FAQs for the Aisling series

 

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If you've read/have questions about the Aisling series, maybe this will help you understand something that didn't make sense to you, and if you haven't, maybe it'll help you decide whether or not to give it a try. Either way, fair warning that the answers will be riddled with spoilers, so read on at your own risk. ;)

 

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1. Is Aisling a Romance?

No. Absolutely not. While it does contain a love story entwined with the plot, if you enter into this series with Romance expectations you will be disappointed. From what I gather, very disappointed. This is a character-driven Fantasy series, so the emphasis is on the growth and development of the characters, with complex plots and subplots in an original and multifaceted world. The love story often takes a backseat to any one of these elements, sometimes put on hold entirely. So if Romance is what you're after, you'd do best to not pick this one up.

2. Cliffhangers? Really?

Well, again, it's a Fantasy series. It's what Fantasy series do. Quite frankly, I'd suggest that anyone who's read broadly in the Fantasy genre knows how easily this series lets the reader off in terms of "OMG, you can't leave me there!" (Tolkien, anyone? Martin? Butcher? I could go on.)

More practically speaking, this series was written as one book and was too big to print as one. It may seem like a money-grab, or some kind of scam, but it's really because small presses can generally only justify a word count of about 150K or less for a publication to be cost-effective for them. This story clocked in at around 350K total, so it was necessary to break it up to make publication even a little bit profitable for the publisher.

3. Why do the characters have to talk so much?

Because it's what people do? I've never been of the belief that only car chases and space battles are what make for an eventful story, and I write what I like to read. Verbal confrontations and revelations through dialogue—whether inside a character's head or outside of it—are often much more important than who's shooting at whom, and tell a reader a lot more of what they need to know. This is a character-driven series, so the characters and what they think/say/do are what's important. I never billed this series as Action-Adventure, and I don't pretend it's everyone's cup of tea, so if wall-to-wall physical action is what you're after, it's probably not yours either.

4. There are so many things in the series you never explained!

There really aren't. It is a rather sprawling story, so I can understand why some breadcrumbs provided along the way might have been forgotten or just not noticed. But I promise, every single question you may have is answered somewhere in the narrative. Maybe not where you wanted it to be, but where it needed to be. I provided a glossary under duress, because I was very careful to make sure each term I used was explained and defined as a natural part of the exposition, and I didn't think a glossary was necessary. But every single term is already explained pretty much as soon as it's used, so if you're paying attention, you won't even need it.

The same applies to plots points and subplots. Every surprise! you didn't see coming was built up to using established groundwork, and in some cases actually signaled in some way beforehand, and then revealed, clarified, and used within the rules built into this world. So if you didn't understand something, or felt like a point was lacking an explanation... I dunno, maybe try a re-read? It's there, I promise. Or just ask me. My memory kinda sucks, and I wrote this story decades ago, but chances are I'll at least know where to start looking.

5. These characters aren't gay enough.

Yes, this was an actual complaint by someone who is really supposed to know better. So let me explain this slowly and clearly.

There is no such thing as "gay" in this world, or really any world I've thus far written. Why? Because the worlds I write are not our world. The histories are different, the societal evolutions are different, the cultures did not rise beneath the yokes of the same oppressions.

I did not drag all of our prejudices into the world of Aisling because it's not Earth, so why would it have the same history and biases we do? There is no "gay" in this series, because the concept doesn't exist. Sexuality is not something the people of this world spend a lot of time agonizing and judging over. Why would it be? If you trundle all your own expectations into a spec fic story, you might as well not be reading spec fic. The whole point of speculative fiction is the speculative part, to push envelopes and challenge boundaries. So why would I write a world exactly like ours in all its mundane judgmental glory?

Part of what I like about writing spec fic with nonheteronormative relationships is that it allows me to imagine worlds and cultures that rose without our own puritanical views about sex and sexuality. Which, by the way, also often means the women in my stories are on unquestioned equal footing with the men, because these societies don't base their laws and prejudices on sex/gender. Which also means these societies never came up with the concept of "gay" because there was no need. They never oppressed anyone based on who they slept with because that's how it should be, how it would've been in our own world had we not suffered the rise of priggish old men who fear vaginas or sex in any form they can't control. In other words, in the worlds I write, no one cares enough about who's sleeping with whom to start being a dick about it. That's how I think our world should be, so that's generally how I write my invented worlds.

Think about it this way: in our world, bisexuality is more common than most people think. Many who are bi or even pan don't know it because our society taught them young that those things are not the "norm" and are somehow bad, so they've learned to suppress even a hint of anything outside of heterosexuality. If our cultural norms weren't so stringent about categorizing the "proper" sexuality for the "proper" genders, you would have a world more like Aisling, where people are simply attracted to people, and the plumbing is secondary.

So if you're heavily attached to your expectations based in this world, I suggest you look elsewhere for your reading pleasure. And seriously, stay away from spec fic in general. Speculative concepts are obviously not for you, and we wouldn't want your brittle little head exploding.

(That was mean. Was that mean? I don't care. I can take just about any critique and keep my mouth shut about it, but when it's basically along the lines of "these guys aren't gay enough" I don't feel like I should have to keep quiet. The attitude is offensive in more ways than I can count, and the ignorance behind it just infuriates me. So I was mean. It's deserved.)

6. You used anachronisms!

No, I didn't. I maybe used something you thought was an anachronism, but there is no such thing as true anachronism in spec fic, since we're dealing with an invented world. And alsono, I didn't. I made up the world. I get to say what fits it and what doesn't.

No, it's not Earth. No, our rules don't apply. The only rules I must follow as an author are the rules of the world I'm writing. I've done that.

Please be careful about getting "knocked out of" any spec fic story by what you perceive to be an anachronism. Chances are the author was very vigilant about the terms they used, and probably knows more about them than you're giving them credit for. No author is perfect, and mistakes are sometimes made that slip past even the best editors, but most authors have researched their worlds thoroughly enough that the terms they use are terms that apply correctly to the world they've created. Try to trust the author until they somehow prove you can't.

7. The story ends on a beginning, so does that mean there will be another book?

Sorry, but no. The story ends on a beginning because that's how life works. A story never truly ends unless the world blows up or all the characters die. Wil and Dallin will go on and have their adventures and their joys and their heartbreaks, but I will not be writing them. If it's any consolation, there are a few free side stories, and there may be more of those one day. But the part of their story that I needed to tell is done, so I have no plans for another book in the series. But thanks for being interested in one.  :)

 

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If you have any questions/complaints you'd like addressed, please feel free to contact me and I'll see what I can do. But seriously—try not to yell at me? Like any author, most of the time I hover between the utmost confidence in my work and crushing insecurity, and getting an email or a link to a review that's full of sad-face emojis and angry exclamation points kind of tips the scales. Say anything you want in a review, that's what they're for, and it's been ages since I've ventured to a review site anyway, so I likely won't even see it. But if you're going to actually send me a link to yours, or hunt me down on social media and tag me with it because you disliked the story that much and felt someone needed to suffer along with you? That's kind of a dick move, so.

Anyway, I'm a writer. I promise I already suffer enough.  ;)

 

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