Today I am so pleased to welcome Lyn Gala to Joyfully Jay. Lyn Gala has come to talk to us about the release of her Claimings Universe in audio. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
I am so excited to hear Ondry and Liam’s voices now that John Solo has narrated the entire Claimings series. Listening to the books is a very different experience—the story is removed one more step from my brain, and suddenly I recognize parts of Ondry I hadn’t clearly seen before.
Ondry might be a huge purple alien, but I see hints of dozens of my favorite heroes from classic novels. When I wrote that first story, I didn’t even realize I was channeling my childhood crushes, but my love of John and Percy and Odysseus in his every glurble.
You see, growing up, I was a huge fan action-adventure classics and science fiction. My favorite heroes were always the ones who stood up against society. I was terrifying young (ten or twelve) when I fell in love with Brave New World. Hopefully I didn’t understand the orgy-porgy scene, either that or I was too distracted by John, the Shakespeare-obsessed outsider who pointed out that the World State seriously sucked. I didn’t agree with everything he did, and he broke my pre-adolescent heart in the end, but he had his own moral code. He was an island in the social storm.
That is Ondry. Every other Rownt on the planet dismissed his fear that Liam was a palteia in distress, but Ondry ignored all of them. He trusted his own moral compass, even if it was a mere two-hundred years old, which by Rownt standards makes him a baby!
I can see even more of Percy in Ondry. Sorry if it’s a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t read The Scarlet Pimpernel, but Percy is the masked hero who takes on the French Revolution. He never lifts a sword or a gun to win the battle—he uses his wits. At one point, the bad guy has figured out the Pimpernel’s secret identity, and he tells his men to look for any man who is either tall or stooped over to hide his height. That should be the end for Percy, but he knows his enemy is a racist, so Percy dresses as a Jew. This antagonist, who is a brilliant strategist in other circumstances, allows his hatred for Jews to override his common sense. He ends up giving Percy a ride to the site of the rescue. I do love irony.
And I can see that reliance on intelligence over brawn in our purple protagonist. As a Rownt, Ondry has a physical power that a human couldn’t match. When Liam’s life is in danger, he certainly can show his physical side, but when Ondry sees an obstacle in his way, whether that’s Colonel Thackeray or the Imshee, he tends to think his way around it. He doesn’t consider physical violence a solution, unless a wild animal attacks, of course.
And in the same vein, Ondry reminds me of my love of Odysseus. Like Percy, Odysseus wins by outsmarting his enemies, even when he’s up against demi-gods. But where Percy has an innate goodness that would prevent him from hurting an innocent person, Odysseus is far more mercenary. If you back him into a corner so that he has to leave his infant son and wife behind, he’ll totally frame you for treason and have you killed. It’s part of his charm. And I see that ruthlessness in Ondry. Of course he would never turn that against Liam, but if Liam were in danger, I think Ondry would burn the entire Earth and possibly piss on the ashes.
Anyone who reads science fiction knows that the most alien alien in all of alienness is still an allegory for humanity, and Ondry is no different. However, it was only listening to John Solo’s narration that I realized how much Ondry highlights my own childhood crushes. Of course, I did write the story after having a long conversation about the traits required for the perfect Dom, so I’m not sure why I didn’t recognize him earlier. It’s funny, but the literature we read when we’re young—or even when we’re older—defines us. It determines who we like and what we believe. I my case, it means I find a giant purple alien insanely hot if he wins using his impressive intelligence and just a touch of ruthlessness.
Liam loves his life as a linguist and trader on the Rownt homeworld, but he has ignored his heart and sexual needs for years. After escaping the horrors of war, he wants a boring life. He won’t risk letting anyone come too close because he won’t risk letting anyone see his deeply submissive nature. For him, submission comes with pain. Life burned that lesson into his soul from a young age.
This fear keeps him from noticing that the Rownt trader Ondry cares for him. Ondry may not understand humans, but he recognizes a wounded soul, and his need to protect Liam is quickly outpacing his common sense. They may have laws, culture, and incompatible genitalia in their way, but Ondry knows that he can find a way to overcome all that if he can just overcome the ghosts of Liam’s past. Only then can he take possession of a man he has grown to respect.
Ondry and Liam have settled into a good life, but their trading is still tied up with humans, and humans are always messy. When political changes at the human base lead Ondry to attempt a difficult trade, the pair find themselves entangled in human affairs. Liam wants to help the people he left and the worlds being torn apart. He also wants to serve Ondry with not only the pleasures of the nest but also by bringing human profits.
Ondry has no hope of understanding human psychology in general, he only knows that he will hold onto his palteia with the last breath in his body, and he’d like to keep his status and his wealth too. Unfortunately, new humans bring new conflicts and he is not sure how to protect Liam. He does know one thing that humans seem to constantly forget—that the peaceful Rownt are predators and when their families are threatened, Rownt become deadly killers. Liam is his family, and Ondry will protect him with his last breath… assuming that he can recognize the dangers in time to do so.
Lyn Gala started writing in the back of her science notebook in third grade and hasn’t stopped since. Westerns starring men with shady pasts gave way to science fiction with questionable protagonists which eventually became any story with a morally ambiguous character. Even the purest heroes have pain and loss and darkness in their hearts, and that’s where she likes to find her stories. Her characters seek to better themselves and find the happy (or happier) ending. When she isn’t writing, Lyn Gala teaches history in a small town in New Mexico. Her favorite spot to write is a flat rock under a wide tree on the edge of the open desert where her dog can terrorize local wildlife. Writing in a wide range of genres, she often gravitates back to adventure and BDSM, stories about men in search of true love and a way to bring some criminal to justice…unless they happen to be the criminals.