I’ve received a number of queries from readers about the Crystal Warriors series — is there going to be a 4th book? who’s the hero? when is it going to be released? how come it’s taking so loooong??? Those kind of questions. So I figured I’d post an update on what’s happening. And maybe post a snippet or two from the manuscript… depending upon how confident I’m feeling about publicly sharing part of a work-in-process draft by the end of this post.
Q: Is there going to be a fourth Crystal Warriors book?
A: Absolutely. I’m working on it right now. The working title is Opal’s Wish.
Q: Who’s the hero of Opal’s Wish?
A: Danburite AKA Danbur (and sometimes “Dan”). (I have a royalty-free stock photo that I’m using as the inspiration for this hero tacked up on the noticeboard in my office, and I can’t stop looking at him. It’s a head and shoulders shot only, but he’s kinda eclipsing the hot firefighters from my 2014 New Zealand Firefighters calendar. YUM!
Q: When is Opal’s Wish going to be released?
A: Good question. I’d hoped to have it ready for release by Christmas, but right now (50k words in) I think that’s shooting for the moon. I can’t rush this story for a variety of reasons, so, tentatively, a late January release… provided these characters don’t throw me another curve ball.
Q: How come it’s taking so damn loooong to write this book???
A: Ah. The question I’ve been dreading. Well, you know that saying, “Life gets in the way”? There’s been quite a bit of that this year (and I have to keep reminding myself that I have published a fantasy trilogy and a YA, plus two eBook bundles already this year, so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself re shifting this self-imposed deadline). But this story itself is also part of the problem. It is, frankly, keeping me up at night and not going at all smoothly despite my having written an extensive outline prior to starting this story. So let me try to explain why Opal’s Wish is proving such a challenge, without revealing too much because, you know, SPOILERS.
If you’ve read all the books in The Crystal Warriors series thus far, you’ll know that Books One through Three all have a certain heat level. Readers have commented on the bedroom scenes; how they like the frequency of these scenes and the way they’re described — that they feature graphic language but aren’t too graphic etc. etc. And what I take away from these comments is that I’ve built an expectation from readers as to how “hot” a Crystal Warrior story will be, which is a polite way of categorizing how far I’ll go with frank descriptions and language when I write the sex scenes. (Namely fully realized “door open” sex scenes that aren’t as graphic as my Red Sage erotic romances, but still contain the kind of frank language you’d expect to find in many of today’s paranormal romances.)
And herein lies my biggest challenge with Opal’s Wish. Without getting all spoilery, my heroine was sexually assaulted as a teenager. The assault resulted in pregnancy, and she kept the baby. She hasn’t been intimate with a man since. And the absolute last thing I want is for Danbur to waltz into Opal’s life waving his mighty wang, and for Opal to be so incapable of resisting the aforementioned mighty wang they jump each other’s bones and bam! all her past trauma and hangups about men and sex are magically cured. Woohoo!
Sure, I could use the Crystal Guardian’s bonding spell to get my hero and heroine in the sack; I could blame that awesomely convenient spell for Opal’s sudden volte-face about trusting a man enough to be sexually intimate with him. I could wield the magic of this world I’ve created for these stories and make my heroine act like she’s hit the town and overindulged in alcohol — tossed all inhibitions out the window and done things she never would have done had she not been under the influence. But for this heroine, given her world view and responsibilities and issues with men, I believe that would almost read like another violation — this time of her will, as well as her body.
And then there’s the month-long time frame constraints of this story (constraints that are set in stone because of “rules” I’ve already laid down in the Crystal Warriors world), that make it even less realistic for a woman like Opal to fall into bed with a stranger. Plus I haven’t mentioned the big issue yet — the really really huge one that’s thrown Pieter, the Crystal Guardian, for a complete loop and had him defying his goddess. Turns out it wasn’t our heroine who called Danbur from his crystal and initiated the bonding process. It was her daughter, Seraphine… and Seraphine is a young child. Cue every character in the “know” being appalled and horrified and dismayed, and Danbur not having a shit-show-in-hell of overcoming this curse….
That’s the challenge I’ve set myself with this book. And I know how I’m gonna pull off a happy ever after, but that’s not quite good enough. For me, the biggest challenge is to make my heroine’s motivations realistic and believable, without falling into the deus ex machina trap, while still giving my readers the “heat” they expect from a Crystal Warriors story. And a believable happy ever after for Opal and Danbur. Oh, and to ensure the character of Opal’s daughter Sera doesn’t cross into “plot moppet” territory.
So yeah, this story is taking longer than I’d anticipated to write, and I can only apologize profusely for that… and hope that you’ll bear with me… and that when the end product has been published, you’ll think it’s been worth the wait.
Q: When are the Crystal Warriors books coming out in print?
A: That’s next on the agenda, and I hope to organize it over the Christmas holidays.
Q: What are you planning to write when you’ve finished Opal’s Wish?
A: Next up is a third Freaks book, because readers want more of Jay and Tyler. And after that, a sequel to Liminal.
That’s all the questions I have time for now, folks.
And for my American readers, Happy Thanksgiving!
Almost forgot! I’m feeling brave-ish, so here’s a snippet from Opal’s Wish:
Bastard. No one had the right to judge her. No one.
She jerked her wrist from his grip, all-too-aware that had he wanted to keep hold of her she would have been powerless to free herself. She scrambled to her feet, looming over him. “Give me my daughter. Now.”
He arched one eyebrow—a challenge if ever she’d seen one.
She sensed a flurry of movement and then Desiree was beside her, wafting expensive perfume mingled with resolve. “We can do this the easy way or the hard way, you handsome asshole,” Desiree said. “Give Opal her daughter or we’ll make you sorry you were born.”
Opal slanted her friend a wide-eyed glance and Desiree shrugged. “I tell it like it is, sweetie. He’s handsome as sin and a real—”
“I have been called worse,” the handsome asshole said. He shifted, pushing himself into a seated position, still cradling Sera carefully in one arm. Sera sighed, wuffled something incomprehensible, and settled back into slumber.
A whimper tore from Opal’s throat.
“You are her mother,” he said. “I see her in you.”
She nodded, holding out her arms, not trusting herself to speak.
He stood, the movement sublimely graceful. And then, with the utmost care, he transferred Sera into Opal’s outstretched arms.
Opal’s Wish, Copyright 2013, Maree Anderson