Whether you're an author starting out or multi-published, marketing your brand and your books is a challenge. Kayelle Allen has been a shining light offering information and opportunities to everyone (and not only romance auhors). Stop by Marketing for Romance Writers and see what I mean. She's also a damn good author. World building is hard enough but alien world building... I wouldn't know where to start. Please give a warm Books, Chocolate and Wine welcome to Kayelle Allen. How does she do it?Kayelle, how difficult is it to write an alien hero?
Writing an alien hero, or in the case of Senth Antonello, a half-alien, half-human one, presented three unique issues for me as an author.
One, I had to create the alien world that he hailed from.
In creating the Kin, a feline-humanoid race, I needed to understand the culture, the physicality and nature of the Kin, their society, and even a smattering of their language, Felis. Not one to do things halfway, I spent lunch hours poring over manuals about language, learning how other fictional languages were created, and jotting down words I thought would be essential for the story. I eventually amassed almost forty pages of words and their definitions. I used only a handful, but in writing a lexicon, I learned a great deal about the people of the language. A blend of Cherokee (the Iroquoian language Tsalagi), French, and Latin, it had a breathy sound, and was spoken with great slowness. The fanged Kin had no letter B, and were never in a hurry to communicate.
Slowness and deliberation did not hold true for Etymis, the language of the Tarthian Empire. As a teenager, Senth longed to get in touch with his roots, and as a form of rebellion against the strict upbringing of his father, began using Felis every chance he got. That, of course, did not go over well with dear old dad.
Two, I had to create the human world that he lived in.
The world of Senth's human father, Luc Saint-Cyr, was nothing like the backward and rural Kin homeworld. Kelthia, one of the thirteen original planets in the Tarthian Empire, was second only to the capitol in wealth and influence. In the current twenty-two world empire, it was known as the home of the Thieves' Guild, a powerful union ruled by humans. Or so the guild would like everyone to believe. Without revealing secrets, I will only say that what goes on in the guild stays in the guild, and anyone revealing secrets has a tendency to disappear.
As the adopted son of the former head of the Guild, Senth led a life of privilege, but he earned his keep like any other thief. To make sure I knew how the guild worked, I designated the 48 levels within it, wrote the basic by-laws, and peopled it with a few key support staffers who interacted with Senth.
Also within the empire, a group of immortals worked in the background, steering mankind in the directions they wanted humans to go. When Senth is hired to steal back something one of these hidden immortals has taken, the veils between the various levels of secrets begin to unravel.
When your father holds one of the most vital positions in society, and has trained you to be a consummate thief, any mission you undertake is fraught with danger on all sides. And the one Senth accepts at the beginning of At the Mercy of Her Pleasure has danger in aces.
Three, I had to show why those two cultures didn't jive.
Because Senth had been born as a half-breed, one of the first ever seen on the planet, he was immediately outcast and abandoned. Rescued, and then later adopted, Senth was raised by a single human father.
When two cultures collide, there is always conflict. But in the case of the Kin, there was a greater sense of conflict than usual. Females rule the Kin homeworld, and males are chattel. In the Tarthian Empire, the genders are equal. There is race called the Chiasmii, which have fluid genders and change back and forth, even becoming asexual at times. The society Senth grew up in is wide open and offers many freedoms. The one in which his unknown Kin father was born does not.
For Senth to ring true, I needed to show him trying to adapt to his "birth" culture, which to his regret, continued to reject him. At the same time, he did not fully fit into the culture where he'd been raised. He was outcast on both sides.
When Senth accepts a mission to help NarrAy Jorlan retrieve a stolen item, he meets a woman who is every bit as much an outcast as he. NarrAy, a Better, is an enhanced human with addictive pheromones. As the empire is beginning to discover, Betters can be dangerous, and working with her puts Senth at considerable risk.
Why would his overprotective father not only allow him to take on this mission, but even offer to buy and free the slave Senth had recently discovered is his human half-brother? There must be more to the mission than anyone lets on. Senth knows it. NarrAy knows it. Surely, Senth's father knows it. But who is pulling the invisible strings?
I hope you delve into this fun story and discover the Tarthian Empire for yourself. At the Mercy of Her Pleasure was my first of fifteen books, and it was first published as an erotic romance. When I re-obtained the rights from the publisher, I rewrote it as a sweet romance with no on-page sex. The sequel, about Senth's brother Khyff, is For Women Only. Senth had no idea he had an older, human brother until adulthood. Khyff was told his infant brother was dead. By joining my Romance Lives Forever Reader Group you get a copy of Bro, the story of how the Antonello brothers finally met. You'll get another book the next day.
He's a thief. She's a soldier. Do opposites attract? Oh, have mercy!
Hired to steal back a prototype taken by the imperial armada, Senth Antonello retrieves it, but his brother is kidnapped to force Senth to surrender the device. Now he has to rescue his brother, outsmart the armada, and keep the item out of imperial hands. All doable, except for one small problem. He must do it in the company of NarrAy Jorlan, a genetically altered woman whose pheromones could enhance the mission--or crumble it into dust with a single siren kiss.
With a dazzling cast of characters and an action packed plot, Kayelle Allen introduces us to her extraordinary Empire of Tarth and the alluring Antonello Brothers, where everything is possible and the only boundaries are those created by her illimitable imagination. -- Romance Junkies
Overall, I wish I could recommend reading this book, but I must instead recommend reading it twice. The ending is a serious twist that throws everything into a different light. I won’t ruin it by saying any more than that. -- You Gotta Read Reviews
Kayelle Allen delivers a well-plotted story, as always, with fascinating twists you don’t see coming. For those who enjoy Saint-Cyr as much as I do, there’s more than enough of the handsome plotting man to quench your thirst. -- Literary Nymphs
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Excerpt from At the Mercy of Her Pleasure
Deep in the shadows outside a ruined warehouse, Senth Antonello shoved back the hood of his sensor-blocking cloak and fanned himself. The Thieves' Guild tech let him hide from copbot scans, but it didn't cool him. Sweat beaded on his skin. Using his fangs, he unfastened first one glove, then the other, and peeled them off. He tucked them into one of dozens of hidden pockets in the cloak, and wiped his face.
The faint sound of gang chant carried in the chilled night air. Gangs in the Crooktown District hunted mixed breeds like him. At first glance, Senth appeared human, but with his catlike eyes and fangs, no one could miss his Kin nature. In moonlight, his eyes would glow.
The chant grew louder, along with the sound of breaking glass. The deeper darkness that followed meant two things: another streetlight had met its end, and that gang was closer than Senth had thought.
"You come down here, I skin you." Senth flattened himself against the brick wall. "I skin you, the Grand Master skins me. Let's do each other a favor, huh, boys?"
Worse, the Grand Master would inform Senth's Sen'dai. His guild master. The crime lord all the other crime lords feared. The Man. The Harbinger. Luc Saint-Cyr.
The Guild didn't accept non-humans, unless they were enslaved to a human member. No one could rise past level ten, unless related to a human member. Guild-arranged marriages and adoptions happened regularly. To keep the Guild happy, Saint-Cyr was Senth's lord and master and his adoptive father.
No way Senth wanted the Man angry with him. The last time, he'd almost...
Senth shook off the thought, drew his hood forward again, and edged around the corner into a darker alley. "Ffffftt!" The Kin cuss word hissed past his fangs. Where was Khyff? He had to be close. Senth had looked for hours. His HalfKin sense of smell caught a faint whiff of male, mixed with... He took another sniff. Someone--or something--else.
Pressed against the wall, Senth slipped around a corner, and hunkered down. He melted into the concealing darkness behind a barrel, and narrowed night-sensitive eyes.
His human half-brother leaned against the opposite wall of the trash-strewn alley. Khyffen Antonello's blond hair shone in the muted light. A female pinned him, arms around his neck. She tore open Khyff's shirt and ran her hands over his chest.
Senth folded himself into the tight space behind the barrel and settled in to wait. Protection of his brother went before any assignment. Family came first. At least tonight.
Kayelle Allen is a best-selling, award-winning author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.