*The archetypal hero usually reaches a point where they have to isolate themselves from others emotionally in order to survive. It’s a coping mechanism but it’s one that sooner or later will begin to sever the human connection that led them to make the ultimate sacrifice in the first place. Humanity is both the source of the superhero’s power and the source of their greatest weakness. For Bryn, it would have been so easy to isolate her from everyone she loves and in the finale this desire to separate herself from her family and from Roman is something she’s constantly battling with. But unlike most superheroes, Bryn really doesn’t have that option. For every person she saves, every person she touches, she absorbs their very essence and in the process relives every single moment of their lives. She sees and feels everything forcing her to make the ultimate sacrifice while always experiencing the emotional weight of that choice.
*One of the most powerful moments in the story is when Bryn comes face to face with her future self. Everything about her is a warning and yet every step Bryn takes is only bringing her closer and closer to that fate. There’s a part of Bryn that already knows there’s a war coming but for the longest time she’s been fighting herself, her body, her disease. Now that fight has manifested in the real world and for the first time she sees one of its casualties up close. And it’s terrifying. Because it’s real. Because she can see and touch it. Because it can see and touch her back. Bryn from the future isn’t just a warning, she’s a nightmare.
*Using real places as the setting for my fiction not only adds depth but when I’ve hit a block, looking at photos or reading about that place serves as a starting point and works to jump start my own creativity. But actually choosing those particular settings can also be time consuming and tedious. The Koln building and Rheinpark represent some really significant moments in the story revolving around Bryn and Roman’s supernatural connection. In Rheinpark they forgive and fall in love all over again and at the top of the Koln building they find out how powerful that love and connection actually is. Choosing the right setting for these moments was really important and even though I’m writing books and not recording things on film it was crucial to design certain scenes with the visual components of the setting in mind. At a certain point I do begin to think of these scenes as being part of a film and I usually choose the settings that match the context of the scene both aesthetically and emotionally.
*Roman and Bryn’s conversation at the top of the Koln building is one of the most significant scenes in the entire series. It’s epic and romantic and full of foreshadowing. It also creates this false sense of security, although brief, by distracting from the fact that all this power Bryn and Roman have is obviously meant to serve a purpose. This is one scene that actually didn’t change much during revisions. I keep a notepad on my phone where I write down lines of description and dialogue–most of which come to me as I’m trying to fall asleep. Sometimes those snippets are for specific characters or specific stories but sometimes they’re not. While writing the first book I ended up with a lot of great lines that I knew I wanted to mirror in other parts of the story so I was able to fill my notepad with a lot of lines specific to the TGIB series. Roman’s internal dialogue was the easiest to write, mostly because for whatever reason I relate more to Roman, so everything I’d saved–everything Roman felt and wanted to say to Bryn–fit so seamlessly into this moment and the chapter practically wrote itself.
*I really like this moment in the story. Bryn and Dani are opposites in a lot of ways but they never openly point out those differences or bring up the things they don’t like (or fear) about each other. And they never talk about Bryn being sick and the fact that Dani’s not–something that obviously affects their relationship but would cause even more of a strain if Bryn admitted she was jealous of Dani’s health or if Dani admitted that she’s afraid of being sick too. But then she does. In her panic Dani reveals the truth–that it’s her biggest fear to be like Bryn. And Bryn realizes something too–that it was her biggest hope not to be alone.
*Roman has a real moment of clarity in the scene where the Rogues come across the destroyed Koln building. During the first half of the series Roman has this idealized version of Bryn as some kind of savior. She brought him back to life and as Roman still deals with his own demons and *sometimes* secret desire to end his life she gives him a reason to keep living. But in order for their love to be real, I mean really real, they have to see each other for what they really are. The truth is that neither one of them are perfect and both of them are dangerous. Roman sees the consequences of Bryn’s power for the first time and for the first time he’s afraid. As he should be.
*Ticking time bomb # 2-the Dreamers’ injuries carrying over into the real world.
*Totally saw Felix’s guy-crush on Roman from a mile away and I love it.
*AND…why not throw some time travel in there, while we’re at it #genrebendinghardcore
*Bryn couldn’t be the only one belonging to a secret society. The Rogues were a really exciting addition to the story, one that I didn’t expect to be so essential to Roman’s development and just overall wellbeing. They save him just as much as Bryn does and once again I was able to write about friendship; about these kind of cosmic bonds more powerful than blood. They also teach him the most important thing about being a hero; about being good. That it’s not as black and white as he thinks. Heroes can be flawed, in fact, the best ones are.
*Dani and Felix’s squabbles throughout book 2 are so characteristic of that phase in a relationship where you’re both feeling insecure for different reasons and it starts making you act mean and selfish, while at the same time desperate and needy, and just plain crazy. Bryn goes through such a huge transition in this novel but I’m glad that Felix and Dani also have a chance to evolve. Bryn may be fighting an actual monster but they are faced with something just as scary–the future. That time after graduation can be really terrifying. It’s like you’ve been tethered to this adolescent routine and all of the sudden you’re cut loose, dangling over this huge black hole otherwise known as adulthood. Eventually Bryn’s problems sort of become a kind of distraction for Dani and Felix, especially Dani. But at the same time, the very thing Dani is running away from–the future and all of the possibilities that exist within it–is the very thing Bryn wants more than anything.
*And so the moral of the story is revealed. The “themes” I explore in my writing are never black and white and they tend to happen completely by accident. I started writing this series during a time when my dreams were all I had so it doesn’t surprise me that the story ended up being about a girl whose dreams are so powerful that they can change the future. It also makes sense that this would be the story to connect with people on such a big scale because beneath the paranormal elements and beneath the romance it’s a story about the power that exists in all of us, the power to change our future, the power to change the world.
*If I ever pulled a Stephanie Meyer and re-wrote this series in an alternate universe, I’d have no choice but to make Roman a unicorn. And that might be kind of awesome.
*I keep having these moments where I’m anticipating reading certain scenes from earlier drafts, half-way cringing as I wait to come across some mediocre plot point or small but still embarrassing mistake only to find that I’d replaced it with something so much better. It’s been so long since I wrote these novels that it’s like I’m experiencing these stories the way readers are and even though it’s mentally exhausting it’s also really exciting!
*I don’t know why but this is one of my favorite exchanges in the entire series. It’s hilarious.
*Oh, and stuffed mushrooms from Red Lobster are BOMB.
*Roman’s walk to Bryn’s door is so symbolic and I feel like I held my breath even as I wrote it. This moment is a triumph but it’s also Roman’s first conscious step into the darkness. Walking, running, being in charge of his body isn’t just about healing anymore. It’s about fighting. About protecting Bryn. He may be on the verge of reuniting with her but he’s also on the verge of war. Both of them are.
*The next few paragraphs are just as revealing. I expose Roman so much throughout these stories–physically and emotionally–and it’s not always easy. Sometimes I feel guilty about showing the reader his flaws…all of them. But Roman’s self-doubt and his inability to see his own strength are what make him the kind of hero he ultimately becomes. His willingness to sacrifice and to love Bryn so deeply are a direct result of his own insecurities. He relearned how to walk; he beat the odds and yet he’s still afraid of his brokenness being exposed even though his scars are not proof of his weakness but of his strength.
*Bryn has her own triumph-followed-by-a-devestating-revelation when she reaches the top of the cathedral. Her body conquered the 500 steps but as she looks out on infinity those 500 steps seem minuscule compared to the fight she has coming. I never realized before how much her scene and Roman’s mirror one another; how at this point in their journeys they’re beginning to catch glimpses of all of the horrible things to come.
*Chapter 29 marks Bryn and Roman’s long-awaited reunion and not only is this chapter a beast but it’s the kind that had to be subdued with hugs and kisses and all that ooey-gooey love stuff I’d been trying to avoid for the majority of book 1. Honestly, my first drafts are always pretty stale in the romance department and I never feel comfortable enough to write those scenes until my CPs convince me that it’s necessary. I just don’t want to turn people off in a way that causes them to stop rooting for my characters because I know how easily I get turned off by relationships that don’t feel genuine. Romance, whether there’s too much or too little is entirely subjective but I don’t want my characters to kiss unless they absolutely have to. I don’t want them to touch unless it’s the only move that makes sense. I want there to be an inevitability to every move they make and every word they say so that no matter how grandiose the gesture the reader can play along because they love these two characters together more than they love them apart.
*FYI, every single one of my female MCs is secretly obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Because I’m obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
*More things on my bucket list once these novels make me a millionaire: Roman’s road trip food challenge, Bryn’s sailing trip around the world, and building a cabin in the woods with my own personal ski lift.
*Author tip-there are literally youtube videos of everything. In order to research Bryn and Roman’s ride on the cable car I searched for the Seilbahn tunnel and found tons of videos of people recording themselves riding from one end to the other.
*To speak or not to speak? That is the question when crafting scary monsters. In the first draft of this novel the shadows were basically really creepy clouds. There was no violence or wickedness or sense of personality and I realized that even monsters need a definitive essence. Rather than try to make the shadows their own character–which would have been 1 too many, I’ll admit–I decided to go the possession route and use Bryn and Roman’s human friends and family as emotional triggers. Carlisle in particular makes for the perfect monster. Not only does he give the shadows a highly provocative presence but his kind of evil is just plain fun. Plus, possession turns every scene into a guessing game and it serves as a reminder that even without the shadows humans at their worst are scarier than any monster.
*In book 1 Bryn’s grandmother is a slightly mysterious entity who may or may not know about the supernatural things that are happening to Bryn. I had big plans for her throughout the rest of the series and envisioned her as some kind of gypsy fortune teller. But then I got the idea to send Bryn to Germany for the majority of book 2, therefore removing grandma from much of the plot, and then in book 3 she…well, you know. Even though her role didn’t evolve the way I thought it would, the idea of there being this secret sisterhood led by the women in Bryn’s family and whose sole mission was to protect the Dreamers sort of stems from my original idea. It definitely makes things more complicated but I think it also makes things more cohesive. Bryn and Roman’s mantra is that there are no such things as coincidences and even when introducing new characters I tried to keep this in mind. Bryn is not a singularity, but one Dreamer in a long line of supernatural beings, which means that not only is she not alone in her abilities but she’s also not alone in her fight against Anso.
*AND THE PLOT THICKENS. Finally, after more than 130,000 words and nearly 1.5 novels in we reach the original seed that sprouted this entire series. Nightmares.
*Vogle’s “dream reading” machine is actually based on an infant, albeit very real, technology that I saw on the science channel #goscience
*The kids’ area in the German hospital with its Looney Tunes wall decals and theater seats is based on my childhood orthodontist’s office–a place where I spent many long and tearful hours. I had braces for five years and it was absolute hell.
*Sam’s dog Schotzie is based on my Chihuahua by the same name. He was a stray who we used to feed balogna. Eventually we were able to lure him inside where he sat for weeks on the couch with my dad who was recovering from shoulder surgery. He is now very old, very fat, and missing several teeth.