Monique & Macky Interview Sam McAuley
Monique: Macky and I are thrilled and excited to welcome to Sinfully...Ms Sam McAuley. An author who in our eyes is one of the most underrated and innovative talents in the M/M genre. She is an exceptionally gifted writer and her Borders War series has been an unforgettable and incredibly emotional reading experience, the likes of which will be pretty hard to beat. This series sits proudly at the top of my best ever reads in any genre, mainstream and M/M and I know you feel the same Macky?
Macky: Absolutely Monique! I thank the day you threatened me with loss of life if I didn't get this amazing series read ASAP! Haha...once started, that was it, I was Borders War toast! I can honestly say this was sheer reading perfection. My emotions went into overdrive and there were times when I thought my heart was going to burst out of my chest because I got so immersed and invested in Sam’s phenomenal dystopian saga. I'm still reeling now after my marathon read and just thinking about that last book has me wanting to fill up yet again!
Monique: Welcome to Sinfully Sam…as you know we are huge fans of the Borders War series and could wax lyrical about it for hours, in fact we do! But for someone who hasn’t read the books could you tell us a little about the series and of course our boys without giving too much away?
Sam: Thank you for having me! The Borders War series is a dystopian male/male romance (yes, really there is a romance!) with two soldiers fighting on opposite sides of a global war. Merq Grayson and Armise Darcan are enemies who can’t fight their draw to each other despite the very real threat to their lives if they’re discovered. It takes place 500 years in the future in a harsh time, rife with violence and mistrust. These are two men who have grown up in war, who have been trained and built by their countries to be the best. They are lethal and brutal men. Merq, especially, is emotionally challenged… That’s the kindest I can say of him! But neither of them can anticipate how falling into step with each other will change who they are at their core.
Macky: What prompted you to revise those first three books Sam, especially One Breath One Bullet?
Sam: The first iteration of One Breath, One Bullet was only 2,000 words. It expanded from there to the 30,000 words that was originally published, and when I sent in my final manuscript, my editor at the time asked if I’d thought about making it into a series. Truth be told, I hadn’t thought of it as a full series, but I’d known from those first 2,000 words where and how Merq and Armise would end up. (I can’t write anything without knowing exactly what the end will be.) By the time we decided to go ahead with the full five book series, the first book had already been published, so it had a completely different feel to it than the two that quickly followed. There were 13 years of missing history in Merq and Armise’s journey as well as flashbacks--which I didn’t want to use in any future books--in One Breath, One Bullet. So when the opportunity arose to re-release the first three books I took the plunge and completely re-wrote One Breath, One Bullet to cover those missing 13 years and remove the flashbacks, then re-edit Dominant Predator and Powerless and add Armise POV scenes to the end of all three books.
Macky: So what made you decide to add Armise’s POV end chapters to the series this time around?
Sam: The entire Borders War series is told from Merq’s POV. That was out of absolute necessity because there are so many secrets and hidden agendas, and I didn’t want to give everything away by adding other POVs. But Armise… he just didn’t want to stay silent. I couldn’t get his voice out of my head, even while I was writing Merq’s POV. I always knew what he was thinking and what he was hiding. It was time to share some of that with the reader as well. I toyed briefly with the idea of writing Armise’s POV for the entire series, but couldn’t stomach the thought. Being inside his head for those twenty years would be too heartbreaking.
Monique: It’s definitely a series that challenges us as readers, the intricacies of the plot spread throughout. How did you manage to keep track and plot the story to ensure continuity?
Sam: Copious notes! I used Scrivener, Aeon Timeline, Scapple, paper notebooks and the notes app on my phone to catalog everything. I may have more material outside of the books than what ended up in them. There were only a few points in writing where I was surprised about something that happened on page--the most notable being the first time Armise tells Merq he loves him. That was not supposed to happen at that point! I remember sitting in my car writing and just staring at the screen slack-jawed saying WTF JUST HAPPENED?
Monique: As an author you’ve certainly been fearless and brave to a certain extent, with the path the characters have steered you. I can't tell you how many times I thought “WTF! She didn’t just go there”. But you did and made it work! Was it hard for you to take the story in such an unconventional and often difficult direction?
Sam: To be brutally honest, no. There was no other way with their story. Their world is a dark place, far removed from how we live now. The world hasn’t known peace in over 300 years when they come along. And Merq and Armise haven’t just been raised in this world, they’ve been raised as killers. They’ve relied on emotional detachment in order to be the best at what they do. For Merq, love is an absurd notion. For Armise, his memories of home and family give him a slightly different view of what’s possible, even if it’s not probable. They’ve had to fight for everything else in their lives, and their fight for peace is the greatest challenge they will ever face.
Monique: Most times I can say that I tend to gravitate emotionally to one character more than the other, but with Merq and Armise, I can honestly say I love them both equally. With many of the secondary characters also holding a place in my heart. Do you have a favourite character from the series?
Sam: I do :) Merq and Armise will always own a huge part of my heart--Merq for his strength and his growth, Armise for his patience and his forgiveness in the face of violence. But Ricor Simion is a character that I didn’t expect to connect with, let alone grow to love more than any of the others. There is so much the readers of The Borders War don’t know about Simion.
Macky: It’s a hugely emotional read, so writing it must have been an intense and pretty overwhelming experience. Did you cry as much writing it, as we did reading it? We both sobbed like babies!
Sam: I’m so sorry! Okay, sort of sorry :) Powerless was the most emotional writing experience for me. But that was mostly because of my own personal challenges that I faced while writing that book. I grieved with Merq. I was just as unsettled as Merq. It was extraordinarily challenging. As for the last two books, I can’t count how many times I messaged one of my beta readers saying “I just made it worse!” and she would message me back “FIX IT!” which I’d always respond “I’M TRYING!” I really can’t tell you how many times that conversation was repeated over the course of writing Falling, One by One and Strength of the Rising Sun. I don’t think I took a full breath until I hit the end on Strength of the Rising Sun.
Macky: Was there ever a time you waivered about how you were going to end Merq and Armise’s journey?
Sam: Not one bit. The ending of Strength of the Rising Sun is exactly how and where I saw them after that first 2,000 word version of One Breath, One Bullet. Getting them to that point was the real journey.
Macky: You hint at the end of Strength of the Rising Sun that this isn't the end of the Borders War Universe. I suppose the question on everyone’s lips, who loves this series is...what’s next?
Sam: I have titles and plots for at least two, maybe three, books that involve side characters from Merq and Armise’s story arc. I won’t spoil the ending by saying who or what those books entail, but I hope to put those stories on paper one day. As for Merq and Armise… they’re still talking to me. Their story is complete--I won’t hedge around that or break that covenant with them in any way--but that doesn’t mean you’ve heard the last of them either.
Monique: Thank you so much Sam for stopping by today, it has been a pleasure to have you with us.
Sam: Thank you for having me.
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Macky: Psst… go buy the books… you won’t be sorry.
Strength of the Rising Sun (The Borders War #5)
Publisher ~ Pride Publishing
Published ~ 26th January 2016
Genre ~ Dystopian, Science Fiction, Action/Thriller, M/M Romance
Merq’s always known there’s only one way Armise and he can end.
The Opposition is losing—both the war and the fight for citizen support—and the Revolution’s victory appears certain. Despite that success, Merq knows his leaders won’t let two of their greatest assets simply walk away. But with Armise fighting for his life, getting out becomes Merq’s primary objective.
Almost two decades of selfishness can’t be alleviated with one right decision, and Merq is faced with the reality of how deeply he has wounded Armise in ways that cannot be seen from the outside. Merq’s world has been upended more times than he can count and he’s always survived, but life without Armise is no longer an option. He just has to prove that to Armise.
Merq believes there are few who are strong enough to challenge them when they stand together. But when the secret Armise has been protecting Merq from is revealed, the truth has consequences neither of them can prepare for.
Reader Advisory: This book contains graphic violence, mention of torture and genetic experimentation.
::: MACKY’S REVIEW :::
Meet Sam McAuley
Sam sleeps little, reads a lot. Happiest in a foreign country. Twitchy when not mentally in motion. Send her a picture and a song and she's bound to write a story about it. And yes, that's an invitation.
Sam is gifting to one lucky reader a $25 Amazon Gift Card. All you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.