First of all, I love y’all. All of you who take the time to email and comment and tell me you liked my books, and those who email and comment to ask when the hell am I going to publish another one, and even those who email me to say “I’m done waiting for another book from you, so adios!” Because I can totally understand that position.
I was just thinking the other night how weird it is to write a book, and release it into the wild, and see the reaction it elicits from readers. (I should’ve been writing instead of pondering, but whatever.)
I wrote Kiss and Kin very deliberately, unlike Yours Mine and Howls, which I started writing first. I’d always wanted to try my hand at writing a romance novel, and I love paranormals, especially werewolf romances, so I figured I should start with a genre I know. The plot of YMAH came to me gradually – I’d had an idea for years about a young woman who sacrifices her life to save a werewolf boy, so I started from there. The process was organic.
I was struggling with some plot details in YMAH when I read Samhain Publishing’s open submissions call for shifter romance novellas to be included in an anthology. I thought maybe I should put Cade and Ally aside for a bit and try to bang something out. I already had over fifty thousand words of YMAH so I thought thirty thousand words (the maximum length Samhain was mandating for the shifter anthology) would feel like a piece of cake.
I came up with the plot of Kiss and Kin over a weekend and then I just started pounding out the words. It’s never easy to write a book — never, ever, ever — but KnK was the easiest time I’ve had of it yet. It just sort of fell out of my head.
But, see, YMAH was actually the second werewolf romance I started to write. The first one was set in Houston, and the hero was the Alpha of the Houston pack, and he was secretly in love with his assistant and she with him. But I never got past the first scene. I don’t know why. I just got stuck. But I really liked the characters and when I dumped Houston Howl (I don’t know if I’m going to keep that title), I promised myself to go back and give it another try in the future.
So when I decided to write a novella for the Samhain submission call, I decided to set it in Houston and to use the same world I’d started building for YMAH. And I had these two characters I really liked–the Houston Alpha and his assistant–and I couldn’t see them clearly, I couldn’t give them a story, but I wanted to use them so I put them in KnK because I liked romances where the hero and heroine both have friends. A book feels claustrophobic when the H&H don’t regularly interact with anyone but each other.
I submitted KnK to Samhain, sending a copy to my sister at the same time. I knew I had a possibly good book on my hands when she called me to gush about how much she loved it and didn’t want to put it down. My sister is not a gusher. My sister is not excitable. My sister is the Queen of It’s Okay, I Guess. And she loved my book, and she loved Taran–and she thought Nick and TJ were really fun.
Then I got back to YMAH.
So then Kiss and Kin came out, and reviewers and other readers kept telling me how much they loved Nick and TJ and was I going to a book for them? And 5.5 years later, I still hear from readers about them.
And I just think that’s so cool, and so weird, and so great. I mean, if I’d deliberately set out to write a couple of secondary characters who would engage readers’ interest as much as the main characters did, I probably would’ve failed. But I didn’t — I wrote them into KnK because I liked them and I couldn’t think of what else to do with them. The fact that readers took to them was accidental, unexpected, a wonderful surprise.
Now having written KnK, and Ready to Run, I can see Nick and TJ more clearly. I have a better grasp of who they are and what makes them tick. And the plot’s coming to me, when five years ago it wouldn’t.
Speaking of plots — do y’all think alligators would be scared of werewolves?