Buckle up, guys. This is about to get personal.
So, back when I started writing the Philadelphia Coven Chronicles, I knew I wanted to write Alanna’s story. I mean, strong female leader of an entire Coven is right up my alley. And while characters like Jev who are loud, crude, and optimistic come naturally for me, I wanted to write a different sort of strength, the quiet, serious type. I’ve seen plenty of guys written that way, but not as many women in positions of leadership and what burdens they might bear. So from the start, this wasn’t going to be a lighthearted romp but would have a more serious bent to it. Since I’m a pantser, I never know what the story’s going to be about completely until I set about to writing it and inspiration leads the way.
And then, last year around this time, a friend of mine committed suicide.
As I was going through my own grief, I began to write Alanna’s story, working through some of that complex mesh of feelings through her character. They always say write what you know, right? Alanna was strong, the responsible one, and as a big sister, I could empathize with her a thousandfold. But worse than all the weight of the Coven depending on her, of all the deaths on her conscience, one hit her the most–when her brother took his life the year before. Through Alanna, I wove my way through my own tangle of feelings, and did my best to honor the memory of the friend who had passed. Of what he might’ve been feeling when he reached that crossroads.
Alanna and Sam’s story is one of two broken, guarded individuals finding a way to trust again. Finding a way to heal. They’ve both been doled terrible hands, and as they come together and coax each other out of their shells–well, their love was a beautiful thing to behold. Sam, the djinn who’s had control wrenched from him every time his lamp found a new owner, meets the biggest control freak of them all, Alanna. And if anyone can empathize with the powerlessness that dwells beneath that neuroses, it’s her. Even though real life often isn’t as kind, I needed the hope of a happy ending for these two, and in the end, that’s what I love about the romance genre the most.
To those who’ve contemplated suicide, who have hit that brink of desolation, this is my love letter of compassion. Please, reach out, even if it seems too much to bear. (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255)
To those who have lost someone to suicide, my heart is with you.
To my friend Glenn, this story is for you.