Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Out today! Omega (Penton Legacy 3)
The story behind the series and how it came to be is a typically convoluted publishing tale, so I thought I'd share it today.
In 2009, while wallowing around in misery with the H1N1 virus, I came up with a fever-induced idea: What if a human pandemic vaccine changed human blood chemistry enough to make it deadly for vampires? What would happen if vampires began starving?
I'd sold my first two urban fantasy books a while back and was in that limbo-land between contract and publication, so I decided to try my hand at a few new things at once: 1) a book written pantser-style; 2) a paranormal romance written from multiple points of view--like five or six points of view; and 3) NaNoWriMo.
What a disaster.
At the end of NaNo, I had a 50k-word hot mess. It was a story set in a town called Stockholm, Alabama, and featured a master vampire, Galen, and the human doctor, Beth, he's forced to kidnap. She falls for him, of course, but might have Stockholm Syndrome, thus the oh-so-clever name of the town.
It had some serious problems, besides being too short. It straddled the line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance without ever really committing to either genre. Up to that point, I hadn't realized how very different these genres are to write. And they're really, really different. Its love scenes were all closed-door. This is fine for urban fantasy but is Not Done in paranormal romance.
So I fixed the story. I renamed the town Penton, after a crossroads community in Chambers County, Alabama. I deconstructed the novel and wrote a freaking outline. I committed it fully to being a paranormal romance. I found out that the name Galen was not in use when my hero was born in late 16th-century Ireland, so he became Aodhan, or Aidan. I fleshed out the heroine's character and changed her name to Krystal (after the fast-food chain). I developed a trilogy story arc for books called Redemption, Absolution, and Omega.
Oh, did I mention that it took me a month to write Redemption and almost a year to fix it? Oy! Needless to say, I haven't entered NaNo since.
My agent shopped the revised book a couple of places but nobody seemed to want vampires anymore, so I stuck it away, forgotten, while I wrote the third book in my UF series. My agent, however, hadn't forgotten about it, so no one was more surprised than me when she called in January 2012 and said Montlake Romance wanted the trilogy. Yay! Yikes! I was almost finished with the third book in my urban fantasy series and had two book releases coming in 2012 already, and all that entails. Suddenly, had two more books to write. (Good problem to have.)
Redemption came out in June as I was writing Absolution, which came out in October as I was writing Omega. It has been a crazy ride that all began with a fever of 103 and a dream about vampires.
I learned a lot about myself through the life cycle of this trilogy, about how I handle tight deadlines, about how I handle pressure, about my own writing process. I confirmed I am in no way a pantser, and that I like multiple POV books but they're a lot harder to write than they look. I learned that there is a pretty substantial difference between paranormal fantasy (as urban fantasy is starting to be called) and paranormal romance. I learned to dig deep into characters to find out what makes them tick, and to not be afraid of stepping out on the ledge with their stories.
And so here, finally, we have Omega.
If you're an author, did you have a book that taught you a lot of lessons about craft and about yourself? If you're a reader, do you differentiate between urban/paranormal fantasy and paranormal romance? I'll pick one commenter on Sunday to win your choice of a print, digital, or audio version of Omega (or one of the other books in the series).
BIO: Novelist currently living in Auburn, Alabama. Author of the Sentinels of New Orleans series (urban fantasy, Tor Books) as Suzanne Johnson. Writing as Susannah Sandlin, author of the Penton Legacy (paranormal romance) and Collectors (romantic suspense) series from Montlake Romance. See my author website for more info!