I decided to do another 10 Things About… blog post, so here is a behind the scenes look at my necromancer/vampire trilogy.
1. The story was conceived in a dream that was so vivid I didn’t know I was asleep until I woke up. And boy was that ever a relief! I’d dreamed up to when Amaliya wakes up covered in blood and discovers she’s a vampire. Since I was her in the dream, I was completely freaked out.
2. The novel was written during a Fast Draft online workshop. I had written the first part (the dream), but hadn’t finished the story. So I spent two weeks writing 5,000 words a day to finish. It was exhausting. During that time I had my most epic writing spree. 38,000 words in an all-nighter. I couldn’t even focus my eyes or walk in a straight line by the time I was done.
3. The original cover was by Rose Munoz, a photographer from San Antonio. I saw it on her MySpace (this was loooong ago), and asked
if I could use it. She said yes, much to my delight. I still have a soft spot for the original. It was later changed when I sold the trilogy to Permuted Press. The new cover is by the same artist who did the sequels. Her name is Claudia McKinney from PhatPuppy Art.
4. The first year of its release, the book sold 25 copies. No one bought it. Twilight was at its pinnacle and no one wanted a gory, gritty vampire tale. It wasn’t until True Blood was a big hit on HBO that Pretty When She Dies finally found its audience. Then it sold more copies in one week than it had in the 4 years since its release in 2008.
5. I had laid the seeds for the sequels just in case the first book did well, but because of really low sales I didn’t pursue them. When at last the first book did find its audience, I wrote the sequels in 2012 and 2013 due to high demand.
6. Amaliya is the hardest character I’ve ever had to write. She’s so completely different from me I had a lot of difficulty understanding her. It wasn’t until Cian stepped into the story and I saw her through his eyes that I started to grasp her essence. Though she originally frustrated me, I now really enjoy her as a character. I may not always agree with what she does, but I’ll defend her to anyone who says something negative about her.
7. The vitriol aimed at Samantha really,really surprised me, and it took me a while to realize that a lot of that had to do with tropes. People just assumed they were supposed to hate her because she was Amaliya’s “competition.” The truth is that if I’d written the story from Samantha’s point of view, a lot of readers would have hated Amaliya instead. Samantha had a really awesome life with Cian before Amaliya showed up. She immediately senses Cian changing and their relationship disintegrating. Even though she strongly suspects (and is right) that he’s cheating on her, Samantha does everything in her power to save him. Even when spitting mad, she’s a loyal, loving gal. I was happy when quite a few readers told me that they liked her more in the sequels, and when they reread the first book they didn’t hate her anymore.
8. Amaliya is very comfortable with her sexuality. Over the course of the story, she sleeps with four different men and one woman on different occasions. Also, though, it’s clear she’s in love with Cian, that doesn’t stop her from flirting or being attracted to others. Both Cian and Amaliya both regard sex as something apart from love, so they’re happily in an open relationship. This upset a few readers who expected them to become monogamous, but I had to stay true to the characters.
9. Aimee, Cass, Benchley, and Alexia were actually a part of a short story I scraped when I decided to write Pretty When She Kills. Their roles in the trilogy remain the same as in the short story. In the original short story, Cass was hired to steal a relic from a vampire in Dallas. Alexia and Benchley were part of her team. That relic is the ring that appears in the second book.
10. I thought Jeff was going to die in Pretty When She Destroys because he confronts someone very, very dangerous by himself. I anticipated his demise would result in the death of at least three other characters. When I finally got to the big scene, I swiftly realized Jeff wasn’t dumb, and handled the situation with his brains, not brawn. So he didn’t die. So the three others didn’t die. So the bloodbath I thought was coming was diverted because Jeff was smarter than I had surmised. I didn’t force him to be dumb, because I realized that would go against his established character. Also, making him dumb so he would die (and so others would die) would weaken the story. I hate when I watch a movie and a character gets a case of the stupids just so they can die. So that is why Pretty When She Destroys kind of got a happy ending.
Though the trilogy is done, I haven’t closed the door on that universe. I still hope to write a novella trilogy about Cass & Aimee. And should I ever get a really awesome idea for another book about Amaliya, I’ll definitely write it.