Behind the Series, writing

Behind the Series: Chronicles of a Supernatural Huntsman

With my epic YA Urban Fantasy series coming to an end this November, I thought I would start a blog series called “Behind the Series”. And which better series to kick it off with than Chronicles of a Supernatural Huntsman? It was the first series I ever started writing and has captured my mind and heart for ten years now. It’s bittersweet to bring this story to an end, but I have some spinoffs in mind, so it it’s more of a The End…? I will say, this WILL be the end of Kamlyn’s story. And just so you know, while the beginning of this article does not contain spoilers, when I get into the breakdowns for each book they might, so if you’d like to read the books before knowing the details, I recommend doing that first!

I started working out the details for what was at the time the first book in the series “Earth Angel” back in 2011. It was a very different story back, then, though the bones of it were still the same. Back in 2006 I watched the first season of Supernatural and fell instantly in love. I’ve always been a monster fan, growing up on the classic horror movies of the 80’s and 90’s. This show was right up my alley! I loved that their job was hunting monsters to protect people, a theme that constantly runs heavy through Kamlyn and her series. The Winchester boys were dragged into this life by tragedy, very much like Kamlyn was when she saw her son murdered by a demon-goddess hag in the middle of the night. I think if anyone was going to get into the business of hunting monsters, it wouldn’t be for fun or from a job fair, it would be because they lost someone to the darkness and they either want revenge or to make sure no one else feels the loss they feel. In Kamlyn’s case, it’s both.

Another inspiration for my series was Cassandra Claire’s Mortal Instruments series. I watched the movie and show, hoping they’d continue though they didn’t. Honestly, I read the first three books in the series I think. I loved them but didn’t continue due to, well being 20 and busy and unfocused, but the story of the Nephilim stuck with me, which inspired Kamlyn’s background and abilities. I also loved the idea of realm traveling from Mortal Instruments. It was a unique twist to a supernatural story that I implemented into Kamlyn’s as well.

The inspiration behind the Chamber of Darkness training came from my time in Navy bootcamp. I was Kamlyn’s age when I went in and was mostly surrounded by eighteen and nineteen year old. It was extremely easy to get sucked into the teenage drama even though I was years beyond it, just like Kamlyn.

The inspiration for the design of the Chamber of Darkness came from the look of the Ministry of Magic from the Harry Potter movies. The black tile with gilt in between seemed just the right mood tone for my own Chamber. As you can tell, the name was also inspired from the series that made such a huge impact in my life. The rivalry between Kamlyn and Ryker Alexander was also influenced by the famous rivalry between Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, but with my own spin on it. The MaGee twins, Achilles and Atticus, befriend Kamlyn during training and offer some comic relief to the story, a tip of the hat to the Weasley twins though only in personality. These twins are Irish Indian descent but lack the red hair of the Weasleys.

And like most books, a lot of it is influenced by the author’s life. When I built Kamlyn, I imagined her somewhat like myself with brown wavy hair. When I imagined her best friend, Cara Bellamy, I imagined my own lifelong childhood friend. She grew up with a strong faith and it showed in our friendship and how was always there for me, even when I wasn’t always there for her. That’s the dynamic I wanted for Kamlyn and Cara because it felt real and relatable.

Once Earth Angel was completed, I received a publishing deal with a small publisher in Tennessee almost immediately. She started working to change, well, almost everything about my book. She designed some covers and asked my opinion. They did not represent my dark urban fantasy story at all. The covers were religious looking with naked baby angels flying around. When I brought up this issue I was told the cover was made to represent her publishing company and not my book. This told me right away we were not going to work well together. We parted amicably and I have been self publishing ever since. I realized I love cover design as well as writing so why not do it myself? No one knows what images or designs will best represent my story better than me! The cover for Earth Angel was purchased after I separated from my publisher in 2012 and it was self-published on Amazon. Like most new authors with no clue how things work, I put it out there and was immediately disappointed it wasn’t a NYTimes Bestseller. What?! But it didn’t stop me. Kamlyn’s story was still inside me. I’d already become bffs with this broken girl, and so I decided to write the prequel to Earth Angel, becoming the first book in the series, Broken Angel, pushing Earth Angel to #2.

When I wrote Broken Angel it was in 2015 and my daughter was one year old. That really drove the emotions behind Kamlyn’s loss of her own son to the monster in the dark. It was so easy to put myself in her shoes and write it out. This book has gone through several cover changes. While I still love the previous one I designed it was not leading people to the series like the latest one does. Broken Angel is all about Kamlyn finding out about the monsters of the night and starting her training at the Chamber of Darkness to learn to hunt and destroy them. Cover #2 best represents that and the overall tone of the book.

I republished Earth Angel in 2015 with some major changes to the overall storyline and characters. I basically rewrote it. I wanted to keep it as the story closest to the inspiration from Supernatural’s Winchesters, a girl who roams the country in her father’s old pick up truck, hunting monsters and taking them down. What changed most was her relationship with Sari. He presents himself as her guardian angel, but he ends up revealing secrets about her past, including her heritage and special abilities. Kamlyn, the girl who hunts monsters for a living, isn’t entirely human herself! She’s Nephilim, part-human and part-angel. Sari, unlike in the first version has no romantic feelings for Kamlyn and she does not have any for him. He helps her realize what she is and how to control her powers so she can have a chance at defeating Lamia, the demon-goddess who killed her son. That is all. The inspiration for the title Earth Angel, came from the old 50’s song by the Penguins. In the first version of Earth Angel, Sari and Kamlyn go to an open mic night at a bar and he gets up there and plays acoustic guitar, singing this song for her. Sappy, romantic, bleh! Needed to go. But I still think about those days when Kamlyn and Sari were an item.

Since I paid for this cover I was reluctant to ever change it, plus I love the colors and the way it perfectly represents Kamlyn and her story here, so I built my other covers around it, using similar text, color, and design throughout the series to make them match.

But stories often have a way of running on us in directions we never thought they’d go. I started the series because I loved the idea of monster hunting, but in the third book we see an even bigger overall plot revealed. Kamlyn isn’t just traveling the country hunting monsters for the Chamber of Darkness for six books. The series has other plans for her. In Hunted Angel she finds out that the Chamber has been infiltrated by the fallen angels. They’d already taken so much from her, including her bond with the man she thought was her father, by revealing she was actually part angel herself. Her focus has shifted from revenge for her son’s death, to revenge against the angel who tore her whole world apart when he took advantage of her mother. Dark, right? New friends are made, old ones return, and now Kamlyn is hunted as a rogue Huntsman as she tries to figure out how to stop the angels.

Hunted Angel has also gone through several cover changes. I admit I like both, but the girl in the rain-soaked cloak represents the story more. It lets readers know there’s something supernatural in the story, because people don’t just walk around in cloaks anymore, right? And she looks a little suspicious and on the run with the darker colors and the rain. If I was being honest, I would say this is maybe my least favorite cover in the series, but I do still like it. Who knows, maybe it will go through another cover change in the future! I published Hunted Angel is 2016, on a roll with publishing one each year.

After Hunted Angel, I felt a little burnt out and needed some new inspiration for the story. I was sucked into the zombie craze going on from the Walking Dead series and iZombie, along with others, so my focus returned to my Dead Soil trilogy as I worked on writing the second book and a few prequel novellas for my Dead Beginnings Series. I also started my Zooey Zombie novella series, so as you can see I was busy. But the time away from Kamlyn’s story was just what I needed.

Wayfare Angel is where the story starts really opening up into something bigger, more epic, and involves higher stakes. It is one of my favorite books because Kamlyn and her friends spend a lot of time in a realm entirely from my imagination, the witch kingdom of Arianthe. The influence of Arianthe came from Disney’s Frozen. The name is similar to Arendelle. The scene is wintry because of the witch queen who has the power to control the weather from her angelic side and has a deep love of snow. She lives in an ice palace, a little on the nose but I couldn’t help myself. Her castle of Arianthe is just so beautiful and they spend a lot of time in there. The queen has luxurious white-blonde hair, as does her twin brother, but that is where the Frozen aesthetic ends. There is much more to Arianthe and the witches who inhabit it.

Secrets are revealed and Kamlyn’s new powers are put to the test as she seeks out her half-siblings and they teach her how to harness the Light within her. I love stories with huge twists, so this is one of the first big twists in the series that got me excited about where Kamlyn was going next.

I loved the idea of different realms and portal travel. There’s so many examples of this in Fantasy it’s hard to pinpoint just one that gave influence to it in my novel.

The influence for the title came from Supernatural’s theme song “Carry on my Wayward Son.” Though I didn’t like Wayward Angel. To me, it made her sound like she was drifting aimlessly, which was not the case. Kamlyn had a clear purpose to her mission in Wayfare Angel. I think I invented my own word in Wayfare though because everything is telling me it’s Wayfarer but again, I didn’t like the sound of Wayfarer Angel.

And then there’s the dragons! Of course, much of the influence for the dragons, their behavior, and the fact that they can be ridden came from Game of Thrones and the Targaryens. (Among many other stories in the fantasy genre). This was my first time writing about the elusive creatures, but it definitely will not be my last. I really love imagining what it would be like to touch them, interact with them, cooperate with them in preparations for battle.

Rebel Angel continues the story line of Wayfare Angel. Kamlyn and her core four (Jake, Cara, Don, and John) continue traveling realms and learning new powers from half-siblings. There’s a lot of travel in this one, which I loved. It was like Kamlyn was building her own resistance to the Darkness, which is reminiscent of Star Wars and the rebellion against the Empire (along with many other fantasy stories of rebellions). Mermaids, Vampires, Demons, Kamlyn will visit them all, even hell itself, to ensure her side wins.

I love to travel, even though I haven’t been many places yet. I have big plans! I live vicariously though Kamlyn who gets to travel across the world through portal hopping and her searches for her half-siblings. A lot of the time, I am writing about a place I’ve never been, but to recreate the scene I like to “walk” the streets with google maps. You don’t get the sounds and the smells, but that’s where my imagination comes in. Some day, I will have been to as many places as Kamlyn has! (Except the otherworldly destinations).

Everything in the story is building up to a giant war of good vs evil, much like the culminating war in the Harry Potter series. Both sides converge in a familiar and magical place to battle out for the fate of, well, the world really. In Harry Potter, it was Hogwarts. In Warrior Angel, it’s Arianthe.

I absolutely love this cover. I was so excited when I found this collection on Shutterstock and they were done so beautifully that there was very little editing that needed to be done to it at all. I knew that for the last book I wanted to have something angelic but also otherworldly. This fit the bill perfectly. I don’t love that she looks like a Victoria Secret model in a bikini because that’s so not Kamlyn, but I did my best to kind of shadow that out.

I am Greek so I knew I wanted to incorporate its history and legends heavily into the final story of Kamlyn’s but it was reading the Lore that gave me the idea to modernize the Greek Gods and have them a part of society, hidden among it. I studied their likeness from photographs of their statues to make sure descriptions were classical, but for the most part I modernized their clothing and speech and sometimes even their personalities, though I wanted to stick close to ancient writings and how the Greek Gods behaved in them.

And who can really even imagine an Amazon without thinking of Gal Gadot and her Wonder Woman crew anymore? It was fun to do a new and different take on them, hidden among society as well in women’s gyms all over the world. What better way to stay battle ready and not draw attention to yourself? Expect lots of workout clothes, long French braids, and envious statures, which was a lot of fun to write. There is no Diana, but Hippolyta is in there as the descendant of the original Amazon queen Hippolyta. In my story they are mere mortals who have trained since the age of five for a war they knew would one day come. They were also given enchanted battle weapons to aid them.

Warrior Angel was my first time writing a battle scene, and I have to say I am pretty proud of how it turned out. It was epic! There are so many people, so many characters, so many creatures and beings to keep track of that I had to keep going back and adding in scenes because someone got left out or forgotten. I probably could have gone back and added to it a hundred times, but I try not to be obsessive like that and just let the writing flow from me. I am very happy with the way it turned out and it definitely prepared me for my upcoming Fantasy trilogy I’ll be writing next year, which also will culminate in a good vs evil epic battle scene.

And that is the behind the scenes facts for my epic 6 book YA Fantasy series Chronicles of a Supernatural Huntsman, coming to its conclusion with the release of Warrior Angel tomorrow! You can still preorder it today through Kindle to wake up to a nice little surprise in the morning Tuesday. The entire series is free with Kindle Unlimited for a limited time. Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!

Haven’t started the series yet? No problem! Grab your copy of Broken Angel for only $0.99 today!

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