Monday, January 7, 2013

Writing the Virtus

Writing the Virtus Saga is a real challenge, particularly since I’m still not sure on how to go about creating a series. Mine, believe it or not, built and developed on its own starting from a concept and a recurring image. Simply worded, the concept is:

As part of a vast social experiment, the planet Sendar is controlled by a technologically advanced mechanical device that channels people's aggression into sex, which guarantees their feudal society knows no violence.

As for the recurring image, it was of a lone rider, lost in a place he should have known like the back of his hand, who finds shelter from a coming thunderstorm in a beautiful woman’s run-down shack. Too familiar to be a stranger, she feels like she belongs to him, yet he has no memory of ever having seen her or of knowing her name. And why does she look like his twin, even if he’s sure there’s no blood relation between them?

Makes no sense, right? Well, it didn’t to me either, but I kept writing, hoping things would clear up eventually, and oddly they did. As the plot thickened, details added up, fitting inside a structure I had not thought out beforehand. As incredible as it sounds, it felt like I was reading it, rather than creating it. Yes, like any other reader starting from Book 1, The Sex, I had no idea where I was going or why characters behaved the way they did. Thus came Book 2 The Game, then Book 3 The Festival, Book 4 The Leader, Book 5 The Pledge and Book 6 The Heat, all currently released by eXtasy Books and available at major bookstores including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Still, Virtus is far from over. All those who read it know The Heat ends with yet another cliff hanger, which requires a Book 7, The Princess, and also a Book 8, The Demon, the final chapter on Prince Duncan Caldwell, his lover Lord Christopher Templeton, and their woman, Lady Ylianor Templeton.

Of course, by now I do have a sharper idea on where my characters are headed, but until I’ve written the words The End, I’m not betting on it LOL. Safe to say, my husband, who has read the entire saga so far, has a greater grasp on my characters, knows them far better than I do, and is also pointing to the ending that is most logical with the premises. When he told me about it, I couldn’t believe it!!! All I had was a concept and an image, while he had the whole story down pat. Go figure!

In a way, though, he’s right. It was the characters themselves who guided each and every twist and turn, so it shouldn’t have surprised me they would point to their own ending. After the first image, they continued to play inside my head until the lone rider turned out to be a handsome, dark-haired prince, his long raven black hair flying wild as he dares nature’s hostile elements on his black horse, until a trembling candlelight draws him to the woman he’s destined to meet again, Ylianor Meyer. And she’s not a sibling, not a twin, not a blood relation at all no matter how similar she looks to him. Still, she is someone he’s grown up with, so why can’t he remember her at all, as though his memory had been wiped clean of her?

Like any other reader, I found the answer to this riddle, as well as to the similarity without blood relation, in Book 4 The Leader and Book 5 The Pledge, which proves how little the characters shared while I was writing, telling me only what they wanted me to know when they wanted me to know it, no earlier. From the first line to the last, I just received pieces of a puzzle that eventually made up a great story that still amazes me for its complexity.

Christopher Templeton is the key to the whole design, although he came to me after Duncan falls for Ylianor. With his blond good looks, erotic elegance and cat-like sensuality, he quickly overshadowed every other character. Being the egotistical narcissist he is, he would have done anything to have the most eligible, powerful and handsome man aroundPrince Duncan Caldwell, Leader of the High Counciland kept everyone else, women in particular, away from his beloved prince’s heart. Yes, he’s a tad jealous and has been since the phase, but then his love for the dark-haired heir of the Caldwells is so strong and deep, it overpowers any other feeling, especially since it’s combined with one of the strongest powers or Virts on the planet Sendar.

In time, I’ve come to love how Chris defends his territory, fiercely eliminating competition, doing his dammed best to make sure things stay the way they are. Yet, he’s also the first to anticipate the changes he can’t stop, adapting to them even if they mean having to share the person who is the very reason of life itself with a woman. It’s what makes Lord Templeton so intriguing and attractive in his own demon-like styleunpredictably evil at times, terribly open-hearted at others, capable of a love so all encompassing he’d be willing to sacrifice everything to it, his life included. Such depth of feelings turns the story around, and only after I was writing it for a while, did I understand what the Virtus Saga was really all about.

If you strip off the sex, the fantasy trappings, the Virts and the power, what’s left is the slow, painful and very real making of a trio. Building a successful ménage is no easy task. The three have to overcome their separate resistances. They have to smooth out their rough edges. They have to compromise and silence their egotistical drives. And they have to share in the love and understanding. So their goal is to be one whilst being three, keeping their individual identities while at the same time blending into a single being greater than its parts, not because they have to save the world or any such catastrophic event, rather because they want to become better persons. And that’s a goal we could all have in our ordinary, day-to-day lives here on planet Earth.