Susan just uploaded the next book in the Night Horde SoCal series to Amazon for preorder. Shadow & Soul, Book Two, is about Demon and his one true love, Faith. You can find the deets over on the FCP blog here.
Susan really loves Demon, so I really loved playing with him. Ooh, that was fun. The tortured man? Fighting his own darkness, writhing in secret shame? That’s the kind of stuff that really gets my juices flowing. I’m getting all clenchy just thinking about it.
Sure, I love a good torture. Blood and guts is my meat and potatoes. But angst—tears—that’s my Dom Perignon. When Susan cries while she’s writing, I am intoxicated.
And so is she. She loves to cry, and we never work better together than when her characters are struggling. I’m perfectly content to let them be happy eventually—for a while, at least—but in my view, happiness is hollow if you don’t have to fight for it. And happiness is fleeting, too. The only way to avoid pain and heartbreak is not to live.
It’s a good thing Susan likes her day job, because the stuff we like to write often pisses readers off. And that’s okay. We write what we like, what sates us, but our tastes are…specific. If Susan wanted to make her living writing, I’d most likely bail and find some other writer’s characters to toy with. I get bored easily, and I’m not sticking around to write predictable stories where nobody’s really worried when bad things happen because everybody knows that everything’s going to turn out okay in the end.
Far as I’m concerned, there’s no reason to bother writing stories like that. There are lots of them already. A lot of them are great fun, and I understand their appeal, but Susan and I like to do things differently. We like real people. The kind who fuck up, who are stubborn and impatient, who do things that make you want to shake them or slap them. But people who try to be better. People who are strong because they fight to overcome their weaknesses, not because they have none.
One of her favorite poems is “Cinderella,” by Anne Sexton. It kind of says it all, I think. We don’t want our characters to end at the end of “their” story, “like two dolls in a museum case.” We want them to live, to feel the full complement of emotions, to have the full complement of experiences. Pain is part of life. Pain is how we know what happiness really is. That’s how we see it, anyway.
I like to say that she loves her characters too much to give them “HEAs.”
And I love her characters so much that I want readers to really care what happens, to be as deeply invested as we are. When her characters are in danger, I want her readers to be fucking terrified. When her characters feel heartache, I want readers to clutch their chests.
Susan feels everything her characters feel, too. I just love it when I make her write something and then she slams the lid down on her laptop and jumps away. Then I know we’re really cooking.
So I kill or maim somebody (in body or spirit, or both) she loves every now and then. Make sure everybody knows we got skin in the game—and I mean that literally. I don’t need to feed on everybody, but Susan lets me feed when I need it. It feels good. It feels right, even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts.
And if they get to that happy (for now) ending, after the suffering and strife, everybody has really earned it, and that makes it all the sweeter. One of my very favorite stories we’ve ever written is a fanfic story. In the middle of it the bad guys do really horrible things to the female lead. Even I was a surprised at how dark that got. When we got that couple to a happy ending, I wanted to high five the world. Now *that* was some well-earned happiness.
And that’s why I love to hurt her characters. Because when they can heal and stand up again, when they reclaim their strength and grab it tight, when they can’t be broken no matter how hard I try, those are people I admire. Those are people who understand how good the good is, because they understand how bad the bad can be.
We get that lots of readers don’t want that, that they read to escape stress, and that’s just fine. There’s lots of stuff we don’t like to read, or write, about, too. To each her own, as they say.
Writing is feeding Susan’s soul, not her body, and writing for other people is paltry nutrition for the soul. So we’ll keep doing what we want, and welcoming whomever wants to join us on our bumpy ride. Wrap your arms around and hold on tight.
Happy reading—but not, you know, too happy.
P.S. Susan really loves Nolan, too. Maybe him most of all in this series. His first book is coming up next.