A few years ago Lisa and I went to the beach for a long day of sun and plotting on Pacific Beach. It isn’t a day I’ll forget, ever. While at the beach (actually, while sitting in a little dive bar having a burger and Jameson) we came up with the idea of Elizabeth. She only took a few minutes to materialize and then her story exploded right in front of us. We gathered up our things, grabbed the laptop (and the drink) and ran for the beach. We proceeded to walk up and down the beach for 4 hours with some amazing content flowing, scene after scene bursting out faster than I could jot things down. It was so far outside of the 1929 genre, yet fit so perfectly.
Some characters are shy about wanting to be included. Caleb, for instance. He just sort of hung out in the shadows of the doorway until I realized that Jonathan and Aryl needed something to balance them out. (It’s funny now because Caleb thinks Aryl is the one in the middle who balances the men. Little does he know…) Elizabeth wasn’t like that. She sat her crazy @$$ down at our table and said, “Guess what. Rockport needs a little suburb called Psycho. And I’m your star.”
So it isn’t like we had a choice. We quickly realized that while she had a story to tell, and that story had a lot to do with Aryl’s rescue, she couldn’t tell it. Introducing Simon. He has his own back story but mainly his job is to love Elizabeth, and all her psychosis, with every fiber of his being. And he does a good job. He’s different enough to be interesting but sane enough to tell the story. So he got the job. And, much to my delight, he’s a smart Aleck.
I wrote the first 25 pages on the beach and only stopped because the sun had set and I could no longer see.
I’m going through all of this because after releasing Elizabeth’s Heart for a very brief period of time, I pulled it off the market. I was scared that readers of nice, sane, and (for the most part) historically accurate 1929 would shy away from something that was not only set in the Massachusetts Asylum for Feeble Minds and Lunatics, but touched on paranormal. Regardless of the fact that I loved every word, every page and had the most fun writing it I have EVER had, still, I worried about genre jumping. So I chickened out.
After I don’t know how many copies of 1929 going out with the epilogue showing Aryl (or John Doe) waking up in Elizabeth’s room, I scrubbed that epilogue and replaced it with a scene from Claire’s wedding after Aryl’s “death”.
And then I found out that the file I had replaced, never went out. Somehow, (ghosts in the machine, perhaps) the original epilogue continued to go out for several thousand copies. (plus about 30K free)
Insert nervous breakdown here. We had already come up with an alternate way for Aryl to be rescued and plot a fantastic journey for him in England and Paris. Tremendous gritty fun on the dark side. And then here’s Crazy again saying, “Oh, no. It’s not that easy to get rid of me.” She simply refuses to be ejected. As we sat down and tried to figure out how to make both work, (I wasn’t giving up on Aryl’s fantastic journey to England) we realized that she was happy to live on the fringes of Rockport, touching on but not directly meeting the characters of 1929. Okay. I can live with that. What we decided was to add one single paragraph that would make it all work, seamlessly. Saving Elizabeth’s Heart also meant saving Purgatory Cove. A novella capturing the moment in time where her mind actually fractures into another personality. Which I loved just as much. And, along with those, there needs to be resolution in Crazytown. Simon and Elizabeth need some sort of happily ever after. Which means another book. I looked at Lisa and smiled. “Here we go again!” Cue the song!