(and no, it's not because of Daddy Zade, at least, it's not only because of him)
This whole blog entry could be summed up in four words: The author had balls.
It’s hard, as an author, to write what’s really in your heart. It’s scary to think that other people might not like it, might judge you for the weird little stories that run through your mind, the little day dreams you’ve turned out and poured into someone elses head.
Now, add into the mix that Zade is a literal psychopath and honestly, I’ve gotta respect HD Carlton for having the balls to put that out in the world…and she’s been rewarded for that courage.
Courage is a strong, important theme in literature, but sometimes we can forget that courage is important in life too.
And being brave as a writer is…well, its really hard.
As a writer, I’m often cowardly.
I stop myself, a lot. Pause. Think. Delete.
I decide to remove things, not because I want to remove them, but because I worry about what others will think.
But HD Carlton, she wrote whatever the f**k she wanted (at least, it certainly feels that way) and it came out brilliantly. There are so many reasons not to love Zade, yet everyone does. Because the story came from her heart, it was the story she wanted to write, about the people she wanted to write about. Screw the consequences.
Well, thank you HD Carlton, for showing me that it’s okay to be brave. Good, even.
I’ve decided I’m going to be brave too.
My first book, the Faerie King, came to me in Cornwall, surrounded by forests and mist and the lingering magic of faeries in the air. And that’s what it was supposed to be about, faeries. A magical being I’ve wondered about since I was a little girl, one that, like many British people, I’ve heard legends and stories about all my life.
But when I got about 20% of the way through the book, I realised how many books there already were about faeries. How people would think my book wasn’t unique, wasn’t special. How, by extension, I wasn’t unique, if all I could think to write about was faeries.
What if no literary agent would pick it up because they weren’t looking for faeries?
So, I wasted a lot of time changing everything around, turning it into something else. Something “unique”. And it wasn’t just the characters. I honestly can’t tell you how many times I added in and removed spicy scenes.
By the end, it wasn’t a book I recognised, it was just a series of things I thought agents and publishers would like. And then I queried it. And guess what, no one wanted it. Even I didn’t want it. In fact, I hated it. It wasn’t my book, it was just…“unique.” It was obvious how much I hated it; a very kind literary agent even replied to one of my queries telling me to stop calling my own book bad.
I stopped querying and looked within. This wasn’t the book I wanted to write. I wasn’t being brave.
I thought screw this, I’m gonna make it what I want it to be. The king is a faerie. There’s a naughty scene. I added in the spicy scenes I wanted but kept the language and the pacing YA vibes. I included the ending I wanted, even though I’m pretty sure a lot of readers won’t like it.
It’s the book I want it to be now. It says what I want it to say, in the style I want it to say it in. I don’t look at it with hatred anymore but with adoration. With love. I don’t read the chapters with this exhaustion and frustration, but instead, I follow the characters along on their journey, excited to tweak and edit their scenes bit by bit.
I’m my book’s first fan. Now that it says what I want it to say…now that I’ve been brave.
And for my next book?
Well, I’ve wanted to write a reverse harem for a long while now and stopped myself from fear. What if my parents see it? What if people from school read it? Jesus, what if my husband’s family read it? They’ll think I’m weird.
And how will I market it? And which publisher is gonna pick up an RH.
Whatever *shrugs emoji*
I’m gonna write it anyway. I don’t wanna be bound by conventions, by genres, by definitions. I don’t wanna have to remove spicy scenes or take out alludes to possible kinks. I don’t wanna write a happy ending if I’m not in the mood to write a happy ending.
So, I won’t.
Or, at least, I’ll try not to.
There’s this idea I’ve had for a long, long time, one that’s lingered around since I was sitting in an airport in Chiang Mai reading and I just got this crystal clear image of these warlocks singing in the tundra. And there was this girl in a house watching them with hatred embedded deep in her heart. And I thought, why is she so angry, why does she hate the warlocks so much, and what are they singing about?
I’ve had a bit of time while I wait for my editor to get back to me on the latest draft of the Faerie King so I started outlining that story and it just hit me, this is it, this is the reverse harem. Why should she have to pick between one guy to love, when she can have three?
I start drafting next month and I’m really excited to write my first RH. I don’t know how spicy I’ll make it (the Faerie King is only third base and is semi-graphic) but I’m excited to find out.
I’ll be writing this book when I turn thirty (Libra babies unite).
God, that’s weird, I thought by thirty I would never cave to external pressure, I never thought I’d care enough about what other people think, even now, that it’d define so much of my life. But I suppose, actually, it didn’t. I did write the book I wanted to write and I will write the book I want to write next; I just took the long way round to get there.
I guess, in the end, authors have character arcs, too.
I hope my arc is as good as HD Carlton’s was.