Monday, July 1, 2013

AWAKENING 2 RELEASE PARTY: Origins of the Lilly Frank trilogy

Awakening 2 is out today, July 1, 2013!

To commemorate the release of Awakening 2 today, I thought it fitting to share with you the story about the origins of this series. Que te disfrutes. Please also check out my other post today to get in on all the other Release Party events, including guest posts on my friends' blogs and a chance to win a free copy of the first two books of the Lilly Frank series.

I started writing the Lilly Frank trilogy in 2008, when I was in Madrid, had a lot of time on my hands and was feeling pretty lonely. One day I read a bestselling mystery book that my roommate’s mother had left when she’d visited. I enjoyed it, but also I thought, “Well I could do better than this.” Later it turned out that it was a lot harder than I thought, and I gained a lot more respect for that writer. But the point was that the book I read was published even though it wasn’t perfect, and that gave me the courage to try.

So I started writing a mystery/adventure/vampire/romance novel about Lilly Frank, a wealthy socialite/law student who turned bumbling assassin-for-hire after her mother’s brutal murder and the justice system’s subsequent failure to bring the justice. I envisioned Lilly as a cross between Bridget Jones and Stephanie Plum with a bit of a tragic side to her. (Had I met Darynda Jones's Charlie Davidson at that time, she would have definitely been an influence.) But here's the plot twist: at some point during the first book Lilly was going to realize that, of her three successful hits, she had not managed to kill anyone; someone else was killing for her and letting her take the credit. (Dun dun dunnnnn!!!)

Four years of my life later, I’d managed to write a whopping 25 pages of the first novel (I always knew it would be a trilogy) and was frustrated with my lack of motivation. I took a genre fiction writing class and made some progress, but as soon as the class was over I stopped writing again.

Finally, early in 2012, I decided I was going to finish writing this story if it killed me (though I was reasonably certain it wouldn't), and when I was done I was going to self-publish it as an exercise in becoming more comfortable with imperfection. But when I picked up the story again, it was clear to me that there were more plot elements than I had the skill to weave together. Something had to change, so Lilly stopped being an assassin-for-hire, and I focused instead on her attraction to vampirism as a strategy for feeling safe in the world.

On this special day, July 1, 2013, the day that I release Awakening 2 out into the world in all its imperfection and glory, I offer you a special gift: an excerpt from the beginning of First Kill, the original first book of the Lilly Frank trilogy. :)

Excerpt from First Kill:

It was 5:14am on Wednesday, July 11, 2001 when Lilly Frank found herself suspended between floors twelve and thirteen in a hotel elevator shaft, four minutes behind schedule, and cursing the day she’d decided to become a professional assassin. Lilly’s features were distorted by frustration and panic. Sweat trickled down the sides of her angular face and down her long, straight nose. Her pretty mouth was in contrast to the string of expletives issuing from it.
She tugged at the knot in the rope again, but it was difficult to undo a knot while trying to hold herself up at the same time, not to mention the lack of finger dexterity that came with wearing leather gloves. Take the gloves off? No, the film of sweat on her hands would hinder her more than the gloves. 
“Fuck,” she swore again. 
The plan had seemed simple enough. After sneaking into the hotel undetected, she’d access the elevator shaft from the engine room on the roof. Next, descend to the ninth floor and use the stolen service key to override the doors. Find room 912, shoot her target and his bodyguard—nice and neat—and exit the same way she’d come in, leaving no trace of her presence save the two dead bodies. Take no more than 30 minutes to complete the job, and above all, avoid being seen. 
Up until a few minutes ago, things had been going smoothly. But not fifteen feet into her descent down the elevator shaft she had stopped suddenly, and investigation had revealed that the controlled descent unit was caught on a mother of a knot in the rope. She had carefully checked all her equipment the night before. How in the world had she failed to notice a huge knot in her rope? It was possible that the rope had knotted when she’d taken it out of the backpack, but it seemed unlikely. 
No time to worry about the how and when now; her immediate problem was getting herself out of this situation. Clearly, untying the knot was not feasible. Nor was there any service ladder in the shaft. She’d just have to pull herself back up and find another way in. More lost time. 
She set her teeth and was steeling herself for the climb when a metallic boom echoed in the shaft and the motor started running. Lilly looked down and saw what she’d feared: the elevator was rising. If it was headed to the top floor she would be crushed.

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