The Story Behind The Evanders Series by @ElleLainey #fantasy #YA #LGTB


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Evanders wasn’t my first MM romance, but it was certainly the first with primary gay characters. My first MM romance came within The Belesone Pack Trilogy, when I wrote the character Leo, who never fitted with any of the female characters I tried to pair him with. Then I found the right man for him and everything fell into place.

 

Writing Evanders wasn’t that easy.

~

I started writing fiction around the age of fourteen. That’s when I really started making my own stories and inventing new characters. Of course, they were mostly based on people I’d read about or met at first, until my imagination grew. And back then I had a few gay friends, but it was never really something anyone thought too strongly about. It wasn’t a big deal, it wasn’t something that made them different. Back then, to us teenagers, it was the same as having a different hair colour: it just was. It was a fact of life, something they were born with and we accepted that without a fuss.

From what I saw, there wasn’t all this bullying and name calling that you read about in stories or on TV shows. And if there was, then I never saw it, because believe me I’d have been kicking their butt if it happened around me.

So when I started writing my fiction stories, all my main characters were Male to Female and had extraordinary romances. That’s just because that’s what I saw on a daily basis, from TV to movies to books and real life. Then I came across the M/M genre – which I hadn’t previously known existed – by accident. I was doing research for a story and stumbled across from fan-fiction by the excellent Beren_Writes AKA Natasha Duncan Drake. They weren’t YA by any means, but I devoured all the stories I could read – Harry Potter and Tokio Hotel mostly. I was gobsmacked. I’d never read anything like it, but it was amazing. These stories were excellent pieces of writing, with great storylines and plot and I just had to read more.

When I had finished reading everything of Beren_Writes that looked good to me, I started scouring Amazon for free M/M stories so that I could further explore this wonderful new (to me) genre. Through that, I opened my reading world to new authors as I began to explore more options.

Thanks to Beren_Writes fan fiction stories and a magical novel by a writer friend D.M. Andrews that I was privileged enough to review for him, I was suddenly flooded with inspiration. I wanted to write my own paranormal/magical story, inspired by but not based on these two authors stories. I got my plan together and decided on what I wanted.

Then, without even realising it, I looked back to find that my main character Riley, a banshee, was a male who fell in love with the other main character Payson, a vampire. Also male. And HOT DOGS I realised I’d just accidentally written my first M/M story, too buzzed with excitement to notice. It certainly wasn’t intentional; the creative juices often flow right out of me until I barely remember what I’ve written, only that I’m about five pages in and itching to keep going.

Of course, not everything goes smoothly when you have a new story. It sat at just three chapters for nearly six months, while my first published book was released. I had absolutely no idea how much promotion was required by the author when a book was released, so I had to abandon my new story, simply called Evanders at the time, for a while.

Thankfully, by the time the first few hectic weeks of promotion were done, I was still flooded with inspiration and dying to get back to my Evanders story. All I had at that point was the introductions to a few of the characters, though in a far different format and in a less well written style than what you’ll find in the final book.

But I had a problem. I was lost within the story. I had no idea how to get it from Point A – these three chapters I had written – to Point B – to where it might form a useable storyline. I though the problem was that I was writing in a genre I wasn’t accomplished with and that I shouldn’t try my hand at. Because, really, all those awesome M/M writers were so much better than me and I lost my confidence in the story as it was. So I went back to what I knew – MF romance.

For the next month, I changed every he, him and his in Evanders to change Riley from a boy to a girl. I was going to make it a traditional MF romance, since it was always going to be PG rated anyway. And for another six months I barely wrote anything. I got maybe two more chapters added, but five chapters didn’t make a novel. It certainly didn’t mean anything, either, because these five chapters were purely short introductions to the characters I wanted to include in the trilogy, mostly only about 3-word document pages long. It was nothing. Not enough for a story.

Eventually, I realised what the problem was: I wanted Riley to be a boy and fall in love with Payson. Without that part of the storyline and without going with my gut instincts the story would never get written. So I went back to the beginning and replaced every she and her with he, him and his to change Riley back from a girl to a boy, returning to my original plan. Now, changing the sex of your character five chapters in is never easy, but I did it and read every word of what I’d written so far. Suddenly, all that inspiration was back and I was writing again.

It took me a long time to realise that my original problem wasn’t that Riley was a boy; it was that I had limited my thinking in the general scope of the story. I always knew I wanted to write a trilogy, because I wanted each of the eight main characters to have a big part in the overall story. But I had limited my original plot to romance. I had book 1 featuring Riley and Payson’s romance. Back then, Spike never existed as more than a side character because I’d once again limited myself – notice a theme here? – to a two-person relationship that just didn’t feel right.

By the time I was ready to write the entire first novel, I had a better idea of where it was going. I had decided to let my characters speak to me and encourage me, to tell me where they wanted to go and what they wanted to do. Then I sat down and wrote out the brief outline of the paranormal/fantasy aspect. I wrote the plot that would arc throughout the trilogy – the prospect of the troubles they would encounter and how it would come about, even the difficulties in facing it and the things they’d have to do to find the truth. Then I wrote out each of the character’s parts, how they fitted in and where they would lead the story.

At the end of book 1, I was a little exhausted from the story. I had been working on it non-stop and thinking of nothing else. I needed a break. But I couldn’t shake the idea that Phil needed his own story, too. So, I set the magical aspect aside and wrote out Phil’s story, which somehow flowed out of me over a few days.

I finally had a basis for the trilogy.

After that, I took a few months off. It wasn’t intentional, but I’d written more adult MM novels and by publishing them, I had given myself more work. More editing, more planning, more writing, more promotion and so much more of everything required to go into a published book.

When I finally realised how long it had been since I had completed book 1, I re-read the entire novel and all my notes for books 2 and 3. I was shocked to find that it was all in bullet point, note form, with no real plan set forth on how to bring it together into a novel.

I spent a week or two reformatting my notes into something workable. Then I started writing. Book 2 was actually quite easy to write, just because I had all this information to work with and I knew now how I wanted to put it together.

Book 3 wasn’t so easy. In fact, it took me a year off between books 2 and 3 to actually finish writing it. Again, it was due to other demands, but I was determined to finish the series. It was hard, because I had the foundation blocks, as well as the middle evolution of the plot, but I didn’t know how to finish it. My notes had been used up and there was nothing left. It was all down to me thinking up the ending, without any help from previous notes.

It took me a while, perhaps a few months, to put it all together and then I was off.

I had finally finished.

~

The way the story came to be was exhausting. But what I really loved about the process was that it worked.

I began writing a romance novel, that progressed into a paranormal fantasy and became some epic trilogy that exceeded my expectations. Yes, the romance part was important at first, but the story that evolved from Riley and Payson’s initial friendship was so much more important.

Without them, the story would have stagnated at a romance and never gone any further.

 

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The School of Second Chances
(Evanders School for Enchanted Personage #1)
by Elaine White
Genre: YA Fantasy (LGBT)
Release Date: August 28th 2016
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Summary from Goodreads:

When a group of mishaps are drawn together at the most prestigious magical school in Scotland, vampires meet banshees, witches meet wolves, and things begin to happen that haven’t happened for an age. For these eight teenagers, turning sixteen has never seemed so terrifying. To learn how to hone their skills, they will discover more secrets lurking behind the shadows of their mythical lives than they ever realised existed. How they survive the school is one thing. How they survive each other will be quite another.

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evanders-1-5_front-cover

The Lost and Lonely

(Evanders School for Enchanted Personage #1.5)

by Elaine White

Genre: YA Fantasy (LGBT)

Release Date: August 28th 2016

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Summary from Goodreads:

Phil always thought his life was going to be chaotic. Orphaned as a child and having grown up in foster care, his boyfriend Logan is the only shining light in his world, along with Phil’s two foster sisters, Ella and Estelle. But when Estelle goes off to a fancy new boarding school, suddenly everything changes. His life won’t always be dark and lonely, but it will no longer be simple, either. When the Sutherland’s enter his life, Phil has to question what secrets he’s willing to keep and where the word ‘magical’ fits into his normal, human life.  

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About the Author

Elaine White is the author of multi-genre romance, covering everything from paranormal, crime and contemporary. Growing up in a small town and fighting cancer in her early teens taught her that life is short and dreams should be pursued. Living vicariously through her independent, and often hellion characters, she lives comfortably at home with a pack of wolves cleverly disguised as one standard poodle.

The Winner of two Watty Awards – Collector’s Dream (An Unpredictable Life) and Hidden Gem (Faithfully) – she has explored the worlds of multiple genres, but remains a romantic at heart. A self-professed geek, Elaine has fallen in love with reading and writing LGBT romance, offering diversity in both genre and character within her stories.

Author Links:

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