Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day 9 - Guest post by Erica Hayes

My first manuscript

No, not the first one I got published. The first I ever wrote. Back in the dim, dark nineties when no one had ever heard of paranormal romance or urban fantasy.

I read a lot of big fat fantasy, so that's what I tried to write. It was this rambling tale of a nun, who was also a doctor, who discovers that the gods she's worshipped all her life are actually a gang of demons intent on taking over the world. I was pretty clueless about worldbuilding at the time. I liked the idea of a four-month-long, dark winter, so I put it in the deep latitudes of the south. And I thought it'd be cool if, instead of swords and bows, they had flintlock pistols. So I shunted it out of the Middle Ages into a kind of quasi-Civil-War era. And the romantic hero was a rabid villain who did horrible things to innocent people for fun, until the heroine showed him the error of his ways by driving him insane (literally).

Yeah, it was terrible :) But I had a lot of fun. I revised it about a hundred times. Even submitted it a few places, to editors who sighed at how awful it was and patiently sent me form rejections.

But hey, you've got to start somewhere! And when I look at that manuscript now, the themes that pop out are surprising. Stuff that at the time, I didn't even really know I was writing about.

'Good' and 'evil' as fluid concepts that warp in the eye of the beholder. People who are one thing on the outside and quite another on the inside. Dual personalities, demonic possession, voices in your head, the war against the darkness within you.

Then again, maybe those themes aren't so surprising. I look at my published books, and I see the same things. I write charming demons, evil angels, 'good' as the lesser of two evils. And every single one of my books has characters with twin personalities or voices in their heads. For instance, Joey in POISON KISSED is a shape-shifter with a dark and hungry creature inside him, and Mina is possessed by her magical voice. And Ember, the heroine of my upcoming book BLOOD CURSED, is haunted by the apparition of the stronger, tougher, no-nonsense self she wishes she could be.

Seems I have some deep-seated need to write about insane people! But the idea that writers have a 'core story' – one they tell over and over again, in different forms – is well-known. Mine is 'the darkness within', and I embrace it. It pops up everywhere, whether I mean it to or not. And it started before I knew anything about writing or publishing, way back in that very first manuscript.

Remember: comment and email or you don't get entered. $50 gift card from Book Depository!


  1. It was very brave to actually submit that manuscript, even though it seems like you kinda knew it wasn't very good!


  2. You are right ! We've got to start somewhere to achieve what we dream :)

    thank you for reminding me about this.

    uniquas at ymail dot com

  3. I kind of WANT to read your first manuscript! LOL
    And I like it how your characters aren't exactly black and white. Nobody is ALL good nor are they ALL bad. 'the darkness within' is something we all have to fight with.. or embrace. It's up to us, right? ;)

    kah_cherub at hotmail dot com

  4. I think it's great to put yourself out there. Not many people can do it and from that experience you were able to create something great. Thanks for sharing.


  5. {waves} thanks for dropping by, everyone :) and yep, you definitely have to start somewhere. It's amazing where our journey can take us.

  6. wow your a brave one i normally hesitate over myself and contemplate everything sometimes and maybe i can take a lil of what you have into myself and jump in.


  7. I admire your courage to put yourself out there! thank you for sharing your experience!