And we’re back! Hey, everyone, and thanks for joining us for Genre Talk here on The Novel Approach Reviews. Kim Fielding was such an awesome guest last time, we’ve talked her in to coming back for more. This time, she’s come to chat about her upcoming DSP Publications fantasy release Equipoise, Book Three in the Ennek Trilogy, and available for preorder now!
Kim is also offering the chance to win an e-copy of both Stasus and Flux, books one and two of the trilogy! See details in the post comments below to enter.
So let’s have a look at what we’ve got to look forward to….
Ennek, the son of the Chief, and Miner, a former slave, have escaped the totalitarian city-state of Praesidium and remain fugitives. Having defeated two mighty wizards, they begin to realize complete freedom can be as dangerous as absolute power. Now Ennek and Miner must face battles, corruption, and further journeys through lands both new and familiar.
As they grow more secure in their relationship, they learn the greatest challenges sometimes come from very close to the heart and everything of value has a price. With the help of a few allies, they seek equipoise—a balance for themselves and for their world.
Carole: Yay, Kim! Thanks so much for visiting with us again. So, let’s start with the basics—tell us about the genre of Equipoise
Kim: If I had to pick a genre category for this book, I’d call it dark fantasy. But like many of my stories, it blurs boundaries. It’s also an alternate universe story, set in a world in which the Roman Empire lasted longer and extended to the Americas. There’s even a bit of a steampunk ethos sprinkled in.
Carole: Ooh, a mix. And of two things you wouldn’t expect to see in the same space, so that makes it doubly intriguing. So what can we expect from Equipoise?
Kim: This is the final volume in the Ennek trilogy, and it involves the heroes, Miner and Ennek, coming full circle and returning home. In Stasis, the first book, they remained at home until the final chapter. In fact, Miner spent all but that last chapter inside a single building! In the second book, Flux, they traveled far, first across the sea and then by land. Although they have many adventures and accomplish a great deal, by the end of the second book they’ve realized that all good change must begin at home. So that’s where they’re going now. Unfortunately, they remain fugitives, so they will be in danger. They’re in for some unpleasant surprises as well. But they’re also going to find allies, which is such an important aspect of any struggle.
I really like the sense of completion this book gave me. I’m especially fond of Miner and Ennek, so I’m also pleased at how this volume gave them the chance to have a more rounded view of the world and to learn that simple solutions to big problems are rarely possible. As the title suggests (and that gorgeous cover by Reese Dante illustrates), achieving the right balance is tricky but necessary.
Carole: Speaking of addressing big problems—diversity is so important, especially in today’s political and social climate. Tell us how you define “diversity” in your writing, and how you explored it in this book.
Kim: The most obvious diversity is sexual—Miner and Ennek are gay in a time and place when homosexuality is forbidden. But as they travel, they also experience cultural and economic diversity. And they experience diversity of viewpoints as well. The world would be such a boring place if everyone shared the same opinions.
Carole: Yes, it absolutely would. Okay, so Equipoiseis being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for genre novels that don’t necessarily focus on or even contain romance. Tell us about the relationship in Equipoiseand why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.
Kim: The relationship between Miner and Ennek is important in this book, in part because they balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Where one of them can easily charm almost everyone, the other tends to be shy and slightly awkward in social situations. Where one is prone to acting first and thinking later, the other tries for a more rational approach. Their relationship is what has kept them alive through considerable trials—and that relationship is going to face some very specific and personal challenges in this books.
But this book is about more than just the two of them. The problems they encounter affect the future of thousands of people in several countries. In romance, love is the main story and everything else is secondary. Here, though, love comprises only one part of a complicated tale. An important part, to be sure, but there are other important parts too; family, friendship, loyalty, politics, betrayal, and power are some of those bits.
Carole: A meaty tale, the very best kind. 🙂 And now that you’ve mentioned the other important parts of life—what do you do for fun?
Kim: Between my family, my day job, and writing, I don’t have much time for fun. My biggest recreational activity is travel. I just came back from New Orleans, which is now on my favorite cities list. And after several petless years, yes! I have a furry companion. Elena Katgan is an 8-year-old tabby who came to us from the Humane Society. She’s wonderfully sweet and undemanding—if anyone is considering adopting an older cat, I’d definitely recommend it. (And yes, like most of my previous pets, she’s named for a Supreme Court Justice).
Carole: Go you! Sounds like you’ve had a good month. Okay, enough fun now, back to business! 😉 You write in a lot of different genres. Tell us which ones, and how difficult is it to do?
Kim: I’d have a huge difficulty writing in only one genre! In addition to several flavors of fantasy, I’ve also written contemporaries, historicals, suspense, paranormals, and science fiction. Right now I’m working on a noir detective novel in a medieval fantasy setting.
I think I genre hop in part because my moods vary, but also because I genuinely enjoy reading just about anything. Once a year or so, I get to visit Powell’s Bookstore in Portland. And when I drag my purchases to the counter, the cashier invariably comments on how eclectic they are. This makes me happy.
Carole: Okay, regular visits to Powell’s begs the question: what sort of research did you need to do?
Kim: This book is set in an alternate universe that’s more or less equivalent to our late 19th century. While I could allow myself a bit of leeway—unlike ours, this world has magic—I did try for historical accuracy. So I had to look up a lot about forms of transportation such as sailing ships and horse-pulled coaches. Weapons played an important part too. And because part of this book takes place in a city with some similarities to a gold rush frontier town, I looked up a lot of details about life in those places.
Carole: All of which you will definitely find at Powell’s. 😉 All right, it’s about time to start wrapping up, so let’s get to the question all readers want to know—what projects are you working on now and what is coming next from you?
Kim: As always, I have quite a bit in the works. In just a few of days, Dreamspinner will release my holiday short, “Anyplace Else,” as part of the Bah Humbug! package. I’m also really excited about an anthology that’s coming out in December. Once Upon a Time in the Weird West contains speculative fiction short stories from 13 authors, all with a weird west theme. In January, Dreamspinner will release Love Is Heartless. This contemporary is Book 2 in the Love Can’t series but can be read as a standalone. It includes a cop named Nevin, who was huge fun to write (he swears. A lot.). The rest of my WIPs are in various stages, and they include that noir fantasy, a light contemporary, an angsty contemporary, and a paranormal. That ought to keep us all busy for a while!
Carole: It really should! Thanks so much for joining us again, Kim, and we look forward to the release of Equipoise!our upcoming release. We wish you tons of sales!
And thanks to all of you, Awesome Readers, for spending time here with Kim and us today. We’ll have buy links for you at the end of the post, but first, please enjoy this evocative excerpt from Kim’s upcoming DSP Publications release, Equipoise!
Ennek was bloody tired of being weak and useless. How many times now had Miner had to care for him after Ennek had drained himself to the brink of death? He was tired of fighting his way to consciousness, like struggling to rise from beneath a mountain of sticky fabric. He was tired of trying to figure out where he was and how he’d gotten there and whether there were immediate threats to be faced. He was tired of Miner giving him silent, worried looks, as if afraid Ennek might swoon at any moment. He was just bloody tired, and he yearned to feel strong and confident and safe. He wanted to tuck Miner in his arms and whisk him away to a little house with a view of the bay, where Miner could paint seascapes and Ennek’s portrait, and eat strawberries until he was sick of them; where they could make love on a soft mattress, or in front of a roaring fire, or as they bathed, or maybe even in the garden on a sunny day, when the smell of flowers and the buzz of bees intoxicated them both; where Ennek would stand guard against anything that might harm his lover.
Right now, though, Ennek could only loll in bed. It had been two days since he came awake again, and now he could make it all the way to the bathroom without collapsing, so long as Miner steadied him with an arm at his elbow and kept him from falling over when he took a piss. Even simple tasks like eating and speaking exhausted him. Mostly he listened as Miner read to him—he very much enjoyed that—or he slept.
“I’m not worth all this bother,” Ennek sighed as Miner helped him into bed after yet another bath.
“Bollocks,” replied Miner.
Ennek’s eyebrows flew up. “You’ve been spending too much time with Hils.”
“Yes. He’s totally corrupted me.” Miner pulled the blankets up to Ennek’s chest and tucked him in as if Ennek were a small child. He even leaned down and planted a kiss on Ennek’s forehead. “Now get some sleep—”
“I’ve slept enough already!”
“Fine. Then just stay still. I want to sketch you like this, so you can remember what you looked like when you were bald.”
Ennek snorted his response, but the truth was that walking from the bathroom had sapped his small store of energy. Besides, he liked to watch Miner drawing, with that pink tongue-tip sticking out in concentration and those long, clever fingers moving so deftly, and—“Gods,” Ennek groaned to himself. Here he was getting himself all worked up and without the strength to do anything about it.
Miner must have known exactly where Ennek’s thoughts had led him, because he chuckled and gave Ennek another kiss, this one on the lips. “Another incentive for you to rest well and mend quickly, En.” Then he scooted one of the chairs to the proper angle, arranged his drawing things the way he liked them, and sat down. The tip of his pencil skritched faintly against the rough paper.
Although Ennek was tired, he wasn’t really sleepy. So he took the opportunity to look around for the first time in days. He was startled to realize the clutter was considerably reduced, the books were straightened on their shelves, the piles of clothing gone. Miner used to keep Ennek’s rooms tidy as well, he remembered. “You’ve been playing maid.”
“Hmm,” Miner replied, not looking up from his paper. “It passes the time.”
“I’m sorry. You’re a prisoner again because of me.”
This time Miner shot him a glare. “Stop it. I’ve been thinking about this, and you’re not allowed to blame yourself for my fate anymore.”
Miner looked so momentarily ferocious that Ennek couldn’t keep the corner of his mouth from twitching. “I’m not?”
“No.” Miner lifted his pencil from the paper and sighed. “I’m here because of my own choices too, you know. I’m a grown man—several centuries your elder, actually—and I’m responsible for my own fate. If you keep condemning yourself I shall… I shall punish you.”
Now Ennek’s mouth lifted into a full-fledged grin. “Punish me?”
“Yes.” Miner pointed his pencil at Ennek as if it were a weapon. “Severely.”
A vision passed in front of Ennek’s eyes, of himself bent over Miner’s knees with his trousers puddled at his ankles, and Miner’s hand raised to—Ennek groaned again, more loudly this time.
Miner’s answering smirk was downright evil. Ennek was definitely going to have a talk with Hils one of these days.
Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.
For Elizabeth Noble and me, that’s all for this week, and thanks for spending some time with us. See you next time!