First off, thanks to January for having me. We have been brought together through our mutual love of Dynasty, among other things. I was tempted to just post YouTube videos of classic Alexis and Krystle catfights, or maybe some nice pictures of Dex Dexter or Adam Carrington, but that seemed a little counterproductive from a marketing perspective.

So, where do I start? I write romance novels. Or maybe I don’t. I think I do. But I’ve been told they’re more than that.

Maybe I should explain…

I’ve got a genre-crossing series. The first book came out in March and is free right now since the second book released today (links at the end of my post). They’re a mishmash of sorts, and straddle any number of categories and types of fiction. So let’s start at the beginning.

Dissident, the first installment in a planned six part series, is told in a non-linear fashion. Set against the backdrop of a pseudo-totalitarian America, it begins with a prologue designed to punch you in the gut. Our heroine, Caroline, is running away from government goons with her husband, Jack. It’s cold and snowy and downright awful, and Caroline is seriously injured. She collapses in the forest and forces Jack to make one of the most difficult decisions of his life: leave her behind and get to somewhere safe, so that the information they have on the corruption in Washington can be shared with others.

Thus, our story begins. Caroline is now in a government hospital, wanted for questioning as a political dissident. Still seriously injured, she is in a medically-induced coma, oblivious to the decisions that govern her fate. We learn about her life through her dreams, told in flashback. Of how she met Jack, of her children, of her friends. When our flashbacks first begin, Caroline and Jack are both members of Congress on opposite sides of the aisle. Caroline has said some none too charitable things about Jack during the last election cycle. She makes her apologies at a New Year’s Eve party, and a friendship and more is born. But all is not happy in Caroline’s past. The book ends on what has been described as a dirty little cliffy, because I’m a mean author.

So that leads us to part two, Conscience. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but Caroline remains In Great Peril as the book begins. It is again told in a non-linear fashion, though we are given more information about how the United States has turned into a repressive regime. We learn more about Caroline’s marriage to Jack, her relationships with her friends, the decisions that led her to become one of the leaders of a growing rebellion. But there is darkness in this book. Though it is fairly categorized as a blend of political fiction and erotic romance/thriller, it’s also been described as brutally dark, clever, vicious, psychotic, and mindblowing. By the end of the book, you’ll have some of the answers you want, but will probably have just as many questions (if not more) than when you started. (See: previous reference to being a mean author.)

While almost all of the books in the series are nearing completion, they again are hard to categorize. Each one can conceivably fit into a different category, whether it’s action and adventure, contemporary romance, speculative fiction, or the like. They all end in cliffhangers but each installment has its own distinct story arc, and they all contain flashbacks (though those taper off in the second half of the series). They’ll probably cause you to do more thinking than you might want to do about where the country is going and how conceivable it would be for my fictional world to occur in reality. But this series is, at its heart, an epic love story between our two main characters.

I had several themes in the back of my mind while developing this series. There are a ton of dystopian books out there. I’ve read many of them, both YA and adult, since I love speculative fiction almost as much as I love romance. Many dystopian books give little to no explanation of how societies arrived at such a dark place. Maybe there was a war, or a famine, or something else, but most of them take place years after the critical event that changed their society. I wanted to write a series about how a perceived dystopia came to be, and how it might be stopped before things went too far.

My books aren’t exactly heavy on the details, but that’s by design. I give away bits and pieces of how the regime came into power, but I do not dwell on it. The United States has a political system brilliantly designed to stand the test of time. But its beauty is also its weakness. What would it take to send it all crashing down, particularly in an age of apathy and disconnect? If nothing else, I hope I’ve given people something to think about, and that these characters and this plotline have given them a reason to question their own perception of things.

The second theme is no less complicated. Jack and Caroline have tremendous privilege. They have wealth, power, and education, and are relatively well-regarded by the public. Facing increasing political and economic pressure, they could have cut ties. Jumped ship. Skipped town and ridden off into the sunset with their family and friends. But they didn’t. What would it take for someone who had that kind of advantage to be willing to give it up for the greater good, to sacrifice for others, when it would be so easy to save your own skin? And how do you deal with the aftermath of your sacrifice? These issues come into play in future installments in the series, as it evolves from one with political overtones into a story arc that focuses on relationships, love, and ultimately, triumph.

Even though I touch upon some heavy issues, the books are not meant to be overly political. They’re not designed to lecture or sway. They’re not literary fiction. They’re simply there to tell a damn good love story. Each book may leave readers with more questions than answers, but I hope that’s part of the appeal of the series. You have to pay attention to the little things that might become more significant later. And even if the answers are elusive, you’ll still get a captivating romance and a happily ever after.

Above all, the overriding message is one of love and passion, of hope and faith, and of desire and determination. And I hope readers will enjoy the ride.

Free links for Dissident:

Buy links for Conscience:

Goodreads links:

Catch up with me on social media!

Twitter: @authorclondon




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©January Gray and January Gray Reviews, 2016.
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