*And this is where the clock officially starts ticking. One of the most valuable pieces of feedback I received during early drafts of this series was to drop a ticking time bomb early on in order to drive the story forward while simultaneously driving the reader mad with worry. Much of my previous work had a tendency to be very episodic–this happened and then this happened and so on. I was used to writing literary fiction where the plot is mostly driven by the emotional development of the characters rather than external factors. But genre fiction is different. It’s much faster paced and every single word on every single page has to force the reader forward. Finding that momentum forced me to break old habits and think about stories in an entirely new way. Now I measure the potency of new ideas in terms of speed and friction. My characters don’t just need motivation but they also need a genuine fear–something that terrifies them into paralysis or motion. For Bryn that fear is never truly living, either because she’s dead, or helpless, or because her soulmate has no memory of who she is.
*Bryn doesn’t have many diving head first into a black hole of rage and hopelessness moments but the destruction of her sculpture provided an essential turning point in her story. She’s angry; she’s scared but her physical reaction is also incredibly defiant. Her body may be weak but she still has the power to destroy something, even if it’s her own dreams. Even if it’s the future she thought she wanted. Bryn may lose control in this moment but she also gains something valuable–acceptance. She doesn’t give up or accept her disease or Roman’s memory loss as a failure. Instead, she accepts the fight. There’s a war going on inside her, one that will manifest itself in the real world, and as she destroys this symbol of her past hopes and dreams she also resolves herself to fighting for new ones…even if she doesn’t know what they are yet.
*Bryn and Dani have a special connection, one I’ve mirrored in Orphans of Paradise and The Things They Didn’t Bury. They’re more than family, which means that their friendship is forged by a kind of unbreakable bond. I don’t know what it’s like to have a sibling or even a cousin who you consider a best friend. I have childhood friendships that are familiar and comfortable and true but I’ve always been somewhat of a recluse, which is why writing about best friends has always been a fascination of mine. Like most introverts, I’ve fantasized about what it would be like to have an inseparable group of friends or a sister to share a bedroom with. I’ve always secretly wanted those things and during various phases of my life have tried to forge those bonds but the truth is I can’t function in those kinds of relationships. I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost eight years and we’ve lived together for almost six and I have no idea why it’s different; why it’s easy. But for me, female friendships are just different. They’re much more mysterious and powerful and who wants to read a story about an eccentric writer with no friends? Great stories have great characters, which means giving your MC people to interact with who aren’t just foils or plot elements. For Bryn, Dani is much more than that. She’s her soulmate.
*Roman’s grandparents are based on my own grandparents, although his get along much better than mine actually do. My grandmother used to make me eat so much I’d puke and my grandfather would sit with me while I cried for my mom, crying for his mom too. He is very sentimental and cries every time I see him while my grandmother always greets me with a status update on my weight.
*Bryn’s vision of her father being attacked was also a very last minute addition. Book 2 was really quite a mess until the third installment gave the paranormal aspects a more definitive direction. I wrote the majority of the first draft of book 2 totally not expecting Bryn’s father to have anything to do with the paranormal part of the story but it was definitely a fun surprise.