Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Guest Post: Out of The Ashes by Ari McKay


In their differences, they’ll find strength—and love.

Alpha werewolf Eli Hammond returns from a fishing trip to discover a nasty surprise—five members of his pack murdered and the rest missing. He needs help locating and rescuing his pack mates, but the supernatural council in Asheville, North Carolina, turns him away.

Except for one man.

As they work together, Eli is stunned—and not especially thrilled—to discover half-elf Arden Gilmarin is his destined mate. But as Arden and his friends struggle to help Eli in his quest, Eli surrenders to the demands of his body—and his heart. They’ll need to bond together, because the forces opposing them are stronger and more sinister than anyone predicted. The evil has its sights set on Arden, and if Eli wants to save his mate and the people he is entrusted with protecting, he’s in for the fight of his life.

Hello, everyone! I’m the McKay half of Ari McKay, and I’d like to thank Bayou Book Junkie for giving me the opportunity to stop by during our launch tour for our newest book, Out of the Ashes. It’s book one in our new Asheville Arcana series, and we hope you enjoy it!

For this guest post, we were asked just one question: What is your take on Destined/Fated Mates?

Short answer: we love that trope!

But I’m a writer, so there’s a long answer as well. ;)

Ari and I started writing together back in 2004 thanks to fandom, and as we got to know each other and become friends, we learned that we share a lot of the same tastes. We like a lot of the same types of characters, and we like a lot of the same tropes. One of the themes we return to often is that of “found family,” and the fated mates trope is an extension of that.

I think I speak for both of us when I say there’s something appealing about the idea of finding someone to connect with on a deeper level than anything humans are capable of. So often human relationships are conducted from behind masks and walls, but with a destined mate, you can’t hide. In most versions of this trope, the bond creates a form of psychic connection to whatever degree the author desires.

At a minimum, your heart is laid bare. They see you as you are – and it’s safe because you see and know their true selves as well. You have someone who understands you and really sees you, and they accept you and love you.

Eli and Arden from Out of the Ashes are fated mates, and Eli is not happy about it at first. The timing couldn’t be worse; he returns home to find some of his pack dead and the rest missing, and all he wants to focus on is figuring out what happened and where the survivors are. But even if the timing wasn’t all wrong, he always assumed his mate would be a shape-shifter like him. What is he supposed to do with an itty bitty half-elf who looks like he’d break if Eli looked at him the wrong way?

So despite their bond, the path to love isn’t at all smooth for Eli and Arden. And that’s half the fun of writing or reading about fated mates, isn’t it? Sure, the pair could be happy and accepting of an unexpected bond – and we’ve written that scenario in the past – but it’s so much more fun when there’s an obstacle in their way.

Maybe one or the both of them don’t want the bond because they aren’t ready to settle down or it’s bad timing. Maybe they’re in love with someone else. Maybe they don’t like each other.

Maybe they want to be together, but there’s something keeping them apart, like parents, a jealous lover, or outside forces beyond their control.

Maybe creating a bond is a choice they can make, but one of them is afraid of taking that final step for some reason.

There are lots of ways to spin the trope to make it engaging for the reader. I love to run characters through the angst wringer more than Ari does, so my favorite thing to do with this trope is have one of them resisting the bond as hard as they can while the other pines for their fated mate, heartbroken over the continual rejection.

In our version, fated mates recognize each other the first time they touch. Touching – leading up to sex, naturally – strengthens the bond, and it gives the fated mates an awareness of each other. They can pick up on each other’s feelings, which can create an emotional feedback loop in either a positive or negative way. It makes sex amazing, but fights can escalate quickly if they aren’t mindful of what’s going on.

We hope you enjoy Eli and Arden’s journey as they navigate their new and unexpected bond! Rest assured, the fated mates trope will continue in book two, which will involve a certain whimsical wizard. ;)


Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure. Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge watching TV shows together.

Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.

McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse. 

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