Over on my author Facebook page, we’ve been having some fun with Soul Savers trivia in celebration of reaching 7,777 Likes and the upcoming release of the last book in the series. There will be an amazing giveaway for participants in the trivia questions, so check it out if you haven’t already.
Anyway, yesterday’s trivia question required a lengthy answer – practically a novella. 🙂 So why not post it on my blog for longtime keeping? Here was the question:
New trivia! I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this exact detail anywhere, but I know I’ve talked/written a few times about how the first scene ever that came to me for the Soul Savers series was a woman discovering her husband was alive when she’d thought he’d been dead for several years. As if that wasn’t shock enough, he was telling her she wasn’t exactly normal, but a descendent of angels. The second scene that came to me actually took place before that one, and it was that same woman, an author, being attacked by a vampire who told her to stop writing stories about him and his kind. Those two scenes were the impetus to what became the Soul Savers.
So, the question is… How old do you think Alexis was when I first started writing her? (It’s not the same scene now, so the current storyline is irrelevant. Which is why you might have to guess unless you remember me mentioning it somewhere.)
The short and easy answer: She was 38.
And here’s how it all began:
In late 2008, I started thinking that I wanted to play around with writing fiction again. I hadn’t really thought about writing fiction for about 5 years and hadn’t actually written anything for fun besides poetry since I was a teen. But at this point in my life, I really missed it. Not that I expected anything to come of it, just something fun. I was tired of TV, I sucked at World of Warcraft and was getting frustrated, and I wanted to create again. I read, but couldn’t find the story I really wanted to take me away, so why not play around with my own? Every year, we closed down our business for the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and that year, 2008, was when my muse took hold of me.
The angel/demon idea had been stewing in my mind on and off for many years, so I thought more about that. At first, I just had a brief glance of a grown woman sitting on a roof at night, looking over a valley below, and feeling change in the air. Her grandfather was a preacher, which was all I knew about her family. She knew there was more to their lives than she’d been led to believe, but didn’t know what. I thought she was an angel. That’s it. Not a real scene – just a glimmer of a woman. I might have written a paragraph about her, or maybe it all stayed in my head. I don’t remember anymore.
Also during that week, while browsing book forums, I came across an online discussion about Twilight where teenage fans were practically crying (well, they were actually crying, according to their posts, but I figured they were exaggerating, as teens do) because the characters weren’t real. And that made me wonder, “What if a bestselling, famous author, such as Stephenie Meyer, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, or Dean Koonz, was attacked by the supernatural creatures they wrote about, because the underworld was mad for revealing their secrets? Would the readers still be wishing they were real?” And so it began…
The first scene I wrote consisted of a grown woman and man in a dark living room. They had no names yet. She was an author, 38 years old with 18-year-old boy/girl twins who were getting ready to leave for college. He was a newly hired handyman at her house – or so she thought. He didn’t look the same, but turned out to be her husband she’d lost in a “car accident” when she’d first become pregnant with the twins (because she’d been told it had been an accident, she drove a Volvo, one of the safest cars on the road – something that sticks in the final version). He was telling her that she wasn’t quite normal but a descendent of angels and protector of human souls, and she’d soon be experiencing a big change in her life. That was the scene.
So how did they get there? I wondered. Next, I envisioned and wrote a scene that she was in her kitchen alone and a vampire suddenly appeared, threatening to kill her if she didn’t stop telling the world about him and his kind in her books. They fought. He threw her through a glass window, cutting her up and with blood everywhere, tempting the vamp. The newly hired handyman slept in his truck in the driveway and heard her screams. He broke down the door to get to her, and the vamp inexplicably feared the man and ran away. She obviously had tons of questions, so after cleaning up, they arrived in the dark living room scene above.
From there, I had to work my way backwards through this couple’s story, constantly asking, “How did they get here?” and discovering new things about them. I realized 18 years was too long for him to have been gone – she was pretty and intelligent and surely would have remarried by then, or at least have dated over the years. I couldn’t justify her holding on for that long (7 years was stretching it in many readers’ eyes – I’m sorry they don’t know true, soul mate love). However, during his absence, she had to have aged enough for the Ang’dora to show a drastic change in her. So she had to be late 20s/early 30s by the time he came back and she went through the Ang’dora. Once I worked my way to their first meeting, I knew she couldn’t have started out older than 18, otherwise, her naiveté and virginity would have been too outlandish.
So…that’s how we get to where Alexis starts the story at 18, and she’s 27 (and looks even older) when she goes through the Ang’dora and Tristan returns – enough time for her and their babies to age without making the in-between time too long to be ridiculous. I think it’s because of this roundabout way of uncovering their story that I didn’t see the similarities to Twilight that some readers see. I’d started the story at a much different place and everything that happened in the beginning was to lead to the point where Tristan returns and she goes through the Ang’dora. That’s also why I consider Promise to be a kind of prologue to the rest of the series.
Side story: When I’d shopped the books for agents back in 2009, I had positive response to the story, but was told, “I can’t market this. Nobody wants to read about a college-aged character. Make her older for Adult or younger for YA and resubmit.” But because of those reasons above, I just couldn’t change her age. And I didn’t think I was the only one who loved college and would want to read about characters that age, so I gave a stab at the self-publishing thing.
Anyway…after some brainstorming and character exploration, I started writing the actual story on January 30, 2009. I finished the first draft – 180,000 words (I had no idea how long that was for a book!) – six weeks later on March 13. Much changed between that first draft and what became Promise and Purpose. Notice how I said “babies” above? Yes, Dorian had originally had a twin. The question many readers want to know is … Does he still have a twin sister? You’ll have to wait for Faith to get that answer. 🙂