Post Dated 24th August 2021
Please be warned if you read on, there are some difficult subject matters addressed. Not in detail, my intention isn't to trigger anyone, I just want to explain why this series means so much to me.
On Thursday, the final book in the series will release - I'm both excited and nervous, but mostly, I'm so grateful for how this one has been received by readers and some of the messages I've gotten about Cissy's journey.
When I first started planning the series, I didn't intend to deal with some of the topics that I did, even though I've known ever since finishing writing Blood and Deceit that Cissy had been through something bad.
I always put a little bit of myself into each and every one of my characters - even if it's something really small. Most of the time, it's just something fun for me, this time it wasn't.
Cissy got my trauma (not caused by the same events), and the trouble I have dealing with it. I haven't talked about it much before, and I still won't, but this series was a bit of a healing process for me, which is why it means so much to me that people are liking and connecting with Cissy.
When I was sixteen, I started dating my ex. He was charming and popular, and he was my first everything. He was also abusive - physically, mentally, and sexually. I tried to leave a lot of times, but didn't manage until nearly two and a half years later when I'd moved across the country to attend university. He did not respond well (he threatened me, he called my parents to tell them to get me to change my mind, and he turned all of our joint friends against me. I don't have any friends left from that time in my life). Ending the relationship was hard, especially as around that time, there was nothing to tell me that what was going on in my relationship was wrong - in fact, a lot of the media representations of romance only reinforced what he was telling me - the way he was acting was just him loving me, even when I ended up hurt from it.
Side note: For anyone who has ever wondered why I don't write bully romance, and never will, this is why. I wouldn't want to take the risk of someone in their late teens or early twenties reading one of my books and staying in an abusive relationship because it looks like love like it did in my story.
It's been over a decade since then and I still suffer a lot from the after-effects of the two years I was with my ex. My partner is very patient, understanding, and never pushes me about anything, but they can't make the awful things my ex did to me go away.
What does this have to do with Cissy and the Necromancer Council Series?
I wanted to create a heroine who was strong despite what she'd been through, and someone who was working on healing but didn't magically get there just because she met her fated mate. Cissy has been through something horrific, and up until the start of the series, she'd found ways to cope but not to heal. Throughout the series, she ends up pushing herself and starting the process of healing herself and moving forward now she's found a safe place for herself with Darius.
If you've been through anything like what Cissy has, then I truly hope you've either found your safe space to heal, or that you'll find it soon, no matter where or who that is. This series is for you - may you be as strong and badass as Cissy can bring herself to be.
Post Dated 19th July 2021
I got some amazing feedback for the Necromancer Council series on one of the things I was most worried about exploring - Cissy's trauma.
Ever since I started writing this series, I've been worried about how it would be received to have a character who is still dealing with past trauma, and not being easily healed (especially not by the arrival of the romantic hero, which just adds complications to the way she's coping.)
If you've read my posts about the series before, you may already know that this series is incredibly personal to me, and difficult to write because of what Cissy is dealing with, so to get a message that someone can relate to parts of her journey, and that it resonates with them is just the most beautiful thing. I'm not sure if the reader who sent it is can see this, but if they can, then thank you. Your words mean a lot to me. Everyone's journey is different, but I'm really glad I got to create a character who reflects someone's reality.
If you haven't started the series, but are worried about any potential triggers, please reach out to me if you want to check. I chose not to include any graphic descriptions of what happened to Cissy (including in dreams or flashbacks) because I didn't want to risk triggering anyone (including myself while writing), but I recognise that might not be enough.
Anyway, thank you so much to the reader who told me this. It really did make my day.
Post Dated 3rd March 2021
A personal note on Wake The Dead
(Don't worry, it's not cancelled or delayed or anything, it's all locked and loaded already)
But there is something important I wanted to share about the book before it goes live, especially as I know it might touch on topics that some might not feel completely comfortable reading - and trust me, I understand, I wasn't completely comfortable writing either.
In this book, I did something I haven't done before and wrote a heroine who has been abused in the past and is still suffering from it. Most of the time, even if one of my heroines has been through something hard, they haven't been suffering as much as Cissy is at the start of Wake The Dead. This is for a lot of different reasons, but mostly because it's very emotionally draining for me to write.
I made the conscious decision not to include any flashbacks or past scenes or dreams about what she went through. At one point, when she's talking to her love interest about it, she can't even say the words out loud because she's still not come to terms with it properly.
The reason I'm mentioning it to you now is because it has had an impact on the story. Fated mates are normally very quick to connect in my books, and in some ways, that's still true of Cissy and Darius (and they're definitely not as slow as Chloe and Oscar in City Of Blood!), but the two of them are taking their time to properly establish themselves.
If you prefer to keep the author and the books separate, then please stop reading now, the next part of this post will be more personal in nature.
The reason this has come about is a lot of conversations I've been having in the past few months with my partner (who I might not talk about very often, but is right there supporting me on every step of my journey.)
Some of those conversations, I won't go into in detail. They're very hard for me, and if you're good at reading between the lines, then you might have worked out that I'm drawing from personal experience when it comes to Cissy's dealing with her past (though the situations themselves were very different, they did have a similar impact). All I can do is assure you it very much is in my past, and that I have a lot of love and support in my life as I work on myself and how to heal.
Chapter ten in particular was a tough one to write, and my partner did read it before I continued with the story to make sure they thought it was appropriate.
The conversations I am more willing to talk about mostly concern fated mates and what would happen if two of them met when they weren't ready, or were fated to someone that was toxic from them. Those things have been playing on my mind a lot in regards to it (and is one of the reasons there are more books coming in the Obscure World, which doesn't have fated mates, than in the Paranormal Council Universe, which does). Don't get me wrong, I love a good fated mates romance, as both a reader and a writer.
But, as someone who wants to make sure I'm including healthy relationships and consent in my books, it's becoming a little restricting because the characters aren't choosing to be with someone who is good for them, the universe is.
Which is why I've taken a slightly different approach to this one. Cissy is scarred (quite literally) and learning to live with the consequences while trying to make herself stronger. When she meets her fated mate, she isn't ready for everything that means, and that means she has to talk about it and start opening up. It was important to me that she wasn't (and won't be) just fixed because of love. She's working on herself in what I hope feels like an authentic way.
While this is an important part of the romantic plot of the series, there is still plenty going on, though! There's an answer to what-happened-to-the-Necromancer-Council in the three years since The Necromancer's Prey, and if you enjoyed Tabby and Rick in Blood and Deceit, then you'll get to see more of them (and there's even a cameo from Cassie and the PCI team!)
Oh, and zombies. There are those too.
I do want to reiterate that there are no graphic scenes of the past (and there won't be in the future books in the series either) and the romantic sub-plot is slow and sweet (I don't know if these two will shut the door on things when they go further yet, I suspect they will, but they've surprised me a couple of times already!)
I really hope you give it a go, and enjoy the story.