Welcome to another new segment of my blog.
Every month, I'll have a date with a book of mine.
It may take different forms and formats, but every single one will offer more insight into the characters, the behind-the-scenes, and surprises that I won't even know until I have the date.
I was going to pick a first-in-series, but I don't get to talk about sequels often and just because sequels have the same characters, it doesn't mean we can't talk about them without spoiling anything. It doesn't mean sequels don't have exciting stories behind their creation. In fact, sequels have the best anecdotes, in my opinion.
Don't worry. I'll keep this as spoiler-free as possible if you haven't read the book yet. Hopefully after our date, you'll want to read it.
Also, please note this post contains affiliate links.
Writing sequels is hard.
Especially sequels to books that have been brewing a while.
It took me three years to take the leap and write Killer Heart and when I finished I felt such a big burst of emotions that I remember to this day.
The story had been following me for a while. Changing, shifting, evolving. And because I took so much time thinking about that first adventure, the meet-cute, the circumstances that bring Caleb and Wade together, going into book 2 was intimidating.
So much so, that I couldn't write it.
It was so scary every time I tried to plot it, let alone write it, I had to pull away.
I didn't know what I was doing. I was afraid to fail. To disappoint myself. (At that stage, Killer Heart wasn't out yet, so thankfully I didn't feel any kind of pressure from readers).
I think I finally plotted at some point but the clock was ticking and I had a week left until I had to submit to my editor. And my word count was a perfect 0.
So what's a man to do when they're a week away from a deadline with no book in sight?
Take a 3-day paid holiday from work (you gotta love worker's rights in the UK) at the last minute, book himself in a hotel in the middle of nowhere with the company discount, and hole up for 5 days and try to tackle the monster--or shall I say demon?--he had to deal with.
It's the fastest I've ever written. 50-something-thousands words in 5 days. Give or take. But I feel it's some of my best work.
The Creative Process
Now, just because it was written in less than a week doesn't mean there wasn't any thought going behind it. Remember these characters, this world, had been evolving for three years in my head.
The possibilities, the politics, the growth. It all developed organically.
I knew early on I wanted to bring demons to the table, but I wanted to do it my way.
Now if you've read my urban fantasy books, you'll know I like to take the known, the expected, and twist it in a completely different, unexpected way.
So I knew downright, the demons of this world weren't beasts, or even evil.
They were gods. Higher beings. With exactly the same problems as the rest of us. There was a certain appeal in having these creatures that had a dual presence/existence. That were worshipped as gods and feared as demons.
Again. Twisting everything up like I love to do.
I mulled over the idea of working with existing deities for a long time. I even researched the ones I could use in my story and wrote them down in detail.
But I'd been reading Rick Riordan's Lightning Thief at the time and I liked the idea of creating my own gods, my own mythology. Everyone uses existing deities. I liked the challenge of making my own.
So that's what I did.
And some of the mythology that came out surprised even me. The passage near the end of the book that has impressed so many readers, is something I'm most proud to this day and yet I have no idea where all the inspiration came from. It was probably the result of my four day exhaustion. I was probably delirious when I wrote it. God knows!
But coming up with those additional characters and world, shaped a lot of the stuff that happened afterward and the stories I could write. All the potential. Writing those, made Daddy Heart possible.
Last time I tried writing a sequel to a couple that had already had a happy ever after, I cried. Pulled my hair. Despaired.
So part of the fear of writing Demon Heart was screwing up the romance.
Killer Heart had already surprised me by the twist at the ending that wasn't planned. Now how could I take things further? What was the next natural step for Wade and Caleb.
I knew I had to deal with the aftermath in Wade's life. And since it wasn't an easy adjustment period, that became part of their story. Learning to accept what happened and moving on from it.
Wade's little accidents were the perfect excuse for the trauma he went through in the hands of Christian, but also how he sees himself in his relationship with Caleb. Their dynamic changed in Demon Heart. It had to.
If you've read the books, you know the concept of fated mates already exists in the world with witches and their familiars (shifters).
Caleb's act in the second half of the book wasn't meant to involve fate. Just sex. But I figured out it was the perfect way for Caleb to prove he doesn't care about the past, only the future.
And of course, in typical Caleb fashion, become the master of his own fate.
So there you have it. That was another unplanned, unplotted, unexpected turn.
A turn which will have some hefty consequences further down the line.
I'd love to say that the duality of the deities in this book resonates in Wade and how he has to accept people have both good and evil, but that would be pretentious of me because I never thought of it when I was writing.
But how cool would it be if I had? I could have played with yin/yang a bit more probably. Although the poor man has already gone through enough.
Well, that's it. That's the end of our first date.
What did you think? What else would you like to see from these things? Let me know.
Do you want to find out what the unexpected turn at the end of the book is?
What kind of deities I came up with and what happens to Wade and Caleb?
You can check out Demon Heart here.
Or if you haven't read Killer Heart yet, you can grab it here.
See you next month, for our next date with a book.