The Path of Least Saneness By Kristen Painter

Posted October 25, 2012 by Karen in Authors, Guest Post / 0 Comments

by Kristen Painter
Also by this author: , , House of the Rising Sun, City of Eternal Night, Garden of Dreams and Desires, The Vampire's Mail Order Bride

I’ve been a writer since a very young age, but when I started writing with the goal of publication, the first full length book I produced was a fantasy romance featuring a half-elf merc and a fire-wielding mage. I loved that book. It poured out of me in a way writing never had before, but that was long before I’d been weighted down by the rules of writing. No matter what genre you’re in, there are rules and people who will eagerly tell you about them and when you’re breaking them.

After years of trying to write within the confines of those rules and construct a book that fit the wants and desires of the romance publishing industry, I burned out. The broken promises and the inability to write without those rules in my head pushed me to a breaking point. I started to question why I was even writing if I no longer enjoyed it.

I reverted to my angsty high school self. The me that used to get lost in comic books and fantasy novels and autobiographies of Isaac Asimov. I got mad. Anger is an emotion I don’t do often but my Sicilian bloodlines allow me to tap into it pretty well.

All of that pushed me to write something new. Something that wasn’t for anyone else but me. This story, this book, this character sketch (I really didn’t know what I was writing, just that I was writing) became the vehicle for all my dark and twisty emotions. I poured everything I felt into those pages. I affectionately termed whatever it was that I was writing my Screw You book. Screw the rules, screw what anyone said I could or couldn’t write, I just wrote to make myself happy.

People died in that book. Horrible things happened to my characters. I gave them issues that would send a normal person into a life of therapy. Or possibly cause them to kill their therapist. Or themselves. I wrote with what I’ve come to call The Path of Least Saneness, and by that I mean I made the worst possible choices for my characters and the situations they were in.

Oddly, my methods seemed to work. A dear friend of mine read my early efforts and pronounced them worthy. With great force, she encouraged me to show some pages to my agent. Reluctantly, I did, knowing my agent would tell me exactly what I was already thinking: this is too dark, you don’t write dark, vampires have been done, no one wants more of them. Plus, I had no intentions of being another vampire author. Whatever that meant. Instead, my agent told me to keep going. So I did. That book was Blood Rights. I won’t tell you the original title, because it was bad. Like, Mariah Carey movie bad.

The world of Blood Rights became my second home. All my waking – and some dreaming – hours were spent there for nearly two years. I’m back there now as I work on book four, Out For Blood. The year 2067 is not an entirely comfortable place. The delta between the haves and the have nots is larger than it is in our world today. Energy is a problem unless you have funds. The world is recovering poorly from another great war. Countries are divided. And humans are about to find out they’re not the only beings walking the face of the earth.

It’s a fun place to inhabit as a writer. The possibilities for chaos are great and as you may have realized, I dig that. I definitely think setting can become a secondary character, especially in an urban fantasy series, and this world is so vivid to me, so real that I can’t help but think of it that way. Every time the writing takes me to a familiar location in the book, the images fill my head like a movie, whether it be the vampire-run nightclub Seven, the halls of the comarré’s Primoris Domus or the decaying freighter my hero calls home.

In my next post, I’ll talk about that hero, Malkolm Bourreau. How he came to be, his deeply tortured existence and some of the reasons behind why he is who he is.

About Kristen Painter

When the characters in Kristen Painter’s head started to take over, she decided to put them on paper and share them with the world. She writes paranormal romance and the gothic fantasy vampire series, House of Comarre, for Orbit Books. She has also been published in non-fiction, poetry and short stories. The former college English teacher can often be found online at Romance Divas, the award-winning writers’ forum she co-founded. She’s represented by Elaine Spencer of The Knight Agency.

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