Aug 16

2022

Heart’s Choice Author Interview: Fay Ikin, Heart of Battle

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

Battle for love as a gladiator in this epic romance of swords and sandals! As a prisoner of Coritan City, you had two options: rot in a dungeon or battle in the gladiatorial arena. You chose to fight—and as a star gladiator, you have the power to sway public opinion as nobody else does. Heart of Battle is a 255,000-word interactive gladiator romance by Fay Ikin. I sat down with Fay to discuss their experience writing interactive romance.

Heart of Battle releases this Thursday, August 18th. You can play the first three chapters for free today.

This is not your first foray into interactive fiction, but it is I think your first romance title! Tell me what led you from writing Asteroid Run to writing a gladiatorial romance?

Both my editor and I noticed that some of the most positive feedback on Asteroid Run was about the romanceable characters, their subplots, and the relationships that the player is able to build on their ship. When Becky suggested that I consider pitching Heart’s Choice ideas, I was intrigued and excited. I love writing about hot people doing sexy things, really, so a romance title seemed obvious!

As far as the genre shift goes, I’ve always enjoyed writing both sci-fi and fantasy. In fact, I’ve got more words under my belt for Heart of Battle’s genre – a fictional world, some magic, and lashings of angst – than anything else.

What sexy, muscle-y goodness can players anticipate in this game?

You’ve got epic duels with your loved ones, getting to protect strong folks from peril, and some nice softer moments too, like intimate chats by the fireplace with a dreamboat in a billowing silk robe. There are some excellent spicy scenes, as well as asexual, muscle-y goodness for players looking for compelling, touching romances that are less on the physical side.

I wanted to make sure that all the love interests have their strengths and specialties, and moments where they shine as competent and interesting people; but they’re all messed up being in this terrible system of prison and forced fights. Kisses and/or cuddles are a must.

How did you find writing a Heart’s Choice as compared to Choice of Games title? Or did you think it was largely the same for you?

Oh, it’s been so freeing to write a romance-driven game rather than a plot-driven game. Both are rich with the story, don’t get me wrong. But before, I would never have put the player in a situation where no matter what they choose, they get what they want, with successes and failures changing the consequences for it. The ability to occasionally use those moments in Heart of Battle meant I didn’t have to worry about the plot taking me into a multi-chaptered branch into a totally different story. (Thanks, Asteroid Run, and those 30,000 extra words.)

These kinds of shifts in choice and narrative structure mean I’ve really been able to hone in on what matters: characters, relationships, and spicy scenes.

Do you read much romance? Favorite authors?

So, I’m a voracious reader of fanfic – epic, novel-length hurt-comfort AUs are my jam. When I do read published romance I need it to be lush and queer, so of course the Jo Graham shelf has pride of place at home. And I love other kinds of romance games. The Dream Daddy jingle lives rent-free in my head most days!

What are you working on next?

Well, I don’t want to go into too much detail early on in a project, but Heart of Battle’s reception from beta readers and players on the forum has been positive enough that my next project will be set in the same universe: new characters, a different place, and very different challenges. I’m always up for the challenge of writing interactive fiction with Happy Ever Afters available for every love interest…that’s inspired by the sad and brutal tales of 19th century failed arctic expeditions. Watch this space!

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