With the release of The Black Wasp, book 3 in the Vampires of Crimson Cove looming ever closer, I thought I’d write a little about the book that came before it, book 2, The Silver Dagger, which leads directly into The Black Wasp.
The Silver Dagger was, if nothing else, a testament that some books want to be written right now, regardless of the author’s plans. When I finished The Crimson Corset (book one in the series) I knew I’d eventually go back and continue the story of Cade Colter and his vampiric archenemy, Gretchen VanTreese – but I had one more unrelated book that I wanted to write before plunging back into that world. So, fool that I was, I merrily began my other project, setting aside all thoughts of Crimson Cove and its quirky, undead inhabitants. I had a plan, you see…
But some plans just aren’t meant to be, and if I were cannier, I would have realized sooner that the continuing tale of Cade and Gretchen was ready to be told – and now. The trouble was that I really, really wanted to finish this book first; I was very excited about the idea and was sure I was on the right track. It still didn’t occur to me that, as the author, I didn’t have complete say in the stories I told, and the order in which I told them – but for every page I painstakingly completed on my new project, I was besieged by the voices of the characters in the Crimson Cove books. I tried to silence them by jotting down what they told me, telling them I’d get to them soon enough.
This did nothing to keep them quiet.
Not only that but, exciting as my current story had promised to be, every time I sat down to write it, an interesting thing happened: Nothing. Or close to it, anyway. I just could not get the voices of these new characters down – and no matter how badly an author might want to tell a certain story, if the characters’ aren’t talking, that simply isn’t going to happen.
But still, I pressed on, continuing in this vein, all the while congratulating myself on my self-discipline and stick-to-it-ive-ness, purposefully ignoring the fact that weeks – and then months – were passing by and my progress was next to nothing. But I wasn’t going to let that get me down. I just kept gritting my teeth and forcing out every word of my new story – and pretending I didn’t hear the voices of those other characters in that other book.
It wasn’t until I hit the six-month mark that I took a good honest look at my progress. Usually, the first draft of a book can easily be written in that time, and yet I was less than a quarter into it. I realized that at this rate, this book would take years to write. Worse still, when I read back what I had written, it wasn’t very good. The characters were blurry, their motivations unrealistic, and the plot itself was going nowhere.
And yet, I realized, the book I’d pushed into the background, The Silver Dagger, had all but entirely worked itself out in my subconscious.
So, without further delay (and no regret) I tossed the new book aside and threw myself into The Silver Dagger. It came hard, fast, and easily – naturally – and that’s when I finally realized that I’d tapped the wrong vein, that I’d been in the wrong story all along. I didn’t even know that was possible, but I’m glad it happened because I learned from the experience.
I learned that, despite common-sense thinking, I’m not really in charge of the stories I tell – as bizarre as that may sound. Also, I learned that I can’t force a story that isn’t ready to be told any more than I can hold back one that is ready. Most of all, I learned that writing is much more mysterious than I thought, that there’s another power at work there – one that I don’t understand and, I suppose, I don’t need to understand – but it’s a power that knows better than I which stories are ready to be told.
Most important of all, I learned to trust this process – whatever it is – and that has made my life, and my writing, much, much easier.
The Black Wasp, book 3 in the Vampires of Crimson Cove series, is coming in mid-June