Sunday, May 4, 2014

Inside Tellulah’s head: On Writing Trilogies by Tellulah Darling

YA romantic comedy Author Tellulah Darling talks about the ups and downs of writing trilogies. 

Writing trilogies is crap! What whaaaat? Yeah, you heard me.  Wanna know why? Because that’s three books worth of living and breathing characters that I then have to say good-bye to when I’m done. And speaking from personal experience, it truly sucks! 

When I finished writing my first novel Sam Cruz’s Infallible Guide to Getting Girls, I felt euphoric. Same when I finished My Ex From Hell and My Date From Hell, the first two books in my YA romantic comedy/Greek mythology The Blooming Goddess Trilogy. With each of those, there was a joy and an incredible sense of accomplishment. 

But see, when I finished writing My Life From Hell, the final book in that series, I couldn’t even bring myself to type the word “Three” in the final line “END OF BOOK–”. All the excitement and fear I’d had in the previous two books of the trilogy at moving deeper into Sophie’s journey morphed into sadness in this one.  

My husband, who was the first person I texted when I’d completed book three, said that I’d spent so much time with them that I had Hades Syndrome. Which was like Stockholm Syndrome, but evil-er. Which made me laugh. Which helped. 

So how does one start a trilogy? Well, for me, in this case, it began with two things: 1) the observation that I’d always found Persephone a bit of a blank slate which perfectly fit with the themes I wanted to play with and 2) the fact that I am obsessed with the naming of things. Characters, projects, I can spend ages finding just the perfect fit.  

The one thing I knew going in was that this was the story of an underachieving girl who discovers that she is Persephone, Goddess of Spring. When it came time to name this girl, Sophie Bloom just immediately popped into my head. Sophie as the human derivative of Persephone, and Bloom both for spring and for her journey. Because, what was clear to me, was that each book thematically had a flowering-esque cycle to it. 

Book one, My Ex From Hell, dealt thematically with the idea of “emerge.” I remember being sixteen and waiting for the day my “real” life would start. But is there really any event that allows that to happen? Once I got into university, maybe I’d wait for my real job? Or the love of my life, or children, or success, or … You get the picture. So I wanted to explore this idea that here’s this girl, waiting, and suddenly, with the discovery that she is the Goddess of Spring and key to humanity’s survival, there can be no more waiting. Life has just very gotten real. And should be real for every moment we live it. 

To get all obvious here, Sophie is the bud emerging from the sleep of her life. However, I chose to start her journey on Halloween and not in spring. To me, spring is the height of Sophie’s powers and abilities. Therefore, I wanted to start her at the furthest point from spring and gradually build her up to that point. 

It’s important to remember as well, that this entire trilogy is a romantic comedy. Again, then, for the relationship between Sophie and Kai (the ex), the idea of “emerge” is in place. It’s the classic “meet cute” of our couple. 

Book two, My Date From Hell, moves Sophie’s journey along to the idea of “grow.” Without any spoilers, Sophie grows in terms of her abilities and her sense of self. And for the romance? See how the titles move from My Ex From Hell to My Date From Hell? Progress/growth for Sophie and Kai as well. 

The final book in the trilogy is called My Life From Hell. This, thematically, is the “bloom” stage. Sophie finally, and in all ways, comes into her fabulous self. “But Tellulah,” you protest, “you’ve taken the relationship element out of the title.” I don’t know about any of you, but when I was teenager, my idea of love was all-consuming. Overwhelming. A girl could get lost in that vision. And maybe, just maybe, that had to be part of Sophie’s journey as well. Learning that romantic love is only one (albeit important) part of life. 

All that to say, that if you take the emerge/grow/bloom idea as a whole, it brings us back to why this is The Blooming Goddess Trilogy. And also, a bit cheekily, I also liked the Brit slang aspect of “blooming.” 

I miss Sophie and her wacky crew. I spent more time with them than with most of my friends. Which doesn’t say much about my friends but there you have it. Writing trilogies – more rewarding and bittersweet than I could ever have imagined. 

Visit Tellulah on Facebook, Twitter and her website

You can purchase the Blooming Goddess books on Amazon

 My Date From Hell

1 comment:

  1. OMG I lol. You are so correct. The overall idea of writing a series at first is great but by book two, I'm always pulling out my hair and by book three screaming at my characters. Thanks so much for sharing your insight and can I just say your books are funny as hell!