While exploring darkness in others, be careful not to expose your own.
That’s what Chicago detective Alicia Raymond discovers when she’s assigned to investigate the gruesome torture and murder of a middle-aged trucker with a horrible secret.
Before she can get a lead on one crime, however, the bodies start piling up and Alicia, better known as Berg, finds herself the unexpected target of the very same legal system she has dedicated her life to.
While simultaneously under attack from a formidable past, an enemy that seems to know too much, and a conniving killer, Berg is forced to confront her own darkness: her obsessive need to track down killers at the expense of everything else in her life; her increasing craving for violence just to feel normal; and her potentially devastating feelings for her partner, the charming and handsome Detective Inspector Jay O’Loughlin.
The more Berg works her original case, the more she learns about the sheer viciousness of the trucker’s past, and the more she questions if his murderer should even be punished by a justice system that only seems determined to free the guilty. When she also finds herself sympathizing with a sadistic butcher exacting revenge for a decades-old crime, she realizes the most dangerous secret of all might just be her own state of mind.
While Berg struggles with her morality, a killer is determined to recruit her and use her for a devastating end game.
As Berg’s carefully constructed life falls apart and she struggles to maintain a grip on reality, she faces a choice: surrender to the evil inside or finally acknowledge the brutal past she would rather bury.
The Enemy Inside is the first in the Edge of Darkness series, which challenges the concept of justice, asks if vengeance sometimes justifies murder, and explores whether you can ever heal from a broken past.
I was granted an ARC of this book, but I haven’t had the chance to sit down with is as I am so crazy busy atm, so when I was asked to take part in the blog tour, I jumped at the chance to host a guest post from the author. I asked what the importance of character planning was, here’s what she had to say:
I came to this whole novelist thing rather organically. Sure, I’d trained as a journalist, but as any journo-turned-author will tell you, the bare-bones news style of reporting is completely different to the layered, descriptivestorytelling style of a fictional novel.
The writing of The Enemy Insidecaught me by surprise,and I didn’t have the benefit of any creative writing courses or education so I had no idea of the ‘shoulds’ or ‘shouldn’ts’ of the process. I was clueless! To this day I’m still not sure if this was a good or a bad thing, because many of the tricks authors learn in a creative writing course I had to stumble upon as I was writing through trial and error.
I was about halfway through the first draft of the book when I felt like it wasn’t really working. I nearly gave up at this point, because I had a rough idea of where I wanted the plot to go, and a rough idea of my characters, but the two just weren’t playing together nicely, no matter how much I tried to force it.
This was particularly true of my two main characters, Berg and Jay. Jay was fairly straightforward; he’s a nice guy with a roving eye and a secret in his past. Berg was more complicated, in that she not only struggles with addiction and depression, but she also had a terrible childhood and utterly hates herself. I knew how I wanted these two to interact, but with Berg’s mental issues, and Jay’s wandering eye, it was never going to be simple!
I realize now that I was making the mistake that a lot of first-time writers make: I was trying to make my characters fit the plot, when in fact, as I eventually figured out, the plot needs to fit the characters.
You see, after a year of having the same annoying dream that I was writing the first chapter of this book, I had just sat down to write it to get it out of my head.I had no idea a whole book would try to come out. I had no plan. I had no character descriptions…and generally no idea!
So when it stalled, it would have been very easy for me to walk away. But something in me wanted to keep going. So I made a table document on my trusty laptop in which I listed all my characters. Next to each name, I listed background, descriptions, character motivations, fears, character flaws, and anything else I could think of.This helped bring them all to life; these characters became real people to me. I even have separate playlists for them on my iPod now.
I then went back to the start of the book and started writing the story being true to my characters’ fears, motivations and actions. And a marvelous thing happened, the plot magically worked out! It had changed from what I thought it would be initially, but it was definitely the better for it. The interaction between Berg and Jay was real, deeper. I realized, rather late in the game, that if you try and force the characters to fit the plot, the story comes off as contrived and forced to the reader. If you let the plot unfold naturally based on your characters, the whole process becomes much easier, and much more authentic.
For the sequel to The Enemy Inside, Broken, I had my detailed character description document from day one, and no plot whatsoever. I started to write and let it unfoldas I was going. I had no idea how it would end until I started writing the final chapters. It was like I was reading it for the first time, too!
Six years later, and the character planning was also invaluable when it came to the editing of The Enemy Inside (and also now, during the editing of Broken). When my publisher questioned a character’s motivation or wanted to change a scene, I could refer back to the original document and be confident thatthe decision I made would be true to the characters.
Before I started on this writing journey, I would’ve said the plot was the most important thing to have clear before the writing could commence. Now I realize that the characters are the driving force and the plot is secondary.
My characters are my best friends, they are always with me. And as I sit down shortly to write the third book in this series, I’ve grown to love them, their quirks and their flaws. I can’t wait to see what the next book has in store for them!
For release dates and more blogs, please go to vanessa-skye.com
About the author:
After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Print Journalism and studying Psychology at Charles Sturt University, Vanessa got a job at Rural Press—Australia’s largest publisher of regional and agricultural news and information—where she worked as a journalist in the Central West of NSW for four years.
Thousands of stories later, Vanessa decided to move back to Sydney and try her hand at public relations while studying a Master of Arts in Communication.
Skip forward a few years and Vanessa once again found herself joyfully studying various psychology subjects while managing a Sydney public relations firm. Enthralled with examining the motivations behind people’s actions, Vanessa realized what she really wanted to do in life was combine her love of words with her fascination for human behavior.
So Vanessa quit public relations to begin the significantly more impoverished life of a professional writer.
Inspired by a recurring dream, Vanessa wrote her crime fiction debut, The Enemy Inside, which challenges the concept of justice, asks if the need for vengeance sometimes justifies murder, and explores whether you can ever heal from childhood abuse. The second book in this series, Broken, will be released in 2014. In her spare time, Vanessa wrote a short story, The Piece, which was published in February 2012 by Dark Prints Press as a part of the One That Got Away dark fiction anthology.
Vanessa now works as a freelance writer, lives in Sydney’s northern beaches, and tries to immerse herself in salt water at least once a day.
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