As we get closer to the release of Beautiful Monster (September 1st, 2012!), I begin thinking more and more about the sequel. Mimi A. Williams (Kim Williams-Justesen~ my mentor and co-author), and I decided shortly after the manuscript was accepted for publication, that we’d like to make this a three-part story. Whether or not this will be of any interest to the publisher or not, we don’t yet know, but if the only reason we do it is for ourselves, that’s reason enough for us.

We’ve outlined the second novel, which we are planning to call Beautiful Liar, and I have written the first scene of my first chapter. As I get going again, there’s only one thing I’m not looking forward to: seeing the world through the eyes of my deranged main character, Sterling Bronson. Sterling came into existence as the result of more than a year’s worth of intensive research on serial killers, sociopaths, narcissists and a variety of other psychologically disturbed social deviants. I know Sterling well, and this is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, knowing him makes him easier to write. On the other hand, he disturbs me.

Writing fiction seems to be a lot like acting in many ways. When you’re inside the mind of your characters, you really become these characters, and when you’re writing a true monster of a man, as is the case with Sterling, this is not always a pleasant thing. For one thing, you subject yourself to the possibility of nightmares. I have had many disrupted nights of sleep because of Sterling, and I was glad when we finished Beautiful Monster because of that. Now that we’re going again, I have already dreamed of him twice. In one dream, he was just standing on a bridge looking at me, nothing serious. In the most recent dream, however, he was digging up the floorboards in a house to show me all the bodies he had hidden there. For the sakes of the more sensitive readers, I won’t go in to details, but the point is, Sterling is back to his old self again, and eagerly showing me the worst side of his nature.

I’m not complaining. In fact, I feel truly blessed that someone finally believed in me enough to publish one of my books. And that it didn’t take the statistical seven to nine years of rejection after rejection is something I’m truly grateful for. There’s just a small part of me though, that wishes it had been a different, more pleasant novel of mine that caught the eye of a publisher. I didn’t write Beautiful Monster with any real expectation of it ever being published. I thought it was too graphic and too offensive to ever get picked up… but, go figure, it’s the one that made the cut. Again, I am neither complaining nor apologizing. I’m just not looking forward to seeing life through a maniac’s eyes again. I don’t like wondering what kind of mentality is required to take a human life. I don’t like wondering what someone’s flesh, under the blade of a knife, would look like as it separated from itself. I don’t like thinking about the last words a person might utter as their life is being taken away from them. I don’t like the fact that in order to believably write this character (again), I need to really understand the wicked twists and bizarre kinks of his mind.

But I’ll do it. I’ll do it because I want to tell this story. I’ll do it because, despite the horrors this character is composed of, I’ve somehow come to like him, and I want to see how his story plays itself out. I will do it because I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to prove myself, and if I treat it like a hobby, everyone else will treat it like a hobby, and I don’t have time for another hobby. I’ll do it because it’s my job. And… I’ll do it because if I don’t, I’m afraid of what Sterling might do to me!

  1. Kim Justesen says:

    So much of the struggle I had in writing the first book is no longer relevant. I’m looking to this second book as a sort of redemption for my character – and in a way, for me. So much of writing – REAL writing – is about dancing with darkness. I’ve always called it “dancing with crazy” but I’ve come to understand that darkness has its own sort of logic. As the writer, your job is to be the partner in the danc who leads. The darkness may throw in some spins and turns, but ultimately, you are the dancer who controls the outcome. I have no doubt that, just as with the first book, you will embrace this character, this concept, and give it life in a way that no one else can. You are a stronger writer now than you were then, and that will be reflected in the way you present this character and tell his compelling story. I fear the darkness, too, but we both now how much fun this process will be, and we both know that the end product will be well worth the nightmares. Thanks for keeping me along for the ride.

    • I am looking forward to it. I appreciate your kind words. I do feel more confident this time around, and to be honest, I’m eager to stretch my capabilities ~ not just with this story but with others as well ~ so that I can remain in a constant state of growth and improvement. Also, I’m as eager to learn what new surprises Sterling has for me in this book as I was for “Beautiful Monster.” I love it when characters take on a life of their own and do all the hard work for us! I think it’s going to be a strong story, just like “Beautiful Monster” and I hope I am half as proud of the sequel as I am of its predecessor. Speaking of which, did you get the e-mail from the editor? She said we wrote a very good story! That made my day. I look forward to the next adventure.

  2. Linda L. Bennett says:

    Well, I am certainly looking forward to the sequels. 🙂

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