With the release of Awakened by Sin approaching, I thought I’d offer the background of this novel, which is very different from the others. Originally, I intended the Crime Lord Series to be two books. At the end of Recaptured by the Crime Lord, I revealed the villain without much fanfare. I had a nice epilogue of Gavin and Lyla and that was that. A beta reader questioned me further. “What’s next?” she asked. “That’s it,” I said. She wouldn’t let it go. She asked me about the fate of the underworld and a bunch of other things I didn’t allow myself to consider since I was so focused on closing the “series.” It took me a week to decide to change the ending and sketch out another book, which became Once A Crime Lord. I sewed more characters into the fabric of the world and gave Sadist a proper, bloody send off. It was glorious!
I always loved Carmen so I didn’t think writing her story would be difficult. I was dead wrong. Carmen and I are opposites so falling into her mindset and emotional state was like teaching someone to swim in rough water, which means that I fucking floundered and thrashed about. I wrote Carmen’s book over the span of one year, dipping in and out of it at least three times before dropping it for one reason or another. It was so difficult to get a pulse on this book and no matter what I did, the story felt flat and one dimensional. I have countless drafts. The extra scenes are ridiculous- over 40k words, which could be considered a novel in itself. If I hadn’t already announced Carmen would be next, I would have given up on her. Instead, I was forced to push through and wrote a lot of crap. The biggest problem was that I had never lost anyone close to me so I couldn’t relate to an essential part of her. When Vinny was murdered in book 1, I didn’t know that one day I would have to deal with her grief. I worried that I didn’t have the experience and skill to write her story convincingly.
In May 2017 I made the decision to move back to the mainland from Hawaii. I was making a big change in my life and was unsure about my future, but felt it was the right thing to do. This was a good reason to put Carmen to the side. I busied myself with arrangements and mentally braced to be completely on my own again. Two weeks before I moved, disaster struck. I lost my dog, Maile, in a freak accident. She was here today and gone the next. I’m a gypsy and never stay anywhere for long. My 2 dogs have been the only constants in my life for 9 years. My girl, the one who stuck to me like glue, passed. I was totally blindsided by this. Not only was I facing a new chapter in my life, I was suddenly facing it without my best friend. I finally understood Carmen’s pain.
It took me months to adjust to being in the city again and I did it with a heavy heart. Writing is linked to my emotional state. I can’t write when my head is all cloudy. I was terrified to write this book because I knew the floodgates would open and I wasn’t sure what would come out of me. When I felt strong enough to face the blank screen again, I put my hands on the keys and my heart bled. It’s crazy how Carmen and my life suddenly became parallel- starting over, functioning through the pain and guilt, and trying to find what makes you happy. Through my own struggles, I understood hers and we grew together.
Carmen made me laugh, cry, and cheer. She was a breath of fresh air in my dark world. Through her, I fell in love with writing all over again. I weaved Marcus and Angel into her story and finally, the book began to take shape and it felt right. Her story broke me and mended me at the same time. This book is the most emotionally complex thing I’ve ever written. It absorbed everything I had and demanded more. Awakened by Sin drained me.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous for people to read a book. Not only was it written in my own blood, it was also a different character and the pacing and rhythm was so different from the previous 3. I didn’t know if people would understand or if I was revealing too much about myself… I figure it’s never wrong to show that you’re human. I told myself if one person understands and relates to this story, I win… and so does Carmen.
I hope you enjoy Awakened by Sin and all the laughs, cries, and chaos imbedded in it’s pages. It’s going to be an amazing ride!