Books, Tattoos and Tea: Guest Post
Hello readers at Books, Tattoos and Tea! Thank you for featuring me on this blog. Today I’m going to talk to you about Fallen Love, my new book, and the story of how I came to write it. Before I do that, let me quickly explain what exactly the story is about. I describe Fallen Love as an urban fantasy tale featuring two gay characters: Mark, and Conall.
This might be underselling it a bit though. This is isn’t your usual shifter or vampire flick—this has so much more. Immortal demons in an a different dimension? Check. Spell-weaving witches? Check. Androids and mutants? Check again.
Book One of the Fallen series
Gay Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 02.05.20
There are many kinds of monster that walk the Earth. Some are ugly. Others speak beautiful words through forked tongues. But the worst possess the grace of angels, and the hearts of demons.
Upperclassman Conall is rich, impeccably dressed, and set for a prestigious career in the Party hierarchy. He doesn’t lack for anything—except, maybe, love.
When he finds Mark, alone, abandoned and hurt, he doesn’t expect one act of kindness to alter the course of his life forever. There is more to Mark than Conall can even dream of. The beautiful, vulnerable boy Conall knows is not human. A dark power lies within Mark—it can make him immortal… but love might be the price.
Fallen Love has dark magic, sweet romance, and lots of action.
Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084FF8JTS
It began with a different story…
I began writing a story known as the Ark when I was seventeen, after writing my first novel, the Necromancer, and releasing that at sixteen. In all honesty, the Ark was a work of self-indulgent poetry. Even so, it sowed the seeds. From the Ark, I took the three main characters: Mark, Conall and Kaylin.
Likewise, I borrowed some world-building elements, though these are more subtle. The Ark was a scifi story about a huge space ship that would carry off the worthy people from Earth. Conall would be selected, and Mark would not. This would allow me to play with the classic elements of utopia and dystopia, and explore power and inequality.
Still, you’re probably wondering why I abandoned the Ark to begin with. It’s not like one throws away nearly 60,000 words on a whim.
It was a combination of reasons that convinced me, but two were especially prominent. To begin with, conflict. I hired an editor (Mary Theresa Hussey was her name) and the most important piece of feedback she gave me was this: the story of the Ark lacked true conflict. There were various moments here and there, but there was neither internal conflict—between the main characters—nor external, overarching conflict. The Ark was simply an abstract entity rather than a concrete plot element.
The other reason was simple: I came up with the story of Fallen Love, and I immediately recognised it as being something more compelling—the story that I really wanted to tell. I joke that I dreamt the story of Mark and Conall in this dark, new fantasy world. It would actually be more correct to say that it came to me just before sleep. A sort of daydream but at night.
Some Writerly Lessons
So what’s the take-away? For your humble writer, it’s thinking carefully about the story you want to write and how it will work as a plot. For readers, I want you to recognise the elements of conflict when you next pick up a book.
Most books follow a formula for conflict—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing (just look what happened to me!) but it can make some books rather predictable.
Romance novels tend to centre around why two characters can’t be together—it’s usually angst and miscommunication that does it. Personally, I find this kind of romance rather dull. It’s more interesting when two people try to make something together, and face the struggle of a real relationship. Or, the conflict can be external—a fight for love against all odds.
Fantasy books tend to fall into some similar clichés. We have the Chosen One, the Dark Lord, the Grey Wizard, and so on. My job as a writer of fantasy is to make them more interesting. What if the Grey Wizard was actually a woman, who also struggles with leadership?
What if the Dark Lord, rather than setting out to destroy the world, really just wants to do a better job of ruling it? Destroying the world isn’t a convincing motivation for a character (generally). Whereas people who dream of making the world better, and obtain power, are often much worse than cold-hearted tyrants who just want to keep the peace.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Two dart in front of us, and for a moment, I freeze. They are creatures of nightmare: their legs are spindly, misshapen, and they seem to glide across the road. They hiss again. A split second later, they leap.
The first is incinerated in mid-air by a laser flash, and the android crushes the second. A slick, black-green substance drips from its dead body; the smell almost makes me retch.
I snap back to reality: we need to keep running. The boy is already in front of me.
“How many?” he cries.
“Does it matter? Let the android take care of them.” Despite my cavalier words, I’m close to panic. I squint, trying to make out the Upper Quarter. Not far, I think. We can make it.
The android opens fire, and at a glance I see what the boy meant: there are many, way too many. Several fall in the firestorm, but others clamour to take their place. This isn’t a lone attack; this is a swarm. And we’re right in the middle of it.
“Run faster!” I scream. “We’re almost there!”
But it’s too late.
A mutant slams into me with the power of a sledgehammer. I heave against it, fighting with its mandibles: I have to stop those fangs, so gleaming with venom, from sinking in and finishing me off.
And then the weight is off me. Through the corner of my eyes, I see it sail high into the air and into the reach of the android, but my sight never leaves the boy who saved me.
“I had to return the bleedin’ favour,” he says, hand outstretched. I don’t have time to thank him. He lifts me and we’re running again. The lights of the Upper Quarter are tantalisingly close. They shimmer behind an immense force-field, designed to keep out mutants and undesirables. Riffraff like the boy I just rescued.
Not that I have time to worry about that right now. “My ID will open the force field!” I cry, and I throw myself forward, fumbling for the ID.
With a flash of the reader, we cross the threshold. We’re in.
We breathe deeply, and I collapse against him. The mutants hiss, disappointed, and quickly slink back from the force field. A few are not so lucky, and are noticed by one of the guard towers. Machine gun fire turns the monsters into bloody smears on the ground.
Still, my interest isn’t on the monsters—it’s on him. It isn’t just the muscles, which are hard and powerful against my body. His scent is masculine, and sends a surreptitious thrill through me.
Before, I feared death; but now, I feel very much alive.
“That was fun,” I say.
About the Author
Alex Stargazer is an author of dark, fantastical tales that snare you in with epic world-building—and keep you reading with funny anecdotes and beautiful love stories. He currently hails from rainy Scotland, but he can be found all over Europe. Since publishing his first novel—the Necromancer—at 14, Alex has released two short stories and an upcoming new novel, named Fallen Love. Sign up to his newsletter to stay up-to-date: https://mailchi.mp/c0a00cf75af3/alex-stargazer-fallen
When not establishing the finer points of magecraft or the peculiarities of dragons, Alex is working hard on getting a Master’s degree in boring topics like economics. In his spare time, Alex enjoys exploring the wilderness of Scotland—though Austria, Italy and the Nordic countries fascinate him most. If he really needs to blow off some steam, Alex will shoot zombies in his favourite shooter, Left 4 Dead 2.
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