Author Name: Blaine D. Arden
Book Name: A Triad in Three Acts
Series: The Complete Forester Trilogy
Page/Word Count: 95K words, 309 pages
Categories: Fantasy/Paranormal/Sci-Fi, Gay Romance, Menage/Poly Romance, Mystery & Suspense
Release Date: August 15, 2016
“Your Path is muddy, Kelnaht, but don’t think avoiding the puddles will make it easier to travel.”
Kelnaht, a cloud elf, is a truth seeker caught between love and faith, when a murder reveals an illicit affair between two tree elves he desires more than he can admit. Kelnaht’s former lover Ianys once betrayed him, and the shunned forester Taruif is not allowed to talk to anyone but the guide, their spiritual pathfinder.
The guide mentioned puddles, but I envisioned lakes, deep treacherous lakes, and I was drowning.
Then a stripling goes missing from the tribe, and heavy rainfall hides all traces of his whereabouts. With days creeping by without a lead, it’s hard to keep the tribe’s spirits up, more so when Kelnaht’s own future depends on the elders. Taruif has been shunned for almost twenty turns, but now that a possible forester’s apprentice is coming of age, the elders consider reducing his sentence. Taruif could be set free.
“I have great responsibilities, but my path ahead is as foggy and blurred as the path behind me.”
Later, when several children fall ill with more than a summer bug, truth seeker Kelnaht is assigned to investigate. What he finds is deadly and threatens the life of every underage child in the tribe, including Ianys’ daughter Atèn. Then a wounded traveller is found in the forest, left to die after a vicious attack.
“There is always a way.”
Kelnaht, Taruif, and Ianys are meant to be together, but old promises and the decree of the elders prevent them from claiming each other openly at Solstice. Kelnaht can investigate murder and foul play, but he can’t see how he can keep both his lovers without breaking the rules. But if he believes in the guide’s words and trusts his faith in Ma’terra, they will find a way to clear the fog and puddles from their paths.
Tired as I was after spending all day scouring the clearing for evidence and examining Cyine’s body, I wasn’t to be granted any rest yet. Someone knocked on my door just as I finished washing up and changing my clothes. I regretted opening the door as soon as I saw Ianys standing outside, but managed not to slam it closed.
“What do you want?” I asked, not caring how hostile I sounded.
After all this time, Ianys couldn’t even look at me as he stood there, fidgeting with his tunic, eyes lowered to the ground.
Ianys was as gorgeous as ever. Cropped brown hair, sticking up at all sides as if he had just risen from sleep, that made me want to run my hands… I swallowed and lowered my gaze to his chest. His muscles were visible through his tight tunic. He was a broad tree elf, more muscular than when we had been together, but as a smith that was to be expected; working the bellows was hefty exercise in itself. I pushed down the memory of watching him work when we had been together.
In all the turns since he had left me, betrayed me, he had barely spoken two words to me. Instead, I had to watch from afar as he vowed himself to another, only to lose her to illness after their daughter was born. I could only stand by and watch how hard he worked at being a good father, how he finally became a full-fledged smith. He’d never once approached me, but the hope lingering inside me could never be buried deep enough. How could I still want him? After eight turns, I should know better.
“I don’t have time for this, Ianys. I am tired and I—”
“I need to talk to you.”
“Can’t it wait till morning?”
I had to bite my lip to keep from reacting when he finally looked up. His eyes, green as fresh grass and filled with turmoil, drew me in the way they had always done. I’d loved him once. I shook my head. Who was I fooling? I had never stopped.
Holding the door open, I stepped aside to let him in, staying in the small hallway until I managed to compose myself.
“He didn’t do it, Kel.”
Whatever anyone had or hadn’t done was the furthest thing from my mind when Ianys called me by that name. I clenched my fists and turned my back to him, hoping he couldn’t see how it affected me. “You have no right to call me that.”
A long silence followed. I tried to school my features, but I was too drained. Instead, I kept my back to him and waited for him to break the silence. I heard him sigh.
“I heard they accuse him of killing Cyine, but he didn’t do it,” Ianys finally said.
“Who?” What could Ianys know about the murder?
I froze. My first instinct was to tell Ianys he shouldn’t be saying that name, shouldn’t even think it, but there was something in Ianys’ voice that made me stop. Something of a memory from long ago, when I didn’t know how Ianys had betrayed me, and we lay together in the dark, and he would whisper my name in that same way.
It could not be true. But when I finally turned around and looked at him, it was all too clear in Ianys’ face. The one I loved—had loved—and the one I desired, joined in illicit relations.
I should arrest Ianys, should send him to face the elders and have him punished, shunned, shut out for his transgression. But then I pictured Atèn, his daughter, looking at me with those same green eyes, and I knew I could not rob her of a father as well.
“He didn’t do it, Kelnaht. He couldn’t have done it, for I—”
I shook my head and held my hand up to stop him. “Don’t tell me, Ianys. I beg of you, do not confess to this…this abomination.”
It hurt me to say it, having the same feelings myself, but if he told me, I could not help him. Being caught talking to the forester was bad enough, though I had the right to pardon him for that, a first offence. But confessing to lying with a shunned, that would have to be reported to the elders; it was my duty. I would not be able to save him then.
“He saw someone outside, Kelnaht. He didn’t see Cyine, but he noticed someone out in the dark, in that clearing.” His eyes begged me to understand, begged me to help him, but I was rooted to the floor.
I knew that the forester—I could not allow myself to think of him by name—hadn’t killed Cyine, even if the evidence was still inconclusive. I had no doubt in my mind, no matter how loud Olden proclaimed him guilty. And here Ianys was, confirming my belief in his innocence and giving me the best and worst witness I could ever have. No matter whether I believed Ianys or not, I could never use this information. The forester was out of bounds.
“Kel, please, help us. Help him. I could have been out walking when I stumbled across the clearing. You know I don’t always sleep well.”
I didn’t want him to bring our history up. I didn’t want him to tell me about the forester. I wanted him gone, wanted him to go back to his daughter and go back to not being part of my life. But I found myself unable to turn him out. “You would perjure yourself, would risk losing your daughter?”
“No! No one but you knows the truth.”
I laughed at that, flinching at how harsh it sounded. “I am the truth seeker, Ianys. I seek the truth; I do not bury lies.”
“I was in the forest.”
“But you didn’t see what he saw. One mistake and you will be shunned, just like him.”
Ianys flinched then. He shook his head. “There has to be a way.”
“Get him to talk to the guide.”
“Anything the guide hears during those conversations is confidential. He can’t reveal anything Taruif tells him.”
“Please.” The word left my mouth before I could stop it. I couldn’t handle him speaking that name with such devotion. Not when I ached to be able to myself. “Remember who you are talking to, Ianys. Do not incriminate yourself any further.” I leaned back against the wall, trying to stay upright, and closed my eyes. “Go home, Ianys. I need to… I need to think.”
I swatted away the hand touching my cheek and waited for the door to close. Gasping and fighting back tears, I slid to the floor.
Blaine D. Arden is a purple-haired, forty-something author of queer romance mixed with fantasy, mystery, and magic who sings her way through life in platform boots.
Born and raised in Zutphen, the Netherlands, Blaine spent many hours of her sheltered youth reading, day dreaming, making up stories and acting them out with her Barbies. After seeing the film “An Early Frost” as a teen in the mid-eighties, an idealistic Blaine wanted to do away with the negativity surrounding homosexuality and strove to show the world how beautiful love between men could be. Our difference is our strength, is Blaine’s motto, and her stories are often set in worlds where gender fluidity and sexual diversity are accepted as is.
When not writing or reading, Blaine has singing lessons and hopes to be in a band someday. Supporting Blaine in pursuing her dreams and all matters regarding household, sons, and cairn terrier, is her long-suffering husband for over twenty years.
Blaine is an EPIC Award winning author and has been published by Storm Moon Press, Less Than Three Press, and Wilde City Press. Her scifi romance “Aliens, Smith and Jones” received an Honourable Mention in the Best Gay Sci-Fi/Fantasy category of the Rainbow Awards 2012.
5 Questions with Blaine D. Arden:
1. As an author myself, I know inspiration is everywhere and can strike at the most inopportune moments (like in the shower, when you don’t have anything to write with!). So, what was the inspiration behind A Triad in Three Acts? Well, it started with a slew of Christmas submission calls way back when (2011). A lot of authors were talking about writing them on social media, and I wanted to give it a go as well. Of course, being a fantasy author, I couldn’t quite see myself writing about Christmas itself, so I went with Solstice, and an image popped into my head of a man (Kelnaht) desiring another he sees daily, but is not allowed to talk to because the man is shunned (Taruif). That was my starting point, closely followed by the idea that Kelnaht’s ex (Ianys) was pursuing the same man, and neither Kelnaht nor Ianys seemed to be over each other. And a triad filled with hurdles was born. I never meant for it to become more than that first story (or first act, aka The Forester), but both readers and my then publisher mentioned sequels, and slowly ideas started to form on how I could get my triad their ultimate happy ending. It took quite some time to flesh it all out, but from the moment I decided to write a sequel, I knew it was going to have to be a trilogy.
2. What is your writing process? (i.e. plotter or panster, explain) All over the place is one term for it, but hybrid might be a better one. I started out a pantser, and most of the time I still am one. But, over the last year or so, I’ve learned that plotting can be fun, too. Once I have my basic outline though, I’ll still be winging it through that first draft to get a feel of the world and the characters, because I can’t plot everything. I let it rest for at least a month, and then fix gaps, tie up loose ends, and glue it all together in the editing phase.
3. What is the hardest part of that process for you? Next to actually sitting butt in chair, to not get lost of stuck in the details and allow myself some leeway to veer off course to keep my imagination going. I have a tendency to take plotting guides too seriously, and then spend too much time on fitting my story to a structure, instead of letting the structure support my story, if that makes sense.
I think I’m getting the hang of it, slowly.
4. There’s a big leap a writer takes from putting words down on paper for the love of it and actually publishing those words for public scrutiny. What was that journey like for you? I started writing when I was a young teen. A lot of melodramatic stuff about teenagers in love, basically. My writing, or my active imagination, weren’t exactly encouraged, and my one attempt to send a book off to publishers at the ripe age of eighteen didn’t work out, so it stayed a hobby for most of my life. I wrote many unfinished stories and first chapters, and even wrote fanfic for a while. Then I found NaNoWriMo in 2005.
I was skeptical, at first, but I ended up with half of a story at the end of that first NaNo (that I finished in the following summer holiday), more than I’d ever written in one go. And though I failed miserably the second year, I’ve written one novel a year each November since then. Some not much more than rough drafts, but each brought me a step closer to the writer I am now.
I often thought about the possibility of finding an agent, but being Dutch and writing in English, I never quite knew how to begin. So, it stayed a hobby…until I found the m/m genre online, after I’d bought my first second-hand ereader. A year later, I finally found the courage to send a story to a publisher, barely survived the hellish waiting period, and I think I screamed so loud the whole campsite could hear it when I received the acceptance email (the hubs and I were on holiday at the time).
I’m not going say that the rest is history, because I’ve found that with every story I write (or read, even), with every interaction with other authors, readers, and reviewers, I’m still growing in my writing and learn something new every time. And I’ll still be a nervous wreck the next time I’ll submit (or self-publish) a story.
5. What one piece of advice would you give an aspiring writing considering that leap for themselves?
Just do it. Rejection can be scary as hell, and so is the waiting for an answer, but if you never send your manuscript out, it will never be accepted.