|Just a few of the reviews that have completely stunned me in the best way possible.|
American Hellhound went live last Friday, and let me tell you, I wasn't prepared. The reader response has absolutely blown me away. I keep saying "thank you" and it continues to feel like an inadequate response to what has been the most encouraging, kind, and enthusiastic response. Long reviews, short reviews, Tweets, private messages, emails - I'm hording them like a greedy dragon with a pile of gold. Please know how touching and wonderful it's been. Please know how much I appreciate it. After an unprecedented six months between releases, and this being the sixth book in the series, I was convinced there would be a fading of interest in Dartmoor. So I can't thank you all enough for the stunning reception of Ghost and Maggie's story.
This debrief will be as spoiler-free as possible, since I know not everyone's had a chance to finish the book yet. Some post-publishing thoughts on what turned out to be the second-longest installment in the series thus far.
Ghost and Mags. Back in the beginning with Fearless, it became apparent that Ghost was a big ol' hypocrite. I like to see it as one of his more frustratingly realistic and charming qualities. His reasons for rejecting Mercy and Ava's relationship are directly related to the life he knows he stole from his own too-young old lady. Like all parents, he wants better for his children than he had for himself...all the while knowing that what he had was amazing. He's been at times infuriating as he juggles his roles as father, husband, and outlaw president, and I've loved discussing his flaws and merits with everyone along the way. In many ways, he's my favorite, because he seems to condemn the very things he does, hard to pin down and define as one thing or another. With this book, more than anything, I hoped to peel back the façade and show what makes him tick. Highlight the ways in which he's been forced to be a hypocrite from the very first, back when he hated everything about Duane...even when he had to carry on some of the darker, more illegal aspects of the club in his place.
Before I started the book, I was hesitant to write it at all, because I knew we'd be rehashing the age gap scenario that some readers have found so repulsive. I didn't really want to go there again with this series...but that's what it demanded. And so with Maggie, I hoped to show that - just like with Mercy and Ava - hers was a case in which age was just a number, that it had no bearing on her strength, maturity, and her ability to make up her own mind. And in an attempt to parallel Ghost's upbringing, the skills that had been forced upon her - that she didn't at first appreciate - became the very things that enabled her to survive and find a place within the club. Theirs was a taboo romance on the surface, but I wanted to show that what seemed unhealthy to the rest of the city was actually a loving and supportive union between the two of them.
The Series. In very early drafts, this book was just supposed to be a 200ish page novella about a particular plot twist that's revealed in chapter one. It was going to be light and fluffy, more a companion piece than a real installment. But then a whole bunch of plot happened, and by the end, there were more side stories than I could possibly unpack all in just one book. So now we have a whole host of spinoffs coming down the pipeline. Kristin, and Reese, and Roman, and even Ian. Expanding the world of the series while maintaining an intimate feel is an ongoing goal, so I'm thrilled to hear that everyone's looking forward to those spinoff stories.
The Fan Factor. My whole life I've been obsession-prone when it comes to fiction. Be it books, movies, TV shows, I'm the kind of fan who ties herself in knots waiting for the next installment, stomach tight with worry when a beloved series takes a turn that feels less like organic development, and more like a ploy for shock, outrage, and ratings. I think we've all been there: that moment when a favorite show does something unforgivable because it's Sweeps Week. Or when an author caves to the pressure of critical voices and the series shifts in an irretrievable direction. When a movie studio scraps the original fan-preferred plot of a film in favor of bringing in a bigger budget actor. When you're a hardcore fan, you're at the mercy of the decisions of others. That show you love might finally win an Emmy...but meanwhile, you no longer feel compelled to watch it.
I don't ever want to do that to my readers. You won't ever write something that everyone loves - so I want to write for the people who DO love it.
When I say that I'm writing these books for the fans, I really mean it. You guys have helped my childhood writing dreams come true. I'm beyond privileged to be able to share my stories with you, and it's my sincerest hope that the adventures of these crazy Lean Dogs can provide you with a few hours of reading enjoyment. It's been an honor to share Ghost and Maggie with you all.