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Thursday, March 23, 2017

#TBT DVD Extras - 3/23

Because Loverboy was full of so many difficult moments, it made the good moments twice as special. The scene with Tango and Ian sitting on the Jag, watching the sun come up, is probably my favorite of the entire story:

In a small, vulnerable voice, Ian said, “Do you think it will be better now? Since she’s gone?”

            “I hope so.”

            Ian sat up, and leaned against Tango’s shoulder, the warm pressure a comfort. It felt like apology and gratitude. Like friendship. Like letting one another go.

            They watched the sun come up.

It was a scene that was sketched very early in the process, a note off to the side: must include this scene. Even when I wasn't sure exactly how the plot would shake out, I knew I wanted a moment of quiet closure between these two, just them being messed-up boys trying to let go of the bad things. We always see Ian so polished and manipulative, and I wanted him to have a reflective, human moment.

A note on Ian: he's one of my absolute favorites. Total indulgence on my part; I thought "how can I incorporate a dandified English gentleman in this series?" Tango's backstory evolved early on, while I was writing Fearless, and Ian took shape along the way. Then it was a matter of hoping everyone loved him like I did.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The (Badass) Couple Aesthetic

These posts are fun. The thing about Ghost and Maggie is, while they're both tough in their own rights, and important as individuals, where they really shine is together. This is my first time writing an entire book focused on a couple that we already know is together, and it's been more of a challenge than first anticipated. We're getting closer every day! And no worries - none of the teasers will truly spoil anything about the book for you. Lots of twists and turns ahead!

“Whatever happens tonight, just hold onto me and you’ll be okay,” he said.
She wanted to believe him, she’d told him so already, so she did

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Young Maggie Aesthetic

A queen's got to start somewhere.

She was blonde, and had a sweet face. Red lipstick. A too-big leather jacket, white tank top that clung to her breasts, tight-tight jeans. Her boots looked old and beat-up. She was smoking; he caught a glimpse of red nail polish as she lifted her cig and took a drag. In a physical sense, she was just like the groupies at the clubhouse. It was something else, something intangible, some aura she projected that raised the fine hairs on his arms – that was why he slowed down and really looked at her.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Young Ghost Aesthetic

“Oh,” she said, and unzipped her jacket. Even though he looked angry, his eyes followed the path of the zipper. “I’ve got your whiskey.” The bottle caught the glow of candle flames as she withdrew it, trapped them in the glass.
“You’ve got my whiskey,” he said back, without inflection.

“Are you hungry? Let’s blow this hole and go grab pancakes.”

Thursday, March 16, 2017

#TBT DVD Extras - 3/16

New blog series! I've been searching through the previous manuscripts to fact check myself as I work on Hellhound, and it's reminded me how much I enjoyed writing them. I thought it would be fun to share my reminiscing with you guys, each Thursday, with a look back at some of my favorite scenes from the older books, and provide a little "DVD Extra" content to go along with it. If anyone has a scene you'd like me to talk about specifically, please don't hesitate to drop me a line and I'd be happy to discuss it here.

Today: Price of Angels

As of now, this is still my favorite of the series. I was so pleased with the writing and I feel like I said exactly what I wanted to say, which sometimes can be difficult. One of my favorite moments is the beginning of chapter two, which begins:

Matches. Michael kept innumerable packets of the things in his gun safe at home, all lined up in rows in a shoebox. Matches from restaurants and liquor stores, saved up over the years. Matches were the trick to this whole operation. He collected them like rare stamps. Because without them, he’d just be putting a body in a hole, and that was too crude and negligent to serve his purpose.
It always started with the digging...

The whole sequence, Michael burying the body, was something I was really eager to include, one of my non-negotiables. I love the matter-of-fact, complete detachment of the moment. That macabre stillness. Michael, though he's been called boring, I guess because he isn't wild and doesn't say much, is my favorite kind of character. The self-contained, efficient, skilled, powder keg kind of guy. I could write essays on those characters for days. In a way, the entire book is my (insufficient) love letter to the charmless antiheros of the (fictional) world. I find them pretty charming, to be honest.

He's one of those characters who, if filmed, would be a study in body language. Not so much expressionless, but still. I've had this conversation, more than once, about actors and actresses who aren't merely attractive, but interesting to watch. Some indefinable quality that makes them fascinating, whether they're in the midst of a dramatic monologue, or sorting mail. They've got It. Anyone can be blank-faced and brutish, but in my mind, Michael is a character who has It, who is so watchable, who moves in a deliberate, focused way. You can see the life behind the mask. Trying to convey that, that sense of visual interest, was one of my major writing goals with that book, and I can only hope I succeeded. In my head I've planned all the angles and close-ups of that burial scene dozens of times.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


A list of things I've discovered I really like about writing in longhand the past few weeks:

  1. It's easier on my back
  2. It's easier on my back
  3. It's easier on my back (it needed to be said three times, yes)
  4. No internet to distract me
  5. I get most of my deliberation done on paper, and when I get on the computer, it's typing and tweaking
  6. Writing the scene twice - by hand, then typing - starts the revising process early, within the first draft
  7. I'm managing my time much better - possibly this has to do with not being on the internet
  8. Notebooks are fun
  9. I've written 40k words in about a month, so that's progress

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New Faces

A bit misleading because I don't want to share any casting picks just yet. I don't want to put an image in anyone's head before they've had a chance to "meet" some of the new players in American Hellhound. And there are several.

Just like I always seem to end up with books that are longer than anticipated, I can't stop adding new characters. It's a problem. I think? In this case, Ghost and Maggie's origin story, if you will, couldn't be told without adding to the cast.

Uncle Duane
As a writer, I love teasing a character for a while before he or she ever actually graces the pages of the story. In this case, we know that Ghost's dad was an ass who drank himself to an early grave, that his mother and little brother (Cal, for whom Ava and Mercy's Cal is named) died in a car accident - leading to said dad's downward spiral. And we know that his uncle, Duane, was once the president of the Lean Dogs and a big influence on Ghost as a young man. So I've had two years to figure out who Duane really is, separate from the brief mentions we've seen in Ghost's POV thus far.

Turns out, Real Life Duane is delightful to write, and by that I mean that he's a monster.

There's a spectrum when it comes to bike clubs, from weekend road warriors to the biggest and the baddest. The Lean Dogs are an intentional amalgamation of some of the largest, most notorious clubs, tempered with lighter notes. I wanted, at the end of the day, to have some creative flexibility. To throw in some Hollywood levels of violence and melodrama. The club of Ghost's youth, however, is a darker, meaner, more rigid organization. Smaller, edgier, and less interested in legitimate means of making money. With Duane at the helm, it doesn't feel like a family.

It'll be interesting to see the reaction to the old club, and to Duane's leadership. Ghost may not be the ideal president, but it's a miracle he turned out as well as he did given the example his uncle set. Growth is relative, after all, and it's fun to showcase just how much Ghost has grown since he was an angry young man.

I love story parallels, history repeating itself. Just like Aidan isn't a model officer-in-training, neither was Ghost - at least not an officer in Duane's club. That honor fell to Roman. He and Ghost were enemies, and antagonistic, grudging allies at times. Roman is charismatic where Ghost is a charmless grump; and deceitful: you never really know where you stand with him. *Something* happened in the past and Roman's  been gone for almost 25 years. Now he's back in town stirring everything up. Sometimes the people you knew when you were young and still figuring out who you are have ways of finding your weak spots, and that's exactly the case with Roman.

I'm not going to say too much about him. Just that I'm pretty excited about this character, and I hope I manage to pull it off. It's a kind of character I've never written before, and that's always an adventure.


I remember saying of Loverboy that it felt unwieldy and too big to hold on to, that I would be glad to write Ghost and Maggie because that would be straightforward and easy. Ha. Ha ha. Yeah right. I think maybe each subsequent book will feel more like a challenge than the last, and maybe that's a good thing.

American Hellhound, May 6th, 2017.