TThis page is for some notes about the book, and as such it should be noted that this page will contain spoilers.
Spoiler Alert. Do not read on if you haven’t read the book.
The idea for this book came from a single image in the game Spirit Stones. It was just a picture of a girl with bang-cut black hair, a way too short dress, enormous heels, and a mischievous look on her face -but the face seemed a bit too nice to go with the rest of the package. I had found the card while playing the game, and noted that she reminded me a bit of Betty Page (link should be considered NSFW as Betty Page did a lot of nude photos). Later on, I found another card that used the same artwork for the girl’s face, but the girl was blonde, wearing a flowing white dress, and the mischievous face (exactly the same art as on the previous card) in this case seemed a bit too naughty to go with the pure, white image. That was the inspiration for Jezebel and Angela (later renamed Bethany).
The idea for the town of Ashwood has been in my head for a very long time. The prologue in this book was more or less written a couple of decades ago. The whole story of Reginald and Beatrice had been completely formed, but initially had gone into more detail of the duality of the characters who lived there (the town is a backdrop for this novel, In the Eyes of Mister Bearsley and at least one other that I already have outlined). In early drafts of this novel though, the plot necessitated that I remove any direct references to the duality or it would spoil the big reveal. So I used the metaphor in the shadow of the angels to avoid directly referencing the it.
To go into a bit more detail about that point, in the first draft of the book, Jezebel and Angela were the same person. The portion where Dr. Stephens describes Dissociative Identity Disorder and his being seduced by Jezebel was setting the stage for that reveal later on. The primary characters all knew that Angela suffered from DID (The reader was never given that knowledge nor any real hint towards it), but referred to her as whichever of the two was in control when they interacted with her. There was no direct interaction between the two characters in this draft. I thought I was so clever!
The problem with that is that there was no way you could have guessed that they were the same person. When the reveal came, very near the end of the story, it felt like you had been cheated. As if you had been reading a mystery novel and on the last page they introduced a new character who turned out to be the culprit. When I read the draft after having let it sit for a while, I wasn’t at all happy with the experience, and I knew that any potential readers also wouldn’t be.
I already had 70,000 words of a story written at that point though, and I wasn’t about to scrap it entirely. I thought portions of the story worked very well, and wanted to save it. I removed about 15,000 words that were there in support of the Angela and Jezebel plot and started writing a new one. I renamed Angela to Bethany simply because I didn’t like having ‘Angels’ in the title and ‘Angela’ as a character. With this rewrite, I added in Edward Digby (someone needed to have something over Dr. Stephens) and put in the direct interactions between Bethany and Jezebel.
Many of the other scenes happened in the initial draft, but did so in a much more serious manner. During the rewrite, I was sure to lace the more horrible scenes with some irony and dry humor to (hopefully) keep the reader rooting for the protagonists while they were doing some very bad things. My goal was to make it similar in style to Four Rooms or 11:14. Hopefully you root for the characters doing the very bad things, but only because the other characters are doing things that are much worse. After a couple more rewrites, the story as it is now was formed.
Having scrapped the DID plot, I could have removed the prologue completely, but I really liked it, and others who read the story early on did as well. I could also have gone back to the prologue and replaced the detail about the duality of the characters in Ashwood as well (you’ll note that each of the characters you meet in the story has that dark side), but I kind of liked leaving it to the reader to discover that as the story unfolded. Without the DID plot though, the title didn’t seem to make nearly as much sense. So I tried to rename it. For most of the editing process, the story was called One Night at the Place, I even had an artist mock up a couple of covers -a portion of one is to the left.
You will no doubt agree that the title One Night at The Place doesn’t really grab you and pull you in. Nor does it give any indication as to what genre of book it will be. My next idea for a title was Hammer and Vase, which makes use of a reference that Devin makes a few times during the story, but which, again, doesn’t grab your attention and doesn’t give any indication as to what type of book it is. So I decided to stay with the original title, though it doesn’t make quite as much sense as it did in the initial draft. The cover art underwent a major renovation, as detailed here, in March, 2016.