I had to get in on the action!
My name’s Kate Aaron and I’m the author of the Lost Realm fantasy series: Blood & Ash, Fenton: The Loneliest Vampire, and Fire & Ice.
Set against the backdrop of impending war, Blood & Ash sees the thousand-year-old vampire Azrael enter the fae Realm as guardian to Ash, the fairy prince. Overprotected his whole life by his father and older brother, Ash’s world is turned upside down when he finds himself falling for the enigmatic vampire. But Azrael’s got his own demons, not least the memory of the lover he lost when he was newly-Turned. He’ll fight his feelings all the way, but with Ash around, that’s easier said than done.
Writing Blood & Ash, I got to wondering what it must be like to have lived for a thousand years. Azrael has seen the world change so many times: how does that kind of longevity affect personality? How jaded must you become? What is it about a naïve teenager that could capture the heart of someone like that?
Ash has all the fire and passion of youth; the absolute certainty that he knows what is right and the faith that the rest of the world will understand. He has an idealist’s intolerance of injustice and isn’t afraid to speak out when he sees people being wronged. He doesn’t shy away from putting himself at risk to do the right thing, but his moral certainty is pushed to the limit when he discovers in Fire & Ice that homosex is forbidden in the Realm, and that the penalty is death.
Yeah, I went there. This is not one of those fantasy stories where it seems like every character is gay and no-one has a problem with it. What can I say, I’m a gay gal with a Master’s in Queer Theory and a background of working with outreach projects for gay youths. The ongoing struggle for queer emancipation is an important part of our history and culture and I think to fail to reference that – even in fiction – is to do our community a disservice. This is not, however, a story of politics. The gay rights movement was founded and is fought in the belief that we deserve the right to be free to love who we want, how we want, without fear of persecution or prejudice. It is a fight fought for love, and it is for the love of Azrael that Ash rails against a law that denies their relationship. One way or another, he vows to change it.
In Fenton: the Loneliest Vampire, a short spin-off, I introduce another character to the series, one who is a little bit different because vampires are not all about the sex. At least, I didn’t want mine to be. Fenton is the antithesis of all the usual vampire tropes: he’s asexual. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love. Born different and outcast all his life, Fenton is surrounded by people who don’t understand him. All he wants is a companion, someone to call his own. Skye, the elder fae prince, seems to Fenton like the perfect man. If he can just be near him, just be friends with him, he’ll never ask for anything more; Skye never has to know how he truly feels.
Skye has devoted his life to his duty: being a prince, commanding the warriors, and keeping his younger brother safe has left him with little time for himself. Everyone expects something from him. All he’s ever wanted is for someone to care about him for who – and not what – he is. When his best friend is forced to confess the depth of his feelings, Skye admits there’s something infinitely attractive about the arrangement Fenton can offer. Skye’s straight, so it’s not like either of them would want a sexual relationship. But perhaps Skye underestimates his own desires, and perhaps love alone will never be quite enough. Theirs is a story of two men struggling to find a way to build a life together against all the odds, and it culminates in a dramatic and tragic climax at the close of Fire & Ice.
This summer will see the release of the third novel in the Lost Realm series. After a number of skirmishes across Blood & Ash and Fire & Ice, war has finally come to the Realm. Fae, witches and vampires will enter battle – but who is on what side? And who is leading the opposing armies? There’s good and bad in all camps, and with the old king slowly dying, control of the entire Realm is there for the taking. After that I’m also releasing another spin-off, Fenton’s Absolution, where perhaps the loneliest vampire will finally get the ending that he deserves.
Excerpt – Fire & Ice
Ash sat, unmoving, his gaze fixed steadily on the dying fire, feeling the intensity of those calculating black eyes on his body. Small sparks rose and eddied in the down draught from the open chimney, the occasional stray snowflake hissing as it melted on the hot embers. Slowly the fire smouldered, the whitened logs sinking into themselves, a tracery of red ever-shifting at their edges, betraying their molten cores. Ash’s breath left him in small plumes, visible again as the cold descended. The shadows that had prowled around him all evening crept closer in the gloom.
He started when he heard the soft click of the latch. Turning swiftly he watched Azrael slope inside, the vampire’s expression anxious. All thought of their quarrel fled, drowned out by the surge of relief he felt at seeing him. Azrael closed the door silently and knelt before him, gathering him in his arms, bloody tears tracking down his face. Ash felt the warmth of him, the heat of his body as it flowed into his cold and stiffened limbs, and answered with a flush of his own, a fiery dart that surged from his chest, into the vampire’s, scalding them both. The shadows retreated, snarling.
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