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Friday, March 07, 2008


I think I've talked before about how my characters continually surprise me. No matter how well I think I know them, there always seems to be something I didn't anticipate or know about until later.


Damon from Ravyn's Flight didn't tell me he had a traumatic experience in his military career--something he blames himself for--until I was halfway through the book. I had to go through and add all the foreshadowing later.

Ryne from In the Midnight Hour had a strong aversion to getting involved with humans. I knew that before I wrote one word in the story, but I didn't know why. I didn't even bother to ask why because I just figured the Gineal steered clear of them or something. A few weeks before I wrote the scene that revealed why she feels this way, she finally told me. My immediate response? I don't want to write this. I wasn't given a choice and Ryne was right. Without that semi-flashback scene, the information lacks the kind of punch the reader needs to feel to understand why she's so adamant.

I could come up with other examples from older books, but I had a new one arise in the Work In Progress (WIP).

Shona Blackwood is absolutely gorgeous. Super model gorgeous, but then all the Blackwoods are that attractive. The surprise for me came early in the story--Shona is awkward around men.

Totally shocked me.

I didn't realize it at first as I worked on the scene where she meets Logan. I just thought at the time that the awkwardness was something I was doing wrong. I did some cutting and reworking and then some more. I mulled. And then out of the blue, the information came. Her actions and reactions in the scene seem awkward because she's feeling awkward. I can't believe I didn't figure that one out quicker.

My excuse, I guess, would be that I didn't even consider that someone who looks like Shona would be a geek. She likes going out to clubs, she likes dancing with the guys who ask her to do so, but there are two things at work in the scene that made her uncomfortable.

The first is that she's attracted to Logan. The other guys were just dance partners. The second thing is that those dance partners didn't really require much in the way of conversation from her, certainly nothing more than some mindless small talk, but she's in a situation where she needs a little more to say.

Before I learned of her geekiness, I was having trouble relating to Shona. This made it much easier.

I like surprises like this. :-)

One last side note: Someone posted some links to blog posts that talk about the market and one of the things she said was something along the lines of "demons being the new vampire" and that editors are seeing too much of that.

I was like, whoa! When I first talked to my agent in 2004 about my idea of a hero and heroine who were both half demon, she said it would be a hard sell in romance, but that if I wanted to do it as fantasy, it would be easier. It was at that same conference that I discussed being part of the Crimson City series with one of my editors, and a few weeks later, when I discovered the story he wanted me to write was already taken, I pitched him my half demon idea. The rest is history. :-)

I just have to laugh about the whole thing--from hard to sell to a glut in less than 4 years. Amazing. And I feel slightly smug and very relieved to know I was on the cutting edge.

I better hurry up and get a proposal together for this other idea I have before it stops being unique.