So many times, writers are asked where they got the idea for a story. Because I’m all a-flutter about a particular story right now, I’ll share the behind-the-scenes look at how it all came to be.
Many years ago, I read about Stockholm Syndrome – where hostages begin to empathize with their captors. I wondered what would happen if a kidnap victim began to fall in love with her captor, and vice-versa. I let it rumble around in my head for quite some time, then I turned my attention somewhere else.
About 2 1/2 years ago, I was introduced to the husband of a friend I worked with. Oddly enough, I was actually introduced to him through his sister-in-law rather than his wife, but that’s a weird detail. Anyway, after talking back and forth for quite some time, I agreed to help this guy write a book – a vampire novel, actually – and over the course of time, we discovered that we had a great deal in common, and an amazing friendship grew out of the critique sessions. That, in and of itself, is truly odd considering I would tell this guy that something just didn’t work, or he needed to delete entire pages.
Thus was born this awesome friendship. And as time went on, my friend Jared and I began to talk about writing a book together. I gave him the idea of the kidnap victim, and he took it to a dark and scary place: a serial killer and a potential victim, and at first she does fall in love with him, but then she realizes what a brutal, horrible person he is and she has to pretend to be in love with him. It was genius! We finished writing the book a year ago (and there is a story in that, too). I wrote the final chapter sitting in Jared’s office in his house that was filled with boxes. As I wrote the last words, those boxes were being loaded onto a moving truck, and my best friend and writing partner was getting ready to move several states away.
I helped him move (as his wife had gone ahead and found a job), and as we drove along, I read our book outloud, critiquing as we went. We finished the critique the night before I got on the plane and flew back home. I had my moments of doubting that this book would ever do anything but take up space on my thumb drive. For one thing, I had never worked with someone long distance. For another, the book is quite graphic and violent, and I seriously doubted any publisher would take a look at it, let alone make an offer.
For the next six months, we figured out how to work through email, IM, and Skype. We revised and tightened the story. We let a few, select readers (and a few surprise ones, too) read and offer comment for us. Then, we dove in and started submitting. I don’t know how many rejections we got – about 23 or so I think (Jared will chime in with the exact number, no doubt). Then an interesting thing happened – Jared had been working at an independent bookstore and came across the card of someone from a publishing house called Damnation Books. We both looked at the website, and we both felt that this might be a good fit for our book. We querried with the first three chapter, the final chapter, and a synopsis. Within a few days, we were asked for the entire manuscript. We sent it along. Twentyfour hours later, we had an offer for publication.
Now, I’m a bit skeptical, and I wanted to see the contract to make sure we weren’t being scammed. After all, how many publishers respond that quickly? We did some investigating, asked around, and read through the contract carefully. It was an awesome contract with very generous terms. We signed right away! Then we filled out several forms with tons of information from which the designer would create our cover. We got the cover and we were blown away! Dawne Dominique, the designer, is my new hero! She nailed the main character, and the design is even more amazing than I could have imagined – creepy and compelling!
Our book – obviously entitled Beautiful Monster – will be released on September 1, 2012, and will be available through www.damnnationbooks.com. You can order the actual book, or the ebook format!
This is Jared’s first publication, and he is as giddy as a spring lamb over this! It is exciting for me to experience this through him, and I am grateful for that. And we’ve even started working on not one, but two sequels! So far we have a solid outline for the second book and we will start working on it soon. There’s an interesting story behind the sequels, too, but that’s another blog!