*Writing Bryn’s internal dialogue throughout the first part of this story was like writing an entirely new character, one who was as foreign as she was unpredictable. Writing from the perspective of someone going mad was not only a lot of fun but it gave me permission to experiment with different kinds of diction and foreshadowing. I had a lot of room to play and that spontaneity really transferred over to other parts of the story, hence the large number of left turns that really make this story unique and totally genre-less. Bryn’s short manic chapters were much longer in earlier drafts, mostly because I felt like there wasn’t enough Bryn in the story. After getting to know Roman even better in the last book I have a tendency to prefer writing in his voice and didn’t want to lose sight of the actual hero of this story, which is Bryn. Luckily, after she ascends from her madness, she really shines in this story in a way I hadn’t been able to explore in previous books. She becomes a leader and powerful beyond her wildest dreams but she also makes choices that are so distinctly human and chooses to fight, no longer just for her own life, but for the lives of Dreamers everywhere.
*Knowing that the shadows drive the Rogues mad with self-hate–something Roman has always struggled with–sets the perfect stage for Roman to overcome his fears. Until Bryn confirms the worst of them. I know each novel in this series has focused on separating them somehow but it’s always for a purpose. In the first book they were separated by suspicion and Bryn’s illness, in the second book they were separated by Roman’s lie, and in the third book they’re separated by Bryn’s madness. The problem is that they both need so much saving and in order to find the strength to save each other they have to save themselves first. Over and over and over again. Because with each incarnation, not only are they more powerful but they’re also more at risk. Roman has recovered from a traumatic car accident, he woke from a 6-month coma, he learned how to walk again, and he’s discovered this fire inside himself that can rid the world of evil. And yet, the moment Bryn’s body shows fear, the moment her vacant eyes begin to see him the way he’s always seen himself, he believes he’s just as evil as the shadows he’s meant to destroy. He believes that his mother’s words were true.
*The decision to have Roman be the thing that torments Bryn and drives her mad wasn’t an easy one. In early drafts of those scenes I tried out some different fear scenarios, trying to find something scary and traumatic enough to force her into insanity. I used the vines and her childhood nightmares, I used Anso in a much more direct way, and I even tried to incorporate Sam’s ghost. Nothing had quite the same stomach-turning sting as Roman physically tormenting her while also declaring his love. It wasn’t until after I incorporated that part into the story that I started to worry how readers would react. It’s obviously not the real Roman torturing her, not the character we all know and love, but even though it’s all an illusion Bryn still struggles mentally and emotionally with reconciling her feelings for this person who is now causing her pain. Once again I was thinking about all of the possible roadblocks I could put in their way even after Bryn regains consciousness. These two never have things go their way but I think that’s one of the things that makes the story so compelling. The irony of these soulmates constantly being torn apart is heart wrenching and after Bryn wakes up, their separation reaches new depths, because for the first time Bryn is the one who makes the choice to retreat. It may not be a conscious choice from the very beginning but she’s essentially suffering from PTSD and Roman in the real world is a trigger for her pain more than he is a remedy for it.
*Just realized that I’ve essentially broken the no sleeping/waking/dreaming in the first chapter rule for each one of these novels.
*This has resulted in these characters spending wayyy more time in hospitals than I originally anticipated. I think I expected the paranormal elements to liberate them from that particular setting (you know, once it’s revealed that Bryn was never really sick) but these kids just keep getting hurt!