Whoop! Today I have the special honor to introduce a fabulous author, Marie Sexton.
People ask me frequently where the Coda series came from. Besides the obvious answer (my imagination), it’s hard to say for sure. First of all, when it started, I had no idea it was going to be a series. I had no idea it was even going to be a book. I woke up one day with two men in my head and I started writing. I ended up with a novella of about 24k words which I sent to a beta reader I’d found online. She made some suggestions and using those, I turned it into a novel.
Still, even then, I didn’t really know where it was going.
I should back up. If you’ve read Promises, you know that Cole appears in it, albeit only briefly. The fact is, when I first wrote him in, my husband said, “I don’t think he adds anything. You should cut him.” I debated, and in fact there’s still a version of Promises on my hard drive labeled “Without Cole”. But Cole had already started to bloom in my head. I was putting together his back story -- why did he have a condo in Vail, anyway? -- and I decided to leave him in. But I was reluctant to write about a character who was so flamboyant, so he lived in the back of my mind, waiting for his moment to step into the limelight (where he would later flourish, but I didn’t know that at the time).
Just as I was finishing up Promises, my mother came down with a mysterious illness. And when I say mysterious, I’m not kidding. It took them a year to diagnose her. Her illness started out with only mild disorientation, and quickly spiraled downhill. It went on for almost a month, and each day, the prognosis was worse than the day before. The last few scenes I wrote (although I write out of order, so they appear closer to the middle of the book) were written in the ICU while she was in a coma. The doctors had told us she would never recover. People I didn’t know were constantly coming into her room, and I hid behind my laptop in an effort to avoid them. I had no energy to devote to niceties with strangers. It was a really awful time, and Matt and Jared offered me a much-needed escape.
I had tickets which I’d purchased months earlier to Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons, Colorado. With my mother supposedly at death’s door, I was sure I’d be skipping it, but despite all predictions to the contrary, my mother suddenly woke up and began to get better (there were some very stunned doctors in that hospital!). Within a few days, she was talking again. Granted, she didn’t always making sense (which was occasionally hilarious, like when she thought we lived in Walnut Grove ala Laura Ingalls Wilder, or when she thought my husband’s nickname was “Cool”), but she defied all odds and began to recover. It soon became clear that she was going to be fine, so after weeks of practically living in that horrible ICU room, my dad turned to me and said, “Get out of here! Go have fun!”
So there I was, with an enormous weight suddenly lifted from my chest, wandering around the festival. Matt and Jared were with me everywhere I went. I kept thinking, “Jared would love this!” Right on the heels of that thought came, “Matt would hate it!” And then I thought, “Yeah, but I bet Jared would make it up to them in their tent each night.”
The next thing I knew, there was a new man living in my head: Zach Mitchell. By the time I arrived home on Sunday, I’d written a scene where Zach and Jared met at The Stone Cup (the local coffee shop in Lyons). I didn’t know yet how connected the books and characters would become. Angelo didn’t exist -- I actually thought Tom was going to be Zach’s Mr. Right -- and I honestly thought Matt and Jared were going to be nothing more than a fun little cameo in an otherwise separate novel. Of course, once Angelo came along, I realized it made no sense at all that Zach and Jared (both of whom like to sleep late) would be up and at the coffee shop that early in the morning, so I rewrote the entire scene where the two couples meet. Even then, it was a while before I figured out that all roads led to Coda.
Well, after that, I had quite a few people ask me, “What about Cole?” I debated putting Cole with Tom, but I doubted even I could redeem that egotistical asshole, and so I began to contemplate Jonathan. Eventually of course, The Letter Z and Strawberries for Dessert were born.
Still, the question I’ve been asked most often over the past year is, “When do we get more Matt and Jared?” Apparently the answer is, “Now!” I know I kept saying their story was finished, but I guess the old adage “never say never” is apt. Matt and Jared do indeed have a bit more to their tale. First, there’s The Promise, which is available for free here on my website, and now there’s their newest short story, Putting Out Fires: A Coda Valentine’s Day Story, released by Dreamspinner Press on Monday.
In celebration of their newest release, I’m giving away an ebook today. Leave a comment to enter. One person will be selected at random to receive the Coda ebook of their choice.
Thanks for stopping by!
Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along. Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.
Visit Marie’s website at http://mariesexton.net/, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, join her mailing list, and absolutely don’t forget to check out her tumblr. (Tumblr NOT work safe.) And there’s always her email.
Awesome post, Marie! Thanks for stopping by!