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My Chameleon Mate Author’s Note

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Vera

I accidentally launched an escape pod on my miserable honeymoon—with me on it—and crash-landed in the middle of an alien jungle on a forbidden “emerging civilization” planet, breaking about a hundred Cosmic Syndicate laws.

Oh, and I robbed a hot lizard guy with sexy black eyes, the most colorful scales I’ve ever seen, and a powerful prehensile tail that curls up like a cinnamon roll..

Even though I can’t understand anything he’s saying, my new reptilian friend turns out to be as sweet as honey and spicier than the seasoning he used on the meat I stole from his camp, and after he risks his own life to save mine, he decides he wants to keep me.

I’m perfectly okay with that, but I have a feeling my philandering husband will object.

Author’s Note:

This sweet story takes place in the Iriduan Test Subjects universe, but doesn’t feature any of the characters from that series. It is also a shorter, lighter read than the books in that series. You don’t need to have read that series to follow along with this story.

Content Warning can be found here.

Spoilers Ahead!!!

This blog is the Author’s Note for my book, My Chameleon Mate, book one of my Iriduan Universe Love Stories series. I used to include long author’s notes like this in the backs of my books, but realized that not all readers would want to read them, so I decided to make them available on my blog instead for those who are interested.

Please note that this blog does contain spoilers for My Chameleon’s Mate and is best read after reading the book.

My Chameleon Mate was a very special project for me, because it was a much-needed vacation from the more complex, intense, high-pressure work I’ve been writing lately.

After writing Uriale’s Redemption, which had been a long time in the making, had many expectations behind it, and had a villain I needed to redeem (one who was a truly bad guy at times in previous books), I felt wiped out creatively. I had poured so much of myself into that book (and still believe it’s probably the best one I’ve ever written) that I fell into a bit of an after-WIP slump where I was very bummed out and really struggled for about a week just to find my spark again.

I still have two major projects on my schedule for this year, but both of them will be very mentally and emotionally labor-intensive because they deal with existing series and existing characters with fairly complex backgrounds, so I felt like I couldn’t even begin to tackle either project after finishing my last WIP and being left in such a state.

To refocus my creativity, I began to sketch out ideas for a new alien species, and my mind kept latching onto the chameleon because it was a reptile inspiration I hadn’t really explored to its fullest, though I’d used the scale color shifting for Tak from my Into the Dead Fall series. To further inspire myself, I searched for images of chameleons, and found so many incredible ones, including an absolutely gorgeous color photo of the panther chameleon that I found breathtaking in its colors and patterns.

Licensed from Adobe Stock

And that’s how Khamai (KAH-my) was born. (His name is derived from the Greek root words for Chameleon :))

I expanded on Khamai and the Prdayu (Prah-DAY-ewe) as I further researched chameleons and discovered how fascinating they truly are, although I must note that I took many liberties with the details. My Prdayu are not actually intended to be accurate representations of terrestrial chameleons. I know this should be obvious because they are fictional, sapient, bipedal aliens, but every once in a while, I get a comment that I got some detail of biology wrong on my aliens and I need to “do research.” XD

I had so much fun building out Khamai’s biology, culture, and world, and I even had to add a “slurry” from which “nutrients” (in the form of dendrobs this time) were harvested, which was inspired by Abigail from Kingdom of Thirst and her podcast, especially episode 88 about The Scorpion’s Mate, which I found highly entertaining and definitely recommend. (You’ll know the reference if you listen to the podcast. XD)

Khamai’s character design made me realize that I have a thing for quills on lizardmen XD. The Prdayu is the third species I’ve created with spines or “quills” on their heads. The Akrellians and yan-kanat are the other two, but even Tak, who is Histri’i, has a ridge of spiny points on his head.

This is what an Akrellian looks like–this is Tirel from The Warrior’s Mate, done by Sam Griffin.

Also, I really like reptilians. Did I mention that? XD

Of course, Khamai is the first lizard-inspired alien of mine that has two… other assets. 😉 (I had to go back over my reference sketches—oh yes, I have sketches—to double check that, no pun intended) Nahash, my naga hero, is the only other character with that feature. 😀

I know! I’m surprised too! XD

What’s with the fins, you might be wondering? Lemme just say, the SFR genre has been so creative with…ahem, assets, that it’s a real bee-otch to come up with something I don’t think has been done before. My concept sketches get stranger and stranger as I struggle to come up with something new and different. XD So, I added some fins—I’m not gonna get too deep into the inspiration for those (puns! Puns everywhere!!)—and I thought, hey, I haven’t seen this before, let’s do it.

Maybe someday I’ll show that final sketch somewhere. 😀  My newsletter subscribers would be the ones to see it if I did. (I did show it…somewhere. Subscribers to my newsletter can find out where and get a peek.)

And of course, a chameleon-inspired alien species had to have the curly tail. I love the tail. It’s so darned cute!

Khamai’s understanding of his world and his place in it was refreshingly simple, and I loved being inside his head and just enjoying that perspective. To Khamai, magic exists in those things he can’t explain, and because of that, he still can find wonder in what Vera (and those of us who use computers and smartphones every day) finds commonplace and mundane.

Sometimes, I need a reminder that the things I take for granted are truly wondrous.

Vera was a return to writing a younger, less cynical heroine for me, though she’d been no less hurt in her relationships than many of my older characters. I loved her naivety, even as my heart broke for how she was taken advantage of because of it. I also really loved her character arc, and how she grew throughout this story to find confidence in herself. Khamai’s unconditional love and support gave her the right conditions to develop into the self-assured woman she would become by the epilogue.

Vera got herself a haircut. 😀 Art by me.

Again, I needed her uplifting arc, and I felt cheered by her development as I wrote her story. I also needed her little emotional outbursts and all the little flaws and vulnerabilities she displayed. My previous heroine was by no means perfect, but Ellana was much savvier and more competent in survival than Vera is, so I found Vera’s “softness”—I guess would be the most flattering description—to be as refreshing as Khamai’s primitive perspective on life.

I love these two together. They compliment each other, and their love isn’t complicated by any past histories or dark secrets. Their romance was delightful to write, and relaxing, like enjoying a light dessert after a rich, full-course meal.

Cupid was another chance to show emotional development in a species that was intended to be completely emotionless. If you follow me on social media, then you may have learned by now that the grays are my favorite alien “type,” though I love my reptilians too. (It’s a very slim margin between them.)

I love putting the grays into my stories, and I love to explore the idea of them changing over time because of exposure to the many different species they were designed to observe and study, transforming into something their creators never intended. The fact that they are enigmatic is one of the biggest appeals for me, so it’s always intriguing to get inside the head of one of my gray characters.

Cupid and his crew, and his mission to bring Happily-Ever-Afters to humans and extraterrestrials in the Iriduan Universe, will be providing the framework for this series if it continues, allowing me to tell stories that are completely standalone, while still maintaining a strong thread between them.

I have so many ideas for the series, and so many characters I’ve wanted to expand upon that would be a perfect fit for a series like this. I have no idea how this book will be received, and whether there is interest in the series will really be the deciding factor for if I continue to publish it, although I might write stories for it once in a while regardless, just for my own sake, because it did help me sort of “recover” from the more involved storytelling I did in Uriale’s Redemption. I’m sure I’ll be writing more intense projects like that in the future too and will need little breaks.

I’m currently in the process of rereading my Iriduan Test Subjects series to refresh all the details in preparation for The Director’s Mate, which is one of those two projects I mentioned that is still on my schedule for this year. I got especially inspired by Cupid and crew and realized I needed another romance featuring grays in my life. They often play villain or facilitator in Science Fiction Romance, and rarely play hero, so it’s ground that isn’t already well-tread.

I like to wander off the beaten path. 😀

Roz and crew are the perfect group to really explore the worldbuilding I did for the Lusians (think “illusion”, then take off the “I” for pronunciation). Though I touched on the cohorts and how they operate with Gray’s stories (from my Into the Dead Fall series), this will be the first time I’m working with multiple grays in the same cohort, and they are all different, despite being clones. I’m practically rubbing my hands together in anticipation of some interesting reveals with this upcoming book.

That being said, I have no idea when it will be done. It’s important to me to get the details right, so I need to update my series bible and refresh my memory by reading the first eight books before diving in, and my reading speed isn’t what it used to be, especially when I’m also taking notes the whole time.

Kevos’s book from my Children of the Ajda series (which is still only one book, lol) is also up for this year, though I have moved it to after The Director’s Mate. Other projects may slip in between them, or I might write one concurrently, as I have done in the past. It really all just depends on my energy level and motivation. The more excitement my readers and fans have for a series or a book, the more motivation I feel to work on it.

I love to know what my readers want to see next, so tell me in the comments what characters you’d like to see get their own books, because I have ideas for all of them, so knowing which ones fans want helps me to focus my energy. Thank you so much for checking out my author’s note, and (I hope) the book, My Chameleon Mate. As always, I greatly appreciate your encouragement and support!

By Susan Trombley SFR Author

I write science fiction and fantasy romance that transports readers out of this world, featuring romance heroes that don't fit the mold, and in some cases even crush the mold to bits. From aliens to monsters to the baddies-turned-good, I like to take the unconventional path with my romance heroes and sweep ordinary heroines into romantic adventures beyond their wildest imagination.

4 replies on “My Chameleon Mate Author’s Note”

Dear Susan,
Firstly, I would like to start by saying that I think you are a fantastic author with incredible talent. You have an extensive imagination and vocabulary, and you are a skilled writer who is able to create worlds, characters, and scenarios that are inspiring and inclusive. I have read every book of yours that I can find, and I have enjoyed every one of them. I become so immersed in your books, that I finish them before I am ready for the story to end! I love SFR, and you surely deliver, and with a flare and uniqueness that is fantastic!

You asked for comments, and so I wanted to put in my two cents, for what it is worth. I am practically salivating for the story with Ava, Roz, and Associate. The grays intrigue me to no end, and I especially enjoy all the stories featuring their characters. The Deadfall stories with Gray are some of my favorites, and I have read them multiple times.

I also want to state I LOVED your new book “My Chameleon Mate”. It was utterly splendid! I also loved the “Cupid” element, and cannot wait for more stories in that series! His “quirks” were really fun, and the FMC’s personality was delightful! It was a refreshing and greatly enjoyable novel that made me laugh out loud.

Lastly, I would like to thank you for writing these stories, doing all the research, taking that extensive amount of time, and then sharing them with all of us. Writing requires great effort, time, diligence, and a willingness to put part of yourself out into the world and under public inspection. Not an easy thing to do, but your readers (especially me) appreciate it more than you know.

I hope to see more books soon, and I wish you the best of luck with your writing (not that you need it). Thank you again, and have a wondrous day!!

Dear Caley,
Thank you SO much for this amazing comment! I assure you, it is one I will cherish forever. It means so much to me to know that other people are loving my worlds and characters as much as I do.

I’m also really excited to see your interest in my Lusians! They are some of my favorite characters to write because of how enigmatic and complex they are. I’m so happy you’re looking forward to Ava, Roz, Associate and crew because that’s a story I’ve been eager to tell for a long time. I think it’s going to be an opportunity to do something a little different, while still having all the passion and excitement that makes this genre so great.

I love that you enjoy Gray’s stories, and I think you’ll really enjoy Roz and crew because of that.

Cupid will be back, and as quirky as ever in future books, and I’m working on some fun stories in that new series while also making notes and finishing my read through of my ITS series to get ready for Ava’s book.

I really appreciate you taking the time to leave an awesome and very encouraging comment like this! It means more to me than you can imagine!

Thank you!
Sincerely,
Susan Trombley

I’m not great at writing so I’ll keep this short hopefully lol. But I love your stories especially the Iriduan Test subjects series is definitely my favorite. I love the depth and breadth of the world building in your stories that really allows me to dive in and really be immersed in the story that I feel you don’t get in a lot of SFRs these days. I also really appreciate that you write stories with heroines that are kind of unconventional and maybe a little imperfect in different ways but still deserve a happily after too. After reading so many romance novels mainly SFR in the past few years it was refreshing to come across yours and read stories where I felt like I could relate to the FMCs. It might sound silly to say but we’re constantly reminded in the media and society how we as women can be lacking or not good enough for various reasons mainly because of how we look but reading your stories felt validating.

Anyway I really enjoyed your latest book My Chameleon Mate. It was a sweet light read and I hope you continue this series and hopefully one of the books will feature the Inu’A people we were introduced to in the Hunter’s Mate. I’ve been fascinated by them since, and I’d really love to read a book with the leader Anubis (he sounds pretty hot too ngl xD) and maybe it’d be even more interesting if it turned out to be an RH with his two assistants…🤷‍♀️🫢😆. Also I can’t wait to read the Director’s Mate! I’ve been looking forward to reading Roz and Ava’s story since we were first introduced to them and after reading Into the Deadfall with Gray.

Anyway thanks again for your wonderful stories and giving me a nice escape from reality for a couple of hours. 😊🙏🏼

Hi, Yasmin!

Thank you so much for the comment, and for reading my books. And for the amazing compliments!! ☺️🥰🥰

I’m especially happy that you found the FMCs relatable. That is so important to me when I write my stories. I grew up reading romance that always featured heroines who were beautiful and perfect in every way, and I never felt like I could relate, so when I started writing my own books, I gave my heroines the same “flaws” and features 😀 that real people have. They aren’t perfect, they don’t fit into a single mold, and they make mistakes and have vulnerabilities.

Thank you for letting me know that my attempts to represent real women have succeeded. That means so much to me!

As for Anubis, oh yes, he will be getting his story. I ❤️ Anubis, and yes he is beautiful! 😍 🤤

I am still debating whether to do RH or not, as that was what I had originally planned for the trio, but then I was thinking that I would love a story wholly focused on Anubis and his mate, and then i could write the stories of the others as separate books that give them more page time individually.

I’ve gone back and forth on this for years, lol, which is one reason that I haven’t started his story yet. 😅

I’m rarely this conflicted, but Anubis is my favorite Egyptian god, so I want his story in my universe to be absolutely perfect!

I’m also excited that you’re looking forward to The Director’s Mate! I love to see interest in my grays. ❤

Thank you again for reading my books and joining me in my worlds! I truly appreciate it!

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