Shades Below: FAQ

Why Urban Fantasy?

If you're familiar with my writing, you know there are certain themes that crop up again and again: redemption, loyalty, human nature, and yes, love. I've enjoyed exploring these themes within the context of our modern world, but after some soul-searching, I felt the tug to branch out.

Writing fantasy was a logical step for me. I've loved speculative fiction for most of my literate life. I was raised on Brian Jacques' Redwall series, on The Borrowers and on Star Wars.

I discovered urban fantasy in high school, when I first read Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. I was hooked on the idea that fantastical things might well be happening just behind our backs, that all manner of creatures could be scurrying under rocks and into cracks the instant we turned to look.

Setting such events in a city like San Francisco only made sense. It's such a magical place already, and I feel I finally have the chance to do that side of it justice. At least, that's the goal!

Does this mean you're done writing Romance novels?

Absolutely not! I love a good love story way too much to stop going for that Happily-Ever-After.

That said, the books I write as L.J.K. Oliva may look very different from the ones I've written as Laura Oliva. The series arcs will be longer and the romance element will take a back seat much of the time. I do, however, have standalone companion novels planned that will be more romance-centric, as well as crossing sub-genres (for more info on those, keep reading!).

Leave Romance altogether? Never!

How many books will there be in the Shades Below series?

Short Answer: the Shades Below series will be comprised of ten books.

Long Answer: the Shades Below series will be comprised of ten books... but that's just the beginning.

I started work on this series long before I sat down to write Book One. I've researched at least five different religions, learned about the various versions of Heaven and Hell, examined the nature of the soul (I'm not even kidding), and developed a working knowledge of ghosts, vampires, shape-shifters, curanderismo, witchcraft, voodoo, and alchemy.

At this point, I could probably banish a demon if the situation arose.

Point is, the world of Shades Below has taken on a life of its own. There's simply too much I want to explore for me to stop at one series... or even two. So in addition to Shades Below, there's more in the works.

Much more.

What's the deal with the half-numbered books?

The "in-between" books are standalone companion novels centered around some of the minor characters from the Shades Below series.

Why even bother with half-numbered books?

I suppose the answer "because I'm difficult" doesn't really address the question.

In all seriousness, I didn't initially plan on writing companion novels. I knew I wanted Shades Below to read as one single, fluid story when all the books were put together. That didn't leave room for any deviation, and at first, I was fine with that.

But then I started getting to know the secondary players. This might sound self-serving, but there are some really fun, fascinating people (and not-people) that populate the world of SB. Some of them also happened to be quite loud, and wouldn't stop talking about their lives, their struggles, their interests and jobs and... and...

...And so I finally decided I needed a way to tell their stories, too.

The companion novels are just that: the stories of some of the louder secondary characters. But that's not all they are. In telling some of these other stories, the main story of SB is also enhanced and fleshed-out. That's why they're written in between the books of the main series.

Hopefully the end result won't be as confusing as it sounds! If you ever find yourself having trouble, please refer to the reading order.

How are the companion novels different?

How are they not different?

Seriously though, I'm really excited about these books! I've tried to make a point in my writing of portraying couples who don't toe the line. Love is complicated, after all, and as a writer, it's sheer pleasure being able to explore all the various nooks and crannies.

Still, all of my books so far have portrayed (fairly) conventional non-conventional characters. With the Shades Below companion novels, I'm giving myself permission to branch out and explore characters I haven't had the nerve to before.

Frankly, it's a little daunting, but I've never been more eager for a challenge!

What sub-genres are in the companion novels?

So, what does "branching out" look like? Here are a few of the sub-genres that will be showing up in the Shades Below companion novels:

* Interracial/Multicultural
* New Adult
* M/M (Male/Male)

With such a wide range planned, I understand not all books will make everyone's insta-read list. I'm fine with that. But like I said, I try to make a point of portraying couples who don't toe the line. Part of that, for me, includes an honest portrayal of love. ALL love. Whatever it happens to look like.

Hopefully you'll join me for the ride!

Will there be more series like Shades Below?

Like I said earlier, a lot of research has gone into the creation of this series, and one day while my back was turned, the world I created grew bigger than I expected. Too big, in fact, to contain in a single series. Even after SB's ten-book run, there's more I want to explore.

So yes, expect to see more from the Shades Below universe!

What is the production schedule for the Shades Below series?

My tentative goal is to release at least one SB book and one companion novel per year.

Note: this is my tentative goal.

I am currently experimenting with ways to ramp up my rate of production without sacrificing either my sanity or the quality of my writing. It's a work-in-progress, but I feel I'm getting closer to where I want to be.

In the meantime, check out my Facebook page and Pinterest boards! I try to put new material up on both more-or-less regularly.

What's next after Shades Below?

It's a surprise! But I will say, you may never view Hell the same way again...

Where can I find Shades Below?

For the foreseeable future, Shades Below will be available exclusively on Amazon.

This is not due to any personal vendetta I have against Nook or iTunes, and I love Smashwords dearly. While the series is building traction, however, the marketing perks afforded by exclusivity on Amazon are the best way for me to get the word out to potential readers.

This is subject to change whenever I feel exclusivity is no longer beneficial.


Thanks again for your support, and for your interest in the Shades Below series! 

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