Read My Mind (Under the Empire #1) by Kelly Haworth
Making a Religion is Never from Scratch by Kelly Haworth
I was that kid who would take every extra credit report the teachers ever assigned and write it on Ancient Egypt. I was obsessed with it, reading up on all the gods and the stories, learning about the language, visiting the museums. I still have a ton of Egyptian trinkets, from statues to tarot cards. I have books on my bookshelf, and can still tell you weird facts, like how ancient Egyptians had a weirdly inaccurate fraction they used for pi, and scholars aren’t quite sure why they never used a more accurate one. (I’m sure they had their reasons!)
So it should surprise no one that when developing a fantasy world with their own religion, I would make a polytheistic one. And accompanying that love of polytheism with my limited knowledge of the Greek pantheon, I knew that was the direction I wanted to go in a fantasy. There’s something very elegant about being the god of a few specific things, instead of all of existence and experience. Plus, who doesn’t like the stories of feuding gods?
However, actually establishing a fabricated religion is complicated. Throwing around god names during the course of a narrative is relatively easy. But turning those random mentions into an actual practicable religion is a different thing entirely. Before I started drafting Read My Mind, I scoured my two completed manuscripts in the Under the Empire universe for everything about religion I had mentioned. Okay, churches, altars and trinkets, about 5 gods, and allusions to angels. But it was all pretty vague stuff, because I had never had any religious teachings outside of the things one learns in a public school, and what I had read about polytheistic cultures. So I knew what I needed to research, and I came out the other side knowing the difference between a parable and an epistle, that angels come from many cultures, and that the translations of religious texts have been politically bent over the centuries, just to name a few things.
This all fuelled how I shaped the religion. And adding on the idea that the people of this world had been gifted magic from these gods, I hoped that the idea that one religion would dominate most of the world’s population would be reasonable. I settled on ten gods, each representing one of eight different magics, with two additional gods representing the non-magical. There would be churches and priestesses for what they bring to communities, and there would be altars and prayer for individuals who wanted to lead their own worship.
Most importantly, I wanted this religion to be inherently LGBTQ friendly. Thus there are canonically bisexual, lesbian and trans gods, and maybe more that I haven’t figured out yet.
Religion or the lack thereof shapes community, drives some governments, influences societal norms. In Read My Mind, I wanted to show a religion that cares and supports and encourages love and giving. I hope I have succeeded in that, and I hope as I write future books in this series, I get to continue to develop it.
Welcome to the blog tour of Read My Mind, the first book of the Under the Empire series! I hope you’ll check out all the stops, where I explore the craft that goes into creating a fantasy series set in a contemporary era.
Long ago, a pantheon of ten gods gifted magic to the people of our world, changing the course of history as we know it. The Flavian Empire now reigns over what would have been America, led by a royalty of fire weavers. Frannesburg, the city by the bay, is a haven from the empire’s encroaching dictatorship, and its university is bustling with people of all magics, sexualities, genders, and races. As students study toward their degrees, they hope to find friendships across majors, and maybe even love under the fog and city lights.
Read My Mind follows two freshmen, Scott and Nick, who have just started at the University of Frannesburg. Magic, attraction, and too much homework await them on their journey to figure out who they are now that they are on their own, and how they fit into this magical world.
About Read My Mind
Scott Kensington lives happily without magic; prayer is all he needs to worship the gods. Then he starts his studies at the University of Frannesburg, and not only is he suddenly surrounded by eccentrics—those gifted with magic—but his own latent ability begins to surface, with consequences that could tear his soul and family apart.
Nick Barns is grieving for his lost mother and desperate for distraction—usually in the form of limited-edition action figures. As a telekinetic, he’s no stranger to magic, so he offers to help Scott adjust to his new powers. They quickly learn how their magics interact, their shared passions soon growing beyond superheroes and immortals. But Nick’s not taking his studies seriously, and his father threatens to pull him from the university. Overwhelmed by his own crumbling family, Scott’s convinced he can’t handle a relationship, but he doesn’t want to let Nick go.
With grief, guilt, and magic complicating everything between Nick and Scott, it seems that not even the gods—or a new comic book—can save their relationship now.
Sometimes, even reading someone’s mind won’t help you understand what they want.
Now available from Riptide Publishing.
About Kelly Haworth
Kelly Haworth grew up in San Francisco and has been reading science fiction and fantasy classics since she was a kid. She has way too active an imagination, thus she channels it into writing. Kelly is genderfluid and pansexual, and loves to write LGBTQIA characters into her work. In fact, she doesn’t know if she’s ever going to be able to write an allo-cishet couple again. Kelly has degrees in both genetics and psychology, and works as a project manager at a genetics lab. When not working or writing, she can be found wrangling her two toddlers, working on cosplay, or curled up on the couch with a good TV show or book.
Connect with Kelly:
● Website: kellyhaworth.com
● Twitter: @KHaworthWrites
● Facebook: KHaworthWrites
To celebrate the release of Read My Mind, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 7, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!