My Dear Hubby has the rather endearing habit to borrow DVDs for movies he’s never heard of. Sometimes, we watch half of it, look at each other and giv...moreMy Dear Hubby has the rather endearing habit to borrow DVDs for movies he’s never heard of. Sometimes, we watch half of it, look at each other and give whatever it is a pass. And sometimes, we sit there until the end and still talk about whatever it was a week later.
An example of the latter case happened a few years ago when we watched Memento. As the story goes back and for the between past and present, we were very confused for a little while, but the story was enthralling and that one DVD was granted a second showing before it was returned. Memento is a good movie, though not perfect, and the treatment of the story and the plot itself work wonderfully together.
I forgot all about the topic of Memento – anterograde amnesia, which is the inability to form new, lasting memories so that the person afflicted forgets everything that happens after the accident or illness that causes the amnesia – until I saw another movie with the same theme, 50 First Dates. It couldn’t have been more different from Memento, but the question was the same: how does a person live a meaningful life when they’re stuck reliving the same day or having to relearn the same thing all over again?
I don’t know what made me think of these movies and amnesia recently, but once I had anterograde amnesia in mind, I could hardly think of anything else. In Memento, the hero lost his wife before the movie started and is motivated by his desire for revenge; in 50 First Dates, the heroine was single before she lost her memories and the plot revolves around the hero falling in love with her and trying to get her to return the feeling even though they’d never met before so she has to relearn who he is every time they meet.
What if, I wondered, the memory-impaired character was already in love when the amnesia appears, and ready to tell the person he loves about his feelings? What if his feeling were returned? What would it be like to discover, day after day, that your biggest hope came true and you are loved, even if you’re not quite sure how it happened?
And that’s how I started writing Anterograde. Remembering Memento’s scrambled timeline, I tried to do something similar with the two heroes’ points of view. Calden, whose memory is impaired, takes us backward into his story, all the way back to the illness that struck him, while Eli witnesses Calden’s illness, recovery and slow progress from the beginning onward. That’s where having this story has an ebook is so much fun: I’ve added links at the end of each chapter, so the reader can decide how they want to discover the story: in chronological order, from beginning to end, or back and forth, with small mysteries being explained progressively.
If you give this story a try, I’d love to know which way you read it, in the order it was presented or chronologically… or maybe once each way? (less)
Back in January, I was struggling to finish Quickening, the second part of the QuickSilver Codex. After some heavy revisio...moreHow this story came to be...
Back in January, I was struggling to finish Quickening, the second part of the QuickSilver Codex. After some heavy revisions to my outline, I needed to take a break from the novel and figure out if more changes were needed or if I could go forward and write the climax of the book.
I happened to come across Torquere Press' call for submission page, and their Torqued Tales line in particular caught my eye. I'd seen it before, and the idea of rewriting a traditional fairy tale was interesting, but I'd never had the time to really look into it.
Before I knew it, I was browsing through fairy tales and folk tales, trying to spark my muse. And to my surprise, it worked. Looking at a list of French tales, I stopped on Bluebeard's Seven Wives. It was obscure enough (I hoped!) not to have been done over and over, and I could already think of how to make it mine.
A movie star instead of a nobleman... Personal assistants instead of wives... I decided I'd skip the dismembered bodies because that felt just a little too gruesome..! And with just that much, I started writing, not quite knowing where I was going but with the original tale at the back of my mind as roadmap.
Right away, Vinnie's voice cracked me up. He was a fun guy, and I wanted to give him the happy ending he craved. James, on the other hand, was as much a mystery to me as he was to Vinnie. It was only when Vinnie opened the door to the forbidden room that I learned, right alongside him, what was in it.
I was mildly surprised, when I finished writing Blue Hair and 7 PAs, to realize that, other than a few mention of body parts, there was no naughtiness in it. I could have added a bedroom scene, but it felt unnecessary. The characters find their place with each other when they embrace the truth, and it mattered more than showing them being intimate.
The first draft of the story took me two days to write, which is the fastest I've written anything in a long while. It was exactly the break I needed, and when I returned to my novel WIP it was with fresh eyes and a new spring in my steps.(less)
Most of the time, authors have a hard time pinpointing to the moment when the first spark of a story came to life. Sometimes, though, we can look back...moreMost of the time, authors have a hard time pinpointing to the moment when the first spark of a story came to life. Sometimes, though, we can look back and see what event or conversation started it all. Here’s how Beyond The Edge came to be…
I’ve been writing about Anando and Virginia in the Out of the Box series and Leo, Brett and Lisa in the On The Edge series since 2007. Their paths sometimes crossed: Virginia met Anando at the club On The Edge, and all three characters from On The Edge were featured in small or bigger roles in the Out of the Box series. Not a year has passed since 2007 without me revisiting one series or both, and when I wasn’t writing books, I was penning flash fiction about them. More so than any other characters, these five have a tendency to invade my thoughts and demand I give them yet another adventure, even if it’s only a few hundred words long.
It’s one such flash fiction that sparked the idea of Beyond The Edge. In late 2011, I asked my readers which characters they’d like to see featured in a holidays-themed collection of flash fiction pieces. Anando and Virginia were at the top of the list, and their counterparts from On The Edge weren’t far behind…
The piece I wrote featuring Brett and Lisa was set before their series, and it ended up giving me momentum to write the prequel that had been tickling my muse for a while, Before The Edge.
The piece I wrote for Anando and Virginia, on the other hand, was set some indeterminate time after the latest of their adventures, with Virginia sporting a very pregnant belly. One of my cousin had just given birth at the time, and babies had been on my mind for some time already. While I didn’t make it explicit in the flash fiction who the daddy was - not Anando, because as a vampire he can’t father children - at the back of my mind there was only one possibility: Brett. While Virginia and Anando have sometimes ‘played’ with others, Brett was the only human, and the only one capable of fathering that child.
For the next few months, that bit of story continued to resurface in my mind every so often. If Brett was the daddy, how did Anando feel about it? How about Virginia, how did she feel about carrying another man’s child when she loved Anando so much? How did Brett feel about it for that matter, and his two lovers? Had the pregnancy been planned, with Brett asked to serve as donor, or had it all happened one heated night when basic precautions simply fell to the side?
I had to figure it all out, and the only way to do that was to write the story, which I started doing in 2012, late in the summer. The words flowed easily enough, and I was excited to revisit these old friends with a full-length novel. Just as I was nearing the end, however, things came to a grinding halt.
Unlike Virginia who had not imagined herself getting pregnant before it happened, my husband and I have been trying to add to our family with no success for several years. Just as I was about to finish the story, we finally became pregnant… but it only lasted for a very few short weeks. Here I was, having to write the birth of a new character, and mourning a real life that would never be.
Finishing the story might have been one of the hardest things I ever did as a writer. I wrote the hospital scenes through a curtain of tears. But I had to finish it. If we couldn’t have this joy, at least I could give it to my characters.
Looking back, I think finishing Beyond The Edge became part of my grieving process and helped me move past this sad episode in our lives. Maybe someday we can bring a new life home, the way Virginia does in the last chapter of the story. (less)
In early 2012, I was talking with a writer friend about our plans for the year and somehow the topic of ‘millionaire’ romanc...moreHow this story came to be…
In early 2012, I was talking with a writer friend about our plans for the year and somehow the topic of ‘millionaire’ romances came up. At the time, I remember telling my friend that I had no interest in writing one of those. My muse must have noted that down and cackled at the thought of making me eat my words at some point…
Fast forward to October; because of some difficulties in my personal life I was struggling to finish Beyond The Edge, the sequel to both the On The Edge and Out of the Box series. To get back into the swing of things, I reread part of the Out of the Box series and found myself missing Virginia’s voice. For unity’s sake, all of Beyond The Edge is written in the 3rd person POV, while I always enjoyed getting right into Virginia’s head for her stories in 1st person POV.
It had been a while since I wrote in 1st person and I missed it, but none of my planned projects lent itself to a 1st person story. So of course, just to throw a wrench in my plans, my muse dangled a story idea in front of me that would work with 1st person; a story with – you guessed it – a millionaire hero. And because I do enjoy my heroes with fangs, he turned out to be a vampire, too. But just to change things up, and because that initial story idea didn’t fit in any of my existing series, I decided to set the book in a different universe where the existence of vampires is not known as it is in On The Edge for example.
I started writing with only a vague idea of where I was going, but slipping into Angelina’s mind was a treat. She’s a rambler, very much like I am, and she can’t tell a story without getting on tangents that tell a lot about who she is and how she sees the world. I already know her digressions are turning some readers off, but I find they’re very much a part of who she is, with a thousand thoughts fluttering through her mind even as she tells the story of how she met Morgan Ward.
I posted the first part of the story on Facebook as a treat for my fans, and their reaction was enough to push me into writing more. Angelina was all too happy to continue telling her story. Morgan, so far, hasn’t shared a lot of himself with her or with us, but I’ve taken a peek into the man’s thoughts and life and I’ve grown very fond of him. I look forward to revealing more of him in the upcoming sequels.
One last anecdote about how Morgan Ward got his name. It started with his sister, Delilah. In my head, she looks, sounds and acts a lot like a character from a favorite show who was called Lilah Morgan. ‘Lilah’ is the pet name her brother has for Delilah, and ‘Morgan’ became his name. As for Ward, it also comes from Delilah: early in my writing, I had this snippet of a scene in which she declares Angelina will be Morgan’s ward. The pun of making it his name was too good to pass, and the word will appear in one form or another in the titles for all sequels… not that I know yet how many there will be! As long as Angelina keeps talking to me, I’m game. (less)
Since 2005, I've made it somewhat of a tradition to write stories of magic for the holidays, such as The Missing Star, Chr...moreHow this story came to be...
Since 2005, I've made it somewhat of a tradition to write stories of magic for the holidays, such as The Missing Star, Christmas Magic or I'll Be Home For Christmas.
I fully intended to have another short story ready for the 2011 holidays, but I got stuck. My outline called for an accidental bodyswap between two colleagues in a Special Enforcer agency, and the hunt of a murderous vampire and his newly-sired progeny…and it was really a dark story that didn’t feel ‘christmassy’ at all. And also, why should the bodyswap be accidental? Why not make it meaningful instead?
I went back to the drawing board so that the spell became a gift from one friend to another, and the hunt took a more humorous tone. If the story had remained as short as I had first planned I could have released it that winter, but it grew, and grew… and 2011 passed with no magic for the holidays. Not to be empty handed, I released a collection of flashfiction as the freebie Five Eves.
The bodyswap story was ready for the 2012 holidays, however, and Under His Skin was finally released in December 2012.(less)
Every so often, I browse through e-publisher submission pages, looking at what 'special calls' they have at the moment. I...moreHow this story came to be...
Every so often, I browse through e-publisher submission pages, looking at what 'special calls' they have at the moment. I know some authors do that to see what genres are hot or are predicted to soon be all the rage. For me, it's more a way to challenge myself.
When I first started writing in English - 10 years ago, now that I think about it - I applied my words to fanfiction, borrowing characters from a favorite TV show and giving them new adventures. My very first fanfic was an answer to a challenge: someone wanted to see a specific scenario play out, and I was intrigued enough by the idea to write it. Over the years, many of my fanfic stories started as challenges; I really do enjoy writing with someone in mind, following the directions they gave me and wondering if they'll like the result.
So to go back to my browsing of 'special calls' pages...
Once, I was hooked by a call by Samhain for space opera novellas. I'd never written one, but I love the genre and I thought it was a great way to stretch my writing muscles. This was the start of Moonlust.
More recently, I looked at the Torquere page and one word in their announcement tickled my muse: ghost. I'd never written a ghost story. It looked like it might be fun... and it was! In two days, I had close to 9000 words, which was actually longer than the submissions Torquere wanted. I trimmed the story to size... and that's how The Thirteenth Halloween came to be!(less)
The very first incarnation of Bodyguards came from an idea I had a few years ago while reading a ‘special calls’ page from...moreHow this story came to be...
The very first incarnation of Bodyguards came from an idea I had a few years ago while reading a ‘special calls’ page from a publishing company – I can’t remember which one, but I do remember they offered a monthly subscription, in which the subscribers received one chapter from a few serials every month. They mentioned were-creatures in the call for submission, and I immediately started thinking of werewolves, which I had never written. What if the heroine was a werewolf, instead of the hero? Of course, I couldn’t let go of my vampires, so the hero would have fangs. The call for submission also asked authors to push the sensuality a little higher. Fine, then. Two vampire heroes. And to make it a little spicier, they’d be brothers, and they'd both fall for the daughter of their employer, a werewolf king, after they had to run with her when the king was attacked by enemies intent on destroying his bloodline.
With that initial idea, I started planning out the chapters and developing my submission outline…and then the publishing company discontinued their monthly subscription feature. I was so annoyed, I set what I had started aside and focused on other projects.
Fast forward to 2012. When Whitney Houston passed away, The Bodyguard started popping up on TV channels. It had been a favorite of mine back in my teen years. It made me think again of that file I hadn’t looked at in a long time, titled ‘Bodyguards,’ with the first outline of the story I had abandoned. I opened it, just to see... and immediately, it started tickling my muse again. The werewolves would have to go, I decided, because I’ve found out since that first outline that I don’t enjoy writing shifters all that much. So what could I do with my heroine if she wasn’t a shifter? Magic, of course! As for the heroes… I liked the idea of brothers fighting side by side to protect the heroine, but maybe they didn’t need to both be vampires. One of them could be a magic user instead, and teach the heroine about her power…and about a lot more than that.
I started jotting down an outline, thinking I had enough material for a short story or novella, and maybe two or three sequels; I ended up with a full novel, and the bare bones for a series that might end up being 7 or 8 stories. All that from a shelved idea that popped back to the forefront of my mind with an old movie...(less)
When I was writing Fangs & Lullabies, I was confronted to a new but major problem: I couldn’t stop! Before I knew it,...moreHow this story came to be...
When I was writing Fangs & Lullabies, I was confronted to a new but major problem: I couldn’t stop! Before I knew it, the story was well over 100,000 words, and I felt I still had a lot to say. After all, I was telling eighteen years worth of stories! I finally managed to stop and send the manuscript to my editor. Getting it back, however, I was confronted to another problem: she thought the story lacked unity. In particular, she wanted me to either ditch a snapshot or develop it and reference it again in the book, namely the revelation that the demon invasion might have been triggered by the magic that brought Jacob to life.
I couldn’t get rid of this anecdote; it was the beginning of an explanation to the demons! Writing more on the other hand wasn’t a problem, seeing how I had to force myself to stop in the first place. I was reluctant to create a longer book, though, especially in the light of looming deadlines. The solution was simple: rather than adding a stronger demon plotline to the book, I’d center a second book around it, and I already had a title for it: Demons & Lullabies.
I ended up setting that revelation snapshot as a teaser for Demons & Lullabies at the end of Fangs & Lullabies, cut a few scenes to keep for Demons & Lullabies, and started writing it almost right away. The demon storyline shows us the evolution of Andrew’s feelings in regard to fighting, how Nicholas joins the fight, and how Jacob, as he grows up, understands what his dads do and discovers how his birth might be linked to the demons, decides he, too, will be a fighter. We don’t see much actual fighting except for Jacob’s first fights; I was always more interested in the reasons why they fight than in depicting battles, which I have done in other books in the Demons Age series.
I had decided early on that the second book would be structured like the first, with snapshots from every year of Jacob’s life, and that gave me the opportunity to revisit some snapshots and expand on them. For example, the very first scene shows us Andrew the morning after Cara’s death as he has to push through his grief to plan his next steps. A later one shows Jacob teaching Kirsten to skate, as he had promised in Fangs & Lullabies.
Other snapshots cast a new light on things only alluded to in the first book: where did Nicholas get the lighter he carries everywhere? How did Sam Jones end up in the mud? Why was Andrew so mad at Nicholas in the ‘dirvoce’ incident? A few of these questions were asked by readers, and I was happy to answer them.
And then, more snapshots explore things I didn’t get a chance to touch on in the first book, like Jacob asking about his mother, or Andrew’s other Childe, Roxanne, and how she finally follows the same path as Nicholas.
Now that Demons & Lullabies is released, I do need to answer another question… Will I stop here, or do I have enough snapshots to share for a third full-length story? (less)
I wrote elsewhere how the short story On The Edge turned into a series about the three main characters and their club. After...moreHow this story came to be…
I wrote elsewhere how the short story On The Edge turned into a series about the three main characters and their club. After my initial fumblings, I had put away my notes on how Brett and Lisa came together and never intended to write an ‘origins’ story for the series; in my mind, Brett, Lisa and Leo have always been a single unit, and even when two of them get closer like Brett and Leo in Walking The Edge, or Brett and Lisa in Fifth Vision of Destiny, the third one is never far.
When Fifth Vision of Destiny was released, however, a couple of readers mentioned that they were glad to get a better insight into why Lisa is so reluctant to talk about love. It occurred to me then that I still had a lot to say about these characters, and in particular about Lisa. This was how the idea how writing a ‘prequel’ came to be.
Most writers are smart(er than I am) and write their series in order. I follow my muse, and sometimes she leads me down very contorted paths!
I already had that image of how Brett and Lisa had met, but more importantly I had already given hints about it in the previously written books. Before I started writing Before The Edge, I went back through the rest of the series and referenced everything I had mentioned about the past: how Brett had intervened when a patron had bothered Lisa in his bar, how John, his security manager, had followed him from the bar to the club, how Brett knew where Lisa lived although he’d never been inside her place, and other details like these, some small, other very important to the story – these details that I didn’t want to contradict in the new story. They became my canvas, and I worked to fill in the blanks and make a cohesive whole.
One thing that (happily) surprised me was that Leo is not completely absent from this book. Throughout the parts we see from Lisa’s point of view, her old lover keeps popping up into her thoughts, along with her certainty that she will see him again – which of course she does in On The Edge! (less)