Welcome to Fresh Fiction, M.A.! Please introduce yourself and tell us more about your new novel, THE IRON CROWN.
Thank you so much for having me! I always struggle to introduce myself. I guess the easiest way of explaining who I am is to say that I’m basically the village lady who lives on the edge of the woods and only comes in to town when absolutely necessary. I love my animals, spending my time gardening, crafting, and baking, as well as writing and reading. I enjoy living in the liminal space between the world we know and the world we can sense, but not always see.
The entire DARKEST COURT series is a great reflection of who I am and all the nerdy things I love. It centers on the lives of three Unseelie princes at the moment a civil war breaks out in Faerie, threatening their world and the safety of their people. THE IRON CROWN features the last battles of the war and ties up all the plotlines that have run throughout the series.
This is the third book in the Darkest Court series. Can you set the scene (without out too many major spoilers, LOL!) for THE IRON CROWN? What’s some of the essential info we should know about before diving in to this book?
The entire series is based in the old Celtic mythology of the faerie Courts. In PRINCE OF AIR AND DARKNESS, we saw the rising tensions break out openly between the Seelie (Summer) and Unseelie (Winter) Courts. We also had a human ley line host (go Finny!) join his lover, and now husband, Prince Roark in the Unseelie Court, giving them immense power for the civil war ahead. In THE MARKED PRINCE, we unravel the secrets of the Seelie Court through Sebastian and Sláine’s desperate efforts at diplomacy. We also uncover the actual villain of the series and see the war’s battles begin with the razing of the Seelie Court. Now, in THE IRON CROWN, all the pieces come together. This book was a blast for me to write because it runs parallel to the first two. We get all the missing threads as Lugh, Keiran, and the Wild Hunt wander through Sluagh lands. The question is whether they can use what they learn to overcome the big bad in the culminating battle of the war.
Keiran and Lugh have known each other for centuries and have always had each other’s backs. What did you love about taking them from friends to lovers?
I loved how effortlessly they slipped into that new relationship. I mean, it wasn’t effortless for me to write it, but once it was on the page, it felt like it had always been there. I’ve been laughing with readers who read ARC copies because we all agree that they were already married…they just didn’t know it yet.
Lugh is the youngest son of Queen Mab (a controversial character in her own right) and has been charged with convincing a powerful ally to aid them in an imminent war. He also has literal ghosts haunting his every move. What do you think readers will love about Lugh?
Oh, Lugh. He was so easy to discount in the first two books. He shows up briefly in a scene with Roark, but is spectacularly unimpressive. He’s mentioned in passing by Sláine. The only bits of him we get are from his brothers’ perspectives and there’s such bias there. I think readers are going to love learning how dedicated Lugh is—to Keiran, to his Hunt, to the Sluagh, to his brothers. He exists in this cool space where he’s literally haunted by the past and has to try to make the best decisions possible for the future with all that spiritual knowledge weighing him down.
Keiran has always kept things platonic between him and Lugh, but they are each other’s biggest supporters and best friends. What changes Keiran’s mind to begin to see Lugh as something more than just a friend? How do you think Keiran handles this shift in their relationship?
That is such a tough question to answer! I worked closely with my editor to get Keiran’s romantic arc right in this book. I knew he was demi from the start, so being respectful of that and showing it well on the page was a huge concern to me. Keiran’s relationship with Lugh evolves as the war comes to a head; they’ve always been at each other’s side, but with the rising threat of death, he has to reexamine his feelings for Lugh and where his priorities lie. In doing so, he comes to grips with how different his relationship with Lugh is compared to anyone else, and that shift in emotional attraction is what sets the stage for how their physical relationship changes. I don’t know if I’d say Keiran struggles with the shift in their relationship because he trusts Lugh and doesn’t doubt their feelings. He does struggle with the fallout of Mab learning how their relationship has changed though.
THE IRON CROWN is the last book in the Darkest Court series (say it isn’t so!). What are some of your favorite things about this series? What will you miss about writing it? What WON’T you miss?
I loved writing a series that let me play with all the old faerie legends and indulge in my love of history and classical literature. I loved writing it in first-person present too, because it was so much fun to use that to hide details from the readers and make them think there were gaping plot holes. This was a series I wish I could have shared with my Nana, who loved these kind of legends. I’ll miss having that sense of connection with her when I move on to my next projects. I definitely will not miss writing the Seelie Court intrigue, or figuring out the best ways to tie together a parallel book to the first two books in the series. I was kicking myself for months for doing that!
What can readers expect from you next?
I’ll be working on a new m/m paranormal romance series for Carina. It’s about a bodyguard who doesn’t know he’s working for vampires, and what happens when a vampire territorial dispute gets out of hand and puts his vampiric charge at risk. I’ll also be sharing a few last shorts for THE DARKEST COURT series that will go out in my newsletters. Finally, we’ll get Queen Mab’s perspective!
Rapid Fire Random Questions
Favorite Romance Trope: Slow burn with all kinds of emotional depth
Go to mani/pedi nail polish colors: French Manicure (who am I kidding? I never paint my nails because I destroy them too quickly)
Do you dog-ear or use a bookmark in your books?: I’m a monster who does both! And I have to admit my “bookmarks” vary from napkins to official bookmarks to receipts.
Pancakes or waffles?: Waffles
Favorite book from childhood: East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Mercer Mayer. The retelling of the story is great, but the illustrations fascinated me as a child.
Morning person or night owl: Night owl … My best brainstorming happens between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.
First thing you’d splurge on if you won the lottery: Acres of land far from everyone else where I could have a Highland cow and a Norwegian fjord horse.
A song that will always cheer you up: “Shireg Shireg” by The Hu
Favorite season: Autumn. I love everything about it, from the crisp mornings to the harvest
You have a totally free afternoon – no deadlines, no obligations, no Twitter notifications! What do you do?: Try baking a new dessert. It’s time for the Great Alaskan Bake-Off!
The Darkest Court #3
After the last Faerie Civil War, the leaders of the magickal pantheons stripped the shining Seelie Court of its power and tasked the dark Unseelie Court with maintaining the natural balance of the world.
Ages later, a twisted intrigue throws the balance of all Faerie into ruin and ignites a new civil war.
Discounted by his family and haunted in the Unseelie sidhe, Queen Mab’s youngest son, Lugh, leads the Wild Hunt on quests across the dangerous Wylds. At his side is his best friend, Keiran, a Viking rescued from death centuries earlier. Between Lugh’s uncanny gift for being in the right place at the right time and Keiran’s power of persuasion, they’re revered across the Wylds–as long as Lugh keeps his true identity hidden from the people of the Sluagh.
Keiran and Lugh have loved each other for centuries–as friends and brothers in arms. Lugh has long since put aside his romantic love for Keiran to protect their friendship. But with the looming war in Faerie and the ghosts of the dead dogging Lugh’s every move, Keiran realizes there may be room for romance between them after all, if only they can survive.
Rallying the Sluagh to fight in the looming war between the Seelie and Unseelie seems an impossible task. To achieve it, these childhood best friends will have to free Lugh from the restless souls haunting him and turn the tides threatening not only their growing love, but the balance of life and death itself.
About M.A. Grant
M.A. Grant has always loved reading and writing, but fell in love with the romance genre when she started working at an independent bookstore in high school. After meeting her husband in college, they began a steady northward migration and are now happily living in the rugged beauty of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. When she’s not calling out to passing ravens or making a cup of tea, she’s writing dark and moving stories.
Fresh Fiction Editorial Manager Danielle Dresser is an avid reader, lackluster-yet-mighty crafter, and accomplished TV binge-watcher. Once upon a time, she was a publisher publicist and continues to cultivate her love of books and reading by chatting with the best authors in the business. She lives in Chicagoland with her very own romance hero husband, darling daughter, and two tempestuous cats. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @dj_dresser.