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So a bit about A Dawn Most Wicked. When I wrote this story, I foolishly thought that writing a novella would somehow be easier than a full book. It’s only 100 pages, I thought. And it’s with characters I already know and in a world I already know–it’ll be a piece of cake.
HAHA. I was so wrong.
Piece of cake? Not even close. Cramming an entire story with character growth and relationship arcs–not to mention the vivid 1873 Mississippi setting–into 130 pages was darn near impossible.
This novella might have been the hardest thing for me to write. Ever. I had always known how the the Spirit-Hunters met, but I’d never thought about it in great detail.
I had always known about Daniel’s past, but I had never actually sunk into his head and lived that story.
I had also always known that there was a girl before Eleanor, but I had never had to actually fall in love with her. She was just a piece of Daniel’s past–not an actual person. Like, I had never to be in love with that girl, and when I actually DID have to, she was The Other Girl and I just could not get past Daniel + Eleanor FOREVER!
I also couldn’t seem to get into Daniel’s mind. I had always seen him through Eleanor’s eyes. I had never had to offer up the actual thoughts and emotions that would have driven him to say the things he said.
So no surprise: my first attempts at the story felt forced. I was telling the reader about Daniel instead of showing him.
Several months after starting, I finally realized the bajillion drafts I’d already written were failing because I was approaching everything wrong. It’s like assembling a puzzle and suddenly seeing that the reason you couldn’t squeeze in those six pieces was because you were holding them up all wrong.
The pieces I needed were all there for my story–Cassidy, a Mississippi steamboat, Joseph Boyer, Jie Chen, ghosts, and a steamboat race–I just had to re-orient them.
And as I’ve now said a few times, once I hit on the right story, everything fell into place. The story just tumbled out of me, and two weeks later, I had my novella. Best of all, I understood Daniel–everything about him.
But I never could have worked as fast as I did if not for three people:
- Erin Bowman
- Amie Kaufman
- Editor Karen
- Sarah J. Maas
- The Frenchman
Erin, I can never thank you enough. You literally read every scene right after I wrote it and got your thoughts to me immediately. You held my hand for this novella, and I owe you so much for that. Plus, your feedback helped me hone the story and guide it as I wrote. Your criticism and your compliments helped me hammer this out when I thought the task impossible.
Lots of love to you, Ders. This novella would not exist if not for you.
Amie, you read my finished draft and caught all those nasty little last-minute mistakes. And, as you always are, you were an AMAZING cheerleader. You have always been so supportive and so helpful when it came to the SS&D series. I honestly wouldn’t have this series even close to the condition it’s in, if not for you.
Editor Karen, thank you for being so patient with me on this story while I worked through it bit by bit. You helped me see that the Right Story I had finally found was really only Mostly Right–that it lacked one critical component. And with your suggestions and patience, I was able to find that missing piece. I’m really proud of what we’ve made together with this e-novella, Karen, and with this entire series.
Sarah, you helped me revise this book after the story didn’t quite meet what what was needed. You helped me find a way to keep everything I had written–that Right Story–but incorporate more. I love the story that you helped me find, and as always, I can’t imagine ever writing a book without you at my side. We have our creative process down to an art, now, and it’s pretty amazing.
Frenchie, you are always the one thing that keeps me going. All of your amazing cooking, all of your patience when I am a raging b**** from deadline-stress, and all of your support when I cry frustrated tears or hop around the house with trigger-happy joy–these are what make a book happen for me. I would never be where I am today if not for you and your unwavering support. Unflinching and unafraid, you have helped me ever since that day 4 years ago that I decided I wanted to become a published author. Je t’aime.
AND OF COURSE, THANKS TO ALL MY READERS!!! I wouldn’t be in this lucky position if not for all of YOU who read my blog, buy my books, tweet with me, email me, and do all the awesome things you do to help me. I love you guys so much. Seriously.
So, when I say that I hope you enjoy A Dawn Most Wicked, I really, really, really mean it. I hope you enjoy Daniel, I hope you enjoy the ghosts, the Spirit-Hunters, the Mississppi setting, and everything else in the story.
Happy launch day, my little e-novella!