In the beginning, there was a daydream of a woman who was strong and stubborn and more than a little broken. I couldn’t get her out of my mind. She occupied my daydreams and stalked me while I slept until I finally started to put her on the page. And even then, there was no evading her. For more than five years now, there has only been Mira with the flaming red hair and explosive temper.
Recently, Wait for Dusk: the fifth book in the Dark Days series was released into the world. It follows Mira and Danaus along with a couple nightwalker companions to Budapest where they have to not only face a familiar enemy that has been haunting Mira for most of her existence, but she and Danaus also have to escape a plot that nearly claims their life and destroys their budding relationship.
Today, I thought I would take a step back and wander down memory lane for a moment to talk about where and when Mira was born, because she had a somewhat rough and unusual start in comparison to other stories that I’ve written.
While I’ll admit that I’ve only been an author for three years now, I first started writing stories when I was twelve. I spent one summer retelling the tale of Robin Hood so that it included a kick-ass female that could hang with the boys. It was just an early sign of the direction that I would be headed. From there, the stories just kept coming. I filled notebooks with random scenes that would pop into my head. During high school, I kept two notebooks on my desk at all times. In one, I took notes for the class I was in and in the other I wrote stories during the boring parts of the lectures.
The scenes rarely ever turned into books. They were just scenes filled with unique people that interested me for a flash of time. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I was introduced to fantasy novels, and suddenly my world exploded into this vast new universe where magical things could happen and characters could be so much more than what I was writing. It was then that I started my first novel. It was the first time that I outlined an entire novel and actually finished it. It was the first time I drew out a detailed map of the world and kept it close to my side as I worked. It was my first true labor of deep love.
Years flash by and the stories continue to come. And one day, a character walks into my brain after I had spent several months reading a wide variety of urban fantasy novels. She was tall, lithe, and strong. She had red hair and a mischievous smirk and a sarcastic biting tongue. I wanted to play with her. I needed to. So, I started some scenes with her in them. At first, she was an elf and then a witch and then finally, a vampire. I found that I would write about thirty pages for each tale she was involved in and then stop. I would open up a fresh document and then take her in a new direction for thirty pages before stopping again.
All those scenes that will never see the light of day were practice. I needed to hear her talk, watch how she walked into a scene and interacted with other characters of varying strength and temperament. I needed to know what lit her temper and broke her heart. I needed to make her smile when all she wanted to do was cry.
Weary of scenes that went nowhere, I finally tried to put this character aside, whose name had evolved from Miranda to Mira. I started a short story about a vampire hunter, but I wanted to tell the story in such a way that it wasn’t from his point of view, yet it was about him. When the narrator opened her mouth for the first time, I knew that I was listening to Mira and the words flowed like water down a mountain.
I was content to leave it as a short story. On a whim, I showed the story to a friend. When he was finished, he simply shook his head to me as he handed it back, saying “You’re not finished.” He wanted a book. It had never occurred to me that Mira and Danaus needed an entire book, but at that point Mira was screaming for more pages and Danaus had begun to intrigue me as well.
For the second time in my life, I outlined a book and the pages pour forth with a new deep love. And Nightwalker was born.
So, for the curious, yes, I still have that map that I made during high school and dream of returning to that fantasy world I created so long ago. And I still possess every note, character sketch, and lengthy scene that I ever wrote involving Mira. The love still runs just as deep for my characters. But if you love the Dark Days series, direct your thanks to my friend Joe. He’s the one that said that I wasn’t finished, and without that, the tale might never have continued.
To celebrate the release of Wait for Dusk, I am going to give away four signed copies of the book to people who leave a comment in this blog entry. The contest is open to domestic and international readers. I will draw the winner on Sunday, August 8 and will announce the winners at the top of this blog post. Good luck.