Behind the scenes: Eric & Ginny
I've been thinking a lot about Eric and Ginny lately. When the quints were born I had a very different vision for the series. The goal was five short stories. Simple romances. Fifty thousand words each. I gave myself five months beginning in January 2016 when they were conceived to accomplish this. “The end" has always been in my brain —er, actually the last chapter of the last book is in draft form. Some of the quints kept me up at night fussing until I got it all down.—Eric's book sets the stage for events that will transpire a decade or more later. Eric and Ginny are sacrificial lambs. If Eric was level-headed and dependable, he'd know better than to get himself stuck in this situation. Kids falter, though. It’s part of growing up. His trust in Ginny is dashed. I wanted it to crush you. I wanted you to care for Eric the way his siblings do. To see his potential the way Ross and Rose have. To love him the way Ginny does…and that meant vilifying her. She creates the strife and making you, as the reader, understand her motives doesn't forgive the position this highly intelligent, yet emotionally insecure girl puts them in. One misstep changes the path their lives take. Eric is the only person whose forgiveness is merited, but Ginny has to forgive herself and accept the responsibility for how the rest of the family now perceives her. It was challenging to write a female lead who needed to be redeemed and a male character who didn’t blindly trust. It only took a month to draft the story. I wrote bits and pieces of Brier in tandem. By the time Eric was published in May of 2016 instead of 250,000 words I'd written shy of 200,000. Brier’s book derailed the goal of five quick-reads that I’d set for myself. You can see her doing that, can’t you? The follow through concepts and rough chapters for Daveigh would easily set the word count on book 3 even higher (and it did.) Because of the positive response to Eric, I started reassessing what Clan Cavanaugh could become and realized that sometimes it's a good thing when you don't make your goal. Kind of like the way Eric and Ginny’s path diverged early on and how, after working hard, what they wound up with in the end was so much better.
It’s strange to admit, but I still have guilt saddling this pair of teenage kids with an overwhelming conflict. I want better for my characters. After all, this group of people live in my mind. Writers take on a hero and heroine’s troubles as if they were their own. I recently deleted a conversation between Eric and Cris that had the potential to lead to sadness that no couple should endure. There's a rocky enough road ahead for them later on making choices to protect family members. The funny thing is that somehow I'm sure that they would have had the strength to endure that path too.