The Origins of The Shadow Reader World
One of the questions authors are often asked is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Oftentimes, the answer is, “I don’t know,” but in the case of THE SHADOW READER, I can pinpoint the exact moment the idea. Well, not the moment as in the date and time, but I know what triggered the idea: the music video for Evanescense’s Bring Me to Life. About three minutes into the video, Amy Lee is hanging onto the edge of a building. Paul McCoy is standing over her, angry and singing, but trying to pull her back up on the ledge. I loved that song and loved that scene, the dark, desperation of it. It stayed with me long after the video finished, and now, whenever I hear Bring Me to Life, I can picture it again vividly.
Bring Me to Life hit the airways in 2003. I didn’t begin writing THE SHADOW READER until November of 2008 (three years before TSR was published), so that scene, that idea, simmered in my mind for five years. I thought about it off and on, speculating about what that scene could turn into, and sometime between 2003 and 2008, I became a huge fan of science fiction romance (namely, Linnea Sinclair’s sci-fi romance). I thought this scene would be perfect in a sci-fi book.
I knew instantly that the woman dangling off the side of the building and the man leaning down to save her were enemies. I needed a reason for the man to save her, something she could do that no one else could. At the time, I thought that special skill of hers would be to track ships when they disappeared into space in a flash of light. She was going to be working for the Government at some military installation, and the guy – who excels at crazy, risky schemes – breaks in and steals her away.
That setup is almost identical to what I ended up writing in the first chapter of THE SHADOW READER, only I’d recently fallen in love with urban fantasy, and I’d just finished writing a book where a fae played a small, but important role. I was intrigued by that fae and her people. I decided it would be a good idea to write another urban fantasy, so I took that scene in my head and tweaked it, making it take place here in the real world. Once I found McKenzie’s voice, everything fell perfectly into place.
Other songs have inspired scenes in my head. Music is just so good at capturing anger, distress, love, and fear. When I write, my goal is to reproduce those emotions, only I try to do it using my words, not an artist’s voice. I can’t wait to discover the stories the song-inspired scenes in my head turn into after they simmer for a while.
Sandy graduated from Texas A&M University with a double major in political science and history. She thought about attending law school. Fortunately, before handing over her life’s savings, she realized case studies weren’t nearly as interesting as novels and decided to get an MA in Library Science instead. She worked as a librarian until her husband whisked her off to London on an extended business trip. She’s now back home in Texas, writing full-time, raising newborn twin boys, and squeezing in time to play geeky board and card games like Settlers of Catan, Dominion, and Runebound.