A warm welcome to author Archer Kay Leah joining us today for the blog tour of their release of “Four”, Book 2 in the Republic series.
Archer Kay talks about the story and there is a giveaway to participate in!
Welcome Archer Kay 🙂
Hi everyone! I’m Archer Kay Leah, writer of LGTBQA+ speculative fiction romance and a self-professed geek. A warm thank you to Love Bytes for having me by to chat a bit about my book, Four (The Republic #2). Four is a high fantasy M/M romance featuring a rather sweet love between Mayr, an emotionally wounded guard, and Tash, a priest with dark secrets.
Today’s post reveals how Mayr has stolen the series out from under pretty much everyone. Often authors are asked how a book came around and it’s one of my favourite questions to answer, especially in this case! Without further ado, I’d like to introduce Mayr: attention hog, scene stealer, and sexy, tattooed plot bunny.
Help! The Character Roster’s Been Invaded!
The Republic series began as a spin-off from Rule Breaker, a novella I wrote for an anthology. It was my first go at writing a romance and LGBTQA+ fiction, so I didn’t know how it would be received. After the novella was picked up by the awesome Less Than Three Press (LT3), I started to dream a little bigger. When LT3 put out a submission call for a collection about damsels in distress, my inspiration exploded: I wanted to craft a series around the fantastical realm introduced in Rule Breaker. From that came A Question of Counsel, book #1 in the series, an F/F romance featuring Aeley and Lira, two high society women who don’t accept being pushed around. They have spunk and stay true to themselves regardless of what’s expected.
Part of Aeley’s recipe to keeping her sanity includes Mayr, her best friend and head of the family Guard. He’s solid, reliable, always there. He’s also a goofball, tempering serious moments with humour and optimism.
And he barely existed in the original plans.
True story: Mayr was nameless until the moment he showed up in A Question of Counsel because I intended for him to say a couple things at dinner and then sort of disappear to do his own thing. He wasn’t anyone’s best friend, had no particular story to share. Only when I worked through the first scene did he start unfolding. Admittedly, it’s a product of my writing process: I create a frame for the story but write organically within it, so details pop out as I go. Mayr’s two lines multiplied into an entire conversation. His personality splashed all over the page and I couldn’t wipe it up. He made me laugh and consider his potential to be awesome.
As I continued writing, I reworked scenes and chucked extra characters. The role played by one of those characters was combined with Mayr, weaving him into several scenes and giving him the means to colour the book with his attention-stealing antics. By the end, he was inseparable from Aeley and readers wanted a sequel with him.
Resistance is Futile
With the first book finished and another installment started, I considered what the series would look like. I wanted an LGBTQA+ series featuring different relationships and genders. I wanted to have fun with it. So I spent time planning. Didn’t get too far, especially when Mayr wouldn’t leave me alone. He’s got a leech thing happening: the guy is stuck on me and refuses to leave.
He leeched his cute butt all the way into his own book.
At first I wasn’t sure who he really was. I knew he liked women but what about other genders? Where did he come from? How did he end up being the funny guy? Was everything about him even real? Who would his love interest be?
Answering those questions was surprisingly easy: Mayr’s bisexual, comes from a family of farmers, needs to believe in hope, and while he’s genuine, he hides a lot. The funny is a front. His deepest emotions are protected and he yearns for a day he won’t feel so guilty or used or tossed aside. He just wants to be accepted for who he is. Instead, any time he offers his heart, it’s crushed and abused because he doesn’t meet expectations.
Until Tash comes around, seeing through the illusions.
That’s when Four took off. Mayr’s heart bled all over the manuscript and my sympathy with it. Tash’s story only made it worse. I can be pretty mean to characters and usually don’t feel bad about it, but their story kicked me in the emotional gut. I fell in love with their struggles, their dedication, the lengths they’ll go for loved ones. Mayr and Tash’s romance is unique in the series: sugary sweet built on a foundation of hurt/comfort wrapped snugly inside the concept of soulmates. Four became everything I hadn’t expected but everything they needed.
Give That Inch
Fast forward into now and guess what I’m working on?
Mayr and Tash’s second book.
Because one wasn’t enough.
Mayr continues to hijack the series. He’s responsible for the overarching storyline plus the outlines for the rest of the series. It took writing Four to finally plot the other books (about ten in all), all of them woven together in their own special way. This includes the two other books about Mayr and Tash, neither of them in the original plans: Soulbound (#4) and A Matter of Fate (the last book of the series). Turns out they have a huge role to play in things.
Truth: Mayr’s existence has changed everything about the series. From bantering with Aeley to finding love, Mayr has left his mark. He represents everyone who hides their true feelings because they’re scared of being hurt. He represents all the nice guys who get shafted because they aren’t appreciated. He’s a glimpse at how expectation and stereotype can cause harm. Instead of being just comedic relief or the ultimate badass alpha male, Mayr is all feels, tender notions, and hope. Because isn’t that what romance is awesome at?
Thank you so much for reading! If there’s a character that’s really stuck with you, I’d love to hear about them!
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 Mayrís previous loversóand 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.
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 Archerís 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
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