Sometimes the side characters in a story just demand to be the star of their own show. For Anna Alexander, it was the Daniels brothers, a pair of telepathic twins who couldn’t be more different…and more similar. Here’s the story behind them and the woman who requested her own spotlight. (I have to state at this point that I was the copy editor for this story, so I’m sort of fond of them, too!)
When you’re writing a series, there are characters who appear in books that you know will take the lead in another story. Sometimes it’s planned. They are there specifically to establish their place in the world and whet the reader’s appetite for their own story. The Daniels brothers were just such characters. What’s better than a hunky telepath? Two, or course! They were two sides of the same coin. Well dressed. Intelligent. One serious, the other more carefree. Or so it appeared on the surface. They enthralled me the moment they appeared in Genesis.
Then there are characters like Jameson Alinari. She was a side character, a needed plot device for Instinct. A friend and mentor for my heroine Alicia to run to in her time of need. Jameson ran a women’s shelter, and from the moment she opened the door, her appearance was a brilliant supernova on the page. It was obvious to me that there was more to her than a civil servant who helped women in need. And in my brain it was a natural progression that she would be a vigilante crimefighter. Go after the men that put the women in her care in their dire situation. Kick some ass and take names.
In Instinct, Jameson’s nighttime activities are only alluded to. But her story hovered in my conscious mind for years as I wrote other books. I hadn’t immediately paired her with the Daniels brothers. I hadn’t paired her with anyone for a long time. Then I had a vision of the opening chapter: Ethan and Ronan out in the city one night and hearing a cry of agony in their mind. They followed the sound to find a woman dressed in black and wielding a whip, torturing a man. She was my very own version of DC’s Catwoman. And again, not all was as it seemed—and from that vision the trio was formed. However, I struggled with elements of their story. You see, Vengeance included many things people told me I couldn’t write.
Vigilante crimefighters are too extreme, they told me. They’re not heroic but criminals. Stories that include women who have been victimized are in no way romantic (which, duh, they’re not supposed to be). And added to that, my hero was not one man but twins! You can’t have brothers as the hero, I was told. Especially if it’s not an erotic romance. Then it was, “You have twins? Why isn’t it an erotic romance?”
Right. Let’s address having the twins be in a triad relationship. Since the Evolutioneers’ powers are a heightened version of their natural abilities, telepathic twins was the way to go. With their telepathy and empathy, it was almost as if they were one person. Having them be with two different women, feeling and hearing everything the other was doing, didn’t feel right. Just thinking about all those tangled emotions makes my head hurt.
Oh yes, there were many delicate lines to weave with those three. And while Jameson and the Daniels brothers’ destinies percolated in my head, I was working on the Sprawling A series and the first two books in the Evolutioneers series. In fact, Vengeance was to be the fourth, not the third, book in the series. Then 2019 happened.
The #MeToo movement and Harvey Weinstein were big stories, and I was angry. I was angry at entitled white men and a system that gave them a free pass to be assholes. Suddenly, the extreme injustices I was plotting were all too real and front-page news. My rage needed an outlet, and Jameson and her story became more important than ever to tell.
Let me tell you. It was difficult working the romance into the story when all I really wanted was to punish men. Oh, my imagination went into the gruesome range so many times. I found myself going back and forth worrying if I was going too far or not far enough. It was a fine line between making the situations real and not exploitative. That’s when the brothers did their part and pulled me back from the dark.
Ronan was just so laid back. Ready with a joke or a funny quip. And Ethan…well…Ethan was so intense! When he’d turn all his attention on Jameson. Woo! The man smolders. Which was another balancing act. Not just in this book but every romance novel when you have a heroine who is determined not to fall for a man’s charm, where is the line between cute guy interested in a girl and creepy stalker dude. When is he being swoonworthy and when is he being a prick? Seriously! It’s not that easy.
For all the struggles I had writing the book, there was also immense joy. I loved writing the Crimson Angels. Those girls made me laugh many times. I’ve even been toying with the idea of turning them into a graphic novel. And I loved bringing other characters from the Evolutioneer books into the mix—Alicia, Ripley, Sheriff Lancaster. I love thinking of new animals for Ripley to shift into. And that last scene with Jameson and Lancaster on the roof of the hotel was one I knew was going to happen, but I didn’t know how. It was cathartic pouring that rage onto the page.
Huh. Kinds sounds as if the entire book was all rage and anger, but it wasn’t really. There were moments of strength. When men allowed women to be feel everything and just held them. Ride-and-die friendships, and girl power. There was taking charge of your destiny. The warm fuzzies of possibilities and new beginning. And love. Lots of love.
During this time of strife and uncertainty. When absolutes you believed true were nothing but false promises, and when it seems as if the world is burning every-single-day, we have our stories. Stories to fall into as we read and stories to fall into as we write. They encourage us, save us, so many times. Books will always be there in our times of need.
Aren’t we lucky.
Bio: Award winning author Anna Alexander is the author of the Heroes of Saturn and the Sprawling A Ranch series. With Hugh Jackman’s abs and Christopher Reeve’s blue eyes as inspiration, she loves spinning tales of superheroes finding love. Anna also loves to give back and has served on the board for the Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America as chapter president, and is the co-founder of the Seattle UnCon and Passport to Romance Readers Event. Sign up to receive news about Anna’s latest releases at http://eepurl.com/Q0tsz