more than just the gimmick these days. We’ve more or less seen it all, no pun intended.

Not to give away too much of the story, but Ethereal thus became my take, my version, of the “Invisible Man”.

But as I wrote the story, I had to keep going back and rewriting sections previously written because the story evolved very quickly. I can usually develop a story within the first fifty pages or so and then things are pretty much set. Not so with Ethereal. The story continued to evolve, practically through to the very end and even then, the ending was a surprise even for me. The Epilogue even set the tone for a sequel that will hopefully get written in the not too distant future.

At the end of the day, Ethereal became a joy to write. It was a story that came together in under two weeks. A bit shorter than my usual novels, I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t start trying to keep my stories at under 300 pages? Who knows? A story is finished when it is finished. I try not to track the page count—only tell the story.

There is a lot of history embedded within Ethereal as well. Along with a few interesting surprises.

I hope you enjoy Ethereal as much as I enjoyed writing it.

All the best— Harley


The Story Behind ATLANTICA

Awakened is the epic story of the gods of old reborn within our modern era; and what epic would be complete without diving into a story about the god of the seas? Well, that was not how things really started out.

Atlantica had been dancing around in the back of my mind since about the time Prism and Travada were being written in 2018. Then I wrote Oblivion which was a story that took me completely by surprise. Another novel, Primal, then jumped in front of Oblivion as a kind of sequel to Travada. So with these three novels mostly complete, the novel entitled Atlantica emerged as a story that needed to be told to bridge the stories together.

Atlantica was a fun story to write. It gave me some really creative license to not just expand the Awakened epic, but touch on some more serious elements and themes that are all near and dear to my heart as a writer.

There are some interesting little tidbits of detail within Atlantica that a casual reader might miss: veiled puns, descriptions of people that might remind you of characters from similarly themed movies, that kind of thing. They were fun to write and include.

But there are also more serious themes playing out within the novel that I had not planned from the outset of even putting in the book. Fiction often mirrors the themes and events playing out in real life. Atlantica picked up on these themes quite by accident—I did not begin writing the book with the intention of taking the story in the direction it went. In fact, I never do this. I always allow the story to just tell itself. All I do is follow where the people in the story are leading.

Atlantica rather surprised me, both in the depth of the story (no pun intended) and how it settled neatly into the milieu of the Awakened universe. In the end, Atlantica will stand out as one of my favorite stories for many reasons. It borrows heavily from people, places and events we are all familiar with, places people into situations we all would probably like to have seen, and spins up a fairytale romance that anyone would love to read. I absolutely love how this novel came together. I know you'll love it as well.

All the best.

~ Harley


The Story Behind PRIMAL

I had just completed Travada in the late summer of 2018. I gave the new novel to my brother, who is also my biggest fan, and waited for his review and critique. He loved Travada and we discussed that story at length, quite a few times actually.

One of the things he told me was that he really liked the new race of people in the story. He was totally intrigued by them. Wouldn't it be cool if I could expand the epic with these people as the focus of their own book? That thought bumped around in my mind for several days. But I didn't really want the story to take place in the setting that Travada had. I needed a totally new setting, with this new race being front and center, something a lot closer to home.

Sometimes a new book, a new story, comes along out of nowhere and for no other reason that the simplest of ideas—in this case, it was a name—Osiris. It was the name of a new co-worker I’d recently met and I was deeply intrigued by its uniqueness. “Who would name their son Osiris?”

In ancient Egyptian lore, Osiris was “the god of the dead”, but, in further digging, “god of the dead” really wasn’t telling the whole story. He was more the god of “resurrection”, the restorer of life, among other things. He was worshiped as the god who flooded the Nile each year and brought life-giving waters to the crops, and thus everyone living in Egypt.

In any event, Primal began to take shape with the main character of the story being named “Osiris” and the idea of ‘what would happen if a handful of Kit showed up on Earth?’ Well, as stories take shape things change as they often do, and Osiris actually became something much closer to Egyptian lore.

I began writing Primal in October of 2018 and through the holidays had completed the first draft by the end of December. I placed the story in an area of Montana where I have some friends who absolutely love the area for more reasons than they can count. It's not just home to them, but like their native land, so to speak. The area is deeply rich in Native heritage, which got me thinking—just how far back does "native" really go? That idea really got me thinking and the rest is, well, you'll have to read the book to find out.

Again, as is typical, Primal's story surprised me by taking a turn I was not expecting. Again, I just let the people in the story tell it themselves. I kind of sort of have a vague idea about who people are when I start writing, but that can change as the story progresses. Primal's story really didn't change, I mean the people didn't, all that much.

Primal gives us more than what the title of the book simply implies; Primal delivers a rather ancient backstory that gets revealed and we see some other astonishing revelations as well. At first I was a little reticent about what had been revealed, but then, I thought, why not? It was a great story that built-out the Awakened milieu even more.

What I liked most about the themes playing out within the story of Primal was that of redemption. Although Primal spins up some really ugly situations and rather nasty villains, not everything is as it seems within the story. I am at heart a sucker for a really great HEA, and where evil is sometimes redeemed. Primal lets us remember that forgiveness can be much more powerful than the sins we committed.

Another aspect of Primal that I absolutely loved was the interplay between Jasmine and Sky and the rest of the Native American tribe. Often when I am writing stories, I try to explore, however accurate or inaccurate I may be, the dynamic between different groups of people. A group of people can be as tiny as just two or a small family, or as in this case, a fairly large tribe. Some of my depictions are possibly inaccurate—that’s okay, because this is the impression I have from life looking at others from the outside. This happens to all of us. People “see” us as something we’re not. Someone in the media paints us with a skewed brush because of one bad player and suddenly the whole world thinks our social group is somehow malevolent. It is difficult to change one’s public perception once a bad player in the media has it in for you. This happens in political circles all the time, unfortunately.

All in all, Primal has emerged one of my favorite stories—I know, they are all my favorite stories—simply because of the interaction of the people within it and the histories that were interwoven into the current events of the day.

I’m not done with Osiris and his brother Set, by the way. Harley Austin doesn’t bring people to life just to toss them away. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of this naughty Titan pair later in the series. Until then …

All the best.

~ Harley


The Story Behind TRAVADA

I don't like doing cliffhangers because I feel like it's a cheesy attempt by authors to get you to buy another book once you're invested in the story. But that is sort of what happened with Prism. The Prism story had a fantastic ending that literally came out of nowhere for me. And yes, it was a kind of cliffhanger in that we needed to find out what happened to the people at the end. I think it wasn't so much a cliffhanger in that it was a really good setup for the next series of events within the epic.

I began writing Travada almost as soon as I finished Prism; the books are essentially a continuation of the Prism part of the story with a few new people. But what really surprised me about Travada was that the Awakened series had take a huge turn; the epic story was maturing, rapidly. While Paradisus and Deception introduced us to a bold new expansion, Travada kicks the epic into high-gear by an order of magnitude. There were a number of plot twists that happened I was not expecting as well.

"What do you mean there were plot twists you weren't expecting?? Jeez, Harley, you're the one writing these books!" No, I'm not. The people in the story are the ones writing it. I'm just the author writing down what they say and do. I keep telling people this and no one believes me. Yes, I guess the people and the story exist within my very fertile imagination, but at the end of the day, it is THEY who tell their stories and I'm just the guy writing them down.

I know, it makes people's heads spin knowing I write my books shooting from the hip like this, but that is how I write. I have no idea when I sit down to write a book like Prism or Travada what is going to happen within the story. I mean, I sort of know when I start out who is in it starting out and what might sort of happen, but then the story and the people take over and the novel then takes on a life all its own. I'm merely the spectator sitting back watching as the events unfold from the page.

I have been shocked, stunned, amazed and thrilled by what happens within the stories I write as I write them. It is part of what makes me want to write. To see the people and their stories emerge from the page.

Perhaps what I have enjoyed most about the Awakened Chronicles is that they have begun to come into their own as a series what intertwines with the main books while expanding the story in ways the main series has not. I believe I am slowly discovering that AWAKENED is more than just a few books within a series, but that the story is capable of spawning many, many series, including the FIERCE novels and perhaps others to come.

I hope you enjoy reading Travada and the rest of the AWAKENED novels as much as I enjoyed writing them.

All the best.

~ Harley


The Story Behind VALOR

Valor was, again, a bit of a departure from the norm of romance novels. This was also the most difficult story by far for me to write. It contains what will be in the minds of some a kind of anti-hero; a taboo relationship that works easily within the Awakened universe, but one that would not be plausible in the real world. I get that. I’m not writing a real-world story here. Some people have a hard time separating reality from fiction. Still, I didn't want to alienate my fans.

I'm not really sure where the story of Valor originally came from. I think it was an amalgamation of different stories that I had been hearing within the news over the years, all of them involving people who'd been in a coma and the legal wrangling that surrounded them. Those news stories got me thinking, what would happen if ... hmmm. So I began writing. What emerged from the page was something intriguing and haunting. I kept writing.

As the story progressed, I kept sharing snippets and chapters with my editor. For some reason, I wanted to make sure the hero wasn’t crossing the line―and that I wasn't crossing too many lines of taboo. My editor hated these attempts by me to sort of water-down the romance. I mean, I wanted to cross lines in the story, but I kept inserting myself and my own social mores and political correctness into the plot, to give the taboo relationship a kind of ‘permission’, if you will. I really had to resist these tendencies and just let the story unfold naturally. In the end, thanks in part to the coaching of my editor, what developed was something much more powerful than if I had meddled with what was trying to emerge naturally from the page.

The story and the book emerged fantastically within the Awakened milieu. Valor is a fabulous story within the Awakened series and one of which I am well pleased and very proud to have written.

Another thing that happened within Valor, perhaps more than any other of my other novels, was that there is a whole lot of love-making happening within the story. Some readers find this a turn-off; they consider the frequency of romance distracting. Some have even complained about it in at least one of my reviews. Other readers find the detailed romance enjoyable and interesting. Everyone is different in where they are about the amount of tryst time that takes place in a novel.

Avid romance readers might be dulled or bored by more than a couple of love scenes; honestly, these folks have read more steamy scenes over the years than they can remember. They usually skip the sex scenes anyway, no matter whose book they're reading. Other readers however, love these scenes and they continue to be intrigued by the interplay of the people in the story. If you're bored by the steamy scenes, skip those pages. Honestly, as romance writers we get you; but others like the steam so get over it. We cannot please everyone. Just skip those pages with the thought that they weren't necessarily written for you. Other people like them. Authors don't write books just for one type of reader.

And speaking of types of readers, early on, as I alluded to in a previous ‘About the Series’ post, I really didn’t know what I was going to be writing as Awakened began to take shape as the epic it has become. Honestly, I still don’t know what the Awakened Series is, categorically. Is it a Romance? Thriller? Sci-fi? Paranormal? Intrigue?

It is, to say the least, all of the above—and more.

I have had readers and other authors praise the story for its inventiveness, even though the story wasn’t exactly their romance “cup of tea”.

In the end, Harley Austin is really no different than the rest of us. Within each of us, no matter how “straight” we think we are, I believe there is a curiosity, perhaps even a deeply hidden fantasy we dare never admit, even to ourselves, that seeks to experience a forbidden love with another human being of our same gender. You have looked at another guy or another girl of your same sex and said within yourself, “Wow—I’d date that person.” You have. Admit it. I know you have, because I have.

Perhaps in some small way, Awakened gives us permission and courage to wonder; and to explore a love and a relationship that maybe, just maybe, we would have honestly and eagerly pursued had we been—in another place and another time.

All the best.

~ Harley



I began writing Fierce Survival immediately after Fierce Rebellion because I didn't want to lose the momentum of feeling the people within the story. I got perhaps 80% done with the novel before my time was taken away from writing to do other things that life demands of us: work, kids, family, holidays, what have you.

The novel then sat for a little more than a year before I could get back to it to complete the ending. During that time I was thinking off and on about how I was going to extricate myself from the events of the story without everyone dying in the process. I avoid plot holes like the plague and I refuse to make a story plot-driven just to make things work. Yes, I do some plot-driven scenes now and then, but usually they're small events and not something the main story is based around. Heroes, heroines and villains are supposed to be intelligent. I needed an ending that wasn't going to just go up in flames as lame.

Fierce Survival was again one of those novels that began as something I just started writing. I wanted to begin writing the next book in the series, but I had absolutely no idea where the story was going, what the book would be about or even who was going to be in it. Of course being a Fierce novel, it was going to star London, Thad, Jean-Luc, Misty, and the newest member of the family, Houston. But, that is not who started this novel.

Tacori is an amalgamation of several musicians I personally know and love. I have heard many of their stories about "starving artists" of how they struggled to break into the limelight of success but never really made it to the big-time. I didn't sit down to write about musicians, at least I didn't think I was. So Tacori's story is a nod to the many, many musicians out there who love wha they do, but realistically, will never be able to break into the top charts. I will likely never see the success of Nora Roberts or Tom Clancy, so in that regard, we share something in common from a creative perspective.

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises to me within the novel was the appearance of the Silic. I loved this aspect of building out their existence within the Awakened milieu because it was such a natural progression. Their addition was not just plausible, but something that could be a very real event within the backstory of the Ra.

Like the previous book, Fierce Rebellion, we also get to see cameos from some familiar faces that are part and parcel of the Awakened Universe.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise to me was the response from my editor after she'd finished editing the book. In addition to their suggestions and corrections, editors often like to leave little personal comments about the story as they are reading. My editor has become a personal fan of the entire Awakened epic and it was heartening to see some of her personal comments running within the manuscript. She stayed up all night reading. She was totally taken with the story, the new people, and events.

I really love Fierce Survival for a number of reasons, but then every novel I write I love because of different things within them. It is only when others also cannot put the story down that I am pleasantly surprised. Fierce Survival was like that to me. I loved it, but I was cautious about how others might feel. But when my editor also cannot put the book down, I know I have written something that will delight and amaze you.

I hope you enjoy Fierce Survival. It's become one of my favorite Fierce novels.

~ Harley