Last year, Champagne Books put out a call for submissions. A call for submission is a shout out to authors that the publisher is looking for some specific thing. In this case, Champagne wanted to do a ‘dark heroes’ series, novella length stories that would feature a troubled hero, a man chased by demons who was having a hard time saving himself, let alone a damsel in distress.
My critic, Zelda, told me not to answer the call. Because, she reasoned, all of the heroes I’d created to date had been sweet, funny, lovable guys. They were the antithesis of dark hero. They were, if there is such a thing, light heroes.
I should, she said, think hard and long about moving in with a dark hero. Because moving in is exactly what character creation entails.
It takes me a good long while to write a book. During that time, the characters set up housekeeping in my head. They eat breakfast with me, go on walks with me, and follow me into the shower. Sometimes, they even invade my dreams. Spending that time with a ‘dark hero’ would be a risk. Was this someone you want to share a bagel with for months on end? Zelda asked.
Then my muse, Boo, spoke up. She reminded me that I liked challenges. She said that to grow as a writer, you have to be willing to try new things. You can’t not do it because you’ve never done it before, she said.
And besides, she added. It’s a novella.Novellas are, as the name implies, shorter than novels. In this case, the call was for twenty thousand words, which translates to about seventy book pages, give or take. A novella doesn’t take as long to complete as a novel. I wouldn’t have to spend as much time with the dark hero. I could eat, walk, and shower with him for a couple of months and then, if I really found him despicable, could kick him to the curb without too many tears shed. It wouldn’t have to be a long term commitment.
Much to Zelda’s chagrin, I took up the call. I created Anton Boudreaux, a sea captain living in 1851. And I created the love of his life, Lenora Brewer, the daughter of a wealthy ship builder. I invited them to chew and soap up and amble through the woods with me for a little while
And a surprising thing happened. Or maybe it’s not surprising at all—because it’s history repeating itself. Time and again, I fall in love with my characters as I write them to the page. I fell head over heels for my troubled sea captain. I cherished the time spent in his company. The story captivated me enough that I wrote a part two—To the Wind—which is now under contract with Champagne for an October release. I have plans for a part three, I’m itching to get to started and be in the company of Anton and Lenora once again. Who knows? Maybe I’ll write part four, five and six.
I’ve never written a series before. Zelda has a long list of reasons why I shouldn’t do it. But Boo, my sweet muse Boo, who is often the wiser part of myself, says go for it. Take a leap of faith. You never know what good things might happen if you do.
Till next time