For anyone looking for LGBT Sci-fi, Emily Skrutskie is definitely an author to follow. Her space opera series, The Bloodright Trilogy, concludes with VOWS OF EMPIRE, which just came out on June 14, 2022. I’ve also featured her previous books, including Bonds of Brass, the first in The Bloodright Trilogy, as well as Hullmetal Girls and The Abyss Surrounds Us.
Gal and Ettian have never been farther apart. Once, they were roommates and best friends, each suffocating under a secret of galactic consequence. When Gal’s came to light—that he was heir to the Umber Empire and all of its brutal conquest—the two were forced to flee their military academy, fall in with a brewing rebellion to reclaim the Archon Empire from Umber’s grasp, and face their long-held feelings for each other.
Then the rebellion discovered Gal’s identity and to save his life, Ettian had no choice but to unveil his own secret: that he was the long-lost heir to the Archon throne. With Gal as a political prisoner, Ettian began the fight to restore his own empire—and to open Gal’s eyes to the possibility of a galaxy reclaimed from Umber’s greed. But just when Gal was starting to come around, a team of Umber operatives rescued him from Archon’s clutches and dragged him home to take up his crown.
Now, separated for the first time and in full command of the might of their respective forces, the star-crossed rulers find themselves truly at odds. And with the war reaching a tipping point, the time has finally come for Gal and Ettian to confront what they owe their empires, their friends, and each other if they’re ever to forge a universe where the two of them can be together.
In our last interview, you said, “I can say for sure that being realistic about my time and the weight I was carrying was the right one, and it’s something I’ve tried to take with me going forward in my career.” In what ways have you been able to maintain this balance going forward?
Balance has been critical to surviving as a working writer in the pandemic. I’ve been working from home for my day job since March of 2020, and I never could have anticipated the impact that would have on my writing. Before the pandemic, I had a clear separation of spaces. I’d go to the office at 8:30am and leave at 6:00pm, provided I didn’t need to put in any overtime. Once I was home, I could sit down to work on writing at my desk, usually from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. I never really understood until WFH started that part of why that worked was because I was working at two different desks on two different computers. Once I started working from home, I was sitting at the same desk, on the same computer, for upwards of ten hours a day on the regular, often with day job pings interrupting me in the evening. I had to get a lot stricter about my boundaries as the boundaries between work and home life collapsed, and until I got that sorted out, it was difficult to focus on writing at the end of a long workday.
Another part of maintaining that balance is being realistic about what publishing is paying for. I used to be one of those authors who was always trying to move the needle myself, trying to do what I could to promote my books with whatever spare time and energy I had. Now I’ve been through the rodeo enough times to understand how little that does unless you’re extremely lucky, and with my time already spread so thin between my day job, my writing, and my personal life, I had to take a step back and look at what I was getting out of it versus what I was putting into it. I don’t make enough to write full time by a long shot, and until publishing can outbid my day job, that isn’t likely to change. I’ll whip up a promotional graphic here or there, but I’ve realized that the most productive use of my energy is putting it towards writing better and better books.
Putting energy into those more optimal areas is key. VOWS OF EMPIRE is the final book in the Bloodright Trilogy. What was the most challenging part of tying up the loose ends in this series?
I call the Bloodright Trilogy the biggest trick I’ve ever attempted, and no book was tricksier than VOWS OF EMPIRE. There are payoffs in this book for cons I set up six years ago interwoven with schemes I added in edits last year, and it was such a careful balancing act to make sure everything worked in harmony towards the ending I’d planned. One of the most difficult parts of writing books like this is not being sure whether you’re fooling anyone, since of course you know what’s really going on at all times, and I had to keep careful track of what the characters know, what the audience knows, and what I know to make sure nothing was getting scrambled and everything was getting communicated with intention.
Definitely a lot to think about! What are some of the most rewarding connections you’ve made with readers of your books?
There are too many to count, and I’m deeply grateful for each and every one. I do try to maintain a healthy distance from most reader interactions because I want to make sure readers have their space separate from authors, but it’s wonderful to hear about people’s connections to the books, see the incredible fan art they draw, and know that people are finding a fun escape in my work.