It’s the month of publication for Alarum so I’m back with a few BTS posts for you all! As I say with every BTS post I write, if you’re worried about spoilers or just don’t care then feel free to back away and exit. If this is the type of thing that tickles your fancy then read on, soldier. Read on.
I’m talking characters this week. If you’ve read my character post for the Otherworld series then some of this might sound a bit familiar but for the sake of the newcomers with no interest in reading old posts it’s a repeat I gotta make. But don’t fret, it’s all about Alarum this round.
When I write it’s a strange almost trance-like process. I don’t feel as if I’m actively creating and writing this story but rather that I’m channeling the story of another. In this case a woman named Fury slammed me down into a chair and pinned me with an ice-cold stare that dared me to move before she was through talking. It took little more than a month to finish the first draft and only about three months to finish edits. This was the third book I’d ever written and it was by far the quickest. It was honestly insane how it took me over.
In the past I’d write ~1,500 words on a slow day and ~4,000 on a good day. With Alarum however I was consistently cranking out anywhere between ~5,000-10,000 words a day.
I N S A N E.
I mean have you ever tried your hand at creative writing?? Just that 1,500 word goal will often leave your brain utterly exhausted.
And although I’ve written two more books since, this remains a solitary experience. While I enjoy the books I write, none have flowed as this one did. (And that in itself is something interesting to ponder, but I won’t bore you with that today haha)
While the Otherworld series is told via different third person POVs, the Walking Shadows Saga is all first-person (although each book features a different main character). The main character (and borderline antihero) in Alarum is one complex cookie. She’s kind, she’s cold, she cares about those she cares about and she won’t hesitate to shoot those who cross her. This book really is her story. Her journey. I use a few flashbacks to explain her past but the book really begins when she crosses paths with a man named Connors who takes her onto the dusty road chasing a dream she honestly doesn’t quite believe in.
Okay, but what’s her name??
I can’t even tell you that. Or at least not easily. (What? How can a name be complicated? Just spit it out, dude.) Well, I call her Fury. But she goes through several names through her life and you’ll learn about each one and the person that accompanied it as you forge forwards through her tale. I love a lot of characters in this book. They all felt so real to me, and they still do. Fury is the heart of this book though and she resonates deeply with me even though I’m not entirely sure why.
In this post-apocalyptic/dystopian setting we meet Fury as she has to survive the land, the law, and the love that chases her down. She’s a likable character to some but for some of you she might be a bit too cold, too prickly. And that’s fine. Honestly Fury didn’t share her story for friendship or pity, she simply refused to be forgotten. But this book from start to finish is a story of survival. Every character we meet in this book is faced with the same challenge of survive or die, lead or follow, sacrifice or suffer.
A theme with Fury is “Them or Me?” On more than one occasion a better person would choose “Them” or at least hesitate in choosing. Not Fury. She chooses “Me” every single time. Except perhaps once. But even in her selfless deeds she’s aware of how they can also benefit her. Is she a bad person though? No. I say she’s not. And I like how she’s so cold. It makes her different from the majority of heroines out there on the shelves and it also makes every kindness she offers that much more significant in a way.
I don’t expect every reader to understand or befriend her, but I can’t help but want you all to love her as I do. She’s my favorite character I’ve ever written and this book made me the most excited. As I said, it just flowed. Each day I’d wake at dawn, crack open my laptop, put on my headphones, and there she’d be waiting to continue her story and I’d be held hostage in it until she released me for the day.
Now is this some sort of revolutionary award-worthy novel? If only. I’m not trying to hype up its worth, I’m just expressing how unusual this writing experience was for me and how much I care for it. Several characters die in this book (I refuse to tell you who, when, or why) and there were moments during certain character deaths that had me lost in it. The music on my writing playlist would happen to line up perfectly, I’d see their death playing out in my mind’s eye as if I was watching it before me, and tears would fall from my eyes (if you know me then you know I am not a weepy person). Some I was happy to cut down but others I really didn’t want to lose and yet as I wrote and their impending doom became a realization, I would try to scrabble for a way to save them but they’d hold my hands still and assure me that I had to let them go. I was to listen to their story, not change it.
I know I sound crazy but it’s my truth.
I don’t go into very detailed physical descriptions for these characters. I’ve written before how when I write characters I never see them clearly. I can see settings like a painting but with faces it’s almost like a mirage or fogged glass. And I honestly don’t think physical characteristics are all that important unless relevant to the plot or if it affects the character in some way (e.g. a limp). When I read books as a kid, and even to this day, I didn’t care what the main character looked like according to the author, I pictured them as myself. Red hair and tall you say? No, I think she’s a brunette and short. Is it narcissistic? Um, maybe, but I don’t think that’s really the right word. When I read I escape. I like to picture myself as the main character so as to immerse myself and experience an adventure I’ll never have in my real life.
…Sort of like a ghost possessing someone to feel the world they are not a part of…Hmm…creepy haha.
I’ve got just three more little things to hit on before I wrap up this (as usual) lengthy post. First, if you’re wondering about any romance I’m here to somewhat disappoint you. Is there a special someone and are there sweet moments between them? Yep. But is romance at all a plot-line? Nope. It’s hardly a sub-plot honestly. Trust me, if you knew Fury then you’d get it. She’s not at all the type of person who initiates any sort of PDA. She shared what was important to share but kept much of it private and for herself. Selfish of her, I know. (Maybe if you ask her nicely she’ll let me write a novella covering that three-year gap in Alarum hehe)
Second, I’d like to mention Connors. He plays a big role in Fury’s life and is another favorite of mine. Big frame, dark skin, green eyes, he lives his life with hope in his eyes and hymns on his tongue. He becomes a symbol for many things in this fractured world including fatherhood, faith, and friendship. While some turned cruel and most gave up, Connors managed to find a way to keep his soul. His character was always vivid in my mind. I knew at once what he looked like, how he sounded, who he was, and all the pain and truths he felt. Fury flowed from my soul but Connors came from my heart. I’ve said it already but I’ll say it again: It’s bizarre how real these characters feel to me.
Thirdly, I will tease you a bit and say that a character you meet in this book will show back up in the second book, Solus. (If you’re still a bit confused about how this is a series but not a series then don’t worry. I’m writing a post next week to explain it all.)
And that’s it! Just like that all my ramblings have come to a close. For now. I really hope you enjoy these little BTS posts. I find them fun (but sometimes difficult) to write and am happy to share with you. If you ever find yourself bursting with questions I’ve yet to answer in a post then let me know on my Facebook group Talismonium and if you’d like I can do a video live chat to answer those questions and random ponderings you have with regards to any of my books past, present, or future.
The release date for Alarum is quickly approaching and I’ve still got a few more goodies to share with you until then so stay tuned…