The story behind 'Seven Years Awesome Luck'
I was going back through some of my paper notes and found the very first note I wrote about what became my novel Seven Years Awesome Luck, and I thought it might be fun to share it and say a little about how this particular book came to be.
Creative people can get ideas from all kinds of places, and I for one get ideas all the freaking time. They're everywhere. And if I go looking, they're easy to find. One thing I used to do a lot (but had to force myself to stop because I was hoarding) was look at pre-made covers that various cover designers had up for sale. One day, I was looking at pre-made covers by Lou Harper and found this absolutely adorable cover with the cutest black kitten with huge ears. Immediately, I was like, "I have to have that."
(Obviously, the title and author name were placeholders when I first found it.)
But I did exercise some small amount of restraint. I made myself wait until I thought up a good story idea to go along with the cover. It took about an hour. Here is the first page of the notes I wrote while I was trying to get an idea together:
I had more, basically breaking down the backstory of my main character. As you can see, I started off thinking it was a girl, and her love interest was going to be a boy named Dennet (which I got from an old baby names book I keep by my desk). At some point down the road, I decided to swap their genders, and 'Trish' became 'Trick' while 'Dennet' became 'Denneka', but otherwise the characters changed not at all. The other thing that changed a little was that I'd originally envisioned it to lean heavier on the mystery side, even being a bit more like a kid version of an urban fantasy, and that isn't quite what I ended up with when I actually got to writing it.
After I got the title and the rough idea of the plot, I bought the cover. I actually have quite a few other pre-made covers with stories waiting to be written, not to even mention the stories I have planned that don't have covers yet.
This book actually stayed pretty much the same all through the planning stages and writing. The book I described in my earliest notes is pretty much the book I ended up with--although I do make up a lot as I go, but that gets into my whole writing process, which is its own separate topic.
There were a couple surprises in the writing. (And I'll warn of spoilers here, so if you haven't read the book, you might want to skip this paragraph.) I had all my main characters planned from the outset, except two characters who ended up being part of the main cast were not planned. Lisa wasn't planned; she appeared when I needed someone to fill a certain role in the story. So I didn't really write out a detailed backstory for her like I did the others. She just sort of walked onscreen fully formed. And then, even after her initial purpose (of providing a way for Kester to become Trick's teacher) was fulfilled, she was still there in the world of the story and was not the kind of person to just let stuff happen on her watch, so she had to keep being part of the story now. Marcus was basically the same. I needed to figure out how Jacqueline would find out about Trick's "kidnapping", and after some thinking, it made sense for her to just hear it straight from one of the cops. Marcus walked onscreen fully formed, too (absentminded need for a note pad and all, though I didn't realize that could be a useful story point until much later). Because of them, the ending wasn't quite what I'd originally planned (I'd originally had Jaqueline still be single by the end, but I'm glad Marcus showed up to give Jac her own romantic happy ending.)
So, that's how Seven Years happened. It ended up longer than I'd planned, but I really wanted it to be a standalone, so it was necessary. I do have an idea for a spin-off series (about a grown-up Landon), but if I get around to writing it, Seven Years will still totally work as its own standalone story.