Darkness Embraced: A Rosso Lussuria Vampire Novel will be released this month, and so I thought I’d discuss that.
Witch Wolf and Raven Mask, the first two books in the Kassandra Lyall Preternatural Investigator series had been published. I was working on my third novel for that series, Bloody Claws, when out of the blue one day: a character came to me. That character was Epiphany. The opening scene stood out vividly and Epiphany’s voice was strong in my mind. Her voice was so strong and clear that I couldn’t ignore her or the sweet lure of my muse. I set Bloody Claws aside to work on what I thought would be a short chapter. There are times when a character will emerge, and initially, I may think they have a lot to say, but they don’t. I feared that somewhere on the page, Epiphany would fizzle out. Some characters are not ready to be written and so some stories turn into works left unfinished.
That was not so with Epiphany and she proved it to me. I found myself putting the third book in the Kassandra Lyall series completely on the back burner. Epiphany, so different from any character I’d ever written, got her fangs in me and held on.
It was a wild ride.
There have been times when writing Kassandra that I’ve been pulled by the story rather than the one pulling the story. Some writers refer to that as pantsing (flying through a book by the seat of your pants, with no definitive plot in sight), but I’m also a plotter. I prefer having an idea of what’s going to happen next. But there are moments when a character digs her heels in about something that the only thing I can do is let my subconscious and my muse guide me. With Epiphany and the characters of the Rosso Lussuria, I tried to stay a step ahead of her, but she mysteriously, always seemed a step ahead and showed me that she would rather show than tell.
And show she did.
I couldn’t shake Epiphany and for a character that is a subservient vampire, I found her to be very persistent and steadfast. I sat down and followed the sound of her voice, and what eventually began as one chapter turned into two and then three, and four, and another, until I’d written an entire novel.
I learned a few things when writing Epiphany’s book. There were places in her story that I normally wouldn’t have tread (at least, not with the intent to publish and share it with the world), areas that challenged my own internal comfort zone. She forced me to dig deep within, to throw off the artistic restraints with courage and daring and to dive into the page, her journey, and her world without inhibitions. She taught me to throw off shackles I didn’t know I’d been wearing. But most importantly, she taught me not to stifle any aspect of a character. And when I nearly did so, she resisted, the writing came to a standstill as she become more stubborn and unyielding than I would’ve ever given my subservient heroine credit for.
Epiphany is different from Kassandra in the sense that she’s naturally more sexually liberated and is a submissive. So, to me it makes a bit of sense that when I went from Kassandra’s story to Epiphany’s, I found myself a bit surprised. Epiphany lacks the harshness of Kassandra’s dominance, her tough Alpha-werewolf persona. Where Kassandra would’ve drawn a weapon or tried to fight her way through, Epiphany relied on her wits first, weapons last. Where Kassandra might’ve boldly told me, “Oh hell no,” or possibly to go fuck myself, I learned that Epiphany was a bit more open-minded, not bound by the constraints of modern thinking.
Epiphany challenged me not to be afraid of exploring the darker and more erotic aspects of my writing and I, in turn, challenged her to find and harness her inner strength. Somewhere along the way, she opened my eyes and I realized how many of her perceived weaknesses, were in actuality, sources of great strength and bravery.
The characters of the Rosso Lussuria taught me that, you cannot limit yourself as a writer and to be true to my characters above all else. A character challenges you? Great, if a character’s voice is strong enough to challenge you, if a character is that real to you – you’re doing something right. Go with it. Don’t stifle it; don’t risk missing out on what could be a wonderful and thrilling adventure.
In fact, a little to my surprise, when I finished Darkness Embraced, I turned around and started the first chapter of Summoning Shadows, which will be the second book in the Rosso Lussuria Vampire Novels.
You can’t keep a good vamp down.