GUEST POST ~ The Empath and the Soldier by A.K. Holubek #GuestPost #Excerpt #Giveaway

✨ Guest Post ✨

Thanks for the opportunity to talk a little about my new book. In this post, I’d like to discuss why I wanted to write a fantasy novel.

I began imagining fan fiction stories long before I had heard of the term “fan fiction.” I expect this was the case for a lot of LBGTQ+ kids who grew up in the 80s and 90s, especially those of us who were science fiction and fantasy geeks. We couldn’t completely relate to the characters in our favorite books, comics, and films because none of them fully reflected our queerness. So we invented stories using the characters and worlds of the books and movies we loved, but adding plots, relationships, and even new characters that better represented our lives and experiences. Or at least that’s what I did.

As a teen, I was obsessed with the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings trilogies. But I never liked to imagine myself as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Frodo, or Aragorn. I didn’t fully see myself in these characters or in anyone else from these movies and books. Which is why, in my daydreaming, I added myself as a character. Sure, I gave myself a more exciting backstory than “closeted gay kid from a Colorado suburb.” But I was still more or less me. Or rather, a more authentic version of me that I kept hidden from the real world.

I’d go for months with a running story in my head that I was Luke Skywalker’s cousin, the only child of his Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. Early on, I would form a “special friendship” with a young, handsome Alderaanian refugee who had joined the Rebellion. Then I’d reread Fellowship of the Ring and the new fantasy would be me as one of the “Big Folk” of Bree who helped the hobbits escape the Nazgul and then got caught up in their adventures. Along the way, I would befriend a dashing young Ranger of Ithilien.

Since we didn’t have cell phones in the 90s, teenagers were constantly forced to endure unrelentingly boring situations with nothing to distract us but our own thoughts. Which meant I had ample opportunity to escape into the constant stream of fan fiction scenarios running through my head.

I soon found myself branching out from established stories in movies and books to entirely new stories with friends and other people I knew in real life. Because I was closeted, I couldn’t fully be myself to those around me, so the tales in my head provided a safe setting where I could interact with my friends as my true self.

Often, I would plug the people and friends from my life into the movies and books that I loved. My straight friend/major crush (there were so many) and I had our own adventures as part of the Rebellion helping to save the galaxy from the evil Empire. Or the hot guy from my Pre-Calculus class, who I was entirely too nervous to talk to in real life, was a Rider of Rohan, and the two of us rode together to the aid of Gondor.

Basically, in addition to fan fiction, I also imagined what Bob’s Burgers’ Tina Belcher calls “friends fiction.”

I never wrote any of these stories down, terrified that if I did someone might find and read them. Also, writing seemed like a lot of work. I didn’t have my own computer as a high school or college student, so I would have had to literally put pen to paper and handwrite all these random imaginings into some sort of coherent story. Much easier to just keep the stories in my head.  

It took decades before I developed the patience, self-discipline, and courage to finally begin writing one of these stories, rather than just imagining them. The Empath and the Soldier is a culmination of the many fan fiction and “friends fiction” stories that I invented before it—an adventure story firmly set in the fantasy genre that centers around gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters. My Star Wars-obsessed teenage self would be impressed.

The Empath and the Soldier by A.K. Holubek

Release Date: Tuesday, May 9 2023
Series Title: The Unconventionals
Cover Artist: Kelly Ritchie
Primary Plot Arc: Speculative Fiction
Pairings: Not primarily romance, but there is a M/M romantic subplot
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Length: Novel / 138,000 Words / 503 Pages
LGBTQ+ Identities: bi, gay, lesbian
Keywords/Categories: Regency, Regency era, historical, mysterious evil, hidden evil, empathic abilities, empathy, MM romance, romance, gay romance, mm, gay, bisexual, lesbian, fantasy, historical fantasy, new release, announcement, giveaway


The situation seemed hopeless. But Tyrran couldn’t pretend to be ignorant of the danger and just wait for his home to disintegrate around him.

As a Favored male, Tyrran belongs to a select group of men born with one of the Four Gifts, a blessing usually reserved for women. Quiet, introverted, and filled with self-doubt, Tyrran has always struggled with living up to the responsibilities that come with being Gifted. Still, he had managed to achieve the near impossible — admission to the prestigious Lyceum Institute in Corvit, the Coarian Sovereignty’s bustling capital city. With this success, Tyrran’s future seems clear: the best education, a position in a Temple, and, one day, marriage to a young man of good fortune.

That is, until sinister forces intervene to shove him down a much bleaker path. Tyrran’s plans are thrown into upheaval when a deadly attack reveals the existence of an insidious evil festering within the ranks of the Sovereignty’s elite.

Now, he must use the privileges afforded him as a Lyceum student to uncover the secrets of a corrupt government. Targeted by relentless assassins and trying to ignore his growing attachment to the handsome exchange student Adwin, Tyrran must gather trustworthy allies to face the dangers that threaten to tear apart his nation and his home. Bridgerton meets The Magicians in this fantasy novel about the importance of confidence and the strength of friendship.


At that moment they stopped suddenly, startled by someone crawling out of the pond almost directly in front of them. The someone turned out to be a man—an East Silacian, Tyrran noted right away, due to his black skin. He was shirtless, wearing only white tights, and he looked about Tyrran’s age. He was shorter than Tyrran and his chest, stomach, and arms were muscular—sculpted was the more appropriate term, his skin stretched tight over every muscle. His physique was compact rather than large, he had deep brown eyes, and his black hair was cut close to his head.

Tyrran had always suspected that the Silacian reputation for beauty was exaggerated, stemming from the inferiority complex Coarians held towards Silacians, whose empire was much larger, wealthier, and more advanced than the Sovereignty. But if Nyri and this man were any indication, then their reputed good looks were understated if anything.

“Good morning, soldier,” the man said, addressing Lena as he wiped water from his face with his hands. He spoke the Common Tongue with a sophisticated accent that sounded very similar to Nyri’s.

“Good morning, Adwin,” Lena replied, looking puzzled. “Did you, uh, fall in the pond?”

“Not at all. I was just going for a morning swim.” He smiled as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

“In public? In the middle of campus?”

“But of course. This appears to be the closest body of water to our college. However, by your expressions, I assume Coarian notions of decorum discourage public bathing. I did swim wearing my tights, since I know public nudity is frowned upon.”

He may as well have removed them, for what little use they were in covering his nudity. The material clung to his skin, revealing bulging leg muscles as well as other bulges that Tyrran was making a concerted effort not to stare at.

“We do tend to prefer bathing in secluded areas,” Lena said. “Spaces set aside for bathing. Like the bathhouse next to the Barracks House, for instance.”

“I did try the bathhouse, but the water is heated. Quite uncomfortable on a warm day like today. Do you suppose I shall be sent packing back to Silacia for this breach of conduct?” An impudent grin spread across his face.

“It’s early enough that I’m sure no one but us has seen you. Though I do suggest you put the rest of your clothes back on soon. Where are they, by the by?”

“My clothes? I left them further down the trail. In truth, I was swimming about the pond for exercise rather than for bathing, then I saw the two of you and thought to come greet you. And now I think I have finished with swimming. Would you mind accompanying me to fetch my clothes?”

Tyrran could see that Lena was annoyed by the request and had every intention of replying in the negative. But Tyrran didn’t want Adwin to be offended, so he quickly spoke up. “We would be happy to.”

That earned him an evil look from Lena.

Adwin offered his arm to Tyrran. “Adwin Mekalbe, at your service.”

Tyrran grasped his forearm, “Tyrran Kens, at yours,” he replied, trying to keep his voice from squeaking.

“I assume you do not attend the Military College,” Adwin continued, as the three of them resumed walking along the trail.

“No, I’m at Roothe College. Lena and I are friends from Temple Academy.”

“Ah, yes. In Hifield City. I am truly sorry about the attacks. I do hope you were not directly affected.”

🛒 Buy Links

Author Bio

The moment A.K. Holubek stumbled across a ragged copy of The Fellowship of the Ring in his elementary school library, his life changed forever. The rest of his childhood, his adolescence, and even his college years were spent living only part time in the real world. He much preferred spending time in the fantasy lands of his imagination than in the reality of life as a closeted gay kid. As real life got better, he left his fantasy worlds behind. But a few years ago, those worlds called him to return, and to share his created worlds with others who might also need a place to escape. He now endeavors to carry out this mission from his home in Baltimore, supported by his husband and two ridiculous cats.

Author Links


A.K. is giving away a
$20 Amazon gift card with this tour
a Rafflecopter giveaway

2 thoughts on “GUEST POST ~ The Empath and the Soldier by A.K. Holubek #GuestPost #Excerpt #Giveaway

  1. Okay, A.K., so you didn’t have me at “hello”…but you did at 138,000. *teasing smile from the beyond old gay guy in the Midwest, who loves 100K+ books* Clicked the link, made the trek to AMZ and got safely back, book bought. Looking forward to reading

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.