This is my Q&A with the fabulous author:
Q: Coming out of The Night has Claws, there were a lot of open questions, and a lot of stunning revelations, how did you even approach book three in the Magdeburg Trilogy?
A: The Night Is Found was by far the biggest challenge to write of all the books in the series. I had to tie up all the loose ends and address any unanswered questions from the previous two books. As a pantser (as in fly by the seat of your pants) kind of writer, it was terrifying! That said, there were a few things that helped guide me. The first was a loose outline. I had the general plot points, new characters, and story arc going into this book. The rest was all about filling in the blanks. It also helped to have some trusted beta readers and an editor who pointed out areas that didn’t quite work in earlier drafts and asked some much needed questions.
Since it’s the last book in the series I felt all of it had to be bigger, better, faster. Everything in the first two books had been working toward this point. At the same time there had to be So. Much. Closure. I was an emotional wreck by the end of it.
The Night Is Found takes place about four months after The Night Has Claws. One of the missteps I made in an early draft was trying to pick up right where the previous book left off (which is what I was able to pull off with the sequel to The Night Has Teeth). It simply didn’t work in this case. It read like the print version of one of those movie montages where the hero is shown training in martial and weapons art, set to some upbeat music. Cue: “Eye of the Wolf” maybe? I cut all that and started right in the midst of a quest of sorts.
Q. Connor has had to confront a lot of emotional truths for a kid his age – how are you getting into his teenage mind (you’re doing it well!)?
A: Thank you! And also: damn it all(!) because this is a hard question to answer after so many years of writing in first person for Connor. I’m not going to be weird and say anything like “I no longer know where Connor starts and I begin.” It’s not that. At all. It’s just hard to pinpoint how his voice started. If I think back to it, part of it probably had a lot to do with being immersed in YA books. I also practically live online so that really helps, as does the ability to fall into the rabbit hole that is Tumblr. That’s all observational, I guess.
From the real life experiential side of things, when I started writing the series I had a niece who was around Connor’s age who was going through the whole “trying to figure out who you are” thing. It brought back a lot of my own insecurities from when I was a teen and I sort of tapped into that. I suppose it’s a matter of taking that spark of memory and just coaxing it into a new voice.
Look at this GORGEOUS cover!
I wouldn’t say it was an easy task, not at first. In all honesty it took me nine drafts of The Night Has Teeth (Book One) and several rounds of beta readers before I was comfortable enough to send it to an editor. Writing from his teen perspective got easier with each book though. I got down to maybe two or three drafts before sending the other books off for editing. I suppose all that hard work early on paid off in the end!
Q: I compare Connor’s growth from loner smart kid to confident leader to Aragorn’s growth from The Fellowship of the Ring to Return of the King in the LOTR series – how did you plan and execute that?
A: Be still my geek girl heart! I’m very happy you picked up on that. My lovely editor Allister Thompson — I suppose I have to say our lovely editor since we’re sharing — said of my second book that it was the Two Towers of my trilogy so I will totally take the Return of the King reference from you too.
I think the story of the hero who rises seemingly from nothing is one that fascinates a lot of people. We like to cheer for the underdog because they turn adversity into advantage. Connor was born an outsider, a lone wolf, and it’s not until he finds himself among his own kind that he’s given the opportunity to shine.
Part of the story arc in each book was absolutely supposed to show his growth from loner smart kid to confident leader. In book one he was pulled in many different directions which confused him quite a lot, and he was gullible at times because of his inexperience. Just making new friends was a big deal to him.
In book two he started asking more questions about the world he found himself in, and all the players in it. He stood up for Arden when nobody else would, and he stood up for himself against Daniel. Ultimately he makes an informed decision to join a pack.
When Connor found himself thrust into a leadership role in the final book my first thought was that he had to be made in the image of his own heroes — Luke Skywalker on his mission to Jabba’s Palace or Aragorn calling to arms the Dead Men of Dunharrow. In The Night Is Found Connor asserts himself, makes hard decisions, owns up to his mistakes and learns from them. At the same time, he’s still just a young man going on 18 so there are moments of lingering self-doubt.
By the time the epilogue comes along, I think he’s really found himself. Even Amara can’t disarm him anymore. It’s all part of the natural progression of the hero, I think.
4. The American werewolves were an awesome addition – any chance you’re considering a spin-off with Ben or Marrock?
First I have to thank my friend Ben Boudreau for letting me borrow his first name! I promised to use it with great care.
In answer to your question, I’ve always had it in mind to write a set of graphic novel prequels as companions to the series, expanding on the background of the secondary characters before Connor entered their lives. In Marrock’s case he was actually pulled from Arthurian lore (with a variant name spelling). Sir Thomas Mallory wrote this single line in Le Morte D’Arthur, “Sir Marrok, the good knight that was betrayed with his wife, for she made him seven year a werewolf.” I liked the idea of taking an ancient knight with this story of betrayal, and putting him in a modern scenario as an NYPD captain.
Beyond the graphic novel prequels, it was never my intention to carry on with the series though. That said, the American werewolves were just so much fun to write. With every draft I grew more and more fond of them. And then several months ago there was a bit of science that crossed my newsfeed that could have applications in this world of the Magdeburg werewolves…
Let’s just say I wouldn’t discount a spin-off at some point.
5. I love the epilogue and getting a bit of a view into Arden’s family, but what about Connor and Madison? Can you tell us where they ended up in your head?
A: That epilogue was in my head for a long time — well before I even started thinking about this final book. Even in this scene, I think it’s clear that I’m a firm believer in the idea that happiness is what you make it. You carve it out of your circumstances.
As for Connor and Madison, *SPOILER ALERT* I made a very conscious effort to leave their relationship open-ended. It always sounds really funny to me when I say this but the way I approached writing the series (yes, the one about werewolves) was from the perspective of a realist. As in “could this actually happen in real life?”
A lot of paranormal YA romances end with the two teens together forever. To me that doesn’t reflect the reality that people change, sometimes in ways that make them incompatible. I know, I know. How terribly un-romantic of me! Even Allister, our brilliant editor, wanted to know of their fate in one of the drafts. So I told him that I didn’t really believe that high school-aged sweethearts should always ride off into the sunset. He corrected me and said, “Teen wolves brought together by fate, you mean.”
After some thought I did rewrite the last scene between Connor and Madison to what it is now, and we believed that was a satisfactory middle ground. In the end I really want readers to envision where these two end up. Whatever version of happily-ever-after Connor and Madison have … that left my control once I stopped typing.