December 16, 2011 by Dayo Benson
I don’t know why Raw Deal took me so long to write and rewrite. I worked on it for five years, adding things, cutting things, and trying to make sure that it laid a good foundation for the series. Even now I’m not really satisfied with it as it’s still too long, but I guess I just need to stop obsessing.
Red Carpet took me about a month to write, maybe a bit more. I wrote the first hundred pages about four years ago and didn’t finish it because I was so hung up on Raw Deal. Anyway, when I got back to it a few months ago I just picked up from where I left off and decided that it was going to be written and I wasn’t going to obsess about it.
Refiner’s Fire was probably the least stressful. It was written in three weeks. I should say four but for one of those four weeks I had really bad writers block and couldn’t write, and started panicking thinking I wouldn’t be able to finish it. I know that sounds really dramatic, but the writers’ block was pretty serious. Someone needs to develop a medication for writers block, I swear! I knew everything that was going to happen in the book, but I just couldn’t get the words down. I’m not really sure why. Anyway, I drove my husband crazy about it and he was just like ‘well take a break from it’ but I didn’t want to. I wanted to get it written. Well, I took a break from it and a week later my creative juices were flowing again. Praises be!!!
I am not good at finding names for characters. I tend to find out as I’m writing that I’ve given three characters the same name, or that some characters have the same surname and they’re not related. Anyway, Lexi Dixon was originally white, blond-haired, and blue eyed, and her name was Jessica Anderson, but I realised that she wasn’t edgy enough and I didn’t really care about her when she was Jessica Anderson. I have to care about my main character or I just get sick of writing about them and start trying to tear my hair out. You have my friend Elizabeth to thank for the fact that boring blond Jessica Anderson became exotic Cuban Lexi Dixon. She read half of one of the very first drafts of Raw Deal and went “Why is she so…” and I was like “so…what?” and she was like, “So…” So I thought I’d better do something about her.
Jessica Anderson was also British, and I realized that things would just get too complicated, because she and Monica wouldn’t have any history and she’d have to journal about her old friends in England and call them from time to time to make it realistic. And I didn’t feel like writing about old friends in England. So I made her American, but said she’d lived in England.
Another name that changed was Jace’s. He was originally Joshua. But I thought I’d call my next leading man Joshua (that’s a different book), so I just plucked a name out of the air.
Then there’s Jay (James) Black who I had to change to Dan Black because Jay was too similar to Jace and I didn’t want readers getting confused.
When I was writing Red Carpet I realized that there were three Williams: the youth leader in Bridge Community church, Lexi’s dad, and the male model that Lexi shoots a Diamond Parlor commercial with. So the youth leader became Mike, and the male model became Phil. Then I realised there were two Mikes, so Lexi’s mom’s new man became Sean. Then I realised there were two Seans. So Sean Cassidy became Dale Cassidy. And just when I thought the name drama was over. I realised that Xena Hurst and Gage Hurst might look like they’re married, so Xena Hurst became Xena Westwood. And that was that!
Oh yeah, the Glacier Hotel was originally the Diamond Glacier Hotel. I have no clue what I was thinking. Then I realized that it didn’t need to be called the Diamond Glacier, it could just be called the Glacier. And just for the record, I have no clue what the S.O.T. stands for. They are a secret society and since I am not a member, I don’t know. Sorry, but I wanted them to be a mystery to me as well so if you were expecting a lofty philosophical explanation email me and I’ll make one up for you J
I was going to make Lexi’s Dad Will Dixon an S.O.T. grandmaster. Lexi was going to find out in Refiner’s Fire that he’d faked his death so that he could get more occult powers and rule world and become the antichrist. Lexi and her mom were going to be so heartbroken and their lives would’ve been endangered. Hmm, maybe another book.
I will add to this article as and when I remember any other juicy tidbits about the writing process for this series.