Stories Behind the Stories


Fierce Competition, the precursor to Fierce Rebellion, was a story that grew out of a couple of different ideas I had in my mind and from my “graveyard” of forgotten short stories. One of these forgotten stories took place on a college campus and included two guys and two girls getting together within my Awakened Series. The college part of the story sort of fizzled with me but I really liked the people in the story which included Thad, Jean-Luc, Misty and, of course, London.

The working title for the first book was something I just pulled out of thin air: “Fierce Competition”. I sort of had an idea of where the story was kind of going with the above four people, but as I began to get deeper into the story, someone else emerged, a fifth character, from the story that took me completely by surprise—Peter Fierce, after which the whole book and then series was ultimately titled.

I have always adamantly said that stories should be allowed to tell themselves. I will start out writing a story in one direction with thoughts and ideas about what’s going to happen, but then the story itself takes control and I allow the story to tell itself through the lives and events of the people living within it.

Fierce Competition did just that. However, in doing so, it became and kind of odd story in that while the book was titled after Peter Fierce, the majority of the story was actually more about the four young people, while Fierce was on the periphery of the main characters.

My editor very much liked the novel, and made it very clear that she wanted to see more of this Peter Fierce. We really only got to see glimpses of his life in Fierce Competition. So, who is he? My editor was thoroughly captivated by the corporate espionage thriller that became the Fierce Competition story. She started tossing out all kinds of new titles, Fierce this and Fierce that …

There was also a not so subtle criticism that came out of the first novel—some of my readers really liked the story but where was the paranormal sci-fi Harley Austin is famous for? “I read Harley Austin because I love the paranormal stories!” one reader told me.

Alright, message delivered.

The truth is, there is some paranormal stuff happening within Fierce Competition, but it is very subtle, barely noticeable, and yes the Fierce novels do indeed tie into my Awakened universe.

Fierce Rebellion picks up where Fierce Competition left off. We get to see some familiar faces, but also some new ones as well. If Fierce Competition left you feeling like you really missed seeing some of the Awakened, Fierce Rebellion returns to its Awakened roots by delivering my typical paranormal sci-fi in spades.

In many ways, the main Awakened Series tells stories from the perspective of the awakened gods. What I liked about The Fierce Professions Series is that it tells stories from the perspectives of the people finding themselves now having to deal with these new gods and their knowledge.

I hope you really like The Fierce Professions Series and all of the rest of the Peter Fierce novels to come.

~ Harley



Every author has a graveyard of stories untold: idea snippets put to the page, short stories unfinished, books three-fourths written but not completed, even new series waiting to be built-out with more than just an idea.

The working title for Fierce Competition was “Taking A Hike”, because the idea was something I had been toying with in the back of my mind for weeks. Honestly, the story was just that, an idea. I had no intention for this little romantic short story idea to become its own book, let alone the beginnings of a new series I’m calling The Fierce Professions.

But that is exactly how new things often get created within the imagination of a writer. Authors are sometimes fickle. We start something and don’t finish it because the plot fizzles, or we get bored, or some other project pops up that takes our interest totally away from whatever else it was that we had been working on.

Fierce Professions was one of those things that just popped up out of nowhere pushing everything else off my plate. It was a chance for me to once again push my own boundaries and expand my wings with something new and intriguing.

This was again one of those stories, like PRISM, that took a hard turn in the middle of the story and took me in a direction I had no idea was coming. The story was supposed to be about people on a hike, but it quickly morphed into much, much more. In fact, you'll notice that the main subject of the story, the incomparable Peter Fierce, doesn't even show up within the story until we're well into it.

The truth is, Peter was a bit of an accidental or incidental character within the story as it was taking shape. But as the story progressed, it was clear that he was the real main character of the story and by the end of the book I really needed to see more of the guy. In fact, Peter Fierce became the reason for the story in toto. Peter became, or rather is, my entrepreneurial hero, based in part on a real-life entrepreneur, Peter Thiel; and the amalgamation of perhaps other prominent entrepreneurs like Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk.

I have a good number of paranormal, sci-fi, and fantasy romance novels both published and laying peacefully in my so-called graveyard of forgotten stories, just waiting for the light of day. But this was my first novel that one could actually call “normal”. Well, as “normal” as a Harley Austin novel will ever get. Fierce Competition was one of those stories and now series that got me excited about new relationship possibilities and allowed me explore some unbelievable romances that are very much—possible.

Finally, a brief word of warning for those of you expecting something from this first Fierce novel, it's a little different in the sense that although the book falls solidly into the AWAKENED milieu, there is very little in the way of paranormal or sci-fi within this first novel. Again, it was for me, a kind of attempt at writing something that was, well, normal. However, when the beta reader team was unimpressed with the lack of my typical paranormal and "tech" within the story, I agreed, and the second novel dumps in spades what the first novel held back with.

Still, that being said, I did write Fierce Competition with the idea that the people would be on the periphery of the AWAKENED universe. As such, it doesn't take too much to see this in the story. Anyone who is a fan of the Awakened Series will pick up on the nuances immediately.

I hope you enjoy these Fierce novels as much as I have enjoyed writing them.

~ Harley


The Story Behind PRISM

Prism started life as a book I intended for the ephemeral “Unbelievable Romances Series” that has never gotten off the ground. The book was to be my version of a Hallmark Christmas story with fun people meeting in a happily ever after kind of story. In fact, that was the working title of the book, “Christmas”.

But that’s not where the story took me.

Not even close.

Within Harley Austin, as within every author, there are a plethora of stories clawing to get out and be told. As the story began to take shape, a kind of new story began to emerge within the pages of “Christmas”; and the further I progressed, letting the characters and people tell their story, the more I realized what was being written was really more backstory to my Awakened Series. I moved the book to the Awakened Chronicles Series and kept writing.

What eventually arose from the beginnings of my Christmas novella was a deep and powerful back story, and a foreshadowing of things to come within the main Awakened milieu that I was not expecting.

To me, this is the fun of writing. In many ways, I’m just like you are reading a Harley Austin novel—I never really know what’s going to be in a book until I read what I’ve just written. I know this doesn’t make sense to a lot of authors who need to know the whole story and have it all planned out beginning to end before they even begin writing the first page.

That kind of writing would give me hives.

Let the story tell itself.

I was surprised and delighted by the story that ultimately emerged as Prism. Not only did Prism become the third book in the Awakened Chronicles Series, but it spawned the following books of Travada, which led to Primal, which dove-tailed into an already planned Atlantica and then Oblivion which I had already written but didn’t know where it would play out within the Chronicles series.

But everything just fell into place like clockwork, like I had planned the whole series, beginning to end, from the outset. I assure you I did not; and I was just as delighted and surprised by these stories in how everything just came together. In many ways, I feel very blessed to be able to write the way I do and share my stories with all of you. Thank you so much for reading.

~ Harley


The Story Behind DECEPTION


I actually began writing DECEPTION back in 2015. I was between contract jobs at the time, and I was doing quite a bit of writing to fill my time until a new job opened up. I had several books in flight when I went back to work, and DECEPTION's stories presented kind of both an opportunity and a quandary for me.

Two stories come together within DECEPTION that I wasn't really sure how they were going to meet. It took me quite a while to figure out what to do with this book. In the mean time, AWAKENED CHRONICLES had taken flight and I suddenly had a lot of backstory that now needed to find its way into DECEPTION.

Not to give your any spoilers here, but the Dark and Serena ship was pretty awesome from PARADISUS and I knew I needed to keep this going into the next book. I usually avoid cliffhangers, but this was sort of one that happened by accident. I didn't plan it. Both Dark and Serena are probably two of the hottest characters in the series and getting them together was inevitable.

The Justin and Christian story was also well off the ground when I went back to work in mid-2015, only to discover that two of my co-workers at the company I was now working for were named "Justin" and "Christian". And both were part Asian! I totally freaked. No, I never told the two of them about my books, but wow, truth is stranger than fiction sometimes.

INTERRA really opened the door for what the knowledge of the gods was capable of. PARADISUS then advanced the backstory into a much wider and deeper realm than I think anyone was really expecting. DECEPTION continues to build on those themes and dives deeper into who is really in league with whom. The answer is, of course, a deception. Read the book.

In any event, DECEPTION has become one of my favorite books for a number of reasons, not the least of which we get to see more of just about everyone from the previous six books! I love it when the main people from previous books show up in new novels. We also get to see a little more of Dane in this book. Keep your eye on this prince, we are so not though seeing the last of him within the AWAKENED epic.

Finally, some of you might be wondering why there isn't some hot couple on the cover of DECEPTION? I originally started with that by running a cover contest. The winning cover originally had the cover model I used for Serena on the cover of INTERRA. But I was really intrigued by the arcane medallion she used in the background. It really seemed to represent what the "dark lord" was all about within the story, so I removed the model, updated the cover and DECEPTION has become the first cover not to feature a hot couple. I don't know if I'll keep it that way, but for now, I think it looks really intriguing!

All the best!

~ Harley


The Story Behind PARADISUS


"You cannot put that in a story!" My editor said. "No one's going to buy it!"

At this point in the Awakened Series, I believe I have thoroughly cemented the fact that I have broken nearly every so-called "rule" of book publishing there is to break in building a successful book series. Crossing several fiction genres, deliberately incorporating social, political and religious taboos, promoting a romance written for men, incorporating steamy same-sex relationships … the Awakened Series truly defies not just description, but kicks-to-the-curb every so-called mainstream publishing "no-no" as well.

And the fans of the Awakened Series have loved every minute of it!

Honestly—it was totally by accident. All I did was listen to the advice of some of some very successful people who basically told me: "Don't write what everyone else is writing. Write what you yourself would want to read."

And so ends my so-called "experiment" of delivering an intriguing paranormal mystery sci-fi romantic story that both men and women would enjoy reading. The series has become a great success! I have rabid fans.

What I didn’t realize when I began writing the series was that quite a few of the couples in the story were not totally straight. I know, I know, you're now scratching your head. "Harley, YOU wrote the story!" No, I didn't; the people in the story do that. This may come as a shock and surprise to many, but I do not write the story—the people in the story do. All I do is follow along and write what they say and do. As a writer, Harley Austin never knows what's going to happen within a book as I sit down to write it. I don't know what's going to happen or even what the end of the book is going to be. I'm very often just as surprised by a book's story, content, relationships, and ending as you are.

Paradisus was one of these big surprises. Not just because the main characters are male, but because Paradisus explodes the Awakened epic into a hugely powerful story I had really no idea was coming. By the end of the book even I was dumbfounded and excited.

It's a powerful, deeply moving, epic kind of story.

The truth is, I did not start out to write an epic straight-gay romance series, but at this point there are perhaps as many straight couples as there are gay couples within the series. I’m not really sure how this happened. I didn’t exactly plan the series to go this direction. I'm just as surprised as many of my fans have been. And you as the fans of the series are my biggest surprise of all.

I have been both delightfully surprised, intrigued and dumbfounded by the overwhelming positive response of readers, both straight and gay, men and women, encountering the different "ships" within the epic. Overwhelmingly, readers continue to tell me how much they love the story. My fans did not just junk the books because of a same-sex relationship. You have responded positively, engrossed in and captivated by the people living out their lives within it.

I WAS TOLD over and over, and I'm STILL being told in fact, that having steamy-hot same-sex ships within a story would utterly tank the series for traditional mystery, romance intrigue readers. I continue to have to battle editors over this. But, again, I simply wrote from the heart—what needed to be written following the lives of the people within the story.

Of course, not everyone is happy with the "ships" or a story brimming with hot romantic detail. But I didn’t set out to please every reader—I set out write an epic paranormal sci-fi  mystery romance that both men and women, I guess even gay men and women now, would enjoy reading. There is indeed something for everyone, from a romantic perspective, within the story, even if a particular ship isn’t your cup of tea.

Listening to the common knowledge, the do’s and don’ts of the traditional publishers, the Awakened Series would have been doomed from the outset. But the response from even the most critical readers of my beta team, even some of my nay-saying editors, has been very positive.

I hope you are enjoying the Awakened books as much as I have enjoyed writing them. My best wishes, thoughts and prayers to you for taking the time to make my stories a part of your life! Thank you for reading.

~ Harley


The Story Behind RELIC

Relic was one of those books that sort of happened by accident. After finishing SIREN, the so-called short story (nearly 200 pages in print) ended up ending leaving me with not so much a cliff-hanger, which I hate, but with an ending that was begging for a sequel.

I wrote Relic in a couple of weekends over a two-week period. In the meantime, my editor who is also a talented graphic designer was tossing ideas for book covers at me left and right. Honestly, I rejected all of them, but when I saw to golden-red cover with the Aztec-looking ziggurat and the huge being in the background, not only did I know that this was the cover I wanted but she also ended up in a roundabout way helping me create the end of the story I hadn't finished writing yet.

Relic has become one of my faves in that it has some big backstory reveals of what will be coming in the main series, and also who some of the people are that have been a bit of mystery so far.

I loved the character development as well and some of the surprise "ships" that happen within the story.

Just so you know, I'm not done with these people: Liam, Tori, Monica, Mac and the crew of the Neptune. There's gonna be more … stay tuned!

~ Harley


The Story Behind SIREN

SIREN was one of those stories that was supposed to be a "short story" to introduce my new Awakened Chronicles. But at just under 200 pages, it ended up the length of a typical mass-market paperback.

The truth is, I really don't know where a new book is going until I'm into the thick of the story. By the end of SIREN I had discovered a rich new group of people within the Awakened universe that I really liked and wanted to continue. Without using a cliffhanger (I really hate it when authors do that) I deliberately left the ending of SIREN wide open for that eventuality.

For me, SIREN introduced, quite by accident, some different relationships that I honestly had not thought about exploring within the main Awakened Series. I always tell people that Harley Austin does not write books, I simply introduce fictional people into a book and let them tell their stories; all I do is write what happens. That is exactly what happened with SIREN.

SIREN came together in a couple of weekends and I almost immediately began working on the sequel, RELIC. Who knows, maybe there will be a third book that continues following this crowd.

I sure hope so. It's like a series within a series now.


Awakened Chronicles is part of the Awakened Series created to satisfy my literary Attention Deficit Disorder.

With the Awakened Series now into its sixth published book, and with the seventh, eighth, and ninth book completed, and a prequel on the way, I found myself with a handful of really cool and rather interesting ideas that fit within the series’ milieu but didn’t really fit within the series’ main storyline. Most of these story snippets were becoming distractions within the main series; but I found them intriguing enough to put them to paper, so to speak, and flesh them out into their own novellas.

At this point, I have no idea where these various short stories are going, but suffice to say that all of them will tie into the Awakened Universe in ways that add background and even some bombshell intrigue to the original epic.

One of the criticisms I’ve been receiving from fans of the Awakened Series is that Harley Austin never met a new character I didn’t like. There is some truth to that. I am an avowed relationship junkie and I love the idea of introducing new ships and new people into the grand story.

The problem is, after six books, Awakened has close to a dozen (of what could be considered) main characters within the story. It is, to say the least, a personae-rich environment. This to me is just perfect, but to casual readers not thoroughly invested in the Awakened Universe, it is bordering on confusing. Rather important people show up in later books that were introduced perhaps three or four novels ago. Many readers simply don’t want to follow the lives of this many people. One of my beta readers, in fact, warned me, “If you introduce one more new couple I’m going to stop reading.”

Okay. Message delivered.

Awakened Chronicles will now become the Harley Austin playground for snippets of stories that wholly intersect with the primary series, but don’t actually further the main story—they simply build detail upon it. These chronicles are the lives of the people on the periphery; people deeply affected by the events unfolding within the main story, but who do not, seemingly, add to the overall events unfolding within it.

I am going to have some fun with these! I hope you enjoy reading them as well.

~ Harley


The Story Behind INTERRA

Although it has become Book 5, Interra is really the story that started it all. It is the pilot, if you will, from which the entire Awakened Series was built. While the book has undergone some rather heavy editing since its inception, the story itself has survived with the original characters and romance well intact.

Back in early December of 2011, I began writing a simple romance for my wife. At the time I didn’t really know what to expect from the story, it was my first real foray into the romance genre, and I really wanted to write something that both men and women would enjoy reading. I knew the book would have some kind of paranormal or sci-fi backstory, but I didn’t want that to overshadow the plot of the book. The book was a romance and I wanted to keep story squarely within that genre.

As it turned out, my wife loved what I had written, so I continued to evolve the story. The original working title for this original book was called “The Sentinel”. Over the next five years I continued to slowly evolve the plot and the characters, simply adding to the story in a kind of run-on rambling mess.

However, it was out of this first novel that another story began to develop based on what I had written within “The Sentinel”. My wife liked the story so much that she suggested I write another book to expand the story. “This could be an epic series!” she encouraged.

So with that inspiration, the next book, “Awakened”, began to take form. Originally entitled “Lost”, Awakened had a bunch of different titles and series names that I toyed with in trying to develop the series. I had called the series the “Books of God” for what should be obvious reasons by now, but the beta team thought that this sounded too religious and that it would turn people off. I finally settled on the “Awakened Series” which to this day still makes the series sound like the latest vampire chronicles, but it is what it is.

When I began writing what has become “Interra”, what I really wanted to do were a number of things: One, I wanted to try to capture something really different, something no one had really done before, and spin the story in my own inimitable way. Two, I wanted to try to capture the public’s intrigue with a paranormal romance but I didn’t want another dark vampire or mind-numbed shape-shifting werewolf tale. What I really wanted was a sort of mashup of the popularity of Twilight with the forbidden sex of Fifty Shades of Grey. What would that look like? And I really thought deeply about this for quite a few months.

We saw some of this forbidden love early in book two, with Kari and Julia in a same-sex relationship, but I didn’t get too descriptive with it. Partly because I was a much more timid writer back then, but mostly because I was pushing the limits of my own comfort zone. It would not be until book three of the series that I finally got more bold as a writer and took the plunge, diving headlong into a first-time same-sex romance.

Let me admit to you right now that I was really, really nervous about writing this episode within the story. What would people think? Both of it and of me? Would the audience be turned off and abandon ship? Would I totally tank the whole of the epic series because people would hate reading about two guys falling into and making love?

I honestly didn’t know.

I will tell you that some of the beta readers were livid about this romance showing up in the story. They hated the “new direction” the series had taken with the same-sex romances being seeded into the story. One of my editors actually quit, she hated it so much. “You’ve turned what would have been an otherwise fabulous epic series into something no one will want to read now!” my editor fumed.


I carefully weighed changing the series after this blow-up with my editor; it was an argument that lasted probably close to year off and on.

In the end, I finally did something I think few people actually expected. I went with my gut. I had written what I had written. I liked very much the characters within the story and I was deeply invested in who they were as people. After all, a part of me was within each of them.

I made the decision to not change a thing. The Awakened Series would be what it would be. If the public hated it, then they hated it. So be it.

But as the beta reader group began to grow, something beautiful and miraculous was happening. Both male and female readers alike were engrossed in the story! What I thought (from what I was told) would become a major “turn-off” for the group was actually something they had no problem with at all. One of the beta team, a woman, expressed to me that she thought reading about a gay relationship would feel funny or weird. But she admitted that the way I had written the story, the romance between the two guys was very enticing and undeniably romantic. She really could feel the characters’ attraction and affection for each other.

I was heartened by other readers on the beta team as well who expressed their fondness for the romantic twists that paired same-sex couples as well as straight couples.

In the end, I am grateful for these early beta readers and for their encouraging feedback of the series. Without them, the Awakened Series might have taken a very different, more commercially common turn.

Thank you for reading my stories and I hope they bring you as many hours of joy as writing them has brought to me.

~ Harley


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


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