Giveaway + Blog Tour: Shadow Fray (Shadow Fray #1) by Bradley Lloyd

Welcome new author Bradley Lloyd! He's making his first clubhouse appearance to tell us about his inspiration for his debut novel, Shadow Fray.

He's also giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Card! Be sure to enter below. Good luck!

Shadow Fray is House Play

The games we play as children stick with us.

When I began writing Shadow Fray, I was only vaguely aware of where some of my ideas came from. That’s not to say my ideas were completely original (they’re not), but I wrote the book that I would like to read, and I didn’t think too deeply about WHY I like certain scenes or plot lines. We’ve probably all heard the adage “Write what you know,”—and I did. I just didn’t realize it right away.

While I value the time I spent in front of the television as a child (thanks mostly to Voltron), I spent an equal amount of time outside playing and socializing with the neighborhood kids—at least until the fifth grade when I discovered The Golden Girls and decided I liked air conditioning a lot better than the municipal swimming pool. While television and Nintendo certainly entertained me, I can’t say they provided an inordinate amount of actual FUN. Playing games with other kids and using my imagination was FUN.

In m/m literature, I’ve always been excited by hurt/comfort scenes. You know—where one character has an injury and requires some TLC by the big gruff guy, or perhaps Mr. Manly is put in a role-reversal where the weaknesses he tries to hide give way to vulnerability. These scenes create a change in characters’ power dynamics. Romantic literature is full of scenes like this, so I’m not the only one drawn to them. When I set out to write Shadow Fray, I knew I wanted one of these scenes. This was the initial driving force of my book. So, what better way to orchestrate a care scene than put two people in a fight?

A fight leading to injury is not an original idea by any means, but I did want to give equal importance to the fight. I thought to skim over the fight would be to deny the extended pleasure of what was to follow. This is how Shadow Fray was born, and I created an entire world where I could write as many of these fight/comfort scenes as I wanted.

But just why do I enjoy these scenes so much? It’s almost a kink for me, but one that exists in my imaginary world rather than my real one. Not to downplay how excited these scenes make me—I just don’t want someone visualizing me roleplaying adult doctor thinking that’s how I play IRL. Now that I set the record straight, feel free to visualize away if you’re so inclined. But my curiosity was piqued as to where this literary kink of mine came from. Because, you guys, I REALLY like these scenes.
And then it came to me, like an epiphany. This isn’t something new. I’ve liked these scenes my whole life, even before I began reading them.

I blame (or credit) the childhood game of “playing house.” House is the fun game where little kids pretend to live grown up lives. We’d wear oversize shoes or put on a hat to play grown-ups. Then we would outline our house in blocks, pillows, or my personal favorite—a whole floor plan of raked leaves. We would be imaginary parents and imaginary kids, and sometimes the kids would misbehave and get punished. Who knows? Maybe punishment would be my kink if one day we hadn’t had the brilliant idea of someone getting into a car accident.

I can’t be positive, but I’m pretty sure that was my idea. The point wasn’t the car accident (or I’d be into a different kink). Instead, the allure was that the injury required a group effort, an “all hands on deck” approach to deal with the crisis and nurse the injured player back to health. From that day forward, my playmates and I would argue about who got to be wounded. Car accidents were most common, but perhaps you’d be sick, or attacked by a dog, or you fell down the stairs and had to shout, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”

I’m not sure if my playmates all shared this enthusiasm for grave injury, or if perhaps I was just so gung-ho about it that my enthusiasm spread to everyone else. There was something about lying there on the ground and having people come to your rescue. Then you’d get taken to the hospital (which would be on the other end of the basement or in the back yard instead of the front yard). Everyone would surround you as you’d lie very still with your eyes closed. They’d fret and pray and do everything imaginarily possible to make you better again. You got to be the center of attention. All the efforts of everyone else were just for you—and it felt awesome.

So even back then, when I was seven years old, my fantasies involved being tended to, fussed over, and handled with care. Thirty years later, and I still sort of have the same fantasy.

It’s just far more sexy now. You can read Shadow Fray to find out just how sexy it is.

Exclusive Excerpt

In the game of Shadow Fray, fighters must remain anonymous, their secretive matches filmed using multiple cameras and broadcast over the Internet. In this excerpt, Hale, who fights as the champion Black Jim, begins watching Justin, who hasn’t yet earned a name. Of course, Hale has no idea who Justin is, but his curiosity is piqued, to say the least.

     Anyway, the news reports didn’t concern Hale. Mostly he had been watching the kid. He didn’t have a name, so the media began referring to him as “the Visitor,” and the name was probably going to stick.

     From what Hale could see, the kid had earned a name.

     Last night’s fight wasn’t the Visitor’s first Fray, and Hale was now intimately familiar with all three of his matches. The first was a loss, and it was pathetic. Clearly the kid was so shit-scared that he didn’t know how to handle himself. Decent skills but no clue about his environment, which in this case was an old abandoned factory. His opponent gave him the slip in the opening minutes only to drop on him from a catwalk. The Visitor fought well for a while, but then he got backed into machinery and cornered. The other guy used the surroundings to launch himself in the air and kick the kid in the face. The Visitor had finally been put in a choke hold when his opponent hung from a pipe and wrapped his legs around the kid’s neck until he passed out. It was over way too quickly. At least he’d scared the other guy into not prolonging the fight, but it wasn’t good for views.

     After that the kid had been absent for almost a year, which wasn’t surprising considering the beating he’d taken. However, about six months ago, someone had given him another chance.

     Hale tapped his screen to run the second fight and tapped again to pull up a grid view on all twenty cameras to play simultaneously. This time the Arena was a drained pool, probably in an old high school. The Visitor fought desperately but much smarter, and Hale found himself mesmerized. The opponent was never really in the game. The Visitor used the sloping gradient of the pool to his advantage, incline and gravity adding power to his moves or quickness to his steps.

     The twenty grid was too small, so Hale tapped his screen again to pull up a row of four. He loved being able to see the same move from so many different angles, to see how the Visitor’s left bicep popped before a punch and at the same time watch how his back muscles corded through the blow.

     The Visitor fought shirtless, and he was a thing of beauty.

     He was big, but not overly so. Maybe six feet two. He was also broad—not as broad as Benz but broad like a swimmer. How had he achieved that? Good genes? Even Hale didn’t have access to a pool large enough to train in. Maybe the kid had money—though Uppers didn’t fight.

     The rest of his body was clearly the result of a lot of hard work. He had a very distinguished V-shape on narrow but well-muscled hips. Hale paused the video as he got a good frontal view of the Visitor walking under a light, and was amazed that his abs actually cast little shadows. He had big thighs and bulging calves. God, those legs—this guy was strong.

     Hale couldn’t help but wonder how he’d compare. Pushing six feet, he would be on the shorter end of their matchup, but that often worked to his advantage. While the kid was fast, Hale knew he was faster, making Hale the harder target and a force to be reckoned with. He had spent a lot of time over the years fine-tuning every last muscle; he was balanced and evenly developed. Hale would probably have the kid beat if they got into a full-body flexing contest—except for the biceps, quads, and calves—all the important good-looking muscles. He frowned. That was probably why he was lusting over those areas.

     Hale watched as the Visitor’s numbers on the newest fight continued to go up. In fact, numbers were going up all over the system, Hale’s included. Everyone was going to get a payout. Internationally this was an example of the new violent America, the Old West reborn. He had a feeling the real show was just beginning.

     The Visitor was a great showman too. He’d clearly drawn out the fight. What did he look like without the mask? The leather fastened around his head, but his coffee-colored hair was free and his mouth and jawline exposed. The kid kept his mouth relaxed but his jaw forward and determined. In this game, Hale supposed most men ended up battered and grotesque—himself excluded, of course. Hopefully, under that mask the Visitor’s unmarred face would look young yet roguish and innocent with a touch of danger. At least that’s the impression Hale got from the way the guy fought—he totally wasn’t fantasizing. Not at all.


Family is worth fighting for—and family doesn’t always mean blood.

No one knows what calamity poisoned the earth and decimated the human population, but living close to the toxic ground means illness and death. Justin is determined to keep his twin sister and younger brother from that fate—no matter what he has to do. To earn enough to keep his family safe in a high-rise, Justin enlists in a deadly sport called Shadow Fray. He quickly finds himself in over his head, especially when he is scheduled to face the most dangerous player.

Hale—who competes as Black Jim—knows he won’t be on top forever, despite his skills. He fights for a better life for his daughter, but his time is running out as Shadow Fray becomes increasingly lethal. Something about the newest fighter intrigues him, but does he dare defy his masters to investigate? Justin and Hale will clash in the ring, while beyond it the powerful elite and the crumbling world seem determined to keep them apart. If they can find common ground, they might have a chance to fight for their futures.

Shadow Fray Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska

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Author Info

Bradley Lloyd is a Chicago-born author who studied Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He was raised in a conservative religious household but became aware of his sexuality at a very young age—about the same age he learned of his ancestry to Hans Christian Andersen. Inspired by this knowledge, writing became an outlet that helped him cope with inner conflicts and bullying.

Of course, he was no angel and occasionally used his storytelling powers for evil. He once convinced the neighborhood children that gnomes had been real before all being turned into lawn ornaments.

Later, these experiences lead him to work with middle-school students. Now a teacher in the inner city, he shares his love of writing with a captive audience of kids, who are thrilled with true(ish) tales of their haunted school building.

Interestingly, his favorite UFC fighter and former world champion was a student at his school, and when Brad is not reading or writing, you might find him hosting the next UFC pay-per-view event party. His dreams of becoming an ultimate fighter are realized vicariously through his stories and video games.

Brad is happily married to a wonderful husband. Their tenth anniversary was also the day same-sex marriage became legal, and they were couple number seven at the courthouse.

You can read more of Brad’s (free) tales on his website, check him out on Medium, follow IMBradleyLloyd on Facebook and Twitter, or e-mail him directly at

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Check out our Tag Team Review of Shadow Fray HERE


  1. When I was a kid I would pretend I had a business

  2. We used to play Robin Hood (from the Disney version). I was always Robin Hood because I had these cool brown leather, knee-high boots.

  3. Congratulations on your first novel, Bradley. It sounds really goood, and the cover is amazing

  4. I used to play this fake wedding where we used white clothes for the bride's veil, chucking it up there on our girl friend's head. LOL! I played the groom part with our other friend playing as the priest. Of course, we didn't kiss but it was always fun messing with your friends. Laughing until our stomach hurts. :D

  5. Oh man, my favourite thing was role playing shopping/being the cashier at the store. The best was when rationing coupons (oh hei, good old USSR times) got phased out and my parents gave whatever coupons they had left for us to play with. Way more exciting than the new Barbie house we got one year.