In the summer of 2008, I wanted to write my version of Twilight. That’s what I set out to do with The Solitary Tales.
This wasn’t anything new. My first book (The Promise Remains) that finally got published after I wrote seven novels was my version of Nicholas Sparks’ bestseller The Notebook. The novel I was actually on a book tour for when I came up with the idea for The Solitary Tales was Isolation, my version of Stephen King’s classic The Shining.
Notice I picked bestsellers and classics.
Now one might say I have no new ideas, but my problem is having so many different ideas for doing different things. In the cases of The Promise Remains and Isolation, I put those stories in very definitive boxes. With The Solitary Tales, I put them into another definitive box: the YA box. I basically combined those two books and produced my “Pretty In Pink meets The Exorcist” as I pitched to the publisher.
Interesting sidenote: the publisher I pitched The Solitary Tales to was Hachette, the publisher of . . . Twilight. Granted, I was going for the FaithWords imprint, but still. Who knows if they had said yes.
So will Twilight fans enjoy The Solitary Tales? Some. Goodness knows there are a lot of them out there. But it seems like there are plenty of haters, too.
I’m not going to debate whether I think the series is wonderful or woeful. I only read the first book, to be honest. I came to a point where I realized why it meant so much to both young girls and their mothers. It’s pure romance. But there’s an odd combination there. This suppressed desire. This naivety. This breaking of rules. This unabashed romance.
I wasn’t a big fan, but I tried to understand a little of why it became such a bestseller. Then I put that out of my mind and wrote the series I wanted to write—no, that I needed to write.
I figured my series wouldn’t be Hollywood gold, creating a series of box-office smashes with their own soundtracks. So what did I do? I created my own soundtracks and playlists. I tried to write these with music flowing through them. Not for any marketing gimmick but because I’m a child of the 80’s and music has been the backdrop of my life. It means something to me and I wanted it to mean something to Chris.
I wanted to have that sappy teen love going on, something I don’t seem to see much these days. I have nephews in high school and college but they never seem to have “girlfriends”. Maybe times have changed. I wanted to reflect some of my experiences while trying to be current.
I also wanted to dive into the darkness. Yet I didn’t want to ride the wave of vampires. I don’t believe in vampires. I do believe in angels and demons. I wanted to explore that, but through the lens of someone who doesn’t believe in them. I didn’t want Jesus to show up on page five or chapter fourteen. I didn’t want God and faith to show up even when the first book ended. Yeah, that’s right. They show up but I wanted the darkness to win just like it seemingly “wins” every day and every night. Watch the news.
I did this because I know I had four books in this series.
I wanted to explore being a teenager and being in love and being dumb and stupid and trying to figure out things. I wanted to come up with something spooky and creepy and beautiful and moving at the same time. And I wanted it to have a deep backstory with lots and lots of mysteries. Enough to make it bigger than any four books could ever be.
Yeah. So in the deep, dark shadow of the Twilight series, and then in the even darker shadow of the YA megahit The Hunger Games, I wrote The Solitary Tales.
If you’re a Twilight fan, check it out. You might love it or hate it. It’s very different. I laugh when I compare the two because, well, in my story, you don’t end up with Bella and Edward in all four books. Don’t want to spoil it but, well, yeah, check them out.
It’s easy to criticize a megahit like The Notebook or Twilight. I think King’s The Shining was probably criticized too. And no, I’m not comparing those except to say they were all huge hits.
I wrote four beautiful and moving stories and created my Twilight. For those of you missing this series and looking for something else, try it. That’s all I ask. Humbly. Knowing it’s as awesome as anything I can and will ever create.