I’ve long been a lover of short fiction, and my path into writing came from that direction, too. My first published work with Bold Strokes was a short story, “Three,” that was accepted in an anthology of gay vampire erotica, Blood Sacraments.
When I wrote “Three,” I’d recently re-read Dracula (I often read books on a similar theme when I’m trying to spark an idea for a short story), and I’d been inspired by Dracula’s three wives. They’ve always struck me as a strange part of the narrative: who were they? Why were they there? Why three of them?
What came from those musings was the kernel of the idea for “Three.” I wondered what it would be like if the various supernatural beings of the world—not just vampires, mind you, but demons, and werewolves, and even wizards, say—became more powerful if they created groups of three or more. From there, I decided to make it even more important: those who weren’t a member of a group of three or more had, in fact, less power, less resistance, and were easily kicked around by those who did have a group to call their own.
In another moment of inspiration, I decided to play with the “must be a full moon” notion about how things get a little wild and crazy on the nights of the full moon by making the three nights the moon is full be the time those groups gathered and reinforced their bonds with each other. That left the ones flying solo relatively safe to run amok and try to get their own needs met—all within three crazy nights.
“Three,” then, became a short story about a vampire without a group of his own, Luc, trying to get himself through another month by delving out on the first of those three nights of relative freedom. Instead, he bumps into a rival (a demon who is also on his own, Anders) and the two of them butt heads (and then other parts) when they discover Curtis, a handsome young man they’d both like to spend the evening with who proves curiously resistant to their influence.
Once written, I was happy with how the story turned out, and even happier when it was accepted. As always, the editing tightened the story, and that was that.
Later there was another call, this time a gay erotica collection with a theme for angels, Wings, and I couldn’t help but think of my demon, Anders, from “Three,” and before I knew it, I’d written a sequel. After that, it seemed sort of unfair to have a story about two out of three of the guys, but that was solved when Erotica Exotica appeared.
There, I thought. Three characters, three stories. These guys are done. I was chuffed when I received quite a bit of e-mail and comments from readers about the three guys, and was glad I’d spent time revisiting the characters. Especially Anders, the demon, who appeared to be a fan favourite, if short fiction could be said to have fans.
Then Raising Hell appeared, and really, how could Anders not come out to play another time when the opportunity for a demonic gay erotica collection appeared? This story, though, was much harder work, and the original attempts I made at writing my first idea wouldn’t fit in the word count. I ended up scrapping two ideas before the third one worked under the word count limit.
After that, I really did think I was done. I tinkered with the other two ideas a couple of times, seeing if I could get them into shape for a potential anthology sometime far off in the future, but no, the concepts were too big for short fiction.
The “Aha!” moment was more like a face palm moment, really. When I was trying to figure out what major project to work on after Light was finished, I had made little cue cards of all my ideas, and one of the cue cards read “more Triad.” When my husband saw it—I should have mentioned he’s one of the biggest fans I’ve got of the Triad guys—he said, “Oh! Yes! Do that one. Write a Triad novel.”
“Oh, I didn’t mean—“ I started, but then stopped. When I’d written the cue card, I hadn’t meant a novel. I’d meant work on more short stories. But, like I said, facepalm moment.
There was a reason those short stories weren’t working.
They weren’t short stories.
I sent in the pitch for Triad Blood, it was accepted, and I got to work. Writing with Luc, Curtis, and Anders was like putting on a comfortable sweater. I knew them already, their voices were already pretty solid, and once I gave myself permission to grow the story ideas rather than try and cut them back, those two ideas—and a third—tangled up together into one ongoing narrative that became the novel. It was a blast to write, and though writing a novel will always be hard work, and I’ll always love the short fiction process more, stepping these guys from a series of short stories into their first novel was so much less painful than writing a novel from a blank slate.
I hope readers have as much fun reading the fellas in a full length novel as I had writing one. Even better? Bold Strokes is doing an amazing thing all through May: if you pick up any of their titles in e-format, you get “Three” (that original short story that introduces the Triad guys) as a free e-short story. Reformatted on its own with a truly lovely fellow on the cover representing Luc. Seriously. French Canadian vampire never looked so good.
Going back to the very beginning was a real joy, and seeing how far the characters had come was a lot of fun. And sending off the final proof copies for this novel was bittersweet. It really had been a blast to play with these guys again.
Of course, when I finished Triad Blood, I was once again sitting with my pile of cue cards and thinking about what my next project should be.
My husband leaned in the room and just said, “Really?”
I’m working on Triad Soul now.