|Cover used on InkPop.com//Not Actual Cover|
How did I get the idea for Sweet Evil? Here's the long version...I like to joke that it began with two big G's: Google and God. I was feeling disheartened about not teaching anymore. Even though I loved staying home with my kids, I felt like I needed to be doing more. In August 2009, after crying all morning, I sat in front of the computer and Googled, "God, what do you want me to do with my life?" Yes, I really did that. To my surprise, up popped a writing by a pastor in Kansas talking about using our natural gifts to reach our life's potential. So I thought about my possible "gifts." Writing was the only thing that came to mind, but I'd never been published, so it was more like an abandoned hobby. I sent up a pleaful prayer, saying, "Okay, so, if I'm supposed to write, I'm game. But there's one problem. I have no story ideas..."
I'd just finished reading the hilarious Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, which has angel and demon main characters (Oh, those poor men will probably croak when they hear their dark humor somehow influenced my sappy romance - sorry guys!) I started thinking, "good" and "bad" - angel and demon. I remembered back to my teaching days when I taught John Milton's Paradise Lost. I'd always been intrigued by Lucifer's charisma and power over the fallen angels. And that's when a snowball of ideas began rolling, bombarding me with random snippets until I had to write it or be bowled over. It was the craziest, most intense thing that's ever happened to me, completely unexpected. By that evening I was scratching random thoughts onto the only paper I could find, computer sheets.
I was a woman possessed and exhausted, writing during every spare second, hardly sleeping or eating, and thinking about the story during any moments when I wasn't able to write. My nine-month-old son was still waking in the night, teething. My husband, who'd always urged me to write, was speechless and probably scared senseless about the crazy woman disguised as his wife. In seven weeks I wrote the first draft by hand, 80k+ words. My friends call it the "writing diet" because I lost fifteen pounds during that time. Not to worry, I've gained most of it back, and nobody was starved during the making of this story. :)
I started by writing Kaidan's "sacrifice," not knowing the setting or time frame. That was the scene that made me fall completely in love with Anna and Kai, though I barely knew anything about them at that point. Next came the first kiss scene, followed by the lake party scene. Then the story was like a huge puzzle that I had to piece together. NOT the easiest way to write a story, but we can't choose how the ideas come to us. I did a lot of research for the cross-country trip and angel/demon lore, but ended up fabricating details to fit the story. I had to ask myself, "What effects would angel souls have on human bodies? What would they be able to do that humans can't?" etc.
The book has undergone major revisions over this two year period, and received many beta reads from trusted critique partners to get where it is. The first draft was absolutely awful. Cringe-worthy.
I'm so indebted to inkpop and inkpoppers for their help revising this story, especially the introduction chapters which plagued me (I'm terrible at writing story beginnings, and coming up with titles for that matter). Thank you guys! And thank you, HarperCollins. :)
Additional Book Info!
I'm thrilled to announce that HarperTeen has picked-up books 2 and 3 in The Sweet Trilogy! Book two, titled Sweet Peril (formerly known as Sweet Hope), hit shelves April 30th 2013!!!
Book three, Sweet Reckoning, will be out in the U.S. on April 29, 2014. Countries whose publishers have not bought rights can expect to see the books 2-4 weeks after U.S. release date. Foreign rights have been secured for Czech Republic, Hungary, and French-Canadian.