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Today I am so pleased to welcome Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus to Joyfully Jay. Beryll and Osiris have come to talk to us about their latest release, The Pet and his Duke. Please join me in giving them a big welcome!


Inverted Trope

by Beryll Brackhaus

What do writers do when the don’t find the story they would love to read? They write it.

For many of us, this was one of the first steps to becoming professional writers: fanfic, in one way or another, slash or fixitfics just to stop that itch, to make right what felt so wrong in our heads. Many writers will probably nod along when I say that at least one of our stories stems from wanting to read a specific take on a common trope and not finding anything that fits.

And what a wondrously two-edged thing tropes are. On the one hand, they give us readers a handle on complex story motives, allow us to sift through the countless stories on offer to find the ones we want. As writers, they are a perfect tool to quickly establish a setting or character dynamic, and are so perfectly helpful to lull our readers into a false sense of knowing what to expect.

On the other hand, tropes become tedious when the story delivers exactly what we as readers already expected. Too much of the same isn’t right. As readers, we want similar, but not the same.

One of the genres I read is slavefic, much of it on AO3, in all its colourful, diverse, creative and messy glory. One particularly common trope in slavefic is an older, caring but conservative master acquiring a younger, lively pleasure slave – a human pet. The owner can care for their pet, be a stable influence, while the pet in turn will brighten their life, the two often being the healing influence the other one needed. Which can be an absolutely adorable dynamic, which probably is the reason why there are a few gazillion fics out there working with that trope. Many of those I read with delight, but eventually, many years ago, I wanted something else.

I wanted a subversion of the trope – a young, wild master with an older, conservative slave.

Guess what, I didn’t find anything satisfying.

And what do writers do in such a case? We write.

So ‘Robert’ stepped into my mind, an ageing pet, well past his prime. Very politely, he informed me that he would be happy to talk about his life and the many challenges he faced with a master who doesn’t play by anybody’s rules but his own.

Not knowing if anyone would share my interest in the inversion of this particular trope, I initially only wrote a single short story about Robert and posted it to my LiveJournal. Yes, that many years ago. I didn’t expect much of an echo, but to my surprise, a lot of folks wanted to read more about him. And quite insistently so.

Over time, more and more short stories and vignettes joined the first one, detailing the journey and relationship of my unusual couple – Robert and Thomar. That collection became one of my most read and commented on stories. It even had a sort of happy ending.

But it was just that – a pile of snippets, drifting around in the vast pile of ideas that eventually would become what is now the ‘Virasana Empire’. It had been written over the course of several years, it was choppy in many places and it had never seen much editing, let alone a proofreader. Definitely nothing we would ever publish.

But the bones of a good story were there, the characters were vibrant, and Robert’s character arc is still among my favourite writing achievements. So when my husband and I made the decision to begin writing professionally, the idea of re-working ‘Thombert’ was always there. But it was a long way, mostly because we had to sort out the backstory for the entire universe first. It felt like a gargantuan task, but we loved it, we love that universe, and I still love this story in particular.

Yet, taking this story down from LiveJournal and AO3 was surprisingly painful. It felt like erasing a part of my writing, even though I knew we would be bringing it back better than ever before. It felt like risking to lose it for good, to extinguish a world that was so dear to me and many of our friends.

Over the last years, we took that pile of snippets and rewrote most of it, edited the hell out of it and polished it to a high sheen. It’s a proper story now, with a beginning and an end and a beautiful cover. It’s called ‘The Pet and his Duke’, and will be published on June 18th, 2020. Despite my initial feelings of loss, having this story finished now, whole and glossy, feels so, so much better than I ever anticipated. It’s cool to have dared this, to have put in all that effort and time, and we hope our readers will think the same.

The original bits of ‘The Pet and his Duke’ are still lingering on quite a few hard-drives out there. But we genuinely hope that also the readers of its first incarnation will have a look at the fully re-worked and improved ‘The Pet and his Duke’ – if you’ll only enjoy it a fraction as much as we did creating it, it’ll be so worth it.


Robert is a pet, a human pleasure slave, and well past his prime.

So when teenage Duke Thomar of Aylian buys him via mail order, Robert first suspects a dreadful misunderstanding. The duke is young, handsome and headstrong, and the very last thing he needs while struggling to secure his reign over his planet is an aging bargain bin pet by his side.

Only, the more time Robert spends with Thomar, the more he learns that the young duke rarely makes mistakes. Unless, of course, Thomar dashes off on one of his mad adventures, which Robert increasingly becomes a part of…

‘The Pet and his Duke’ is a standalone m/m romance novel in the ‘Virasana Empire’ universe. Written by Rainbow Book Award winners Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus, it is a story of self-determination and love, and Happily-Ever-Afters in the most unlikely places.

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We are Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus, a couple currently living our happily ever after in the very heart of Germany, under the stern but loving surveillance of our cat.

Both of us are voracious but picky readers, we love telling stories and drinking tea, good food and the occasional violent movie. Together, we write novels of adventure and romance, hoping to share a little of our happiness with our readers.


An artist by heart, Beryll was writing stories even before she knew what letters were. As easily inspired as she is frustrated, her own work is never good enough (in her eyes). A perfectionist in the best and worst sense of the word at the same time and the driving creative force of our duo.


An entertainer and craftsman in his approach to writing, Osiris is the down-to-earth, practical part of our duo. Broadly interested in almost every subject and skill, with a sunny mood and caring personality, he strives to bring the human nature into focus of each of his stories.