My first YA book, “Into Darkness Peering” hit the shelves on May the 15th. I have been asked one question more than any others. What was your inspiration when writing this book?
There are many interesting and fabulous answers to questions like these when people talk to authors. Mine will not be one of them. I’ve been writing for many years, somewhere along the lines of 25 years, and never once in all that time did I have the urge to write a Young Adult novel. When I was a young adult myself, those sorts of novels weren’t really a genre. You had Judy Blume and that was pretty much it. At any rate, I had no interest.
My best friend of many, many years reads only YA or the old fashioned regencies where dancing the waltz twice is considered risque. I kept refusing. I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to think like a teenager again. I didn’t want to work out of memories. Didn’t want any of that.
Finally, she bugged me so much, for so many years, that I caved. Basically, my inspiration for this book was getting my BFF to shut her pie hole.
I figured that it would never see the light of day. I was writing it for her and no other purpose. Which might have seemed like a lot of work for the whims of a friend, but actually I’ve been writing books for friends for years. In high school I would write books for my friends as Christmas presents, staring them and their crushes in modified character form. So this was just another case of, hey, this one is for you.
I figured I hadn’t seen that many wizards aside from Harry Potter, this was approximately 2006 or 2007, and I would just pull out a wizard and go to town. It didn’t much matter to me what the story was about, since my motivation for writing the book was lame. I decided to go for a hero wizard and a girl who was just a normal human landed in a weird situation.
But as I started debating what I was going to write about, an interesting phenomenon began to happen. These characters were chatty. Much more so than the others I’d been writing since I’d gotten out of my 20s. It was just a constant stream of information. The heroine, Voirey, let it be known that, in fact, SHE was the wizard, not the hero. That wasn’t something I’d expected and I wasn’t sure what to do with that. Then Griffin, the hero, gave me a surprise announcement of his own and it was something I very much did not want to hear. I won’t say what it was because it’s a pivotal surprise in the story, but it wasn’t something I was cool with. I argued, but he was insistent this fact was true.
Now, this may sound like I have a special brand of the crazy, unless of course, you’re another writer in which case it sounds like every third Tuesday, but it really isn’t that nuts. Characters talking to me is how I write every story.
Armed with this new information about Voirey and Griffin, I went to work. And I worked, and worked, and worked, and worked. This book is approximately 75 thousand words, maybe on the downside to eighty. It took me 10 days to write this book. Ten. Days. It was a nightmare of fevered typing that never stopped unless I simply had no choice. I rarely ate, I didn’t shower (don’t judge me), I barely paid any attention to my family at all. The characters never shut up. It was a constant stream of very clear information. I would stumble into bed at two or three in the morning and pull myself out at six and start all over again. It was like being possessed.
It’s not an experience I ever want to have again, but it was definitely unique. These were some people who had a very clear and very defined story to tell and I just happened to be the person lucky enough to come along and be able to tell it.
It was the beginning of my new career since, as opposed to what I thought, writing YA was a total joy and it invigorated my love for writing, which had faded to the every-day drudgery of a 25 year career writing veteran.
I thought this book would go nowhere and I began the process under duress. But these characters became my favorite ever and this series is very close to my heart. I love these people in the Soulguard world. Every one of them. I hope all of you enjoy them too.