At the heart of everything I write—from a one-page poem to an 80,000-word novel—is a love story. But aren't my (published) books about shapeshifters? (Whatever the hell those are.)
Writing monsters is easy. Monsters are absurd, nothing more than a product of my imagination. People can't supernaturally transform into animals—that just doesn't happen. The imaginary is at my disposal to use as I see fit, molding its way around my every word. Monsters are bound to the limitations I place on them, to the belief I put in them. They are under my constant control as they take shape on the page.
Love, now, that's a different story.
(Excerpt from Bloodline: Broken, the third novel in my young adult fantasy book series.)
Carly’s surprise was abandoned, however, when the unmistakable scent of peonies filled her nostrils. But it wasn’t merely the flower that encompassed her, there was a hint of sandalwood to it… Mom’s perfume, she realized, taking a deep whiff. Holy crap, that smells just like Mom.
“Mother?” someone spoke from the door. “I’ve been informed we have a… guest.”
Carly turned to lock eyes with the six-foot-something brunette, tendrils of wavy black hair shadowing his pale honey eyes. Whoever he was, he was hot. Not just, oh, that guy might have potential if his taste in music didn’t suck so much hot—but oh, yeah, he’s definitely the sexiest man I’ve ever seen in real life hot. That hot.
Carly inhaled again, and felt her head floating away. Was that smell coming from him? If it was, why did he smell exactly like the one thing in the entire world that was guaranteed to make her smile and cry at the same time?
She didn’t realize she was gawking until his eyes locked on hers. But it wasn’t just a look, it… It was a connection, like… Almost like he knew everything about her even though they’d just met.
Marciana beckoned him to step forward, and he obliged. “Cassius, my dear son, I don’t believe you’ve met Carly Morneau.”
At the mention of Carly’s name, Cassius’s eyes darted away. It was enough to make her breath catch. Had he felt it, too—whatever it was that had just happened between them?
My reader knows as much about shapeshifters (supernatural creatures with the ability to change into animals at will) as I reveal. She pays attention as she reads, keeping a mental log as the rules of the secretive species unfold on the page. She cannot see shapeshifters, touch them, feel them, but that doesn't stop her from taking part in their world. Though merely an outside observer, she is able to make a connection.
But what of love? What of that feeling you get when you see someone across the room and just can't seem to take your eyes off of them? That exhilarating moment is tangible to anyone. The reader doesn't have to imagine the feeling of butterflies in her stomach when she sees someone attractive, because she's experienced it for herself. It is not just a possibility, it is a memory.
Ideal love, as we're taught from books and movies, is mutual, boundless, unapologetic. But that's not every love story. Everyone's had a crush on someone they couldn't have, someone who would never like them back no matter the intensity of the attraction. Most people have probably been on the other side of that, too, being shamelessly approached by someone who just doesn't get that it's not going to effing happen. One way or another, everyone, everywhere, can in some way relate to love.
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