Five things about Billow:

1. Ian is briefly introduced in Whirl (he exchanges an email with Kendra in chapter three). I originally planned for him to be a part of the series from the first book. But no matter how I tried to do it, his entrance always felt forced. I finally decided to slightly adjust Billow to accommodate his later return to Kendra’s life.

2. I knew Billow would be a difficult, but very necessary, installment in Kendra’s journey. One of the things that bothers me as a reader is seeing a character thrust into an end-of-the-world situation or a vicious war and get over a traumatic event in two paragraphs (yes, I’ve read this) with little to no after-effect or resulting paradigm shift.

Another pet peeve is when the romantic interest swoops in and magically makes everything okay just because he’s hot and apparently a good kisser. I’ve also seen the heroine’s moment of vulnerability used as a plot device to bring them together as a couple more times than I can count. I’ve often found such unrealistic character reactions in the second book of a YA series, including casual declarations of love that leave me wondering why the author didn’t trust readers to follow his/her protagonist on a deeper journey.

It was important for me to unflinchingly explore Kendra’s character growth as honestly as possible. Before romance, friendships, or relationships of any depth or meaning could truly become a part of her life, she needed to find herself and stand on her own two feet.

Since our heroine is tasked with ending a brutal war, death is obviously an important theme in the series. Whether it be her mother, Ryder, Marcella, or Nick, how Kendra reacts to another character’s loss is a fluid journey that speaks volumes about her evolving self-awareness.

During the period I worked on Billow, I also experienced a deep, personal loss in my family that reminded me yet again of the power of grief and how strongly rage and fear can play a part in dealing with it.

3. The major plot points of each book in the series were planned before I began writing Whirl, including the specifics of Aquidae organization. Many details are modeled after sleeper terrorist cells. The Aquidae kidnapping/trafficking ring was based on the current horrifying state of human trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation.

4. The design of the elemental wing at Lyondale Hospital was influenced by images of creepy underground bunkers (like these).

5. The Trident marketplace was inspired by El Rastro in Madrid, Spain.

Others in the series:

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