Good morning, world! Harmony Black is off to a great launch, and as a result I’ve gotten a number of questions from readers and maybe-readers. I figured I’d share my answers here, in case you’re wondering about any of this. First, let’s start with the biggie:

Do I need to read the Faust books before I read Harmony Black?

Nope! Not at all. The book was designed to stand alone. While there are a couple of references to the Faust series here and there, there’s nothing you need to know before diving right in. The only advantage for Faust readers is a couple of “guest stars” they’ll notice and the surprise will work just as well in the other direction if you read the Faust books later (discovering who that sleazy guy at the Field Museum really was, for instance, or why Nyx is so obsessed with winning at all costs. Hint: Nyx isn’t in the Faust series…but her mom is.)

Wait a second, I read the sample – did you just totally spoil the ending of the Faust series?

Nope again! Bear in mind that Harmony is a secondary antagonist in the Faust books, and what she thinks happened is rarely the truth. Also, the Faust series isn’t over. To quote the great Douglas Adams, Faust is just spending a year dead for tax reasons.

On that note—

More Faust stories are coming. The hope is that – if enough people jump on the Harmony train – I can start putting them out on an alternating basis. The idea is to have two series running in parallel, each totally stand-alone from the other, but with occasional overlaps and crossover characters/events to make it a fun ride for people who read both lines.

I’m a new reader. If I liked Harmony, will I like Faust?

I honestly can’t say. Both series are pretty dark but I consciously went with a different tone for Harmony, and she’s probably a more relatable heroine than Faust (a con-man and a thief with a damned soul). More to the point, she’s an actual heroine, while he’s a villain protagonist. She saves the world out of duty and compassion, he saves the world because it’s where he keeps his stuff. I’d suggest dipping your toes in with the first Faust book and seeing if you like it. If not, that’s cool! More Harmony is coming.

Oh, and to make it easier for said toe-dipping to occur, The Long Way Down is on sale for 99 cents all through the month of January. And so is Winter’s Reach, the first book in my third series, the political fantasy Revanche Cycle. Just because.

So how can you have the same characters and the same world with two different publishers?

I’m a dual-class author/businessperson with a +1 Quill of Negotiation.

How are you writing these things so dang fast? Are you a cyborg?

Part of that you can chalk up to behind-the-scenes scheduling shenanigans; for instance, Terms of Surrender (the third book in the Revanche Cycle) just came out a couple of months ago, but the manuscript was finished well after Harmony Black, which was actually written back in 2014. At any given time I have multiple manuscripts in outlining, active writing, and various stages of editing/cover design/layout.

As far as the actual writing goes, I think I’m much like any successful novelist in that writing isn’t just my art and my passion: it’s also my job, and I’m showered, shaved, and sitting in front of the keyboard by seven AM, six days a week. It’s not magic, it’s just a lot of hard work. I know, I’m ruining the mystique – writers are supposed to be delicate ethereal creatures who can only put words to the page when the Muse descends, or spill prose from their aching hearts one blood-drop at a time as they suffer a storm of alcoholic angst – but it’s really all about discipline, discovering your ideal work flow, and getting the job done. Also, I don’t have kids, and those of you who do have kids know what a difference that makes when it comes to time management…

My reward for the work? Well, besides paying the mortgage, it’s all about the happy readers. Nothing’s better than finding out my stories gave somebody a good time, a laugh or a shiver, gave them something to think about, or lifted them up when they really needed an escape. That's what keeps me going.

So…Harmony’s team versus Faust’s crew?

Oh, you know that’s gonna happen. Not soon, but it’s eventually gonna happen. And for the Faust fans, here’s a little Easter egg for reading this far: there’s already a connection between cast members, though they themselves aren’t aware of it. Early in Harmony Black, when Kevin is reaching out to his hacker contacts for info, check the area code that his guild-buddy “Tomoe Gozen” says she wants to escape for a while.

Yep, she’ll be your Google.