*I’m not going to lie, the first part of this novel is pretty heartbreaking. I wrote most of it in the dark, letting every awful thing I’d been wrestling with over the past two years slowly rise to the surface. I needed that anger in the first draft. I needed to ruin this beautiful thing I’d been spent the previous novel creating. The very intentional undercurrent of hope was not part of the original design but was infused one draft at a time, each revision letting a little more light in until I had a story that was no longer page after page, blow after blow of one tragedy after another. But this is still a much darker novel, something that has pushed a lot of lovers of the first novel away. Paranormal romances are supposed to be about escapism, about fantasy, but I could never write something that wasn’t also about real life. And Roman’s recovery, his sacrifice, his doubt and self-hatred…well, there’s nothing more devastatingly real than that. Sometimes real life is scarier than any ghost, than any shadow, or other incarnation of evil, which is why the first half of this story doesn’t have that many of them. It’s just a boy and his regrets; a girl and her grief trying to survive like the rest of us.
*In the first book Bryn’s family plays an important role in the story and in her development as a character. In the sequel I wanted to follow the same journey with Roman. His family is definitely much more complicated but their painful history is so crucial to who he is versus the person he wants to be that I had no choice but to explore it to its darkest depths. Roman’s father is one of my favorite characters. Is he flawed? Absolutely. But does he love his son unconditionally? Absolutely. Bryn points out in the first few chapters the sharp contrast between her father and Roman’s, which was not only intentional but also meant to shine a light on all the ways our parents impact who we are as people–both positive and negative. Roman’s father is not supernatural. In the grand scheme of Roman’s journey he’s oblivious to the actual demons that haunt his son. But that doesn’t stop him from trying to save him. That doesn’t stop him from forgiving him. Over and over and over again. To me, that’s the best and most powerful kind of love.
*More honesty–I know the whole star-crossed lovers thing where two people are separated and must overcome impossible odds to be together is incredibly overdone but in real life sometimes we leave the ones we love and sometimes it’s because we love them that we let them go. Roman’s decision may have seemed cliche to some. It may have seemed selfish or stupid. But it was also the right thing to do. Maybe breaking up with someone out of fear isn’t right or fair but choosing to heal on your own is. Roman may have lied to Bryn for the wrong reasons but it was so important for him to begin this part of his journey alone. Bryn has already saved him and it won’t be the last time she comes to his rescue, but in this part of Roman’s story, in this moment he has to learn to save himself.
*The first few chapters of this novel were written on my kindle in between reading The Fault in Our Stars. Hence, the avalanche of feels and overall tragic atmosphere.
*Even though the intro to this novel sets the tone for a much darker tale it also has some of the most romantic lines I’ve ever written. I mean, Roman’s internal dialogue while he’s re-learning how to talk is straight up magical.
*Curly girl problem #12-trying to fit your hair under a swim cap, graduation cap…basically any kind of hat.