Return to Atsileigh is a spinoff and semi-sequel to my very first gay romance which was also my first bestseller and in many ways changed the course of my writing career. That earlier story was Treading Dangerous Ground and begins with Jase Hightower leading some young troups in an assault on a totally different planet. It ends with his rescue from the Atsileigh debacle, told from the points of view of him and his future partner. At the time I wrote it, I had no idea some fifty or so Deridre O’Dare Amber Allure tales would follow it over the next decade. But follow they did. Cowboy stories, cop stories, doggie stories and some offbeat tales that defy putting into any box at all. It’s been a wild trip but more fun than I would ever have guessed. Being a part of many PAX collections has been especially rewarding as well as an often-needed spur to force me to plant my posterior in the desk chair and my fingers on the keyboard.
Not long after Treading Dangerous Ground was released, the idea for Return to Atsileigh began to nibble around the edges of my mind. At first Floyd was a young woman named Florene but that didn’t work. I’m not sure why. Meanwhile, my muse forged off in many other directions while this next step in a promising story line sat there patiently and waited. I did do another Unifleet tale, Fire on Ice, and even my steam punk/sci fi story Tom Fleet’s Incredible Machine has some links to my ongoing Unifleet epic but Return waited and waited some more.
For this military PAX, I actually intended to write a semi-contemporary story or at the least a nostalgic recent history one. There was Moose and Caboose (nicknames of two boot camp trainees who became unlikely partners) and Rifles and Guns which takes off on a scurrilous Marine Corps story I learned from my former Marine late husband. Nothing worked. Something was telling me that it was time to get Return out of the box under the bed and make it become real. Both those other stories may have to sit and perk for awhile. In time they too will likely be written but for this time, you all get Return to Atsileigh.
There is a third tale starting to nag me a bit too. Maybe we’d like to revisit Jace and Balt, now middle aged, and Floyd, Jamison and Nathan as they all have a chance to wreak revenge on the prejudiced and defiant general who decided to take Atsileigh out without getting proper orders to do so. You think? Don’t hold your breath but it is possible. In fact stranger things have happened—like Return to Atsileigh finally seeing publication and release after about eight years!
My new editor, who is a gem, confessed she loves Native American characters and sees too few of them. They are a favorite of mine as well. I write about the southwest a lot and when I do, the real cultural and ethnic diversity we have in this area often comes to play. I have had many Native American and Latino characters in that batch of stories I mentioned earlier. I’m not sure how Native Americans naturally arrived in a “space opera” kind of story but at least for me it seems to work.
Why not? Life on most reservations is harsh with limited opportunities and many of today’s Native Americans as well as prior generations have found their place in the various branches of the military and done heroic things. So in a few centuries, perhaps they would still find a good outlet for the warrior traditions by signing up with the space forces as a number of planetary folk have formed a union and are bent on claiming new worlds and keeping a conflicting group at bay. Somewhere I found the Hightower dynasty and added to it with Floyd and Nathan in this tale. There may someday be others.
Return to Atsileigh by Deirdre O'Dare is now available at Amber Allure.
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