The Story Behind VALORHarley Austin
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.