I’m gonna start a series here on the blog of origin stories. This is shit I just fucking love when I encounter it. I want to know how an idea sparked into a story sparked into a book. Fucking love that kind of geeky stuff. I love it for films and songs and plays, too.
So. I’m gonna do a bit of that here on the blog. Feel free to disregard, if you find creative types yammering on about themselves and their shit boring!
Oh, The Scientific Method. Let’s chat.
Will and Adam Derrie have been in my head since I was fifteen years old. Truth. After years of never quite finishing a story starring the Derrie cousins (there are eight), I managed the feat at some point in my early twenties. In that story, Will appears as this screwy twenty year old with a kink-writing habit, who’s never quite managed to get himself into an actual scene. Also in that story, Adam shows signs of being more worried than anyone can quite understand, but the story itself is about a number of other things, so it’s merely a hinted-at sub-plot of sub-plots. (And yes, that is a writerly quirk of mine. Apologies.)
And yet…I couldn’t get Will out of my head.
The next time he popped by for tea, he was standing on the front stoop of a big, scary dom, waiting for this man, whom I did not know, to answer his door. Petrified, in fact.
Will was straight–wasn’t he?–so why was he on this dude’s doorstep? Also of note, Will Derrie was scared witless by everything that might wait inside this quite distinguished house, but the fact that a guy was on the other side actually kind of reassured him. And that didn’t make any sense at all.
That scene lived in my head for some time, until Adam handily provided an answer to the first question (well, the scientific method, of course), and indirectly an answer to the second (because yeah, if it’s a dude, it won’t be hot, thus solving all of Will’s problems…or none of them, really, but desperation doesn’t lead to clear-headedness).
The first draft of this thing spanned better than a hundred thousand words and I hated it. I hated every fucking bit of it. I hated being in Will’s head. I hated how much he hated himself, and I couldn’t fucking figure out how to write him in a way that made him less self-loathing. Some writers find writing characters who resemble themselves quite a bit smoother than writing characters who do not; I know for sure if I’m struggling with someone, it’s because they’re like me.
(You might as well not take that literally. I’ve struggled with self-acceptance a whole hell of a lot in my time, though never about kink. I’ve also struggled with taking risks that don’t have a chance in hell of paying off, though none quite like showing up on Hugh’s doorstep. Still. Early Will Derrie was a roiling mass of suicidal self-loathing, and he was almost impossible to write.)
I set the book aside for a bit. Then I picked it back up.
Writing Hugh changed the angle, and seeing Will through Hugh’s eyes made him a hell of a lot more likable. I’d found him whiny before, but Hugh saw a frightened animal with its paw in a trap, and he was pretty sure he could open that trap if he moved very slowly and kept his voice level.
It still took another two drafts before I found the story inside all the words.
To me, the first book of this series is not a romantic novel. I’d gone there a bit in earlier attempts, but it wasn’t at the heart, so to speak, of this particular relationship. The heart of this relationship was a little more twisty, a little less straightforward. These two men built something in Hugh’s guest room that defied easy descriptions, and both of them keep that firmly in mind throughout the story. (A lot of folks disagree on that point, and see more romance than I intended; and more power to them. Interpretation is one of the coolest things about art.)
Then, suddenly, in the middle of a sip of coffee in January, 2014 (just after finishing the first draft of The Ghost in the Penthouse) I suddenly pictured TSM as a serial in five, maybe six pieces. I don’t get the lightning strike that often, but when I do, man, that shit is brilliant. I had it mapped out in my head before I was done with my coffee, and the rest, as they say, is history. Barely. Recent history. Anyway.
So I don’t know, guys. I love this stuff. I’m a sucker for “how it came to be” stories, so I’ll probably write a few more of these. Let me know what you think. Also, if you want to play, tell me which scene from The Scientific Method stands out most in your mind. I can still see that mental picture of Will Derrie, contemplating the doorbell, waiting with sweaty palms for Hugh to answer the door.