A DEEPER DARKNESS has a new ebook cover, and I absolutely LOVE it. I think this is the first time the cover really evokes the story perfectly. Since many of you are new to me, and don't know the story behind my Samantha Owens series, I thought I'd share her inception with you.
WARNING: If you haven't read the Taylor series, there's a major spoiler ahead, so you may want to avoid this one.
Adapted from original post in 2012
Several months ago, my team and I made a decision to let Taylor take a long vacation, and focus on a new lead character, Dr. Samantha Owens. Sam is Taylor's best friend, and Nashville's head medical examiner. She features prominently in all the books, but she hasn't had her own tale, not yet.
Suffice it to say, starting a new series was scary for me. After seven (eight, including FIELD OF GRAVES, which wasn't yet published) books with the same lead character, I was in a groove. I knew how every character would react. It was simply a matter of creating a dynamic plot and a cool villain to confront them with.
But Sam had been knocking on the doors and windows of my Muse’s hamlet, begging to strut her stuff on the page. When at long last I relented, and decided to spin off her character, changes needed to happen.
To do the new series justice, it needed to be different. To start – a new setting. I settled on Washington, D.C., my former home of many years. And Sam needed to be unmarried, and unencumbered by children. I debated long and hard. Divorce? Custody arrangements? Multiple scenarios, but they all kept her tied to Nashville. There was only one choice.
Her husband and children had to die.
I fought against this reality for weeks. I couldn’t do that to her. And there are rules in writing. You can’t kill animals, and you can’t kill children. Except you can. And I did. The question became not if they died, but how. Car accident? Been done. Plane crash? Been done.
And then it hit me. The flood.
Nashville was stricken with a flood of biblical proportion in 2010. As it happens, A DEEPER DARKNESS released on the second anniversary of that fateful weekend, that moment in time where we lost so much. Synchronicity at its finest. I was able to both honor those hurt and killed in the real flood and give Samantha a chance to recover with everyone else. Recover we did. It hasn’t been easy, but we’re back on our feet.
Another challenge was finding the right tone, the right mood, to express Samantha’s loss without suffocating the reader in her grief. I needed to get in her head, and live there, trying to understand how hard it must be to lose a husband, and to lose her twins. How, and if, that sadness could be overcome.
I used a lot of music to guide me, mostly the mournful, melancholy cover of “Hurt” by Johnny Cash. (It's on the A DEEPER DARKNESS playlist.) The song makes me weep, and the video tears a hole in my heart. Imagining the loss of my own husband, how frightened and alone I would feel, helped me mine Sam’s grief.
With grief comes hope. With hope comes possibility. They say what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and for a young, dynamic, intelligent widow, simply surviving her loss makes her invincible. Samantha stares into the abyss, acknowledges its presence, and somehow, some way, pulls herself back from the brink. And is rewarded for her strength. Yes, she's overwhelmed with OCD that manifests in excess hand-washing. Yes, she won't autopsy drownings. Yes, she runs away from her pain, starting a new life. But there are seeds of hope scattered throughout her story. Seeds of possibility.
Ironically, without realizing it, I was unwittingly writing my own story. My husband and I struggled with infertility for a decade. Multiple pregnancies resulted in multiple miscarriages. IUIs and IVF didn’t solve the issue. Over and over, I lost my own children.
I thought I was fine. Normal. Nominal. That I’d dealt with my own grief, my own loss. But it wasn’t until I read A DEEPER DARKNESS in galley form that I realized I’d used the book as therapy. All of Sam’s losses mirror my own. Her strength, her hope, her will to continue on gave me the strength to do the same.
A DEEPER DARKNESS isn’t a sad book. Samantha Owens is all of us: our hopes and fears, our determination and our weakness. For the first time in my writing career, I’ve put bits of myself on the page. And that’s possibly the most terrifying thing of all.
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Whew! So now you know where my girl comes from. To celebrate our new look, I'm giving away one ebook. Enter on the Rafflecopter!