Series Tour ~ The Valence Chronicles Series by D’Arcy Arden (Interview + Excerpt)

SERIES TOUR – THE VALENCE CHRONICLES

BOOK 1

Book Title: The Fourth State of Matter

Author: D’Arcy Arden

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Cover Artist: Jennifer Greeff

Length: 87 000 words / 349 pages

Release Date: May 31, 2021

Genres: Sci-fi, M/M Romance, Menage, Space Opera, Aliens

Tropes: Class divide, Fast burn, Scifi spaceship adventure

Themes: Rebellion, Freedom, Personal discovery

It is not a standalone story, but does not end on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads

 

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N

 

Space is cold, the sex it hot, and the rebellion is right on target.

 

Blurb

Earth is dead. Humanity survives by selling the only resource available—themselves. 2689 has signed away his rights as a living being and become décor, living artwork that rich aliens use to decorate their homes. It’s a stable existence but a boring one. Until one day his owner plays host to three unexpected guests. Large, loud, and more potent than anything 2689 has ever experienced, this trio of ship-dwellers from the wrong side of the universe awakens a desire he can’t ignore.

However, blissful days of sex and companionship with Brog, Desmodian, and Xavis come to an end when 2689 discovers a plot that could land the trio in jail…or worse. 2689 will have to make a choice—stay silent and allow three innocent lives to be ruined or give up his stable life to protect the ones he loves.

Excerpt

Pet fumbled his drink, creating a clink of glass against glass and spilling pink droplets onto the table’s surface. He had encountered Décor Preservation Services once before, at his first auction, when they evaluated his quality and determined what price to charge his buyers.

“And what does DPS want with us?”

Desmodian sounded too calm, considering the tremor Pet felt running through the hand on his head.

Vige scoffed. “Really? A trio of dirty ship-dwellers running around with one of their precious décor, and you don’t think they’re going to intervene?”

“We’ve done nothing wrong.” Xavis ruffled his feathers again, filling what little space remained in their alcove. “Pet was transferred to us legally. Anyone can check the license.”

In a different situation, Pet would have stroked the feathers back down, but he was too scared to do more than stare dumbly from person to person.

 

BOOK 2

Book Title: The Use of Heavy Water

Author: D’Arcy Arden

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Cover Artist: Jennifer Greeff

Length: 89 000 words / 360 pages

Release Date: October 12, 2022

Genres: Sci-fi, M/M Romance, Menage, Space Opera, Aliens

Tropes: Beach vacation, the past returning, capture, rescue / escape

Themes: Relationships, betrayal, deception, personal strength, communication

It is not a standalone story, but does not end on a cliffhanger.

The books are best read in order.

Goodreads

 

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N

 

 

Blurb

Décor don’t usually go on vacation, but after their adventure in the Iota Cloud, Pet is looking forward to a week of relaxation on the planet Syzygy, an ideal vacation spot for aliens from all corners of the galaxy.

The fancy resort they’ve chosen isn’t welcoming to ship-dwellers, but defying societal expectations has always been a favorite pastime for Desmodian, Brog, and Xavis.

However, a divide is sparked in the trio when shadows from Brog’s past make an unexpected appearance. Distracted by their conflict, the three are left vulnerable to an enemy who knows their weaknesses.

The trio can’t save Pet this time. It’s up to him to rescue the ones he loves and return them all to their true home among the stars. If he fails, their freedom and maybe even their lives will be forfeit.

 

Excerpt

Desmodian turned sharply back to Brog. His hand, which had been holding the card, opened and closed as if confused about its sudden emptiness. “What? You’re keeping it?”

One of Brog’s hands held the card, and another gripped Desmodian. That still left two arms free to cross over his chest in a challenging posture. “Maybe. No reason not to.”

Desmodian gaped. “No reason…after what that man did to you. There’s every reason to avoid him.”

The pair stared each other down, Brog with one set of eyes and Desmodian with his whole body.

Pet’s foot slipped over wet rock, and he nearly tumbled off the island. He had seen these emotions on his trio before, but rarely directed at each other. On the rare occasion they fought, it usually ended as quickly as it started. He hoped this time would be the same.

Xavis approached the argument with both wings outstretched. “Hey, guys, calm down. This isn’t worth fighting over.”

Brog let go of Desmodian, practically throwing his hand away. “If he thinks he can make decisions for me, then we got somethin’ to fight over.”

Desmodian’s hammer planted in the sand again, hard enough to sink several inches. “It shouldn’t even be a decision. It should be common sense. Yaivin Vels is the reason you ended up arrested and in Unit 22 in the first place. You shouldn’t want anything to do with him.”

 

The prized possession you value above all others…

My collection of stationary. I have an extensive collection of fancy notebooks. Part of my writing process is that I like to handwrite whenever I can. When I fill up a notebook I add it to a special shelf on my bookcase. It’s like a display of all the hard work I’ve put into writing over the years, bound up in pretty covers.

The book that holds everlasting resonance…

There are two books that I come back to over and over. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley is one of my favorites. I’ve read it several times, and I’ll probably read it several more. I took a lot of inspiration from this book in the way it presents its subject. Thanial is the perspective character, but a lot of the story is about his observations of the character Mori. In the same way, Pet is the main perspective character of my story, but there is a heavy focus on his observations of the trio.

I also love the Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling. The first three books of the series are my favorite, and I’ve read those more than the others, but I’ve read the whole series several times. I adore the two main characters and how they play off each other. They have a good balance of being very opposite in personality, but their core values match when it comes to the things that really matter. Also, it’s refreshing to read a story where the relationship drama doesn’t get in the way of the story. Even when the two characters disagree about something, they still have each other’s backs. They can set their personal problems aside to deal with bigger issues, and then come back to those personal problems later when it’s appropriate to do so.  

The film you can watch time and time again…

There are two films that fit this category, depending on what mood I’m in. If I want a movie with an actual plot, then Pan’s Labyrinth. I live the cinematography, the characters, and I especially love Ofelia’s journey. She had to prove herself worthy of being a princess, but instead of typical feminine qualities, she instead proves herself by crawling around in the mud, outthinking her opponents, and facing off against monsters.

The other movie that I enjoy watching is Fantasia. This movie doesn’t have a plot. It’s about pure artistic expression, and the relationship between music and visuals. So if I’m not looking for an actual story, and I’m just in a creative mood, this is my go-to movie.   

The unlikely interest that engages your curiosity…

I’ve recently started competitive weightlifting. Working out and weightlifting is something I’ve always done. My dad first started taking me to the gym with him when I was four years old. However, working out was something I did mostly for myself and the health benefits. It’s only recently that I started wondering if I could actually compete in weightlifting. 

After some research, I found that I wasn’t quite up to competition standard, but I wasn’t that far away. I’ve spent the last few months training to get myself up to competitive standard, and now I’m lifting heavier weight than ever before. My first competition is coming up soon, so wish me luck!

The event that altered the course of your life…

While I’ve enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember, I didn’t seriously consider becoming an author until I took my first fiction writing course in college. I enjoyed the class so much that I decided to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in English, followed by a Master’s degree specializing in fiction writing.

However, this Master’s degree nearly ended my writing career.

For three years I dedicated myself to crafting a story for my Master’s degree project. I took this story through multiple workshop classes where my fellow students critiqued my work and helped me refine my ideas. These were the same students I’d studied with through the years of my Bachelor’s degree, so we were very familiar with each other’s work by then. Most people seemed to like this story, and many even said it was my “best work yet.” I even had a personal advisor who helped me put it together and polish it until it was ready for review.

After three years of hard work, I was confident in the quality of my work. All I had to do was present it to the review committee, comprised of the same teachers who had helped me put it together.

What could possibly go wrong?

It was a shocking blow when my work did not receive the favorable response I expected. For over an hour I had to sit there as my story was picked apart by the very teachers who had helped me put it together, and by the end it was declared “unreadable.”

Luckily, I still managed to graduate. My work met all the technical requirements such as grammar, length, and an understanding of how to manipulate language. Yet, despite having the degree in hand, it still felt like a failure. What was the point of even getting this degree if my work was “unreadable”?

As soon as I graduated, I put that story aside and never picked it up again. 

For now, it still sits untouched.

After that, I did eventually try writing other things, but nothing ever happened with those works and they eventually ended up getting shelved as well.

During this time, I spent a lot of time reading, trying to drown out the doubts in my head with the words of other authors. I was already a fan of gay erotica at the time and picked up several new series in an effort to distract myself. Some of these series still hold a place on my favorites list, but some of them were awful and I couldn’t even finish them. I remember, after reading one particularly disappointing story, thinking to myself “I could write a better book than this.”

That’s when it hit me. Why don’t I try writing a gay erotica story? Even if it never sees the light of day, it’ll at least be something fun to do. My work has already been called “unreadable” and ignored. What have I got to lose?

So, I started crafting my first gay erotica book.

It took a while, and I got to read plenty of erotica books in the name of “research”, but eventually I completed the first book of The Valence Chronicles. I love these characters and this world, and I almost didn’t want to send it anywhere for fear of them being rejected.

This time I didn’t take it to any pitch conferences or workshops. I just sent it to a publisher and hoped for the best but tried not to have any expectations. I actually picked The Wild Rose Press partly because of the name. Roses have always been a lucky symbol for me, I even have a rose tattoo on my arm, so I took it as a sign from the universe pointing me in the right direction.

Well, apparently the universe is a much better advisor than any college professor or pitch specialist. My work was almost immediately accepted by The Wild Rose Press, and now the second book of the series has been published as well. It’s so great seeing readers enjoy the characters and the world that I created out of my own imagination. Being published now doesn’t make the rejection I suffered “worth it”. Success in the future does not erase the pain of the past. However, I do think that it made me a stronger writer in the end. If my previous stories had been received differently, then The Valence Chronicles likely wouldn’t exist, and I wouldn’t get to tell the amazing stories I’m putting on paper right now.     

Your early recollections of writing fiction…

I’m not sure what first inspired me. Writing is something that I’ve always been drawn to. As a child, my parents read stories to me every night before bed, fostering my love of literature. I remember, when I was first learning to write and had just started composing full sentences, I asked my parents for a notebook. There was something very satisfying about filling the lines on an empty page with words. That first notebook ended up being a place I dumped all kinds of rambling thoughts and little daydreams. 

Since then, the habit has persisted. I’m rarely without a notebook just in case I’m struck with the urge to write something, even if it’s just a sentence or two. It’ll bounce around in my head, bothering me until I put it on paper.

I guess creating stories out of those rambling thoughts was just the natural progression of things.

The philosophy that underpins your life…

There are two types of things in this world. Things you can control, and things you can’t. If it’s something you can control, then you don’t need to worry since you can control it. If it’s something you can’t control, then you still don’t need to worry because there’s nothing you can do.

The character you enjoyed writing the most…

There is a new character introduced in The Use of Heavy Water (The Valence Chronicles book 2) that I’ve been looking forward to writing ever since I came up with the idea for this series. Bug has a special place in my heart, and I really enjoy writing her. Her species was fun to design, and her bubbly personality always lifts my spirits even when I’m having a bad day.

The character you found difficult to write…

When coming up with the original idea for The Fourth State of Matter, Desmodian was the hardest of the alien trio for me to create. Part of my writing process is that I have to be able to draw the character before I’m able to write about them. Brog and Xavis’s designs came easy, but Desmodian would not cooperate. For example, I had planned to make each of the trio a primary color. Brog is blue, Xavis is yellow, and Desmodian was supposed to be red. Yet, no matter how I drew him, red never looked right. He insisted on being green, so green is how he ended up.

This means I had to work backwards with his character. Instead of coming up with a backstory for him and then designing a character that fits the backstory, I was forced to draw him first and then come up with a backstory for the design.

And the promo…

I’ve had the idea for décor (a person who is also a piece of artwork) for a while. I wanted to write a story that explored the concept of autonomy and what it means to be a person. Then, when I decided to make it an erotica, I found that this concept went hand in hand with a story about a character discovering their sexuality and rebelling against taboos.

Once I had the concept pinned down, then it was time to create the actual characters. The alien trio in The Valence Chronicles, are partially inspired by the first three states of matter. Desmodian is solid, Brog is liquid, and Xavis is gas. Then the main character, 2689/Pet is the fourth state (plasma). This connection to different states of matter is meant as a symbolic representation of how each character interacts with the world around them.

This connection between the characters and the states of matter can be seen in the book titles. The first book in the series, The Fourth State of Matter, literally refers to the plasma cloud that the characters end up traveling to, where the climactic final takes place. However, it also symbolically represents Pet. This is primarily a story about Pet beginning his discovery of himself as a person, and becoming the fourth member of this poly relationship.

The second book in the series, The Use of Heavy Water, literally refers to the heavy water that gets used for a crucial event in the story. However, on a symbolic level, it also represents Brog (one of the alien trio) who is the emotional focus of this story.

Along with the states of matter, there is another inspiration that shaped the trio into who they are now. Creating these three was an interesting process, that did not go according to plan. Originally, I intended to write a story about a human character that gets into a relationship with only two aliens instead of three. However, this changed when I was trying to draw the aliens. I had an idea to create alien characters that were partially inspired by mythical creatures. This would give them a sense of mystery and make them seem “larger than life”. Brog is my version of a reimagined mermaid, only instead of a delicate fish-girl, he’s a powerful shark-man. His design came easily, and I could immediately see a backstory for the character on the page.  

Then I created a second alien that was a counterpoint to Brog. So, I drew Xavis, whose design is partially inspired by a phoenix. I liked the contrast between an aquatic species and a winged, bird-like species. Yet, it didn’t quite look right. Something felt off. So, I set Xavis aside and tried something new. This time I used a dragon as inspiration and came up with Desmodian. This also provided a good contrast alongside Brog, with a sort of “land and sea” vibe, yet it still didn’t look right. 

It was only when I had all three characters on the page, trying to decide which to use, that I realized they looked best altogether. So, the duo became a trio, and the story was altered to fit this change.

I hope that people will love the world I am building, along with the people in it. I’ve tried to make a diverse cast of alien species and environments that feel real without getting bogged down by too many technical details.

And the sex scenes, of course. I definitely hope people enjoy those as well.

Thank you.

 

 

About the Author

D’Arcy Arden grew up in Akron, Ohio, where she attended creative art schools and was surrounded by beautiful country landscape. This combination cultivated an interest in literature, art, and the natural world around her. In college, she earned a Masters Degree in Fiction Writing, which primarily taught her that there is no one way to tell a good story. So, she turned around and went back for a degree in Animation as well. This love for both visual and written stories has given her a preference for stories that are memorable, easy to picture, and, most importantly, fun.

That was her main goal when she started writing The Fourth State of Matter—to provide readers with a fun story featuring the three S’s. Science, sex, and spaceships. It is her first published novel, but only the beginning of a great adventure.

 

 

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