The Story Behind Flame and Ember
(NOTE: This may contain some spoilers so do not read it unless you've already finished the book)
When I started into the publishing arena, I hadn't planned on venturing into the realm of romance. At the time, I was a die-hard fantasy fan and wasn't particularly familiar with the romance genre (outside of the classics (like Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë). Then I stumbled across Sarah M. Eden in 2015, and the world as I knew it changed. By the way, if you haven't read Sarah M. Eden, check her out. Seriously. Amazing!
So, I became a sweet historical romance addict but still didn't have any plans on tackling that genre. Then the epiphany came in the form of my sister, who asked me if I would ever consider a marriage of convenience.
You see, I am single. (Cue gasps). And to many people, this is a most pitiable state of being. I don't understand why. Now, don't get me wrong, being married sounds great, and I would love a crack at it someday, but it kind of requires two people, and I've yet to find anyone willing to volunteer to partner up with me. So yes, I'd love to be married, but I don't see the point in being the rom-com stereotypical single female who sits around bemoaning her matrimoniousless state. Actually, it's pretty sad how that's less of a stereotype and more the standard state of being for most single women.
So, when my sister asked me if I would consider a marriage of convenience, and I couldn't say "no" fast or strong enough. But it did get me thinking. Is there any situation in which I would consider marrying just for companionship and not love. From there, the story of Flame and Ember came to be. It grew from that inkling of a thought.
For the record, I am not Mina and Mina is not me. Her story may have some similarities to my life and may have grown from my own situation, but we are not the same people, and this book is not some sort of wish fulfillment in which Mina is some Mary Jane character in which I can live out my romantic fantasies. Just wanted to put that out there.
I spent a year or so thinking about the story before I ever sat down and starting tinkering on it. I was headed back from a trip and supposed to be working on my latest fantasy novel, but Mina and Simon's story kept picking at me. Sitting there in the Seattle airport, I started typing. And kept typing. I got about a third of the way through the story before I got sidetracked with deadlines for other projects and had to put it aside.
It gathered dust on my harddrive for several months when I had a lull in work. I was supposed to start in on the next book in my Villainy Consultant Series, but Mina and Simon started bugging me again, and I just couldn't get them out of my head. I knew I needed a bit of a mental palette cleanser, so I figured I would work on it for a few days and then move back to my fantasy books. What came next was the greatest writing spurt I have ever had. I was writing twice as much as I normally do for a week and a half. I got through half of the novel, and then things got even more extreme. In the end, I wrote a third of the novel in two days. I got into the final act of the story and just couldn't put it down. I got in the morning and wrote until bedtime. It was awesome and exhausting.
After that, there's not much to tell. I didn't have high expectations for it, but I thought I might as well publish it since it was written. And I guess the joke's on me. Within five weeks of publishing it became my bestselling novel of all time and has had far more success than any of my fantasy novels combined. It's definitely inspired me to write more books like it. Though for my fantasy fans, don't worry -- I'm not giving up on you guys! I promise to write more magic in the future.