I can’t believe it’s already been three days since Prince of Shadows came out! I always get so excited during this first week. My blog tour is taking off, the reviews are pouring in, and I can’t contain the excitement I feel whenever I walk into a bookstore to see that they actually have my book on the shelf! Squee! Three books into the Paladin series now and it all still seems so surreal.
You know what else is surreal? Hearing others talk about my book. I mean, it’s been such a personal part of my life for so long now, from conception, to first drafts, to rewrites, to page proofs, that it seems both weird and exciting to see my “baby” out there in the world. One of the things I always find astounding when I read little snippets of reviews is commentary on my world build. Words like creative, vivid, fresh, interesting are often repeated. And I think, huh, really? That’s cool, because in the very beginning, back at its inception, I did not actually set out to create a vivid paranormal world. I set out to write a love story. The world was secondary, and something that arose out of necessity rather than excruciating planning.
Not that research and planning wasn’t involved. When I sat down to write the first book, Deliver Me from Darkness, I had no idea that my main character was a Paladin. I knew he was a vampire, that he hadn’t always been so, and that he considered the state a curse rather than a blessing. I also knew that he once fought against such creatures. But it wasn’t until I’d written the first few chapters—with the unknowns of his history nagging at me the entire time—that I really got series about building my world. I won’t go into the boring details, but a good dollop of research, a little imagination to make my chosen mythology my own, and VOILA! I had the basis of my mythos. Better yet, I knew I’d gotten it right when the story started flowing, my characters’ lives unfolding on each page without too much angst (on my part, not theirs…this is a romance, after all, and I do so love to torture my protagonists before they can have their HEA).
What came next was the harder part: writing the second, and then the third, novel. That overactive imagination which was so vital in creating my paranormal world now became a detriment. Each new protagonist and side character that I incorporated into my novels needed their own story. Something unique and original that would make them stand out just as much as Roland and Karissa did in Deliver Me from Darkness. I kept on coming up with new ideas, thinking “oh wouldn’t it be cool if,” and “I want to incorporate that myth too.” New fresh ideas area always great, right? Well, maybe… as long as it fits upon the foundation you’ve built already. Balancing the core of the paranormal world I had already created with my overactive imagination became my greatest challenge.
A good rule of thumb I’ve learned to know if I’ve hit that balance is that if it feels right, the pages flowing seamlessly, then probably on the right track. It’s when things begin to bog down, the story feeling more like a jigsaw puzzle than anything else, that I have to wonder what I’m doing wrong. A good example of this is my protagonist in book two. Jessica, from Deliver Me from Temptation, as a werewolf just didn’t fit. When I think about those couple of chapters I tried to write (try being the optimal word) with her as a were, I practically collapse in fits of laughter. How silly, and how “not right.” I’m not saying there will never be a were-like creature in my novels, but the traditional werewolf mythology is not a good fit for the mythology I’ve established. Not to mention that Jessica was not the protagonist to try to force the myth on. Her story was a totally different story than what would have been required if she’d had such a paranormal heritage. And Logan’s story would also have been hurt because of it. The steam of all his fears was losing his mate. And to fully achieve the true depths of his fear, and the eventual moment when he overcame them, he needed a human mate. Not someone with supernatural powers or even longevity.
Book three, Prince of Shadows, was a much easier world to write. Both my protagonist had already had their histories ironed out when I wrote Deliver Me from Darkness, and the groundwork for many of my secondary characters had grown throughout the series. The greatest challenge I had was nurturing those seedlings of ideas I’d planted in the first couple novels, and revealing some of the story arcs that I had been toying with since the beginning in an organic way.
If you head over to my website, I’d like to treat you all to a deleted scene, that although did fit into my mythos, did not make it into the actual book. It was a good scene, but a bit too dark for the opening. Not to mention that I was able to reveal the information throughout other ways in the novel that kept the focus on Valin and Gabby and their love story. I hope you enjoy it! And remember…stay out of the shadows!
Daphne Award-winning author and former Tennessee native Tes Hilaire doesn’t remember how old she was when she wrote her first story, but she’s pretty sure it had something to do with a boy and a girl and a happily ever after. Displaced at an early age to “the north country,” her stories turned darker as she started creating whole new worlds to escape the harsh, upstate NY winters. Now back in the South, her stories remain edgy, exciting, and bring a hint of dark fantasy to paranormal romance. Best of all, no one ever has to shovel snow. For more, visit her website at www.teshilaire.com, follow her on Twitter, @TesHilaire, and find her on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/TesHilaireAuthor.