Welcome to author Archer Kay Leah and the Blood Borne blog tour, book three in The Republic series. She’s sharing what a personal journey it was for her to write this book, and there’s also a giveaway, so check out the entry details for that below.
How Writing Blood Borne Has Helped My Marriage
Hello everyone! I’m Archer Kay Leah, author of LGTBQA+ speculative fiction romance and a self-professed nerd of much geekery. Thanks for stopping by, and many thanks to The Novel Approach for having me here.
Today’s post is a special one about something wonderful that happened while I was writing Blood Borne. When I first started writing full-time a few years ago, I didn’t know how it would affect my partner and me. After my mom died suddenly and without warning, I couldn’t go back to the work I was doing before. I couldn’t focus; couldn’t bear to go there. Writing was the one thing I could do that brought me out of the grief, and I took another shot at getting published – a childhood dream I’d put aside while studying science at university. Since then, writing has become my occupation, with love and support from my wife.
But I couldn’t have guessed exactly how much this journey as an author could affect her – and us.
Finding Oneself & Growing As a Couple: The Importance of Adren’s Character
When I first started planning Blood Borne (#3 in The Republic), I wasn’t certain where it was going. I knew it was about Ress, who showed up in book 2, but I wasn’t sure about his romantic interest. Once I considered the possibility of that character being non-binary/genderqueer and in the same gang as Ress, everything fell together and Adren happened.
Adren doesn’t identify as female or male; instead, ce is bigender, a blend of both the feminine and masculine, shifting from one to the other and all to neither as easily as the feelings come. Ce goes by non-binary (neo)pronouns and lives as ce needs to, regardless of what people think. While Adren struggles with the rest of cir identity – why ce isn’t like the rest of cir family, why ce has magic, and why ce can’t just be like everyone else – gender is one of the things ce does know to be absolute about cirself, and ce lives that without apology.
What I didn’t realize at the time was how much I was tapping into what I already knew, thanks to my wife. While I was pulling together Adren’s character, I stumbled across sites that offered not just terms but personal stories and feelings. Thanks to folks on Tumblr, Adren blossomed with what knowledge and wisdom they provided. Though it wasn’t until a couple months later that I started to realize the deepest inspiration came from my partner, someone who inspires me even when I don’t sense it. It’s not the first time, either, nor is it the last. There’s a bit of her in every of my books, especially Blood Borne.
That brings me to a particular winter night in 2015. It was dark, wet with snow and slush everywhere, and the two of us were tromping through the slippery parking lots of the mall and other stores. We were decked out in our winter finest, somewhere between freezing from the cold, dry wind and sweating under layers, being so very Canadian. We got to talking about the book and Adren while buying gifts and groceries.
That conversation became one of the most important in our relationship. It started with fiction but evolved into how my partner has felt all her life.
We’ve never talked about her gender – we’d also never had any words other than girl, boy, or tomboy. That doesn’t mean she felt like any of them. It also doesn’t mean I didn’t pick up on it. But that night, we talked about it. Even better, that discussion continued during the days afterwards. We talked about how she feels like a guy sometimes, or like a girl, or both, and the body parts she wishes she did and didn’t have. We talked about her worries and fears, her past and the acceptance she didn’t get from her parents, and how our relationship wasn’t going to change.
We talked about it being okay and who she could turn to for advice, especially since our circle of friends includes both trans and non-binary folks, at least one of whom is very much like my partner. We talked about feelings, desires, and moving forward, with or without hormones and surgery. We talked about everything she needed to; everything she’d wanted to say while we’ve been together but was too afraid to bring up. Finally, there was a chance to get it all out.
Since then, we’ve revisited that conversation as she’s needed, including the matter of what pronouns she prefers for now. Not only is she more comfortable in her own skin, we’re stronger as a couple.
Words and Representation Matter
At the end of it all, Adren is incredibly significant. On one hand, Adren’s existence allows my partner and me to connect on a new level and talk about something she feared I might not understand or like. We finally have words to describe how she feels and who she really is.
On the other hand, it’s important for people like my partner to see someone like them in fiction, to know they’re not broken, weird, or abnormal because they don’t identify with the gender they’ve been assigned. It’s been difficult enough for my partner to have to deal with the negative attitudes that come with being pansexual – that she’s “confused” or “can’t make a choice”. It’s worse when she’s been made to feel bad about gender, too. That’s also why Blood Borne came up as it did: it was a chance for those who are in the “other” categories to shine in their own story, because everyone’s got one. They just need the chance to tell it.
Thank you so much for reading! I love hearing from readers, so feel free to say hi and happy reading.
About the Book
Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | KOBO | iTunes
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 97,000 words approx
The Republic Series: A Question of Council (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK || Four (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Blurb: For Ress, survival is a complicated nightmare. Caught between two masters on different sides of the law, his life is falling apart one bad decision at a time. All he wants is to be is a good person, a loyal family man, and a successful metalsmith—a dream he can never obtain while he works for the Shar-denn, the violent gang that plagues the republic of Kattal.
To make matters worse, he works as an informant for the High Council. He scrapes through both jobs waiting for his last breath. As the Shar-denn motto says: the only way out is dead.
No stranger to living complicated decisions, Adren is caught between worlds of cir own. As the child of a Shar-denn faction boss, cir life is a conflicted tangle of expectation and duty. When cir family is arrested, Adren manages to escape, but nowhere is safe. Desperate and on the run, Adren is determined to punish Ress for turning in cir family. No one who betrays the gang can live. Ress must pay the price, even if Adren has to go against everything ce is.
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.
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