Behind the Story: Two Cuts Darker

TwoCutsDarker125I’ve blogged before about where the original idea for A Killer Need came from. Basically, I wanted a “horror romance” with a possible serial killer hero who I could make believable, likeable, and redeem in some way.

It might surprise you, but Vincent came first, even though his book is only just now coming out. The original idea I played with–and ultimately set aside–was a bad guy undercover as an even worse guy on some kind of private cruise ship. The heroine was in bondage there and sent to him for the night.

You can see why I tabled that idea, right?  I couldn’t come up with a way to make THAT likeable/romantic in any way.

When I started writing Charlie’s story, I honestly had no idea that he fit into the killer storyline at all. He lied to me the whole time. Only after about 30K did I finally realize I had found a way into that killer horror/romance story.

Vincent was Trouble from the beginning. Readers liked Charlie, which was great! But I hadn’t planned on him returning that much. Once I got the idea into my head, though, I couldn’t get it out.  Then I lost balance of the story and had way too much Charlie/Ranay on page for it being Vincent/Mads’s book. Luckily I had a great editor!  Alissa was able to help me bring that balance back in.

You see that “Dare to look beneath the mask…” up at the top of the page?  That’s a reminder for me too.  Sometimes I flinch.  I don’t actually look as deeply as I need to.  I don’t want to explore that darkness.

Aside: growing up, we lived out in the boondocks on a 100 acre farm just off tornado alley. I HATED going to our basement – even though it was supposed to be safer than the house. It was a nasty root cellar beneath the house.  We actually had to go OUTSIDE into the STORM to reach it.  (If you’ve seen the beginning of Twister, our root cellar was a little like that, except theirs was waaaay nicer.)  Small snakes, tons of spiders and cobwebs – you name something creepy that lives under an old farm house, and that’s what we had to sit with during a tornado.

Sometimes writing a really dark, emotional story is like standing at the top of those stairs, barefoot in the middle of the night, scared out of your mind.  There’s a tornado coming behind you.  Wind is whipping your hair and you can’t see.  But you really REALLY don’t want to go down into that black scary hole.

Even if it might save your life.

That’s where a good editor can say stuff like “Explore this more.”  “What’s he feeling here?”  “Can we get more emotional responses here?”

A.K.A. go down into that dark basement and poke around.  You might find something really creepy good in the dark.