Anniversary Post: The Only One

This past Saturday, August 24, was the four year anniversary of the publication of The Only One. I meant to make a post, and then, in usual me fashion, totally forgot. (In my defense, that was the day my mom came back from Colorado and I was focused on cleaning up the house, lol.) But here I am now.

The idea for the book (referred to as TOO for the rest of this post) came from one of my favorite Tumblr games, which was to have someone give you a handful of actors as your cast, you'd put your music on shuffle, and make up a fake movie based on the first song that came up. A friend gave me Dianna Agron, Darren Criss, and Billie Piper, and the song that came up was Jon McLaughlin's "Things That You Say" (title came from the line "tell me you're in love, I'm the only one, go on and lie to me with all the things that you say").

And in looking for the poster I made just now, I did not realize that TOO as an idea was as old as it was: I came up with it in June 2011. (If you want to see my original poster, it's available on Patreon at the $5 tier!)

But anyway, when that song came up, an idea spawned but I needed another person in my cast, and I asked my friend if I could also include Gary Oldman. And thus, TOO was born with Dianna as Piper Vaughn, Gary as Richard Spencer, Darren as Piper's ex-boyfriend Eric, and Billie as Piper's sister Adele.

I don't think I initially intended for TOO to really become anything (obviously, since I came up with the idea in 2011 but didn't actually do anything with until 2014, lol), but it stewed in my brain for those three years before I finally decided I needed to get it out and do something with it. (This was also during the years when I was heavily working on No Safe Place as a whole universe and still in the thick of writing many stories in that world, so that's likely the other reason I didn't do anything with TOO for so long.)

The initial premise never changed: Piper and Eric were in a relationship until Eric cheated on Piper with her sister Adele, and she left him, and then met Richard a year later. However, my first go at the book opened with Piper and Eric actually in a relationship and would have featured Eric cheating on Piper with Adele, and all of the fallout from that. I didn't get very far with that, though, and felt like it detracted from the main plot of the book, which was Richard and Piper's relationship, so the situation with Eric and Adele became proper backstory, and their roles became much smaller, with Eric only showing up at the end of the book, and Adele disappearing altogether except to be talked about in the past tense.

I decided to tackle TOO for NaNoWriMo in 2014, figuring that was the best way to get it out without taking too much time away from the No Safe Place 'verse, and got about half of it written during the month, and I believe I finished the whole book in April of 2015, making it the fastest I've written a book to date. I sent it off to my usual readers, made some changes, sent it off again, made some more changes, and eventually published it on August 24, 2015.

I don't remember when I really decided to self-publish TOO. For a long time I think I figured I would post it the same way I was posting No Safe Place (which, at the time, was blanket referred to as An Eye For An Eye/AEFAE), just for my friends to read, but at some point, decided to publish it. I think I knew at that point that I wanted to publish AEFAE/No Safe Place one day, and so TOO was sort of my "practice run" at figuring out this whole self-publishing thing.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about TOO. As a story, I'm really proud of it; I wanted to write a romance that didn't contain a lot of the harmful, toxic tropes I see in many mainstream romances, and I had a lot of fun subverting many of the common tropes. To this day, I still really love those characters, and wish I had another story for Richard and Piper because I miss them a lot.

As a book, however, I feel like I missed the mark, and that I probably could've written it better, though at the same time, I'm not sure what I would do differently. TOO is certainly not my most popular book, if any of my books can be considered popular, and efforts to promote it never seem to go as well as efforts to promote No Safe Place, so I've sort of resigned myself to letting it just exist.

I do have a fondness for it though, and as I mentioned, I still love the characters a great deal; the relationship between Richard and Piper is one of my favorites I've written, and the friendship between Richard and Jill is also very special to me.

If you've read TOO, thank you! If you haven't, maybe now's the time ;) And if you'd like to see the original poster/cover I made for it, become a $5 Patron to unlock that and more behind-the-scenes exclusive stuff. (Which there will hopefully be more of soon.)

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