The Birth of a Series
I was writing for Harlequin under my real name (Parker Blue isn’t my real name—shocking, I know <G>), and really wanted to write for their Bombshell line (now defunct). Action, adventure, kick-butt heroine . . . right up my alley! The editor asked me to come up with four ideas and pitch them to her, so I did.
The one she (and I) liked best came about because I’m a huge Buffy fan and was missing the television series. I decided to write a female kick-butt vampire slayer of my own, but didn’t want to copy what Joss Whedon had already done, so I wondered how I could make her different. Hmm, what if I made her part demon? But what kind of demon? I know—a succubus lust demon (this was waaaaay before Lost Girl came on the air)! But I didn’t want to write erotica, so my slayer became a very reluctant lust demon who doesn’t like to use her power on men. And why not give her the same smart-aleck attitude that secretly resides within me? Score!
So, I wrote the book as a paranormal romance under the title Rue the Day since the heroine’s name was originally Rue. Fan favorite Fang was originally a vampire dog (which is where his name came from). I can’t remember why Harlequin didn’t buy the book—either the line died or they already had another story that was too similar. In any case, I had an offer from another publisher for it. They didn’t like the name Rue, so I changed it to Val. They also didn’t like the fact that the cute little dog sucked blood and could talk. I changed Fang to a hellhound instead and made him silent, but they also wanted me to add a lot more lust, which I wasn’t willing to do. Not an erotica author, remember? Besides, a lust demon who didn’t like to inspire lust was the heroine’s main internal conflict! So, we parted ways.
Bell Bridge Books was just opening up for romance submissions then, so I sent it to them. Deb Dixon liked it, but she wrote back and suggested it would work better as a YA and wondered if I would rewrite it. Gulp. I’d never completely rewritten a manuscript before. Could I do it? Should I do it?
I sat down and thought about it, and dang if she wasn’t right. So, I lowered the heroine’s age to eighteen, got rid of the hero’s point of view so it was no longer strictly a romance, changed it from third person to first person, made it more YA, and cut about 25,000 words. Whew!
Luckily, Deb loved Val and Fang and their snarky voices, so she bought it and the series was born. Well, one book was born, anyway. At that point, I didn’t know if there’d be a second or not, so I didn’t really set it up as a series. The first book did well enough that they offered me a contract for five more, though only two of them had to be Demon Underground books. I agreed, but after the third, fourth, and fifth, I still didn’t know if I would continue the series or write something new, since I didn’t know how well it would do or if I’d get bored writing the same characters all the time.
Also, at the outset, I didn’t know the shadow demon, Shade, would become such a major character. He was originally just a walk-on, but I found him so fascinating, I had to find out more about him. And I didn’t know sexy vampire Austin would become such a major player either, but Deb loved him, so he got a much bigger role. BTW, not knowing if each book will be the last is not a good way to write a series. If I could do it over again, I’d be a whole heck of a lot more structured about it.
I’m now writing the sixth book, Catch Me. I don’t know if they’ll want to continue the series, but if they do, and the fans still enjoy it, I will. Besides, I have four hellhound puppies who need owners, and I’m introducing a new character in this book who I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. I’d set her in an entirely different world, then realized recently (duh moment) that she could be a demon and exist in this world. It’s made me excited to write the series again, so you might see some spin-offs or shorter stories with her and/or the hellpuppies. Maybe this time, I’ll have a little more idea of what’s going to happen next. . . .
Visit Parker Blue’s website or her Facebook page to learn more!