Spoilers ahead! Do not scroll down if you haven't read The Reluctant Sacrifice.
With the upcoming release of El Sacrificio Imposible and the cover update to The Reluctant Sacrifice, I wanted to repost this reflection. Originally published 02/17/2016.
"...the reader only hears, sees, and knows what Aubrey does. I did not want to come up with long, drawn out scenes where one character explains to the other about what happened when they weren't around."
Writing Style: The reader experiences the novel through Aubrey's eyes ONLY. This limited some storytelling aspects, of course, because the reader only hears, sees, and knows what Aubrey does. I did not want to come up with long, drawn out scenes where one character explains to the other about what happened when they weren't around. This was especially important in the end where Coy returns to find Aubrey. I rewrote that scene numerous times, trying to fit in what happened in Aramith, Morgan and Joshua's break-up, and all manner of tiny details. In the end, however, I stuck with my instincts. Coy and Aubrey reunited two years after she 'died' on Azure's altar. After such a long separation, I wanted that moment to be as real as possible. Their love had only just begun when Aubrey climbed on the altar, both were eager to pick up where they'd left off, and it just didn't seem like the right moment to dredge up the darkness they had faced. Will Aubrey have questions? Of course, and the reader will get to see that in The Reluctant Kings (to be released). The Reluctant Kings will pick up the day after Coy and Aubrey reunite.
Characters: The characters came out fully fleshed out, with their own voices and nuances. Creating diverse characters was an important goal of mine. I didn't want characters who acted a certain way just because of their roles. I didn't want them to sound the same or be unbelievable. I wanted them to be real, even to the point where you might end up hating a few of them. Face it, there are some people in life we'll just never like. It should be that way in books too.
"By the time readers join Aubrey's story, she has Jumped bodies several times. She has had her soul ripped apart and put back together, losing bits and pieces of her identity. "
Aubrey Shaw was a beautiful character to write. She was far from perfect, stubborn to the point of irrational, and erratic. Why? She was a Jumper. By the time readers join Aubrey's story, she has Jumped bodies several times. She has had her soul ripped apart and put back together, losing bits and pieces of her identity. Aubrey went from being a happy child, crushing on a boy and fighting with her sister, to running for her life and losing everything she loved. She's not supposed to be altogether. She's not supposed to be rational. No one in her position would be. However, Aubrey had a quiet bravery about her. Despite everything she had been through, she still woke up and tried every day. She still hoped.
Gimpy the Panda was not just a panda. He was a metaphor for Aubrey and Joshua's relationship. Joshua gifted Aubrey the panda on the day Azure announced she was to die for all of Aramith. When Aubrey ran away, she took that Panda with her. She kept it despite all her years on the run. When she moved into the boarding house, she hid Gimpy away (like the way she tried to push her feelings for Joshua away), but ultimately she couldn't stand not having it around. So, she displayed the ratty old panda on her bed -- her well-made and un-slept-in, bed. She pretty much did the same thing to Joshua. She kept her love for him on a pedestal, refusing to accept that he was a rotten, old thing that should have been thrown out long ago.
Don't judge her too harshly now. Remember, this girl lost everything. Like that Panda, her love for Joshua was the one thing she'd managed to hold on to. Despite all the bits and pieces of her soul that she'd lost, her love for Joshua never waned. Is there any wonder why she fixated on it then? Was it even about Joshua at all or about the love itself? About the past, that part of her childhood she lost and would never get back? That moment when Aubrey ripped poor Gimpy apart was important because it's the first time she sees her past for what it was: gone.
As for Gimpy, R.I.P. little buddy.
Joshua Kaito, you irritating little twerp! I loved writing his character, but sticking to my narrow point of view made it impossible to show everything. This of course will be remedied in The Reluctant Huntress (due in November). Joshua's resolve to put Aubrey on the altar was something I battled with. Should I let him soften and change his mind? Should he love her back? Fight for her? In the end, I allowed Joshua to be Joshua. You see, Joshua was still the frightened little boy holding his Dad's bloody cloak and realizing that his entire world had changed. The pain he felt in that moment was one he never wanted to feel again. It directed all his actions. In the end however, he did feel that pain again. Despite his efforts to get Aubrey to the altar, his Mom died before she could receive her immortal birthright and Joshua found himself once again mourning a parent he loved dearly. And ultimately, mourning his best friend.
Coy Brady, was the ultimate book boyfriend. He had the charm, the bravery, the words, and the looks (even with those hideous scars). Coy was a pleasure to write. Each time someone fangirls over him, I cry a tiny tear of joy. Coy is central to the story. He keeps the reader hoping and guessing. Yet for all his charm, Coy was not perfect. His steely resolve mirrored Joshua. They both had parental issues and their own agendas where Aubrey was concerned. Coy, however, did not want Aubrey dead and for that reason, it was easy to identify him. Funny thing though, Coy could have changed how everything played out. You'll see what I mean when you read The Reluctant Huntress.
Morgan Shaw was the most hated character of The Reluctant Sacrifice. However, I never really delved into Morgan's story. Again, readers only saw her through Aubrey's eyes and Aubrey had every right to hate Morgan. For that reason, I wavered on my decision to write Morgan's story. Would anyone care? Would she be relatable, in any aspect? After all, Morgan did some very bad things. In the end, I went with my gut instinct. I hope readers of The Reluctant Sacrifice will give Morgan a chance to explain herself. The novel is a companion novel so it is not a follow-up. Readers get to be in Morgan's head during those scenes they read in The Reluctant Sacrifice. There was so much more to Morgan than just those scenes, and I hope readers will learn all about her. Will they like her? I don't know. But at least they'll learn how she became the girl they hate. Seeing things through her eyes might even change their views on the characters.
Tessa Stone was the friend I wanted to have growing up. Funny, boy-crazy, loyal. Her scenes with Aubrey were some of my favorites. She gave Aubrey a sense of normalcy that she desperately needed. Plus, she was way better friendship material than Joshua ever was.
Charr and Celo/Mr. Dwyer and Azure: Their story will play out in The Reluctant Kings. The Reluctant Sacrifice was never their story. It was simply an introduction to the characters and how their rivalry impacted Aubrey. The Reluctant Huntress will take a closer look at Celo/Azure the way TRS gives you a look at Charr. However, it will be only an introduction.
Lefu and Rose: Like I said before, The Reluctant Sacrifice shows Aubrey's very narrow POV. You met her when Rose was dying, so you never got to know Rose. I bet you didn't expect Morgan to kill Rose. I bet you're wondering how she could do such a thing to the woman who gave birth to her. She had her reasons. I'll let you decided if they're legit or not. Lefu and Rose are featured heavily in The Reluctant Huntress. Readers will get right up in Lefu's face and see what he is made of. They'll also finally learn if he submitted Aubrey's name for the sacrifice. But I should warn you, that book follows Morgan and only Morgan. You'll see what she knows and nothing more. Don't worry, though, Lefu will weasel his way through The Reluctant Kings. And as for Rose ... well you'll just have to find out for yourself if she is truly dead or not.
And as for Rose ... well you'll just have to find out for yourself if she is truly dead or not.
So there you have it, my thoughts and final-ish say on the first installment in this series. I hope every reader who picks up this novel leaves happy and entertained.
Happy reading! May there always be another chapter in your future.