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Warmage is a story about real people, like you and me, for people like you and me. Fantasy and Sci-fi should be accessible for everyone. For the latest on author's notes and insider details about the creative process, follow us:
The Official Playlist!
The Official Playlist!
Warmage:by: K. W. Leone
An unapologetically inclusive novel series
Warmage:by: K. W. Leone
An unapologetically inclusive novel series
These are unprecedented times. Now, more than ever, I feel that I should reach out to my readers. Warmage is a story that is for you, no matter where you’re from, no matter who you love, or what shoes you’ve walked in. I also want you to know that you’re safe here. Not from truth, but within it.
Warmage will always be a haven for you where you are seen and heard. A place to escape from the real world, but to stay in touch with themes that are real and present for you. Anteas isn’t perfect, and times are hard, but it is capable of a happy ending, and the bad times do pass--just like they will for you.
That said, all happiness should be vigilant happiness. Only by challenging the social narrative, by challenging the world that we live in to do better---and encourage each other---can we affect change. You are the future. People are owed nothing when they come into this life, and they have an obligation to look forward, just like the dragons of Anteas. Times are bad now, but they won’t always be. You can change the future, young and old alike. You can cultivate the good.
Endure. Grow. Dare. Change. Find love and joy despite hardship, because every moment we draw breath is a chance to start again, and to find the divine light in every small detail. Wonder cannot be taken from you, and the wonder is the key to your own freedom.
Dare to be you, no matter what, and always know you are loved, and seen.
Reading Order List
Reading Order List
V2= Storm Rising
V1 = Grayden’s Hope
V2 = Grayden’s Promise
V3 = Grayden’s Truth
V4 = Grayden’s Requiem
V1 = Earth
V2 = Wind
V3 = Fire
V4 = Water
Warmage V.1 - Grayden: Copyrighted and complete. In finally review phase and preparing for launch
Warmage V.3 - Grayden's Truth: 50% written
Red Bubble Store:
Red Bubble Store:
Warmage prides itself on being unapologetically inclusive in terms of not only its readers, but also characters within the fantasy realm itself. Why is it so important to have this kind of representation?
Representation matters. The world around us is made up of more than straight white people. As a queer kid growing up, I would have died for any kind of inclusivity. I didn’t even know there was such a thing until I discovered fanfiction. Nobody should have to struggle to find themselves, and what life is like for them, included in media.
According to the Williams Institute of UCLA 4.5 percent of Americans openly define as LGBT+. The U.S. Census Bureau: National Population Estimates 36.3 percent of Americans are POC/BIPOC. 166.7 Million of the American population are women, with women of color making up 18 percent of that statistic. Taking a step back, lets put this into perspective. As of 2020, the population of the United States is approximately 331 million people. At 4.5 percent, that is 14,895,000+ queer people.
Representation matters. Those statistics are just for the United States. Not thinking globally at all, that is 14,895,000 kids who had the potential to grow up in a world that is content with, at best, ignoring and marginalizing them. That is 14,895,000 living breathing souls that media, at best, uses as token characters, spicy eroticism, stereotypical canon (and yes, I absolutely mean canon, as in literary texts) fodder, or tragic representations of romance gone wrong. I want to challenge that. It is also why I self-publish.
The first novel I wrote was snapped up by publishers right away, and as a young author I was obviously delighted. That was, until the “but…” hit. The only way they would publish the story was if I changed one of my gay male protagonists to a female, and gave him a ‘relatable female name’. Had I considered killing one of my gay characters, to create ‘dramatic moments’, after all, that’s what gay relationships were like, right? Also, the obviously male character who was POC would have to become white in every description of him… It went on and on, and I took back my manuscript with a ‘thank you for the opportunity’ and walked out that door. I never looked back, and I’m proud of that. I’m far from the first, and I won’t be the last who walked out on the publishing industry. I could go on for several hours about the level of corruption within that system, but I think I’d rather talk about the real people in the world who need as much rep in media as they can get.
I am a white-passing biracial trans man. I have multiple privileges (and lacketherof). I am willing to do whatever I have to and keep pushing for change. It is vital to me that my readers know I love them, I see them, I respect then, and to acknowledge that they’re people that deserve a story that includes them. Written and visual media are determined to silence them or purify them if they cannot eroticize or profit off of them, and that isn’t right. They are people just like everyone else, they are a huge part of the world at large, and they are a huge part in my novel series. This is not Coincidence.
On this note, when we first meet Ty, he is a dragon in the guise of a human. And this form is intentional in order to protect himself. However, it is also an exhausting endeavour for him at times. What is the significance of this in terms of the story’s own themes?
I think Ty’s story is the story of every ‘other’ on the planet. In the initial drafts of Warmage, its genesis as a short story, if you will, was that dragons represented immigrants in American society. Obviously, it’s grown a lot from there. Trans men and women have to hide who they are. Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual people have to hide their lives, their relationships. Aro/Ace people have to pretend like they have a relationship so people will leave them alone. It’s all about “passing”.
In Warmage, a world that is more advanced in its acceptance, ‘passing’ is still necessary; and it tells us a tale of permanent vigilance. There is always a need for growth, change, and greater acceptance. To create a better world for our children is a common world view for many people, myself included, and we can never lose sight of that. We need to challenge the bigotry inherent in ourselves, our genders, our cultures, our roots. We need to ferret out that darkness, examine it, and redesign it so that, hopefully, someday, no child will ever come into a world where they are unloved, unwanted, or inferior because of the color of their skin, their land of birth, their trade, their sexual orientation, or their gender.
What is the significance of this in terms of experiences related to acceptance, inclusion, and challenging societal “norms” outside of the story? -Especially to readers who come from different walks of life?
One of the things that my Majority readers often tell me, is that this book reminds them that there’s nothing extraordinary about being different, and the real magic happens in the ordinary. That challenges their way of thinking. It also challenges their understanding of ability or disability.
A lesbian does the same things that a straight or trans woman does. They live their everyday lives with the same goals as a straight person. Grayden might be a gay man with a disability, but he still does normal, everyday, non-mage things. He’s not helpless or any less part of the society he lives in. He also has bad days when his disabilities make things harder for him. My writing doesn’t shy away from that, and that’s what makes the series different--especially within genre.
The other thing my readers remark on is the way Warmage forces them to acknowledge differences. It’s important to understand that not everyone has the same world view as you. What might be unacceptable to you isn’t to someone else. Sometimes understanding the difference between immorality and difference takes time, and a lot of people never come to that understanding.
Warmage pushes my readers to challenge their beliefs every day. If your belief is a good belief, you can challenge it and it will hold up under the interrogation. That belief, however, shouldn’t have to be someone else’s. Warmage is designed to encourage a reader to find their own personal truth, without imposing that truth on others, and respecting and celebrating the beauty in differences.
What are some of the other themes within the Warmage series that you would like potential readers to know about?
Warmage toes the line of Speculative Fiction and dabbles in Magical Realism. In many ways it’s been terrifyingly prescient. The launch of the second book happened mere weeks before COVID-19 hit; and for a series based on the history of a biological ‘Crisis’ that was instrumental in destroying the world of Anteas as humanity knew it… I sort of felt like maybe I shouldn’t have published when I did.
Then again, living through times like these has been instrumental in inspiration, positive and negative, for the series. So I will make lemonade from lemons, it’s all I can do. It would be fair to say that COVID-19 and the fallout from the Trump ‘administration’ reinforces my beliefs in the active pursuit of hope.
Finding hope in hopelessness is the engine that drives the Warmage series, and I am optimistic that my readers will take solace in that. Grayden, in particular, teaches us that bad things might be done to us—but we choose how we react to the bad things, and our feelings, and that ultimately, we are responsible for our own happiness.
Grayden is a protagonist who is 46 and is dealing with ghosts of the past while also representing a sort of beacon of hope for other characters. Why is it important to have this kind of experienced character?
Very often, older adult characters are underrepresented in Fantasy and Scifi. The hero has his journey, and then he settles down with 2.5 kids, a wife, and a white picket fence… or becomes the villain, and there seems to be no in-between. Older adult readers are also a big part of my audience, and just because you’re pushing fifty doesn’t mean life is over for you, or that you don’t deserve to see yourself in media.
I consider Grayden and Lynn the perfect balance to Tylen and Brynn. I have an older couple, and a younger couple. This not only creates another means of inclusion within the Warmage series, it provides a sort of anchor point for my reader no matter where they are in their life journey. It also helps them see that nothing is ‘hopeless’ because of age, color, or orientation. Young or old, our attitudes and actions effect the future.
Which character(s) did you enjoy writing about most, and why?
I’m not sure I can pick any one character, but I think I like writing The Empress of Dragons the most. She’s relatable to me in a way that other characters aren’t. Of course, I can’t tell you too much or I’d spoil the series for you, so that will have to suffice!
On this note, what was writing the first volume Warmage like for you? What about the second volume?
The first volume of Warmage came from a time of real peril in my life, emotional and physical, and from the point of basically being a refugee myself. It spanned a terrible year, and was my secret treasure of sorts. I would come home and lock myself away and work on the book. I didn’t talk to many people about it, almost as if I was afraid it would be taken away from me if anyone knew something made me happy.
The second volume came to completion at the start of a new chapter in my life. It is bittersweet, but it is also where I hit my stride and realized I had an entire series to write, not just two or three short stories. I was coming to terms with being a refugee and living in a new country, and fighting to make a safe space for myself—which for the first time in my life, I was able to actualize, and it reflects in my writing.
In terms of the creative process, what were some of genres, series, or themes that influenced and/or inspired you?
I would have to say that my biggest positive inspiration came from Anne McCaffery. As I kid I absolutely devoured her books. She fed my love of dragons, and helped me visualize other worlds. Basically, through her writing I learned that the sky wasn’t the limit! I realize she might not have been the nicest person, especially to her fans, and there are some themes in her books that don’t hold up well in a ‘woke’ world, but they were inspirational, nonetheless.
As far as negative inspiration, which to me is a very real thing, I’d like to thank the many games, movies, novels, and fandom spaces which have absolutely eviscerated representation in the last few years. They took away my safe space and the only place I’d ever found kinship with others. It pushed me to write the book I needed. The book I wanted to read. And that, while painful, is also important.
What were some of the challenges you faced during the publishing process, and how did you overcome them?
Self-publishing is exhausting. The hardest part of the process isn’t the illustration or the hours put into writing, it’s overcoming the software!
We had drafts that refused to flatten, and when we sent them to print they reverted to old, unedited format with double words and weird line breaks. We learned that some publishers don’t give you the right page size or margins; some don’t even give you functional templates! We figured out embedding after that. We learned that various free software isn’t compatible with other types of free software, and that many pages are an endless maze of ‘free’ promotion that A. isn’t free, and B. doesn’t promote you. In short, it’s a gauntlet of sharks trying to make a buck off self-publishing authors, and printing quality and not losing your shirt to the industry is a nightmare. We came out the other side okay, though, and as we develop our knowledge base and our own templates, it’s getting easier with each book!
What can your readers look forward to in terms of your future novels?
I can tell you that the series will have a happy end 😊 and of course, there will be the “Grayden” prequel series. That’s in the works right now, and I think that our readers are really going to love it. Overall, there’s still a ton of excitement ahead. There is so much exploration, growth, and new life in the works, and I hope they are as excited for it as I am!
What is something we haven’t covered yet that you would like to share with your readers?
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What is next for you?
National Novel Writing Month is coming! I’m going to be participating with Book III because it kicks me into gear. If anyone would like to be writing buddies, let me know! I'm also plotting out some scripts for an "Origin" series, so keep your eyes peeled!