I’m very pleased to have my friend Darien Cox back for a visit to talk about his new release, Trapped in Your Storm.
Writing Trapped in Your Storm – The Big Compromise
2016 has been one of the most satisfying years for me as a writer, something I’d never have anticipated if you spoke to me on New Year’s Day. Like many people, I sat there in a post-holiday haze, rubbing the hangover out of my temples and muttering, “I have GOT to get my shit together.”
But I wasn’t just thinking of over-eating and too many cocktails. I hadn’t put out a book since the previous July, with Victim of Love. I’d started many, mind you, but nothing clicked. None of those false starts felt like ‘the one’. Like starting a new romantic relationship, there’s a Catch22 involved. Gotta feel it out and take the time to get to know it before you decide if it’s for you or not. But if you don’t at least try it on, you’ll never know.
It can sound a little pretentious when writers say ‘My characters tell me what to do’. But it happens. The thing is, that magic experience of channeling only kicks in once you’ve actually committed. The characters ‘telling you what to do’ means a story is really flowing, and that’s a good thing. But as I was about to start Book Three in The Village Series, suddenly I was in conflict with my characters. Because they were telling me what to do before I even wrote the first word. The problem was—I disagreed with them.
I’d put the first book in the series, Safe in Your Fire, out in March. The second, Deep in Your Shadows, came out in June. Now here I was, late summer, getting ready to write the third installment. When I first crafted the idea for this series, about four best friends who’d been brought together for a secret agenda in a quirky mountain village, I knew they’d all ultimately get their own books. That was the plan—four guys—four books.
It had worked out great for the first two. JT’s love interest is an invasive journalist who comes in from out of town. Then Christian’s love interest is the local sheriff, who has no idea what’s really going on in the village. But when I started outlining Book Three, pondering who Elliot’s love interest should be, suddenly I was plagued with dreams, images flashing in my mind even as I tried to push them out, this nagging thing going against my efforts to give Elliot a fresh love interest from outside the established village community.
The problem was Nolan. Nolan, the fourth team member. Elliot’s best friend. The guy who was supposed to feature in his own book next. I had it all worked out. Elliot would be Book Three. Nolan would be Book Four. But now suddenly, they’re telling me they want to be together. That they want it to be their story, not separate, but combined. These two friends wanted a story about them becoming lovers.
What a freaking mess I was in.
As the scenes and dialog and images of Nolan and Elliot together continued forcing their way into my thoughts, I struggled to push them out. I can’t give you guys this! You can’t be romantically linked! I need to separate you so you’ll each have your own book! I had plans, dammit. This is not what’s supposed to happen, you jerks!
I voiced my complaints to writer friends I trust, to my editor, to my significant other. They all told me what I already knew. You have to write what you’re feeling. You can’t force it another way for the sole purpose of dragging the series out for a fourth book. It’s hard enough to achieve that feeling to begin with. Now you’re gonna fight it? Fight something that’s already happening?
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘kill your darlings’, but it usually refers to a plot point the author finds clever but adds nothing to the story. But this time, I had to kill an entire book—this fourth book I’d planned to be solely about Nolan. I agonized over it, got annoyed at the characters, and worried it was the wrong choice. How would this work? Nolan and Elliot’s friendship is so deep, they work together on top secret projects, and the stability of their relationship is crucial to the entire team in Singing Bear Village. What if it doesn’t work? Will readers of The Village Series freak out and say what the hell are you doing? Because that’s what I was asking myself. What the hell am I doing?
Ultimately I had to make a choice. To do exactly what Elliot and Nolan wanted to do—take a risk. I’m pleased to say, I’m glad I took that risk. Still unsure if this would work, I started the story, and said okay boys, have at it. Show me what you got.
They showed me all right. Once those floodgates opened, Elliot and Nolan’s story spilled out so fast my wrists were aching trying to keep up with it. It felt natural, right, the perfect mix of awkwardness and excitement, and ultimately for me, one of the most enjoyable love stories I’ve ever written.
And so Book Three, Trapped in Your Storm, came out this week. It is Elliot and Nolan’s story, and concludes The Village Series with a bang—both in and out of the bedroom. So I invite readers of the series to follow along that risky path with Nolan and Elliot, and see how it turns out. With luck, you’ll have as much fun with it as I did. Thanks for reading!
Note from Skyla: I STILL HOPE THERE IS MORE SINGING BEAR VILLAGE BECAUSE BAZ.
Safe in Your Fire, the first in The Village series, is currently 99c–pick it up and then keep reading! Deep in Your Shadows is next, followed by the new release Trapped in Your Storm.