I am excited to welcome author Rachel Leigh Smith as she celebrates the release of her second A’yen’s Legacy novel, The King’s Mistress.
Freedom has a cost. Can A’yen pay it without losing his soul?
Liberation of the enslaved Lokmane begins with the king. A’yen and Fae agree to visit the Hidden, a group of escaped Lokmane, to protect his identity while the Shadows make their move with emancipation acts. But he’s not prepared for the prejudice rampant in the Hidden, or their lack of patience for him. And his new linked bodyguard is unstable to the point A’yen fears for the young man’s sanity.
Upon returning to Titan, A’yen is kidnapped and taken to the largest breeding farm in the galaxy. This time he’ll be himself even if it kills him. His resolve to unite his people grows as he wonders if he’ll live long enough to do it.
With A’yen kidnapped, Fae returns to the Lokmane homeworld seeking the final pieces of what happened two thousand years ago when they were conquered and enslaved. Getting as far away from her father as possible is the only way to keep her from disappearing too.
Separated by light years, A’yen and Fae have to stand alone and fight for their right to live in freedom. No matter the cost.
The Draw of Science Fiction Romance
Hi, everyone! I’m excited to be back at Literary Escapism talking about my genre, science fiction romance. Jackie asked me what drew me to this genre and it’s such a good story I couldn’t resist.
To start off, I’m a romance reader and I write romance for the hero lover. Romance has been my favorite genre since I was about 12. It’s pretty much all I read, and all I’ve ever wanted to write. It took me awhile to accept I’m a romance writer, though, and that’s another story that’s not nearly as interesting.
Some of you may be going “what the heck is SFR?” That’s okay. I had no idea it was a genre either. I started out writing historical romance, and SFR is just about as far away from that as you can get. And yet, it’s not all that different.
My first SFR novel, My Name Is A’yen, came to me in a dream. I dreamed about A’yen walking through the woods saying a word I couldn’t make out. What sticks out most is that I remembered the dream when I woke up. Very rare for me. It wouldn’t leave me alone, so while I was eating breakfast I started making notes, and A’yen told me his name. There was never a single moment of not knowing this novel’s title. It has always been, and always will be, My Name Is A’yen.
I ran with it because it was easy and coming out of me faster than anything had ever come out of me before. I was clocking 3,000 and 4,000 words a day, which is a lot for me. I’d been growing increasingly frustrated with specific market restrictions on the type of historical I wanted to write, so I decided to write A’yen for me and me alone, exactly the way I was dying to write a romance. I wrote a 97,000 word first draft in 86 days. And that was with cleaning and painting our swimming pool, which takes four days, and my critique partner/other half of my brain coming for a week to do research.
How did I want to write a romance? I wanted it to be all about the hero. His story, his struggles, seeing him fall in love through his own eyes. I couldn’t do that in the historical market I was writing for and it was driving me nuts. She’s always the character I care least about, and to be told “readers don’t care about him, they just want to see her fall in love” was so beyond frustrating. And yes, I’ve actually been told that. By a contest judge who was published, no less.
At my crit partner’s urging, I started putting together a proposal for A’yen. Part of a proposal is doing market research. That’s when I discovered what I was writing was a genuine, bona fide, real-live genre, called science fiction romance. I had no idea such a thing existed.
My first SFR read was Keir by Pippa Jay, which will be out again in ebook this spring. It’s worth waiting for and I can’t wait to read the expanded version. I dived into the SFR world head-first, got involved with the SFR Brigade, and the rest is history.
I mentioned earlier that SFR and historical romance are polar opposites, and yet not all that different. Both require a vivid imagination. The historical writer must imagine how the world used to be, understand how people thought in the time period we’re writing about, and be able to recreate a world no one living on this earth has actually experienced.
SFR writers need the same skill set. We create worlds, and species, no one will ever see. We have to imagine how things might play out in the future, take into account how technology affects our lives, and create an authentic world. We have to pay attention to the words we use in dialogue, stay away from modern slang if we’re writing in a far-future setting (like me, thank God for my proofreader!), and make sure the civilizations we create are grounded in reality.
Creating a believable world no one has ever experienced, whether it’s in the past or in the future, is the most critical skill an SFR or historical writer must have. My short-lived historical career, focused on the Victorian era and interracial relationships of antebellum Creole Louisiana, gave me a solid foundation for building inter-species relationships and imaging a world very different from our own.
I hope you’ll explore this awesome genre, and find new worlds and characters to love. And of course I hope A’yen ends up at the top of your list.
Meet Rachel Leigh Smith!
Rachel Leigh Smith writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico. When not writing, which isn’t often, she’s hanging with her family, doing counted cross-stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. There may also be Netflix binging. She’s an active member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and Romance Writers of America.
Want to purchase Rachel Leigh’s novels?