One of the pleasures of being a writer is the moment when the story comes alive. The scene bursts into my brain, shimmering images flowing through my consciousness as my hero and heroine argue, make love, and fight for their lives against some overwhelming force.
I love to read – the walls of my house are lined with bookcases stacked three deep with books. Yet as much as I enjoy other people’s stories, they never make me fly the way my own do.
It’s not that I consider myself better than those other writers. In fact, I’m a rabid fangirl when it comes to my favorite authors.
Yet not even Nora Robberts or Lois McMaster Bujold or Tanya Huff has ever given me the soaring high I feel when I watch my own stories unfold.
Those moments are why I write.
It’s not the money, though God knows cash is always welcome, especially in this economy. But if you want to know the truth, I’d write even if I wasn’t getting paid for it. In fact, that’s what I did for years before I got published.
I caught the writing bug when I was just nine years old. Even as a child, I loved the way characters bloomed in my mind like bright flowers – the talking mice, the superheroes, the horses running free across landscapes I’d never seen.
I felt driven to put those images on paper, first with a pencil, then with my mother’s electric typewriter. (Yes, dinosaurs do roam the earth. Arrrrrr!)
I was seventeen the first time I got the courage to start submitting my work. Unfortunately, it takes a great deal of practice to learn how to write, and I hadn’t yet mastered my craft. For years, every story I wrote was rejected.
When I turned twenty, my bewildered father asked me why I kept torturing myself.
“Why do you keep sending those things out? You’re never going to get published.” He wasn’t being cruel. He just hated seeing my crushed disappointment every time I opened a rejection letter.
For once, I had no idea how to put what I felt into words. “I’ve just got to, Dad. I need to.”
He shook his head and turned away.
How could I explain my addiction to the glittering people in my head? How could I make him understand what it felt like to craft the perfect sentence that captured what I saw in my waking dreams?
My father isn’t a writer. He couldn’t understand what it felt like to spill a river of words on the page strong enough to sweep a reader into another world.
Writing is my addiction, my demanding lover, my obsession. Its hold on me is so strong, I never doubted I’d one day be published.
So I kept writing, though I knew exactly how long the odds against me were. I didn’t give a damn about the odds.
The only thing I cared about was the people in my head – watching them live and love and fight…and sometimes die.
No wonder people say writers are crazy. They’re right. We’ve just figured out how to use borderline schizophrenia for fun and profit.
At last my stubborn dream came true. Berkley editor Cindy Hwang called and asked if I’d like to write erotic paranormal romance for her.
But as I finally realized my ambition of becoming a full-time writer, I also discovered what it’s like to write 100,000 words with a deadline looming over my head like a legal tsunami.
Contracts have a way of turning creation into a job. Unfortunately, muses don’t like to punch a time clock.
Even so, there are times my dreams become vivid enough to drive all thoughts of contracts and editors right out of my head. I often had such moments with Master of Shadows.
I watched Belle Coeur pick her way through the ruins of a burned house, searching for the seared fragments of a young werewolf’s spell book. Sparks danced over the ashes as her blonde hair shimmered in the morning sunlight.
I saw Tristan battle the Beast, his sword catching the moonlight as he dodged the bearlike creature’s raking claws and snapping fangs. Powerful muscle rolled beneath his magical armor, blade sweeping in great arcs with all his legendary skill.
My heart pounded almost as fast as the keys I hit as I worked to capture each flash of the blade and surging heave of the monster’s brawn.
When Tristan and Belle finally gave in to their mutual desire, I felt the heat of the knight’s touch, the rise of Belle’s answering magic, the sweet, burning trail of Tristan’s tongue drawing patterns on smooth, pale skin.
I felt each rolling thrust of his powerful body and the answering hungry rock of her hips. I heard her cry of delight and his roar of pleasure.
I also felt their anger and despair as they confronted the ghost that haunted Tristan – Isolde, the legendary lover who’d betrayed and tried to kill him. Though long dead, she stood between them like a cold stone wall, making Tristan distrust both himself and Belle.
When the Magekind marched to meet the Direkind, I loved the cool glint of moonlight on armor, the flash of swords, the rippling snarl of attacking wolves. I saw dragons take to the air as the witches of Avalon formed a shield wall of golden magic against the werewolf wizard’s furious blasts.
But sometimes those beautiful images failed to form, and I was left pacing the floor and struggling to find the key to unlock my dreams.
I’ve never written a book without getting a case of writer’s block somewhere in the process. Hours, even days, are often lost as I wrack my brain for that missing scene, that flash of inspiration that will let me see the rest of the story.
I always take long walks and longer baths, staring into lit candles like one of my witches, looking for the future in the leap of the flame.
In desperation, I often spill the plot out to my patient husband or one of my critique partners, hoping they will make some brilliant observation that will send the story spilling through my brain.
That happened with Master of Shadows one night as my husband worked on dinner. (Cooking is not among my talents.)
I spent a half hour ranting about my frustration as he worked. Suddenly Mike looked up and said something. I have no idea what, because my brain was instantly flooded with the story his words triggered.
I envy the people who deny the existence of writer’s block. I firmly believe those lucky bastards don’t get blocked because there’s something different about the way their brains create a story.
Still, to deny the existence of writer’s block because you don’t get it makes about as much sense as a color blind man saying there’s no such thing as red.
I simply can’t write the story until it’s in my head. Until it is, I’m locked in mute frustration, pacing and muttering and watching bad movies, hoping that something, anything, will make my creative subconscious yark up the next scene. And with it, my next fix of images, emotion and words.
As I write this, I’ve just started work on my next novel, Master of Darkness. I’m looking forward to it. I can already tell it’s going to be one of those fabulously vivid dreams as my werewolf couple battles the wizard determined to destroy the Magekind.
Yet even in the midst of all that conflict, love will still manage to bloom between Justice and Miranda, all velvet petals and raking thorns.
Unfortunately, the details of the story haven’t solidified yet. Until they do, I can’t start writing. But they’ll come. They always do — and I can’t wait.
I need my next fix.
For more information about my books, check out my website at www.angelasknights.com