You've read about RAINTREE: INFERNO. You've read about RAINTREE: HAUNTED. Now's your chance to read about the last book in the trilogy.
Beverly Barton, author extraordinaire, Steel Magnolia and one of our beloved Mavens, is guest blogging with us today and there's just not a whole lot more I can say other than (1) read this blog entry and (2) read her book. Read all three books, actually, because it's a terrific story and a great example of teamwork and what can be accomplished when you put your mind to it. Please make room on the playground bench for Beverly Barton.
As with the Raintree trilogy, writing the third installment of the Raintree blog messages means I’m tying up loose ends and doing my best not to repeat what Linda Howard and Linda Winstead Jones have already said. They have given you the background for the books, told you how it all started, about our marvelous trips together and our obsession with this trilogy, and covered various aspects of their own experiences. So, what’s left for me to tell you? What’s left for me to say?
Planning and plotting this trilogy was fun. Writing it was hell. Thankfully, my story came together like a gift from the writing gods, but I paid a high price in blood, sweat and tears for this wonderful blessing. I faced three great challenges in writing the third book, RAINTREE: SANCTUARY. (1.) I had to tie up all the loose ends of Books I & II, as well those of my own book. (2.) I had a hero who was also the villain. (3.) My hero and my heroine planned to kill each other through more than three-fourths of my book.
Tying up loose ends for my book should have been relatively easy, but it wasn’t, not when my book was intricately connected to two other books. I had to give not only my hero and heroine, Judah and Mercy, their happily-ever-after, but I had to make sure readers knew that Dante and Lorna, and Gideon and Hope got theirs, too. And I had to provide the resolution to the ancient battle between the Raintree and Ansara clans. I knew from the very beginning that since Judah was the Ansara Dranir and almost the mirror image of Dranir Dante Raintree that Judah could not become a Raintree subject, could not become a Raintree, and he could not be a loser. So how does a man such as Judah, whose clan cannot win this ancient battle, come through the war as a hero and a winner? See my predicament?
I’ve never written a book where the villain was also the hero. I believe one of the greatest challenges of my career was having a hero and heroine who, almost through the entire book, knew they had no choice but to kill each other, eventually. Talk about revving up the sexual tension between a man and a woman! In order to make Judah redeemable, I had to make sure that the Ansara, although they were the “bad guys” in the trilogy, were not inherently evil as a people. The best way I know how to describe the difference between the evil Ansara and the Ansara as a whole is to compare them to the Mafia. There are a few members of the Mafia who are pure evil, who derive pleasure from murder and torture. But as a whole, crime (even murder) is simply business to the any crime syndicate. They love their mates, their children, their families and friends. They are loyal and often religious, but they do not hesitate to use their power to protect what is theirs, by whatever means they deem necessary.
From the very beginning, Linda and LJ claimed the Raintree brothers, just as I claimed their sister. We instinctively knew which character belonged to us. Linda wanted Dante, the Dranir, the ruler, the Raintree with the power over and the responsibility for his clan. LJ wanted Gideon, the middle child, the brother who would rather die than be Dranir, and the one who tried the hardest to live a “normal” life. And I chose Mercy, the empathic healer, who dedicated her life to the clan as the Keeper of the Sanctuary, the one to whom all Raintree came when they needed physical, mental or emotional healing.
I look back now and I find it amazing that the three of us never argued about anything while plotting/planning this trilogy. We are three very different types, each equally strong and stubborn. It was as if when one of us tossed out an idea, we all three instantly knew if it would or would not work, if it was right or wrong. The only time we even slightly disagreed over anything was when Linda and LJ decided Dante and Judah had dark hair and I told them that Mercy was blonde. They told me she couldn’t be blonde, that she needed to be dark-haired like her brothers. But I couldn’t change Mercy. She was blonde and that was that.
We each had authority over our individual book. Other than making sure we kept the interwoven plot line consistent through all three novels—which was much more difficult than we had originally thought--we pretty much wrote our stories the way we envisioned them, with little or no input from the other two writers. We were able to do this only because we are friends. Dear friends. We respect each other and acknowledge that our differences as writers and as women add a richness to our friendship that would be lacking if we were more similar in any way. This diversity gave our readers three connecting stories, with three Raintree siblings, each as unique as the three writers who created them.
One lucky somebody will win a copy of RAINTREE: SANCTUARY. You know the drill. Comment in order to qualify. And as an added bonus, here's a photo of the Raintree authors taken last Saturday night at the RWA national conference in Dallas. Left to right they are Beverly Barton, Linda Winstead Jones and Linda Howard.
The Children and The Mavens in Dallas
And last, but certainly not least, RAINTREE: SANCTUARY is sitting at #5 on the Waldenbooks Romance Best Sellers list, it's #49 on the Barnes & Noble online sales list and is #31 on the New York Times e-list.