Re-read The Boy In Her Dreams Chapters 16-20

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BD-16-20Q1*Roman and Bryn’s fears about being helpless in their own bodies really begin to converge in this part of the story. They each have their own fight and their own obstacles to overcome before they can even begin to see themselves as heroes. In the first book Bryn was so afraid of them being different and of Roman not being able to understand or cope with Bryn’s illness. In his former state of mind he probably wouldn’t have been able to but after waking up from his accident and warring with his own body he knows himself on a much deeper level, allowing him to know Bryn that deeply too.

BD-16-20Q2*I’ve written many blog posts about the painstaking journey towards figuring out Roman’s super powers. Is he human? Is he not human? Is he immortal? Is an alien from outer space? I was constantly comparing my vision for him with every super hero movie I’d ever seen and comic book I’d ever read as if there were specific rules to be followed. I tried to give every ability a name and a backstory but those details didn’t work. They made the story campy and just like all the others. So I stopped trying to explain why Roman and the Rogues are the way they are. I stopped trying to give them a name. I stopped trying to follow the rules and decided to just keep things simple. True. Roman is good. He is the only thing capable of banishing darkness–light.

*Sam’s inclusion in the story was really the fork in the road where I had to decide if this story was going to become some epic world-saving super hero journey or focus solely on Roman and Bryn’s paranormal relationship.Some readers have commented that they felt like this novel really took a huge left turn both in terms of how dark it is and how amped up the supernatural elements are. The first story straddled the line between paranormal romance and magical realism but even though my intention wasn’t to cross multiple genres I had to follow the story’s lead. And this story wasn’t meant to be just about Roman and Bryn. I’m certain of that, and Sam is such a wonderful character, but I’ll be honest…thinking about how I’m going to tie all of these threads together in the finale is definitely daunting. I’ve ended up with a very large ensemble cast, which makes for a lot of moving parts, but I really can’t imagine having cut a single one of them.

*Because the paranormal elements in the first two novels in the series were amped up only after I was deep into writing book 3 there are a lot of scenes much more reminiscent of realistic fiction. Carlisle was originally Roman’s main adversary in book 2. I’d worked out Roman’s backstory prior to writing the first draft and I knew that I wanted his journey to be about redemption. But in order for that redemption to be worth it he would have had to have done something really bad. Which he did that night at the quarry. Carlisle is Roman’s past; he’s a physical manifestation of his demons but the scariest part is that he’s human. He’s a constant reminder to Roman and the reader how easy it is for all of us to cross that line. In the end there’s no way Roman would be able to conquer the shadows without first conquering his own flesh.

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*I don’t know why all male leads have to play an instrument. It’s really not fair or accurate or even cool anymore. Okay, it’s sort of cool. Sue me.

*If these books ever make me a millionaire I will be opening up a Nacho’s Tacos and a Moretti’s. That’s a promise.

*The bf and I went to Ihop on our first “sit-and-eat” date and have been there at least 2,000 times since. While living in Florida it was really the only place we could afford that could basically be 2 meals in 1. Therefore, I must agree with Bryn that only the criminally insane don’t like pancakes.

*Roman’s one act of chivalry prior to the accident where he gives Jimmy’s grandmother Gingy a twenty at the supermarket was totally an homage to Harriet the Spy, which was my favorite movie as a kid.

*The line where Roman’s father tells him, “I thought we could start again,” gives me goosebumps every time.

*Not gonna lie, sometimes Bryn is the scariest character in these stories…and she knows it.

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Re-read The Boy In Her Dreams Chapters 11-15

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*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.

BD-6-10Q2*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.

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*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.

Re-read The Boy In Her Dreams Chapters 6-10

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*And this is why Roman healing on his own is just as important for Bryn as it is for him. Bryn has a tendency to shoulder a lot of responsibility when it comes to the safety and well-being of the ones she loves. She feels particularly responsible for Roman, especially after seeing how broken he really was the night she found him at the scene of his car accident. But there is a time and a place for heroism; for sacrifice and putting others first. Bryn’s love may have been a catalyst for Roman’s healing but the truth is, he’s the one who does the hard work. Because he’s the only one who can.

*Oh, yeah, and then there’s the whole possible demon possession thing. Roman definitely makes the right choice to protect Bryn from whatever may be haunting him from the inside out. But it’s still heartbreaking.

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*When Roman lies to Bryn he does more than just break up with her. He steals her sanity and her hope and the only semblance of a cure…of freedom that she’s ever expBD-6-10Q3erienced. And it hurts. And she’s only seventeen. Which means that it hurts like hell. Which means that, honestly, breaking up was probably a good thing. I know I keep going on and on about the necessity of these two characters developing independently but it’s true. And Bryn and Roman have experienced some really tragic revelations together, the kind of experiences that can isolate a couple and make them dependent on one another. Connections that deep are scary because what happens when they’re broken? What happens when things don’t happen the way you thought they would? Both Roman and Bryn have to find their own strength or else the next time they’re separated…it will do more than devastate them. It will do more than just wound them. It will kill them. And that’s not what love is for.

 

Re-read The Boy in Her Dreams Chapters 1-5

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*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.

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*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 wantBD-1-5Q2s 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.

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*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.

 

The Boy In Her Dreams Re-read Schedule

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