We’re so pleased to welcome author August Li today to help us celebrate our 5 Year Blogiversary! It was absolutely so great to meet Gus and his lovely daughter a few years ago at Rainbow Con. It sounds like the writing bug runs in the family too. 🙂 Enjoy Gus’ guest post and then be sure to check out how you can enter to win two of his print books.
I met Lisa at the very first Rainbow Con—I think it was 2014. We got along well as we had a few drinks at the hotel bar, and not just as two people who love books. It became clear as we talked that Lisa was a fellow appreciator of the different, daring, experimental, and weird. Since then, I have followed The Novel Approach and through it, discovered many wonderful new books and authors. I appreciate everything Lisa and her blog have done to promote our genre—however that is defined. I’m happy to be here to celebrate its anniversary.
For my contribution, I’d like to revisit some older books of mine that are now available in a shiny new (and very affordable) package: my Blessed Epoch series. Or, I should say, the beginning of the series.
These books have a bit of a history to them. My intention when I started Ash and Echoes was to write a High Fantasy series with gay protagonists. I also wanted to make it uniquely mine while still being recognizable to readers who love the genre. I wanted fantasy races, but I didn’t want elves and dwarves. I wanted magic, knights, assassins, and all the fun things readers expect from epic fantasy, but I wanted mine to stand apart from the others. Before I even started writing, I knew I wanted to submit the books—it quickly became clear that I couldn’t tell the story in a single novel—to Dreamspinner Press. And as Dreamspinner Press is a romance publisher (exclusively at that time) it meant putting a gay romance in the book. No problem. The series has a very large cast, and would be unrealistic and contrary to human nature if none of them developed relationships. In fact, I realized early in the process how much fun I could have playing with some of these men’s personalities and how the connections they formed could have a significant influence on the decisions they made—and therefore the plot. And in some cases, their entire world. Now it’s true that I gave the *cough* interactions between some of the characters a bit more page time—and detail—than I might have if I hadn’t been writing for a romance publisher, but the books were still intricately plotted, full of political maneuvering, battle and military strategy, nautical warfare, weapons development, and everything else involved with large-scale conflict. There’s cultural detail. It’s bloody. As happens in war, not everyone makes it.
In other words, not quite a romance novel, despite the relationships between characters having a profound impact on the plot.
The books are High Fantasy with romantic elements or subplots. While I am glad for all those readers who purchased them from Dreamspinner and enjoyed them, they did not always meet the expectations of those looking to enjoy a romance. So, when Dreamspinner Press started the DSP Publications imprint, they spoke with me about moving the series, and I agreed it might be a better fit to sell them through the genre fiction imprint as opposed to the romance portion of the publisher. So DSP Publications became their home. I remain quite proud that they were around at the inception to kick off DSP Publications. And recently, the first four books have been bundled together and are available as a group. I’ll put a link to them below.
And since the theme of my post turned toward the historical, for the celebratory giveaway, I’m offering On Tinsel Wings and This Same Flower. They’re rare examples of my contemporary work, though I still needed the requisite dose of geekiness, magic, fantasy, and illusion. I did it with drag queens and the Renaissance Faire, because I guess it was hard for me to envision a novel without the wonder of transformation and at least one sword fight. So if you’re in the mood to read a more traditional contemporary romance with a twist—okay, a few twists—enter to win both books in paperback. Good luck!
About the Books
On Tinsel Wings
Patrick Harford sees hope as magical and beautiful, too delicate to hold—and everything in his life has proved him right. An unhealthy home leaves him hiding in the shadows as he tries to come to terms with his sexuality.
Patrick finds solace among the performers at the Allegheny Mountains Renaissance Faire, where he discovers a love of performing and costumes. As he starts to come out of his shell, he meets Yu Elion, an apprentice blacksmith. Yu gives Patrick a glimpse of fairy-tale love.
But just when hope starts to blossom, it withers. Cynical after a past filled with failed relationships, Yu keeps Patrick at a distance. Working two jobs has disastrous consequences. And an obsessed fan takes things a step too far. After seeing all he’s built start to crumble, Patrick doesn’t know if he has what it takes to try again on his own, and Yu might not have the strength to be the one Patrick needs.
This Same Flower
Two years after taking a leap of faith and moving in together, Patrick Harford and Yu Elion decide to make a lasting commitment. Yu will soon graduate art school, while Patrick continues to gain fame and financial stability performing as a drag queen. They want to take the next step on their journey together, but they disagree as to where their path should lead. Patrick longs to put down roots and make a home close to the friends who have supported him. But the realization of Yu’s lifelong dream lies on the other side of the world. Can Patrick leave his comfort zone and seize the day for the only man he’s ever loved? And what will that mean for his career, the friendships he depends on—and for the friends who depend on him?
Either Patrick or Yu will have to sacrifice his dream. But while they struggle to find a solution that will make them both happy, a friend’s cry for help removes Patrick’s options. With their future together sidetracked, he can only hope their love is strong enough to weather separation.
Both books are available at Dreamspinner Press
The Blessed Epoch bundle available at DSP Publications