There’s a certain click that often happens for me as I near the end of a series.
At the beginning of a new series, there’s just excitement. It’s a new shiny, a fresh idea, so much to run with to see what happens to the characters forming in my head.
Many of these ideas fade to wisps as I move on before I even set them on paper, but a lucky few enter the stage of actual writing.
During the writing, I’m focused on the mechanics. The structure, the development, hitting the right notes. I put all of my blood, sweat, and tears (often literally) into each novel, to get everything just so.
But in the process, I often lose sight of what exactly I’m doing. I’m too close to appreciate the magic that happens between concept and final draft, the changes that occur to myself as well as the characters as they go from flat one-dimensions to full walk-off-the-page dimensions.
As long as the series remains a work in progress, I’m blind to the real beauty of the work.
Until I reach the final book.
And that’s what has now happened with my Invisible Entente series. Although there are still 2 more to be published before the end (Happy Book Release Day, Howl of the Fettered Wolf!), the finale is already drafted, and I’ m taking my first of fifteen stabs at working it into shape.
And now I’m appreciating how much I adore these characters, how much they’ve meant to me, and how much I’m going to miss them.
I’ve gone on a few Twitter threads about this, but I thought it might be worth it to finally set it into a blog post. Because I feel my readers (or anyone who’s interested, really) should have a chance to see them the way I do. Even if you never grab a copy of the book, even if it’s not your genre, or you’re not sold on the story, maybe you find someone here you relate to. Something that makes you laugh or roll your eyes and go, “Wow, yeah, that’s definitely me/my husband/our hilarious Uncle Ted.”
So what is it I love so much about my Invisible Entente characters?
All of them.
But they’re not content to stay that way. They face it, accept it, and then come out fighting to see how they can get their shattered pieces to work for them. They inspire me, and it’s been such a treat to work with them.
Look at many of the big fantastical stories/films out these days. They’re all about the origin of the character, the moment that turns them from an everyday Joe/Jane into a superhero.
What I’ve enjoyed about this series is that they all start with power. They know what they are and what they’re supposed to be — what they could become if they let themselves slip — and have spent their entire lives working against their natures, striving to reach their full potential, the best versions of themselves.
Take Daphne Heartstone (Death at Peony House). She’s the daughter of a sorceress and a sorcerer, descended from a sorceress of legend, but with strong bloodlines on both sides. At this point, you could just assume that “of course she’s going to come out to be most powerful sorceress. What a cliché!” but the fact is she wasn’t born the most powerful. She was manipulated by her father to believe she would only be worth his love and affection if she strove to attain that goal. She sacrificed so much to reach it — killing, stealing, torturing — that she corrupted herself. So, yes, she became the most powerful sorceress of her generation, but to a point where she couldn’t look herself in the mirror anymore. By the time the events at Peony House take place, the epiphany of where her life has led her has shattered her. She’s afraid to use her power, left to slowly gain back the trust she’s lost with her family, her friends, all without losing what she’s made of herself in her human life. She’s being pulled in so many directions, striving to discover how to move forward while trying to atone for the crimes of her past.
Gabriel Mulligan (Song of Wishrock Harbor) was born a monster, or so he believes. His father’s Fae genes grant him the ability to rift from place to place through the Fae dimension (and to eat whatever he wants without gaining a pound, the bastard), but his Gorgon heritage has kept him isolated behind a pair of mirrored sunglasses to avoid turning anyone to stone. He grew up with only his brother for a friend, and since then has limited his social interactions to pure necessity, preferring to do everything remotely. It’s impossible for that kind of loneliness not to eat away at you. He hides it well behind a screen of wit and humor, but he’s constantly on edge, worried that even an accidental glance in the mirror could end his life. To help give back and find some purpose in his life, he opened his private investigation agency, and while it gives him focus, it also pushes him to search out monsters, which constantly reflect his own nature back at him.
And then there’s Allegra Rossi (Shadows in the Garden Hotel), my poor, beautiful succubus. She was born perfect, brought up to put beauty before everything else, but is stuck with a need to kill in order to survive. Her very nature is made up of the ugliness she was trained to avoid, a paradox she’s been struggling with all of her life. Is it any wonder she takes her frustrations and impatience out on the people around her? She’s constantly stalked by a threat, but the threat is in her own mind. When she finds herself trapped within New Haven’s city limits, it’s almost as though the cage she’s put around her mind has now been put around the rest of her, and she can’t breathe. Her only coping mechanism throughout her life has been to run, because at least in busyness, she can avoid the call of her succubus blood, but that’s been taken away from her, testing her, and pushing her to her limits, which come to a head at The Garden Hotel.
Of the lot, Vera Goodall (Howl of the Fettered Wolf) might seem to be the most grounded of the bunch. Yes, she’s the daughter of a vengeance demigoddess and has to fulfill her role in the balance of the world by considering vengeance contracts from the people who summon her, but she grew up in a good family home, with supportive and loving parents who showed her how to walk the line between the otherworld and the mundane. But in reality, she’s just as flawed as the others. She’s cautious and restrained, attempting to spin all of her plates without dropping one, and if anyone has ever tried to do this, you know it’s next to impossible. Especially when some of those plates are life-and-death responsibilities. She’s so tightly controlled that she has no idea how to relax and let herself go, which makes it difficult to appreciate the beauty of the world for all its flaws and inconsistencies. And even harder to open herself up to the possibility of life-changing relationships.
Molly Harris, the human of the group, fits in here as well. She’s a sixteen-year-old high school girl who is deafblind and an archer. I spent a great deal of time researching the experiences of people with deafblindness and am awed by the way human beings learn to adapt and accommodate themselves in a rapidly changing world. Not only is Molly working to get through school, on the brink of deciding what she wants to do when she graduates and dealing with all the pangs that come from being sixteen, but now she also has to adapt and accommodate to a world of magic, of demons and angels. Her life has never been ordinary, but now she’s been sucked into the extraordinary, and her growth through the otherworld—her strength and compassion, her courage and cleverness—is constantly at war with her uncertainty and fear.
Finally, there is Zachariel, the daemelus. The angel/demon hybrid who doesn’t know why he exists or what role he’s supposed to fill in this world. Demon mother and angel father, he sticks to the shadows, embraced by neither side. He believes himself to be an outcast, an otherworldly freak, and only his honour debt to Molly and his hope that one day he’ll find answers about his nature keep him on this earth. He is a literal walking struggle between good and evil, each side tempering the other, as he explores one of the oldest questions in the universe: what is the meaning of his existence?
Each of these characters taps into a different part of my psyche and makes me confront questions about myself as well as them as I write them. I love the challenge, the beauty of their flaws, and the trouble they get into as they try to work these situations out for themselves.
The series has been a journey, and while I’m glad it’s not over yet, I’m also happy that the end is in sight so I can finally sit back and appreciate the complexities from a new angle. I believe it’ll make the final draft of the final book that much stronger.
I hope you enjoyed this little bit of insight into my brain! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. If you’ve already been following the ensemble, then I thank you for helping me produce the next books. If I’ve convinced you to give them a chance, then I hope you fall in love with them as much as I have and encourage you to share your thoughts below.