“Her husband was a pious man, a man who had not desired to become a monster. He had simply desired her, and what he had done to have her had made him monstrous.”
One of my cover artists was putting out premades, and one of her covers caught my eye while I scrolled through Facebook. I rarely buy a cover without some idea of what to do with it, but this one was just so beautiful, and my favorite color of blue that makes me feel so peaceful, that after agonizing over whether to buy it, I gave in to the impulse.
Just a few hours later, on one of my evening walks, still exhilarated by the beauty of the cover, I came up with the story to go with it—with a series of simple, surreal, powerful images that strung together into a story more sensory and cinematic than any other that I’d played with. The title given on the premade even worked, so that didn’t change.
From writing Deep Down and Drift, I’m reminded that, no matter how much I love my series and will continue to enjoy multiple-book stories, there’s something incredibly satisfying about standalone novels. Series allow for slower character arcs, but standalones require much more efficient storytelling, and you know that when you finish the book, you’re done with the story (not with the project, of course, but you don’t have to keep thinking ahead). The writing is cleaner, tighter, and because a style doesn’t have to be sustained over multiple books, there’s a lot more room for experimentation.
By necessity, a novel needs more fibrous filling than a movie. A wordy medium is like stitchcraft, with words serving to re-create the illusion of sensory stimuli rather than the sensory stimuli doing its work on its own—a middleman that photography and movie-making isn’t as dependent upon. A book cannot do what photos and videos can do, but the exhilaration is in the effort to mimic the same effect.
I was inspired by those slow-burn, surreal, high-style, almost-horror movies that show far more than tell, with spare dialogue and impressionistic experiences. I couldn’t quite replicate those experiences, because words require a different touch, and the authorial voice is still undeniably mine. But each of the images that hit me so strongly during the inception of the story each made their way into the novel, and there’s definitely less dialogue, much like Deep Down, because there’s less occasion for it, which forces a more sensory drive to move the plot forward.
Drift isn’t a horror novel. I would classify it as fantasy, heavily inspired by folktale and one or two fairy tales, but it’s infused with the unsettling influence of American gothic, a complementary subgenre to modern folktale as well as historical horror.
I had to wait a year after conceiving Drift before I could write it, then waited another year to edit it, because I had other things already on my schedule. If I don’t follow my schedule, I’m too beholden to my latest idea rather than giving more established ideas their due, plus I need to block the proper time for editing. The wait allowed me to flesh out the plot beyond impressions, build tension inside myself just aching to release (yes, storytelling and sex have a lot in common), and to enjoy it better when I was finally able to sink into Dani’s story.
Interestingly enough, to go along with the perpetual rain of the story, is it a coincidence that the July when I was writing DRIFT was one of the wettest in DFW history, and that the June when I was going through my editors’ notes was also one of the wettest in DFW history? Yes. It was a total coincidence. But it didn’t feel like it. It felt significant, as though the story had power. And it’s consistently felt good, even though the anxiety’s ratcheted up as well, more fear than I felt with Deep Down or the Thorns series.
As another interesting aside: I’ve released enough books now that there are enough titles for a title page.
Slide into the water…
You can purchase the e-book now, and it’s enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, so if you have Prime, you can read it for free. The paperback is going to be a bit longer in becoming available, just because of timing issues.
After her mother’s funeral, Dani nearly drowns at the lake where she’s lived her entire life. She learned to swim before she could walk, but the water tingles and prickles over her skin, drawing her under.
She’s saved by a stranger who claims that the rains follow him, who sees when her father treats her the way a father shouldn’t.
Her mother left behind more than just memories and an empty lake house. And if Dani can’t find it, she’ll never break free from the shackles that her mother couldn’t escape.
“I have so much to tell you, my love. I can only hope that you heard me.”