Guardian Series Retrospective #6 – DEMON MOON

This and many of the following posts will be shorter than the original two-part retrospective posts, primarily because all of the “How did you start the series?” introductory stuff is over. If there’s something that I don’t address, however, or if I skip something that you’re curious about, please feel free to ask me.

Writing DEMON MOON

Meljean’s note: This post is part of a series of entries about the Guardians paranormal romance series, including information, reactions, and pieces of trivia for each one. THESE POSTS WILL INCLUDE SOME SPOILERS, though I will try to keep the details of those spoilers to a minimum. Please understand that this means you will get a “behind the book” look at the series, which is not always awesome. After all, there is a person behind the books – me – and it’s often true that enjoying fiction is easier the less you know about the person writing it. With that in mind, I will try to keep comments about my intentions to a minimum.

Please feel free to comment below. If an answer to your question will spoil the final book in the series, however, please understand that I won’t answer it.

This post is about DEMON MOON, and I’d like to focus on that story in the comments. If you ask a question about another book (or if your question will be answered in another post) I might just give a brief response and let you know a more complete answer is coming up. Please also feel free to leave your own reactions/responses to the book – and I’m not offended if you didn’t like it.

Demon Moon

DEMON MOON’s place in the Guardian series

This is the fourth story in the Guardian series (counting novellas). It technically follows WILD THING/Paradise, but since I wrote that novella after I wrote this book, none of the events in that story are referenced here. Primarily, DEMON MOON follows (and deals with the fall-out) from the events in DEMON ANGEL.

In the overarching series, this was originally the second book of a planned trilogy (Lilith’s book, Colin’s book, then Michael’s book.) I re-thought my plans for the trilogy very early on, re-imagining it as eight books before I started writing this book, but much of what I’d hoped to do with this story still remains: that is, the first book was going to be Hell, this was going to be the book about Chaos, and Michael’s book was going to bring in more elements from Heaven.

Obviously, that changed. Kind of. This book still serves as the series introduction to Chaos and its effects on the people who’ve been there, plus showing the relationship between Chaos and the frozen field in Hell. Chaos was mentioned before, of course, but this was the one where most of the conflict originated from and was connected to that realm. Other books in the series are very much about me saying: “I need to accomplish X for the series arc” and then writing a story that included that plot point. DEMON ANGEL was: We need to know about Guardians, demons, and Hell. This book was more: We need to know more about vampires, humans, and Chaos.

Those Effing Characters

I’m not one of those writers whose characters speak to me. I control everything my characters do. That said, some characters click with me more easily than others. Some I have more fun with. With some, it’s easier to find their voice and what makes them tick. And that’s how I ended up with two characters who were created to be a friend/sister to another hero and heroine, and gave them their own book. They just clicked — with each other, and with me.

And this is the book that still clicks for me. When I finished it, I remember telling my mother that I’d never write a better book in my life. Maybe that’s true, maybe it isn’t. I’ve certainly gotten better at some things: pacing, worldbuilding, some technical aspects. But if you asked me, right now, which book is closest to that little itty bitty thing I call my heart, it’s probably this one. I think it’s the book that best reflects me, the author, and includes most of me — not my opinions and beliefs, but the stuff that I go crazy geeky for and have the most interest in. I’m not Savi; I’m not Colin. I don’t write placeholders for me. But they are the kind of characters that encompass many, many, MANY of the things I love about romance, comics, movies, and so on. If I hadn’t written this book, I’d probably have said it was written for me, because it hits so many of my happy buttons. I’ve got my Regency hero who is also a ridiculously vain vampire! I’ve got a geeky heroine whose superpower is her computer and her brain! And I cried a lot of times while writing it! (Especially the big “let’s see what happens next” scene, which I wrote in a Starbucks, and…yeah. That was embarrassing. “Are you okay?” “Yes, I’m just writing and my characters are about to risk their lives on the slim hope they can be together forever SOB SOB SOB.”)

I also think that it’s my most unabashedly romantic book — like I took all of the goopy stuff that had been building up inside me since I picked up my first Harlequin and spurted it all over the page. I even dedicated it to the Missys of this world.

And of all my books, DEMON MOON also has the lowest average rating at Amazon, so take all of the above as you will.

This is also the second-longest book in the series (it was the longest until this year, but GUARDIAN DEMON blew it out of the water.) It was a difficult book to write, but not in the same way that some books were (some books are like pulling teeth — this was difficult because I was still a newbie writer and feeling my way through, and second-guessing myself quite a bit. This book and DEMON ANGEL were the two that strayed the furthest away from the original synopsis/outline that I sent to my publisher, but that’s okay, because the original version of their conflict was really stupidly resolved.)

Stupid Trivia: I originally titled this A MIRROR DARKLY. Then we decided on DEMON ANGEL for the title of the first, and I went with DEMON MOON because a) Colin and Savi decide to spend a month together, and b) Savi becomes a werewolf (kind of) at the end.

Other Stupid Trivia: I watched the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice and read the book an unholy amount of times while writing this. Part of the reason was for the language — I gave some of that to Colin. The other reason was because it was P&P, and I could tell myself it was all about the same time period that Colin originally hailed from, so it was a great excuse.

Re-Reading DEMON MOON

Okay, well — the tl;dr version of what follows is: I still love these guys! But, yeah. It could use some polishing.

The #1 thing that I would change is the time jump from Chapter Four –> Chapter Five. Hugh and Michael arrive to save Savi from Colin, then the next minute it’s several weeks later and she’s circling matrimonial ads in a newspaper. When I was writing it, that felt like it worked. There was a dramatic lead-up to Colin slowly losing control, then discovering that Savi was feverish and infected with nosferatu blood and hellhound venom, then fighting the wyrmwolf, then deciding to take her to bed. Then he’s suddenly stopped, she’s taken off his hands, and that’s it.

Later, of course, I realized that I should have finished out that scene so that we could SEE him being forced to hand her over. So I’d fill in that hole so the jump isn’t so jarring.

There are other places where I would smooth out bits and pieces, too. As with DEMON ANGEL, some readers had problem following the worldbuilding. I think it was probably slightly easier to follow in this (especially if a reader had already made it through the first book) but this one also required a recap from the previous book. That’s a lot to take in all at once, and it was probably pretty clumsy. It did, however, set up the general worldbuilding/recap format for the remainder of the series: Start with action in the first chapters, but the action has to help a) explain what the world is, b) connect in some way to the plot of the book, even if the connection isn’t obvious yet, and c) get some excitement in before the lull of introducing more information.

Favorite Scene

I can’t even. Probably the “let’s see what comes next” scene, just because everything leads up to that. But also the one where he squeezes the oranges and then plays music for her (after she ogles his absurdly handsome knees.) And the scene where Lilith touches Colin and tells him not to give false hope to Savi. And the scene in Caelum when he draws the realm in henna on her skin. And when she’s attacked by vampires. And when she turns into a wolf.

I have zero objectivity about this book.

Stuff That Relates To Other Books in the Series

SPOILERS!!!!

Please note: I’m trying not to repeat myself too much. If you are using the trivia to refresh your memory before Michael’s book is released, you’ll probably want to check out the trivia in each post, just because there are so many related points that compiling them would make for a huge, huge list. So I’m trying to focus on the things that are introduced in each book, rather than cross-referencing every single thing between them.

  • The Frozen Field/Chaos

We knew about Chaos in the previous books, and we’d seen the frozen field, but this is where they confirm that the damned souls — including Ash, from DEMON MARKED, and later Michael — in the frozen field are dangling from the ceiling (sky) in Chaos, the bodies eaten by dragons. It’s also where the nosferatu (who have been trapped in Chaos) are trying to break through to Hell, because the frozen field is essentially a weak spot between the realms. In DEMON FORGED, Michael sacrifices himself to strengthen that barrier. In DEMON MARKED, the frozen field is completely destroyed.

For Michael’s book: All of this is important.

  • Savi, Colin, and Chaos.

Because of the combination of tainted blood (from Michael’s dragon-tainted sword, which affected Colin’s blood) and a curse using demonic symbols, Colin can see into Chaos through a mirror. Later, Savi can see Chaos in mirrors as well. Together, they can create a portal to that realm.

For Michael’s book: This will be important, too … which is very bad for poor Colin and Savi. *sniff*