And here we are. After forty years (to the day, more or less), I’ve finally published all three of my books. Forever Young has been out for about a week now, but as before, not everything rolls out all at once. The Where to Buy page is still being updated to include new places to purchase the various formats of the book as they become available. I’d say that overall, this final book’s launch has been the easiest one, given the experience and wisdom I garnered over the past year’s worth of navigating the ups and downs of self-publishing. I intentionally had a shorter gap than before between the release of this volume and the one prior to it, mostly because I knew that, at least for some readers, the fact that Book Two did not in fact resolve Book One’s cliffhanger might bother them, seem like a fake-out. (Hint: It totally was.)
Although I outlined the entire trilogy pretty extensively prior to writing, I actually wrote the books out of order: first Book One, then Book Three, and finally Book Two. That was because I felt more comfortable sticking with Ray’s narrative voice at that point, having learned how to portray it throughout the writing of Young Blood. By the time I finished Forever Young, I felt confident enough to then go back and write Blood Loss, to jump all over the place in terms of different POVs. But even though Books One and Three have the same narrator, they’re still quite different, mainly because Ray is older, more experienced, and let’s face it, even more of a jerk. It’s fun to write someone who is intentionally flawed (at least from the author’s perspective), to surround him with people who know better, to give the reader chances to shake their heads and say, “You idiot.” He’s still self-centered and at times clueless, but he doesn’t see it that way. Little by little, reality slaps him in the face, and the more things become clear, the more they fall apart.
Of course, the other big thing that differentiates this book from the other two is that it’s a romance. Way back when these books’ incarnations were vastly different, shorter, and partly still unwritten, the events that Forever Young covers were meant to take up the last part of a single volume. It was meant to be a horror story with some tragic, romantic elements in it by the end, but I certainly didn’t think I would ever write what could be classified as a paranormal romance. As I was nearing the end of the planning stages during the first decade of this century, that notion was heightened by the growing popularity of the Twilight series (to say nothing of the countless imitators that sprang up afterwards), which I’ve never read. Because of that, I’m not going to say anything bad about it, even though I’ve heard plenty of criticism of the books and movies, most of it pretty harsh. But for me, I think it’s tacky to bash another writer, particularly when I’m not familiar with their work. I’m confident enough in my own to let it be what it is. And like I said, I didn’t set out with the intention of writing a romance myself.
I wish I could find the exact citation, but at some point (again, still in the planning stages), I heard an interview with a romance author in which she defined a romance as a story in which there are two potential lovers, some big obstacle is keeping them apart, and the plot is their struggle to overcome that in order to get together in the end. Once I heard that, I thought, “Well dammit, I guess Book Three is going to be a romance.” But me being me, I didn’t want it to just be that. I still had plenty of ground to cover, lots of horrific things to portray, both in a supernatural sense and in the metaphorical one, that is, the horror of being a high school boy and having no idea how to properly navigate life. The stakes would be higher, though, than just broken hearts or missed prom dates or whatever. The universe of The Young Blood Trilogy, while closely resembling our own, is one that’s overrun with death, despair, and guilt. The entire series has been about the consequences of one’s actions coming back to them, and there is more than enough of that in the final volume.
Will Ray eventually rise above his shortcomings, find his way, and come out on top? Does he deserve a happy ending? Deep down, does he even want one? These are the questions I wanted to lead the reader to ask. If they do, then I think I did my job. As for the answers to those questions, well, you’ll just have to read and find out.