*Modified from an original post on the Holo Writing blog.
OK y’all, it’s time for the epic story of how this whole Titan Mage thing happened, so buckle up and grab some popcorn:
It begins in 2020.
When I’m not writing spicy mecha steampunk as Edie Skye, I’m writing non-spicy fantasy as H.P. Holo. My husband also writes, as Jacob Holo.
One of my jobs as writer/author wife/handler/marketer/general awesome person is to research keywords for our books’ Amazon ads. One of the places I look for keyword ideas is the also-boughts on our books, and for some reason, the also-boughts of Jacob’s anime-inspired giant mech series, Seraphim Revival, were loaded with … harem books.
The Seraphim Revival is perhaps the least spicy thing either of us has ever written, so naturally I was curious and started looking into the featured titles.
Which is when Jacob walked into my office and saw my computer screen full of booby book covers.
I joked, “We’re writing the wrong books, Jacob.”
Jacob joked, “You should write a harem novel.”
I joked, “You write the outline and design the babes and I’ll do it.”
I neglected to realize that Jacob was between projects at the time.
It was also the beginning of lockdown. Which meant he was at home. With free time.
And Jacob’s brain is not one to sit idle.
Which is why he came to me later with 5 outlines for a complete series of harem novels, complete with a sci-fi-inspired elemental magic system, a mech upgrade system, character details for the main cast, and the first few chapters, just because.
There’s slightly more to it than that, though. I struggle with OCD (and it’s the primary reason why my writing/writing process is often so chaotic).
We didn’t know it was OCD in early 2020, but we did know there was a problem – manifesting heavily in my inability to write consistently, among other more practical problems – and one of Jacob’s suggested solutions to help me over this hump was for him to outline a project and oversee details of the world, and me to do the actual writing.
One of my greatest challenges pre-OCD diagnosis was simply managing the complex details/consistency of my own world in The Wizard’s Circus (the sequel to The Wizard’s Way, still in progress). This way – with Jacob in charge of the basic foundation – if I had a question about the world, I could just ask him for the answer instead of trying to make up one and thus accidentally overcomplicate things.
I resisted the idea, partly because it felt like admitting defeat – that I couldn’t write a book on my own – and partly because we didn’t really have a concept that we wanted to collaborate on at the time.
Until I was formally diagnosed with OCD in late 2020.
Being able to put a name to the monster I faced changed how I approached the monster. I now had a specific lens through which to analyse my problem and as a result could pinpoint how it was manifesting in my writing, and how to fix it.
At the time, The Wizard’s Circus was a hot mess and I didn’t have the skills to address all its flaws. So I decided to rebuild my writing techniques and style from the ground up, keeping my OCD tendencies in mind and playing to my strengths. The result was Monster Punk Horizon.
However, around that time, Jacob and I also remembered his earlier suggestion – that he outline something for me to write. MPH was already well on its way by that point – and my confidence in my own writing back up, since it was wholly of my own imagination – and so I was more open to writing something that had already been laid out by someone else.
Plus there was something totally hilarious about collaborating with my husband on a harem novel.
And the sheer ridiculousness of that situation unlocked something inside my brain while I was writing it. The first draft of Titan Mage was done in less than a month, and it required very little editing from Jacob.
It showed me that, despite my years of struggling to finish a book, I had it in me to write quickly, and well.
Titan Mage, then, sure, started as a joke.
But it – and Jacob’s help through it – also played a pivotal role in helping me wrangle the monster that is my OCD.
So in a way, it’s also a strange little love letter.