Behind the Story of FADE INTO ME

Behind the Story of FADE INTO ME

 

Welcome back. My husband listened to the last podcast with the kids and asked me what it had to do with my life as an author. The short answer was maybe nothing, but that isn't really true. I've written several stories with them in mind and that's why I wanted to introduce them to you.

He also said the last part with all of them in the room was painful. That made me laugh because that's what we hear every night and every weekend. At least you guys can shut it off. No matter what, I love my crazy life and figured if I was going to be completely honest on this show, I had to share that piece of my life with you.

 

This week we'll get back to writing topics. You may not know it, but this podcast started as an exclusive for my Patreon subscribers. However, I was putting in a lot of time and effort for a handful of people. I love my subscribers and they still get a free book download from me every month. This month the download is FADE INTO ME, my young adult modern-day fairy tale with a science fiction twist. Today's behind the story talk is all about Ryanne and Caedan.

 

Be advised, this episode deals with my character's emotional journey to healing after being sexually assaulted. While there are no details in the book, or this podcast, some of the subject matter may cause emotional triggers. 

Having said that, this story was written for my girls. The boys were quite young at the time, but if they ever read this story, I hope they also pull from it the things I hoped to convey to their sisters. 

 

You can't control everything that happens to you. Bad things happen to good people. It doesn't mean you aren't worthy of love and good things in your future. 

 

Fade Into Me started as my summer pool project and I didn't have any intention of publishing it. It was supposed to be my “just for fun” story to help relieve the pressure to finish The Magic Wakes. However, my mind kept returning to this story over the next couple of years. As I got to know my main female lead—Ryanne, the theme I mentioned above started to formulate bit by bit, piece by piece. The process took years as I would work on the story and then move on to something else for a while. 

This normal girl, by all outward appearances, had deep emotional scars to match the physical ones I discovered by accident.

 

You may wonder how that happened since I'm the author. Well, it happens to me all the time. I'm never in charge, I'm simply trying to discover what the characters are trying to tell me about themselves and somehow get it on the page. 

 

Anyway, I was writing a scene, slightly reminiscent of one from Beauty by Robin McKinley. Perhaps I recognized the influence and subconsciously added a twist that changed everything. And I mean everything. I started asking questions all over again because my character now had scars, and I didn't know where they came from.

 

In the end, I believe I let all my worst fears come out to play. What's the worst that could happen to either of my girls? What if they didn't tell anyone? How would they feel about themselves and subsequently everyone around them? What would it take for them heal emotionally and mentally?

 

Of course, I mixed in a little magic, another dimension, aliens, and the fairy tale setting with prince charming. But I didn't want him to be the traditional hero. He has his own prejudice against humans and a healthy superiority complex as heir to the throne during the reparation to overcome.

 

And I never wanted him to save Ryanne. I wanted her to save herself. Caedan quickly became a supporting figure for her, but she had to find her own strength in order to save herself and his people. 

 

Oo, and you should know that part of the back jacket blurb for this book came to me in a dream. That's what really started the whole thing even before I officially dubbed it “pool book.”

 

Do I need to explain what I mean by pool book? When I first started writing, we lived in this neighborhood in North Carolina. It had an amazing pool fully stocked with lifeguards. This meant I didn't have to physically be in the pool with my kids every minute. I could sit and read, or write, and simply look up every five minutes to do a visual headcount. It was glorious! Don't worry, I did plenty of splashing around too. Anyway, I looked forward to the summer because I could write a bit more without feeling guilty. I always gave myself permission to play with ideas that I could easily throw away. 

Now, back to that back jacket blurb. This is what I scribbled in a notebook early one summer beside the pool while I was observing everyone through my sunglasses. 

 

Aliens live among us. Their purpose: to protect and nurture their greatest mistake—mankind.

 

Isn't that a great start! Wouldn't YOU want to write that story? It took forever to come up with the rest of the blurb, but here it is.

 

Abhithian. Caedan doesn’t believe humans will evolve to see the magic, much less control it. Even so, he has two months to marry one or face the wrath of the High Council. Bitter about a responsibility he thinks prevents him marrying for love, he figures any human girl will do. Then his soul mate stumbles into—and right out of—his arms.

 

Human. Ryanne might be Caedan’s one shot at happiness while still fulfilling his duty. Unfortunately, she’s determined to push Caedan away to protect him from her past and a dark secret.

 

Caedan must convince her she’s worthy of his love before a rival family puts an end to his wedding plans. If she

can see her own worth, Ryanne just might save herself and his people.

 

Of course, I set the human part of the story in the Charlotte, North Carolina, where I was living when I started writing it. But I couldn't write the things I wanted to talk about straight up contemporary. That's why Caedan is an alien prince who moves freely between the human side of the barrier and the Abhithian side called Ireas. 

Ireas almost became like a character all by itself. Let me share some of the descriptions from chapter one:

 

The runes moved under my fingers, and the fabric of space split and fluctuated within the confines of the portal. This doorway separated the human reality from the hidden world of my people. Same earth, different dimensional plane.

 

I concentrated on the coordinates as my mind linked telepathically with the system. A step forward, a tugging sensation, an eternity of cold nothingness, and I materialized in Ireas. Strands of magic swirled everywhere, revealing more vibrant colors and scents than on the human side of the barrier.

 

The magic of the garden danced in the sunlight--shades of red, white, yellow, and green jumped from plant to plant, mingling, changing. They wrapped themselves around the sound of buzzing insects and the humming of birds' wings.

 

This is what I missed the most when living among humans--this symbiosis of sight and sound. The collective magical ignorance of the human race compelled the colors to remain motionless. Here they played like joyful children.

 

Right off the bat the reader knows this is going to be different. Inter-dimensional doorways, visible magic floating in the air as colors, and hopefully they feel this deep connection to the life force of the earth in those words. 

Why? Because there is a second theme throughout this book focused on balance. Life and death. Creation and destruction. You learn in chapter one that Caedan can gather and weave these strands of color to manipulate the world around him, but only when he is in balance with himself. He doesn't know it, but he's about to spend most of the book out of balance.

 

When we first meet Ryanne, we also meet her sister Heather. From their interaction we can see how much they love each other, and how stubborn Ry can be. She's constantly craving her sister's attention, but also pushes her away out of fear that she'll leave someday.

 

For Ryanne, everything boils down to trust. She doesn't trust anyone outside her family. She doesn't trust that her sister will stay because their parents left them. But most importantly, she doesn't trust herself or her own instincts.

 

One reviewer summed it up better than I could. 

“I've never read about two people so determined to get in their own way before. It bordered on the frustrating but thankfully ended satisfactorily. At one point I truly screamed into my book, "just show her your feelings you damned man" but alas, as in real life, he didn't listen.”

 

And another...

 

“Much to my relief, Caedan and Ryanne were literally drawn together with magic and attraction, but their relationship developed throughout the story. And believe me, it's not a smooth path. Caedan's emotions and actions were all over the place, as were Ryanne's sometimes. It gave a kind of jerky sensation rather than a smooth narrative, but it was exactly suited for the story that was being told. It's always interesting when the story makes you feel things that are a reflection of what the characters feel. But thank goodness, being soul mates meant that they were meant to improve and help each other in their weaknesses. It made the whole thing work for me. Especially since these two lovebirds were beautifully imperfect.”

 

Beautifully imperfect. Isn't that how life really is? In the end, it's our imperfections that make us unique. It's what Ryanne and Caedan needed to learn in order to move forward in their lives and their relationship. 

 

Sometimes I think I'd like to go back and add things to this book, but that would be a shame really. Letting go of the imperfect novel is hard. But as a writer you have to learn to do that or you never become an author. No book is ever going to reach perfection. It'll never make every person who reads it love it. Just not going to happen.

 

So, I let it go and published it in 2015. I actually ran a kickstarter project, which was totally nerve wracking, to fund paying an editor, cover art, and buying the gift books for those who backed me. It worked, but I'll never do it again. I hated begging everyone I knew for money. 

 

Anyway, you could say this was my cross over novel. It opened the door to writing romance, but since it still had elements of speculative fiction I didn't consider writing it under a pen name. It was also my first young adult novel. 

 

It took several years to write, six I think, and the storyline changed several times until I ended up where I did. 

In fact, Fade Into Me is the only novel that I mapped out in outline form. From the last scene to the first. That's right. In order to get it right, I plotted backwards. I've never done it since, but it worked for Ryanne's story. I knew where I wanted to end up so I wrote that down and then asked, “How did she get here? As in, what happened right before?” 

Once I figured that out, I repeated the process until I connected my dots z to a.

 

Here are a few other behind the scenes facts you don't want to miss:

  • Caedan's name changed every week for about six months at the end of the process. Every name I tried out simply didn't fit. A couple of times I'd start reading a scene at my critique group and they'd all go, “nope!” Then we'd brainstorm names for me to try out the next week. I so love and miss my critique group! Life sort of separated us months before the whole social distancing became the norm. I really hope when the world starts turning again we can get back into the writing groove together.

  • I had a dear friend who helped me understand some of the emotional baggage Ryanne was dealing with. She shared some events from her past and we talked for hours about how it made her feel then and moving forward with the rest of her life. It took a lot of courage on her part, and I felt honored she trusted me with those conversations. 

  • The cover to this book was actually found by one of my author friends after she read an early version of the story to give me feedback. She was searching for her next cover when she saw it and immediately gave me a call. It was perfect and I couldn’t pass it up!

  • Ryanne has a character song: You Hear a Song by Cassadee Pope—Album: Frame by Frame

Maybe one day I'll just let it all go

Let every shade of my true colors show

Keep loving me and I'll lose all control

Eventually

Never wanna be, never wanna be that girl

With a million needs, who keeps running your world

Boy, do you lie, when you say I look good tonight.

 

I see a mess in the mirror,

But you see the girl of your dreams

I see the dark clouds rolling in,

But you see the sky I can't see

I hear this melody coming out all wrong

But you hear a song, you hear a song

 

They keep talking,

All the ghost from my past

Heart broken,

Can't get over it fast

Just give it up, stays around,

And it never leaves.

 

I see a mess in the mirror,

But you see the girl of your dreams

I see the dark clouds rolling in,

But you see the sky I can't see

I hear this melody coming out all wrong

But you hear a song, you hear a song

 

A one note symphony,

Baby come on

And sing it back to me.

 

Part way through writing the book, I discovered the song Fade Into Me by David Cook. I was amazed at how it told my story. The words about colors fading to one fit the way my magic visibly mingled between soul mates, fading to white to show they were in balance with each other. For the first time, I wished books came with end credit songs like movies. I may, or may not, have borrowed the title.

 

All I feel now

Is the weight of the day

I need you with me

To push it away

 

We disappeared into each other

Colors appeared and bleed into one

 

Fade into me, fade into you

Two of us melting together 

Until we become something new

We can't escape

And watch the world chasing to find us

Both of us hidden from view,

If you, fade into me, fade into me

 

When I'm broken

You're the one thing I need

Like an ocean

Feel you crash over me

 

My girls were my main beta readers and critique partners for this book. By the end they were both a little frustrated with me because I'd rewrite stuff while they were reading and hand them the new version as soon as they were done. Kiah finally said she wouldn't read it again until it was printed in book form and no longer changing. 

 

We never really sat down and discussed why I wrote this book for them. I've always tried not to be too preachy to them, and the book does a good job telling a story where I hope the lessons are subtle but there for the reader to connect to when and if they choose. Otherwise, it follows the fairytale set up. Every day girl with problems meets good-looking rich man who falls in love with her. Eventually, with the help of magic usually, they work things out, get married, and live happily ever after. 

My version was just a little bumpier than Cinderella's.

 

Fade Into Me was the first book that I had recorded for audiobook release. I accepted the first audition I received, and it worked out well. It may not be my favorite, but Tia's voice is really easy to listen to. 

 

This was the first book I wrote in first person and from dual points of view. Trying to get Caedan's voice down took forever. He probably still sound too “girly” but my excuse for his verboseness and emotional insights is that he is 124 years old and should know how to communicate. Don't worry, 124 is teen-age for Abhithians so he still acts angsty often enough for him to fit in with most teen to early twenty something boys. This causes conflict and tension at every turn when mixed with his eye-roll attitude toward humans. 

 

Yep, beautifully imperfect, both of them.

 

Have you read Fade Into Me? If not, you can download it for free as a Patreon Subscriber. It's this month's download for Standard and Enhanced members. You can find me at Patreon.com/charitybradford_riverford. The link is in the show notes.

That's it for today, thanks for listening, and until next time, remember to be forgiving. We have more in common than we ever choose to see.

Charity Bradford. 

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© 2019 by Charity Bradford.