How did I come up with my unique series of vampire romances? What inspired me to create such a diverse and enduring list of characters? I’m not sure there will ever be an answer. Was it an accident, or did I unwittingly open the door to my mental Pandora’s Box, and like the fabled one, set loose its magic forever into my mind? Whatever the cause, it has quite literally taken over my life.
I guess it all began in the middle of 1992, after the short-lived Dark Shadows revival aired. As a life-long fan of the series, I found myself revisiting my oldest friends and feeling once again the sympathy I had felt as a child for the unwilling and remorseful vampire. That fall, after months contemplating the problem of returning a vampire to mortality, I began writing. Little did I dream I would ever take it this far!
After finishing my first attempt and naming it Lost Hopes, I conceived the notion of a young girl and a Scottish vampire set in the rainforests of my native Washington. In the middle of 1993, I began playing with the concept in hopes of developing a continuing series a romance magazine might publish. I wrote a short introduction to Joshua’s story and tinkered with it for almost a year before my husband transferred to Korea, leaving me to move my four children, two cats and a parakeet from Bossier City to Warner Robins. Reality took over with uncommon force, and I didn’t pick up writing again until 2002.
By the time I was ready to resume work on Joshua’s story, Lost Hopes had been retired to the archives of my mind. I thought I might rewrite the story that was far too wordy and repetitive, but first I wanted to tackle the new project and explore the culture Joshua insistently whispered in my dreams and fantasies. I dove in head first, and when I came up for air, I’d written the prologue and three chapters, and realized with certainty I’d only just begun. There was no turning back – I was writing another novel. It took a year to produce my second work, which I named Dark Destiny and registered with the LOC in 2003. I loaned a copy to my boss, who loved it and gave me a commemorative plaque to celebrate my achievement. It took me five more years to decide to self-publish my work, and by then my chosen title had been used by another vampire author. I chose the title Twilight Destiny after an internet search revealed no other vampire novel shared the same name, and sent Joshua and Catherine out into the world.
I resumed my contemplation of Lost Hopes, recognized aspects of Twilight Destiny I could follow up on, and reworked my first story into the sequel, renaming it The Darker Path. It was as simple, and as complicated, as that. When I realized the potential Ki’ara, my extra-terrestrial visitor, possessed to influence the development of the Community, I picked up the loose ends left open in the first novel, and answered them in the second. Once I was finished, I had successfully ended the pain of my own reluctant vampire, and set the stage to tell Jason’s story. Ronan had other plans.
Dragon Lord came at me with such speed and ferocity that all the friends I had developed in the first two novels were forced to the wayside. Ronan monopolized my time for more than half of his adventure with Tyler, but I led them patiently, if perilously, to Haven and connected the stories in a way I didn’t expect until after it happened. I fell deeply for the dark and mysterious Dragon, and when his story was completed and published, I felt an insane sense of loss.
Jason’s story finally surfaced, and to tell it properly, I had to step back four years and explain how he was struck down and why it happened. Until now and from the beginning, readers of the series only knew he was a Council Elder, and had been poisoned. It was time I brought him at last from his coma. His was a fascinating tale, filled with angels, ancient gods, and, of course, my new Dragon clan. I took the greatest pleasure in writing it, even though I had to create his dearest friend and have him killed. At the very end, I forced Jason to accept his pivotal role in the Community, and Haven’s King was born.
As I contemplated self-publishing my fourth book, I came upon Secret Cravings Publishing, and after a lot of anxious self-doubt, submitted Haven’s King for consideration. By then, I had begun work on the fifth installment, as yet to be named but holding the potential to become a powerful story. When I received acceptance from the publisher, and the subsequent acceptance of my three previous works, the more creative, and enjoyable, aspects of writing fell away while I stepped back and worked on the official publishing of my existing works.
It was Beth Walker, my publishing contact, who suggested the series title, and after rolling it over in my mind, I decided it fit perfectly with what I had worked to develop. Publishing multiple titles at the same time is a lot of work, and it took almost year to bring them all to light. I have to say the ability to revisit my earlier works and massage them through the editing process gave me great satisfaction, because I was able to take all I had learned in subsequent novels about my characters and the Community, and inject it into each story to bring out much greater focus and overall connectivity. The stories became much richer in the process. Haven’s Realm became an entity all its own, and I was now officially a series novelist. Imagine that!
As I resumed work on the fifth novel, I decided to give my readers greater depth of understanding into the inner workings and culture I worked for years to develop. This resulted in seemingly endless research and soul-searching as I explored each member of my Council of Elders and brought their diverse histories together for the founding of the Community. Secrets & Promises took well over a year to write and polish, and is, by far, my most intense work. Vincent, the central character in this volume, waited a very long time for me to resolve his trauma and bring him peace. I’m sorry to say I couldn’t give it to him as quickly as he desired, but he held on with his usual stoic control right up to the very end.
Even as I wrote Secrets, the sixth story awoke within me. As I wrote the epilogue, events unfolded that led the way to even greater peril for the Community and all who follow them. An ancient enemy has returned, and the only man who knows their plans has been locked in a coffin for nearly a century. Christian, my French Councilman, is dispatched to uncover the mystery of his cousin’s disappearance. When he discovers vampire novelist Skye Renault in his cousin’s estate, the three of them become locked in a triangle that might lead them all to destruction. Lucien hasn’t told me yet everything he knows, but I dread the moment, because I have a feeling things are going to get ugly.
I can’t tell you yet how far I will take Haven’s Realm. Until I reach the end of Midnight Skye, I won’t know which of my remaining characters will step forward. Three have given me glimpses, but nothing solid has struck. A lot depends upon what Lucien chooses to do, and that part hasn’t been written yet. I’ll keep you informed of his progress.
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