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Title: Four (The Republic #2)
Author: Archer Kay Leah
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: Bisexual, Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: 09/05/2016
On the outside, Mayr seems to have it all: a successful career as Head of the Guard for a prominent politician, family and friends who adore him, and the attention of beautiful women. But appearances are a good way to bury secrets, including the fact that while Mayr is a romantic at heart, searching for the one person to share his life with, his lovers keep leaving him.
When his last girlfriend takes him back and suggests an intimate night with Tash, one of her lovers, Mayr reluctantly agrees. The last thing he expects is to fall hard for Tash, who is nothing like Mayr’s previous lovers—and about to undertake the Uldana Trials. If Tash fails, he’ll likely die. If he succeeds, he must give up Mayr, and become the latest to leave Mayr standing alone with a broken heart.
Recent Release Spotlight with Author Kay Leah
We are here today to talk about Four (The Republic #2). What can you tell us about it?
In a sentence: A high fantasy, M/M, bisexual romance about redemption, finding true love when you least expect it, and fighting for those you believe in even when it breaks the rules.
Four is the story of what happens when Mayr, Head of the Guard for a prominent politician and über-romantic, hooks up with Tash, an unusual priest with a lifetime of secrets, including a dark past. Neither of them expects each other, but after Mayr’s poor luck with women, Tash feels like everything he’s been missing. They agree not to fall in love, but Mayr discovers that’s impossible. Falling for Tash just happens.
However, there’s a price to loving Tash: the Uldana Trials, a set of challenges Tash must pass to obtain the highest level of priesthood. The Trials could kill Tash, taking him from Mayr forever. Even if Tash succeeds, Mayr will lose him to the priesthood given their strict rules. But Mayr’s a fighter and losing isn’t an option. He won’t give up even when he’s told to.
Please tell us more about our main characters.
At his core, Mayr is a sweetheart. The oldest child in a tight-knit farming family, Mayr has worked up the guard ranks and serves his best friend, Aeley. Mayr’s loyal and hardworking, dedicated to his family and friends, funny but takes his job seriously, and tries to always do the right thing no matter the cost to him. He loves hard and knows exactly who he is, but he keeps getting involved with women who treat him poorly. While he’s also attracted to men, he fears a romantic relationship because his luck with women is terrible enough. Mayr also carries a lot of misery and blame on his shoulders but rarely talks about it. He fakes his happy, smiley, confident persona, making everyone think he’s okay when he’s not.
Tash is just as good with illusion and even more secretive. Very few people know the truth about him: not only is he ashamed to talk about his life, the truth is dangerous. Tash’s real name is Halataldris, the youngest child of a tailor and seamstress. He’s always determined to prove himself, worried others won’t accept him for who he is. As a youth, he was conscripted into the notorious Shar-denn, a malicious gang. Since then, his life hasn’t been his own. He managed to escape the gang but lives in constant fear. He gave up everything just to save himself and those he loves. As a priest, he’s set on helping others and finding absolution. But he’s also learned love isn’t his friend: if his lovers don’t leave or die, he pushes them away. He always feels alone.
Together, they complement each other, filling in the blanks. Illusion falls apart and giving up isn’t an answer.
What do you want to tell those who may be new to the series?
For newcomers, here’s the quick rundown of the important stuff!
- The series is pure fantasy mixed with romance, where magic can be real and anything can happen. It’s like a mix of our 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries smashed up with fantastical components. There are sword and sorcery elements and matters of crime, politics, religion, social issues, law, and more. There aren’t any elves or dwarves like in Lord of the Rings, but it isn’t as morbid and grisly as Game of Thrones.
- This is an LGBTQA+ series. While Four features two bisexual men, the rest of the series involves other queer characters and relationships. Any gender, any sexual identification – this is what the series aspires to. In addition to that, the LGBTQA+ component is incidental rather than the focus, although certain issues are involved (pronouns, transition, questioning attractions, discrimination, and so on).
- There’s angst, there’s sweetness, there’s a little of this and that. Every relationship has its own flavour. But every book is connected by the same suite of themes: family, refusing to back down or give up, fighting for love, and staying true to oneself.
What about Four makes you the proudest?
How perfect Mayr and Tash really are for each other, with a wealth of care, compassion, and consent. They have their moments where things aren’t okay, but those moments stem from the right reasons. Mayr yearns to be wanted and respected for who he is. He doesn’t seem to fulfil the ideal “alpha male” concept women expect of him – they reject his need for soft, sweet love. They don’t care he gives his lover the power in their relationship. Meanwhile, Tash is wounded and believes he doesn’t deserve anyone, but he’s capable of giving so much. He’s terrified to give love and have it taken away. Separately, both guys are a mess.
Together, though, working with them is like writing a really lovely dream. They offer each other everything: a safe space to be themselves, love that gives without demanding anything in return, and the power of consent to touch, learn, and grow with each other. To me, their relationship is the epitome of what it means to be soulmates.
What is next for these characters? Is there more to this series? If so who will we hear from next?
Mayr and Tash’s story is far from over! They appear again in book #3 as major supporting characters. Though book #4, Soulbound, is all theirs and readers get to see what big things are on the horizon for them. Things also hit the fan in that one, so D-R-A-M-A! The third, and final, book of theirs will be the last book of the series, A Matter of Fate. It’ll be a while before I get to that one! It includes delicious secrets, ultimate sacrifices, and surprises that’ll melt the brain.
In the series as a whole, there are several books to come. The series looks like it’ll be about 10 books total! Previous to this were Rule Breaker (#0.5, found in the Won’t Back Down anthology from Less Than Three Press) and A Question of Counsel (#1).
Coming out in 2017 is #3, Blood Borne, featuring Ress from Four and Adren, someone unexpected and unique who has a major influence on the rest of the series. Both are unhappy in the Shar-denn and need to escape the violence but can’t. Where Ress is stuck between working for the gang and the government, Adren is part of an elite family that keeps cir isolated from regular society due to cir astounding abilities. After Ress messes up Adren’s life, Adren intends to avenge and save cir family. One thing leads to another and things go topsy-turvy as love happens. They’re both “heroes-in-training” with the potential to save a lot of people throughout the series. A couple notes on the LGBTQA+ side: Ress is romantic asexual while Adren is bigender (non-binary)-transgender.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Really go for it and don’t hold back! No matter the fear or uncertainty, throw your reservations out the window and take a shot. If you want to write, write. If you have a particular story you’re dying to pen, do it. If you want to be published, pull it together and try. If you want your work out there, make it happen. The options are all there; it’s just a matter of giving yourself a chance.
What tool do you use to plan scenes?
Way too many Post-Its, Notepad txt files, and pieces of paper I’ve yanked from just about anywhere I can find it at home. Also: Aqua Notes, which hang in my shower, and SO. MANY. Word files. Basically if it can support wordage and thoughts, I’ll use it.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever had someone say about one of your books in an email or review?
A few reviews come to mind, all with equal weight of warm fuzzies. One of the absolute best was a review for A Question of Counsel where the reviewer loved the book so hard she was fangirling over it and wrote a totally excited review. It’s everything to read as an author – I never saw anyone enjoying my work that much. If I’m having a particularly crappy day, that review makes me laugh, tear up with joy, and remember to have faith.
More recently, a few reviews for Four have been having a similar effect, particularly one where the reviewer said she cried as she read it on the train. To hear the story affected a reader so deeply they had a tearful emotional response is amazing. It’s everything to aspire to.
Do you have a character in your head that you have yet to write a story for?
Always! There’s a lot of fighting up in the mental arena, with all the characters vying for their story to be written RIGHT NOW. It’s even worse when the characters all belong to the same series and their books have to follow a certain sequence. >.<
One of the antsiest these days is the Lexxen, an assassin with a major thing for an ex-corpse collector. I have bits of their story planned but I’m still far from the writing point. Their book, Ashsender, will be the first in a sci fi romance series I’m intending to start soon…ish. I’m still getting my head wrapped around their universe.
How do you keep characters consistent through a story? Do you write out extensive character bibles?
Characters tend to cling and actively make sure I keep them consistent. Their overall personality and motivations hang around, echoing in my thoughts and bashing things around if I start to stray. (Okay, so not literally, but close enough. They’re just really there, always present, always fully-realized.) I spend a lot of time reflecting on characters and let them unfold organically. They get stuck in my head like they’re another side of me, so I basically write them on autopilot. Though I do keep notes on specific traits (hair, eyes, markings, family members, their personal issues, etc.) because sometimes I’ll forget the details. Those notes are kept in the first few pages of the outline for that book (often with character photos) so I can check them quickly. Their character notes may also end up in a series bible if there is one.
What do you keep in your bedside table?
Evidence that once upon a time, I was a teenager stuck in the joys of high school. Seriously, it’s like a time capsule. Notes and cards from friends and family, my old “fancy” agenda, the lock for my locker, a couple school photos, bookmarks, some kind of electronic phonebook that’s a total dinosaur. It also doubles as a graveyard for pens, a storage unit for CDs and an old school CD player (anyone cringing yet?), and a refuge for blank Christmas cards left over from our annual mailing. None of this was on purpose; I just haven’t bothered to clean it out. But it’s quite fitting, I suppose, considering the table was handcrafted by my grandfather, painted by my grandmother, and moved in with me from my parents’ house. It represents all sorts of memories.
How will the world end?
Not the way we think it will, and probably on a Monday.
If you had to be a cat, dog, or a rat, which would you choose and why?
Cat. I wouldn’t lose much of my personality, considering how much like a cat I am. I probably wouldn’t overheat as bad as I do as a human, and I wouldn’t mind seeing better at night.
What are you reading right now and what is next on your to-be-read list?
Currently reading The Engineered Throne by Megan Derr. Next will either be its sequel, The Painted Crown, or Northern Lights by T.T. Kove. It depends on whether I’m feeling fantasy or contemporary at the time.
Rapid Fire Time
Mr. Bean or Leslie Nielsen? Both; depends on if I’m craving British humour or Canadian at the time. Though maybe Mr. Bean because my dad reminds me of him.
Paddle or flogger? Flogger
Tardis or DeLorean? Tardis!
Spring or Fall? Fall
Tennant or Smith? Tennant. Timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly, and Scottish accent. So much win.
Harry Potter or Lord of The Rings? Lord of the Rings
First pet and name? Cat named Flannigan.
Kirk or Picard? So totally Picard, I can’t even.
Multiple choice questions or essay questions? Essay questions! Half points and explanations are good friends.
Tattoos or piercings? Tattoos
What are you working on? What is next?
I’m currently working on Soulbound, #4 in The Republic series and a continuation of Mayr and Tash’s story from Four. Within the series, Four, Blood Borne, and Soulbound form a trilogy that introduces drastic changes to the entire series. Mayr and Tash happen to be at the core of those changes, given their unique positions in status, who they know, and where they’ve been. Soulbound is also the second book in a three-book storyline for Mayr and Tash, whose relationship is different than everyone else’s in the series. The title hints at that difference, dipping into the concept of soulmates and what that means for them. The book revolves around their relationship, their intimate relationship with Mayr’s secret love (giving the book an MMF component), and what happens when Tash’s past comes into play.
Once I’m finished, I’ll be focusing on two pieces not in The Republic series. One is a dragon shifter story called To Live a Dragon, involving the dragon afterlife. The other piece is the first book in a new paranormal-science fiction series I have planned: FSF Corp., where the paranormal is manufactured, corporate dollars tear holes through the fabric of space and time, and no one knows anything about the guy who owns the company.
About the Author
Archer Kay Leah was raised in Canada, growing up in a port town at a time when it was starting to become more diverse, both visibly and vocally. Combined with the variety of interests found in Archer’s family and the never-ending need to be creative, this diversity inspired a love for toying with characters and their relationships, exploring new experiences and difficult situations.
Archer most enjoys writing speculative fiction and is engaged in a very particular love affair with fantasy, especially when it is dark and emotionally charged. When not reading and writing for work or play, Archer is a geek with too many hobbies and keeps busy with other creative endeavors, a music addiction, and whatever else comes along. Archer lives in London, Ontario with a bigender partner and rather chatty cat.
Author Page at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/archerkayleah
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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