When I began working on Sharing Strength I was focused exclusively on that story. I knew it would be different than Never Give Up when it came to main characters because first and foremost there are six of them. Never Give Up centers around Akaylia with supporting characters coming and going as the story unfolds. Sharing Strength has five characters that all play central roles and one that is just as important but stands in the background slightly more often. I had no idea the life that book would take on when I first began the story.
Sharing Strength was conceptualized in the early months of 2014. It did not become a reality, or at least a full first draft, until September of last year. It took a great deal of time but even more emotion to finish the story and the characters took their toll on me. A year earlier, in October of 2015, I released the novella Survivor, a book that tells the back story of Jasmine Byers. She is a domestic abuse relationship victim and it gives her terrible PTSD. She is one of the people in Sharing Strength. It was the first time I wrote a prequel of any kind and knowing where it was heading in Sharing Strength made it difficult. Not that I would be giving away her final fate in any way but knowing how much to share, what was foreshadowing, and when to stop all proved to be harder than I originally thought.
The same goes for Fish. Usually I have that one final ending scene in my mind for a book that I think will make the greatest impact on the reader but with Crash, Combat, and of course Fish, I have the next chapter of their lives to keep in mind. It is also entirely possible that as I write the prequels I will learn more about the characters and have to modify them in Sharing Strength when I go back to edit. I had intended to do the first round of edits as I was creating the novella series but I am now considering holding off for the time being in order to make sure there are no major plot changes that arise from the current projects.
It is a new experience all together to learn more about characters I thought I knew well. Just the other day as I was writing the opening of Fish I had one of the writer epiphanies I live for. I knew what was coming but I had no idea who was responsible for the situation or the aftermath. Now that I know, there is a whole extra level of emotion I need to taper in as I write the scenes that are coming next. It will make the story more interesting and for that I am grateful but I feel bad that I have to traumatize the poor girl more than I had assumed I would. Anyone that has read Survivor knows the books will be on the darker side since they are leading to a book about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but the fact that they all are in the next book should at least give some hope.
I am just now fully understanding how emotional this book is going to be for me as a writer. Survivor was based on my story of abuse and telling it was both therapeutic as well as awful for me. Rachel Morris is not living the same life I did but like all my characters I can see a piece of myself in her so I know there will come a moment I feel that connection which will break my heart, at least temporarily. I just hope she can forgive me.