On Finishing Temptation

I've never done a series before The Solitary Tales.

That’s not an excuse or an apology but a fact.

A few years ago after that failed booksigning where I showed up to a Barnes & Noble in Greenville, South Carolina for a booksigning we’d scheduled only to find someone else signing, as I sat having chips and salsa and a margarita at the Mexican restaurant next door, an idea was born. I thought of being in the Carolinas and thought of my teen years. I came up with the idea to do a four-book series combining a teen love story with a creepy supernatural tale.

The four-book series began to take shape over the next year. I knew how I wanted to end book one early on. Nobody’s going to go for that, I thought with excitement (story of my 11-year-career). I began to outline the story of Chris Buckley moving to Solitary, North Carolina.

When I pitched it to the publishers, I had a fairly decent overview of the story. Book one was plotted out and stayed the same. The following books were less detailed, especially the final book, but the whole gist of the series was described.

Now that I’m closing in on the end of book three (with one week left to go for the writing), I find the story has grown and evolved and become better than I thought it would be. It’s deeper, with a rich backstory and many characters with their own unique things going on. Each book following the first one has surprised me. I didn’t plan on meeting characters like Jared or Iris from book two. Or . . . well, the new characters in book three.

I especially didn’t see book three coming. Not the story itself but the whole vibe and feel of book three. It’s a bit of a risk, in some ways. But then again, it’s not like I have millions of readers I’m going to let down. Those who have decided to venture to Solitary with me . . . well, I have a feeling they’re going to like Temptation. For some it might even be their favorite.

It’s exciting to build something and keep building with subsequent books. Chris Buckley is really a unique character. First and foremost he is a teenager, and because of that he ends up making dumb decisions. He’s impulsive and sarcastic and heroic and stupid. I’ve really come to love him.

If you’re wondering about all those questions, I can tell you this. A boatload of them are answered in book three. Answering questions isn’t always a good thing. The guys at Lost found that out. Sometimes, the mystery itself is a beautiful thing. But I’ve said all along I know the answers to everything. Chris is going to be told many of them. He himself doesn’t know what to do with them. Some of them leave him scratching his head thinking really? I’m sure some readers will do the same.

The main thing I hope for is not that the answers satisfy (I hope that too, of course). The main thing I want is that Chris Buckley’s reaction to everything is believable and authentic. I want the story to constantly remain grounded in his emotions and fears and surprises. If readers believe Chris, and root for Chris, then hopefully they’ll be willing to make it to the end.

We’ll see. At this point, I’m trying my best and ending book three with a few big surprises. I’ve written the last scene already, and it brought me to tears. Hopefully it’ll do the same for others. But I’m not worrying about reactions from readers. I’m going to finish telling this story the only way I know how to.

I for one can’t wait to see how the series ends. I know how it will, but then again, I don’t.

That’s why I love writing.

For Solitary fans, I hope you love the writing too.

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