Today, I have author Aldrea Alien in the interview chair. We discuss her latest release To Target the Heart, book two in the Spellster series, a m/m fantasy romance. Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
1. Hi, Aldrea. First off, readers have an idea of the writer you, but what about the everyday you? Can you share about your personal life?
Aldrea: Firstly, thanks for having me on the blog. Not sure exactly what to say about everyday me. It’s kinda boring. I generally get up, take my daughter to school, come home and plonk myself before the computer either to write or game with the occasional grocery shop. That has been my routine for over a decade now.
2. I’ve been perusing your Goodreads page and see you are drawn to fantasy and magic. What drew you to this genre?
Aldrea: It’s been a long-time love of mine, way back to my pre-teen years. Before then, it was horse stories (although, I admit there were quite a few unicorns in the mix). But once I read Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey and followed that by David Eddings… I couldn’t be torn away from the magic. And dragons. I’m a sucker for dragons.
3. Your latest series is Spellster. Can you tell me what inspired you to create this series?
Aldrea: A fanfic! LOL! More specifically, an OC I’d written for a game fanfic based on my play of said game. I commissioned a picture of him and he then went and morphed into the MC of In Pain and Blood, subsequently dragging me into the ever-growing world that is the Spellster series. And here we are.
4. Can you share your writing process through To Target the Heart? Did the plot come first or the characters?
Aldrea: What with the way the plot shifted on me part way through, I would definitely say the characters came first. One character was mentioned before I’d fully settled into the idea of using him as anything than a distant threat. It’s not super obvious and the mention is brief, practically a throwaway line by a character in In Pain and Blood, but Darshan is there.
Hamish came to me a little later, albeit in a different fashion. Much like Dylan in the previous novel, I played around with Hamish as an OC in an RPG where he started out as Max. His current name and family troubles didn’t come around until I began to think where he’d fit into in the spellster world, which already has a fair bit of world building done. Tirglas made sense and he made the full transition into Hamish. After that, I sort of unleashed Darshan into Hamish’s life.
5. How much research goes into your novels?
Aldrea: Quite a lot. Whether or not I’ve researched it in the past, I will generally find myself up at midnight looking at styles of clothing, the types of animals or crops found in a particular climate, how particular dishes are prepared and whether it’s plausible for a land to have them, when a particular technology was in use and how it worked. I’ll brush up on weaponry, hunting & camping. I’ll even delve into the darker sides and somehow find myself watching a clip that actually shows a deadly bear attack. I’m still not sure how I reached that last one (likely a link through a link through a link).
6. Let’s talk about the main characters for To Target the Heart. What do you love most about Hamish and what makes you want to shake him?
Aldrea: I both love and hate how he’s so damn attached to his family. It is his strength and his biggest weakness. I wanted him to snap and stand up for so much of the story, but finding that fire can be a major block for those who’ve been under another’s thumb for so long.
7. The same for Darshan. What do you love most about him and what makes you want to shake him?
Aldrea: Darshan is my favourite. When I first envisioned him, he was this cool, slightly aloof, prince that was unimpressed with being sent to some backwater kingdom. Then I slipped into his PoV and discovered it was all a front. After that, I couldn’t leave that side of him out of the story. I don’t think I’ve ever felt the urge to shake him, at least not in this story, might be a bit different once I delve deeper into To Poison a Prince and he’s less guarded.
8. Without giving away any spoilers, what was your favourite scene to write for To Target the Heart and why?
Aldrea: The ending. Not the ending ending, but the part where Hamish is finally able to face his major barrier to happiness.
Also, the bit where Darshan breaks the jaw of a homophobic man twice his size after drunkenly snogging Hamish in public.
9. What makes the Spellster series different from other m/m fantasy romances?
Aldrea: Given the more-or-less standalone nature of the books, the spellster series kind of has a little bit of everything and each novel can be completely different from another. There are battles, pain, love, self-discovery, sex, revenge, betrayal.
I also classify the series as a whole as LGBTQIA+ fantasy romance. Whilst the first two novels and novella are m/m romances (and there are more of those to come) the short stories are not.
10. If a reader asked you why they should read To Target the Heart, what would you tell them?
Aldrea: Ah, my least favourite question. I can’t tell you why you should read it. It’s a big book, just under 600 pages according to Amazon. Its antagonist is a stubborn, homicidal (and homophobic) queen who has abused her son for decades.
It has pain. Lots of it. And death. Some gruesome, others swift.
It’s also a romance, which means, at its core, it’s a story about love. About finding it when you’ve given up on the idea, about discovering your beacon sputtering in the dark and fighting to see it thrive, about standing up to and cutting yourself free from those who deny you happiness.
It also has an inexperienced bottom of a bear being courted by a flashy top who’s trying so hard not to be a blushing boy when faced with someone who could’ve stepped right out of his dream… You know, if that’s your jam.
11. You can only recommend one of your novels to a reader, which would you choose from the books you’ve written so far, and why?
Aldrea: Probably To Target the Heart purely by way of it being my newest one. It’s not as big as the predecessor (by about 90k) and there’s definitely less in the way of sex scenes, although skipping them, as some do, is likely to leave out some important character details. Although, if the person is after pure fluff, then this isn’t it.
12. Which novel was your personal favourite to write, and why?
Out of the spellster series? It really is a split between In Pain and Blood and To Target the Heart. A bit of a cop-out, I know, but I love them for two different reasons. IPaB holds my boy, my baby, the dude that started it all. TTtH isn’t quite the beginning of the whole structure of what I refer to as my “modern timeline” (which, once completed, will span over a decade) but it’s very much a core part of it.
13. What can we expect from you in the future?
Aldrea: Well, apart from Someone Else’s Shoes, which is coming out in the Once Upon Another World box set… There’s definitely going to be more of Hamish and Darshan. I plan to continue the second half of their tale in the Udynea Empire. It’s a little more dangerous than the kingdom of Tirglas and will weave through other stories that I’ve yet to write. There is over a dozen projects lined up for this series, so I’ll certainly be busy with it.
14. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Aldrea: Plotting and character development. I realise they can be classed as two, but they’re sort of one for me. I will bounce from one scenario to the other, sometimes writing whole chapters, before I’ll settle on a path and it’s often due to a character opening themselves to me. I love it when the smallest detail of a character allows things to come together in just the right fashion.
15. What do you enjoy least about writing?
Editing. It’s necessary, I know, but I hate it. Largely because, no matter how many eyes go over the same piece, I always find another error when I’m re-reading. Always. And it can be the stupidest thing. Once, I discovered I had misspelt a character’s name. Not a minor character. Oh no. A major one. The love interest, in fact. Fortunately, that was before the story was released.
16. I enjoy doing random questions, so humour me:
- What’s your favourite movie?
Of all time, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The animated one.
- What book is currently in your e-reader?
Hmm, I’m working my way through my own lgbt reading challenge to combat my lack of reading more than five books last year, so it might have already changed… but it’s Fourth Point of Contact by A. J. Sherwood.
- Who’s your favourite musical group?
Ooo, that’s a tough one. I’ve so many… uh… I’ve enjoyed Queen for the longest time. Possibly since my birth.
- What song puts a smile on your face?
Have It All by Jason Mraz… in a teary kind of way.
Book Title: To Target the Heart
Series: Spellster Series, Book 2
Author: Aldrea Alien
Release Date: April 15, 2020
Genre/s: M/M Fantasy Romance
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 226 000 words
How can he win with the odds stacked against him?
Blurb: Prince Hamish has no interest in fulfilling his duty of marrying. Not to a woman, at least. That doesn’t stop his mother, Queen Fiona, from presenting him with every eligible noblewoman that enters their castle. He’s certain it’ll be no different with the representative of the Udynea Empire.
So when they do arrive, Hamish is relieved the imperial prince, Darshan, is not the woman everyone expected. Until the man kisses him and Hamish is confronted by the very emotions he has been forced to conceal or be punished for. Emotions he is eager to explore.
But the kiss proves to be a little too public and leads his mother to take drastic measures to ensure Hamish adheres to her family vision. The contest of arms will force Hamish to make a choice: give up his happiness for convention’s sake or send the kingdom spiralling into civil war for the right to love his own way.
Note: It is a standalone book.
Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited
The whole pub seemed to grow still the longer Darshan stared at the man, his expression blank.
“Bill,” Hamish hissed at the dockmaster. “That’s enough.” The man must have realised it would be the grandsire of all bad ideas to piss off someone capable of setting things on fire with a thought.
Ignoring Hamish, Billy continued to give the spellster a smarmy smile.
Darshan returned the grin, his tongue snaking out to run along the underside of his teeth. He calmly unhooked his glasses from behind his ears. “Hold these, will you?” he asked, waving the frames in Hamish’s general direction.
Hamish took a cautious step backwards. He couldn’t be certain if Darshan was merely posturing or actually planned to attack the man, but it would be better if he stayed out of it. After all, he couldn’t haul Darshan back to the castle if they were both unconscious.
He delicately reached for the glasses.
Darshan barely waited for Hamish to properly grasp them before he swung at Billy, clearly aiming for the man’s head.
Billy jerked back, too late in mounting a defence against the attack.
The spellster’s fist—heavily bedecked in jewelled rings—connected with Billy’s face like a hammer. The definite snap of breaking bone was almost an exhalation.
The dockmaster fell back, howling. Blood poured from beneath the man’s fingers, staining his blonde beard. At first, Hamish thought the ambassador had only broken Billy’s nose, until he caught sight of the dockmaster’s jaw. One side bulged alarmingly, whilst the right, the side Darshan had hit, was caved in.
The two men flanking Billy lunged at the spellster.
Sneering, Darshan flicked both his hands as if brushing the dust from his outfit. The men went flying, smashing into the walls. Neither one got up.
More men jumped up from their seats, agog. One ran out the door screaming. Not a one of them seemed to know what to do about the spellster who had made short work of three men; a foreigner who still stood over Billy without a care as to the bleeding state of his hand. Hamish wasn’t entirely certain it was even Darshan’s blood. Surely, with the force he’d hit the dockmaster, he must’ve broken something.
Darshan turned. He squinted at Hamish, then held out his bloodied hand. The fingers and knuckles seemed normal enough. No twists or swelling that suggested any harm had come to them. “My glasses, if you please?”
Hamish returned the item in question back to their owner. “I think this might be the best time to leave.” There’d be trouble once word of this got out—and a lot of questions Hamish wasn’t looking forward to answering. But if they returned to the castle now, then Gordon might be able to help him wrangle a more palatable version of events for his mother.
With the glasses once more firmly in place on his face, Darshan glared at Billy. “One moment.” He strode over to the howling man and grabbed his head. “Do not move or I will leave you injured. And I would advise against trying to talk.”
Billy stilled. Panic and fear flashed in his tear-redden eyes.
It had been some years since Hamish had last been in the presence of healing magic. But he’d been in no position to objectively watch either. Seeing the man’s face slowly reform to its previous state was something he’d never thought he would witness.
Billy’s cheeks shifted alarmingly, like a bubbling pot of porridge. The skin constantly changed colour, from the pinkish-red of freshly-struck to the bruised rainbow hues of blue, purple and green, then fading to trout-brown before regaining its natural wrinkled and heavily-tanned state.
Throughout it all, Billy’s eyes grew wider. He whimpered and fisted at his trousers. If Darshan hadn’t already stipulated stillness, he likely would’ve bolted from the spellster’s grip.
When Darshan was done, he released Billy’s head and let the man tumble onto the floor. “Call me that again and I shall do the same,” he snarled as he bent over the dockmaster. “Only next time, you can keep the broken jaw. Understood?”
Billy nodded. “Aye, your lordship.” He back-crawled across the flagstones, pausing only to rub his jaw and standing once Darshan was well beyond physical reach.
Dusting his hands, the ambassador returned to Hamish’s side. “As entertaining as that was, I think you are right, we should return to the castle.”
Aldrea Alien is an award-winning, bisexual author of fantasy romance with varying heat levels. Born and raised in New Zealand, she lives on a small farm with her family, including a menagerie of animals, who are all convinced they’re just as human as the next person. Especially the cats. Since discovering a love of writing at the age of twelve, she hasn’t found an ounce of peace from the characters plaguing her mind with all of them clamouring for her to tell their story first.
Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win an ebook copy of In Pain and Blood or one of two ebook copies of An Unexpected Gift.