The creative process involved in bringing a first paranormal romance to life and ready for publication.
I could start off with a crucial question that most friends and family ask about my writing: Where do you come up with your ideas? In the case of NEW LIFE INCOGNITA I can honestly say that the fundamental premise and idea evolved after I had read a paranormal romance by a gifted newcomer and—at the time to me—an unknown writer who I have since come to greatly admire: Tina Wainscott. After devouring Ms. Wainscott's whimsically original and optimistic novel ON THE WAY TO HEAVEN and being thoroughly enchanted by the characters and the story, I thought that I'd like to try my hand at something like it and totally engross my readers as Ms. Wainscott had engrossed me.
When I first started writing NEW LIFE INCOGNITA a year or so later in late 1997, I didn't know what I was doing or where I would take my characters or even whom my characters would eventually turn out to be. I just knew I wanted to do something different from the six previous "mainstream/contemporary" novels I had to that point completed. I had a basic concept that I had fashioned from the 50-words-or-less-TV-Guide-School of premise writing: "A young black street hustler and practicing Wiccan is killed in a drive-by shooting and sent back to earth in the body of a superficial and vain married white woman." And I had a vague theme in mind about character redemption, each of which have since gone through numerous metamorphoses, since I began my novel.
Ironically, Kelly Butler emerged as a living breathing being after he had died. From the first scene in the Prologue when he is gunned down in front of his girlfriend, I realized my unlikely hero/heroine in a reincarnated homeboy. By Chapter One Kelly had sprung as an individual with a weird history, troublesome supernatural gifts and a large family he would soon desperately miss. He was a person I was beginning to care about and grieve for and I knew I had one of my main POV characters. By Chapter Three (and after several traumatizing and comical scenes and run-ins during Kelly's hospital stay where readers are introduced to Dagny's hot-looking narc husband, her rich, overbearing and overprotective parents, and her lusty bad boy lover on the side) I had discovered my second POV character and hero in Tyler Diaz and my villain in Edge Russell--Dagny Diaz's extramarital affair. There was no turning back.
I wasn't aware how daunting, all encompassing and exhilarating a project NEW LIFE INCOGNITA would become. Or how deeply I'd have to delve into and explain with authority the paranormal elements of the story if I wanted to make readers suspend their disbelief and love, hate, even fear and hope for my story people as much as I did. By the time I completed the first draft, I had discovered TWO heroes and on a smaller scale two heroines. I had also discovered an entire new culture and belief system much like my hero Kelly, one that would never have occurred to me had I not decided to try "something different" and tackle the weird plot of NEW LIFE INCOGNITA.
Along with Ms. Wainscott, I have to give recognition and many thanks to Rosemary Ellen Guiley for writing THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WITCHES AND WITCHCRAFT (Writer's Digest Books). This book turned out to be an invaluable resource that I dog-eared during the research process for NEW LIFE INCOGNITA, and which, despite acquiring several comparable books since, remains one of my favorite references for researching the paranormal and supernatural.