Roxanne asked to me write about where the ideas behind The Paranormals series originated. (Thanks for hosting today, Roxanne!)
Really, I began by suddenly receiving the idea for a character: a girl with a deadly touch that spread a supernatural illness. I don’t where that idea came from, but I could see all the implications. She would have to avoid all contact with other people, so her social life would be nonexistent. I could see how her whole life would be shaped by this. She would be an outcast, and I didn’t do her any favors by making her poor, living way back in the woods outside her small town.
Then, after a lifetime of loneliness and isolation, she meets somebody she can touch, Seth. He would have the opposite power, a touch that healed. What would keep them apart? A third power would have to stand between them. Ashleigh, Seth’s girlfriend, who would be beautiful, manipulative, and intelligent. Her power would be one extremely useful to someone evil: the power to make people feel love, like Cupid. That gave a lot of nice contrasts: Jenny was a good person with an evil power, while Ashleigh was an evil person with a “good” power, one that enables her to manipulate everyone around her like puppets.
The second and third books unfolded from there. We needed to find Ashleigh’s opposite, Tommy. I took the opposite of love to be fear, so Tommy’s touch spreads fear.
Finally, Jenny would need a second love interest so that she could choose, rather than being forced to be with Seth because there’s nobody else in the world. Alexander isn’t just immune to the Jenny pox, he feeds on it—it actually makes his power stronger. And he’s kind of everything Seth isn’t—wherever Seth has a shortcoming, Alexander has a strength.
So that’s how the story really originated—the first inspiration came from nowhere in particular, and everything else was implied by a kind of emotional logic.
For me, the background of where they got the powers wasn’t very important, but I had to include something. It was more important to me that the characters themselves didn’t know, and that these powers were just a given thing in their lives that they’d each learned to cope with in their own way. The way they used their powers would reveal their characters.
In the case of both Jenny and Esmeralda, both ultimately try to avoid using their powers at all. Seth tries to use his in a way that will help others without drawing attention to himself. Ashleigh and Alexander are always finding new ways to use their powers. And Tommy—he just kind of grubs along, with the power to strike fear into anyone, but he only uses for low-level things like robbing convenience stores and mugging people, until Ashleigh gets her hands on him and starts directing him.
Jenny has a secret. Her touch spreads a supernatural plague.
She devotes her life to avoiding contact with people, until her senior year of high school, when she meets the one boy she can touch, and she falls in love.
But there’s a problem–he’s under the spell of his devious girlfriend Ashleigh, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all.
Now Jenny must learn to use the deadly “Jenny pox” she’s fought her entire life to hide, or be destroyed by Ashleigh’s ruthless plans.
Not recommended for readers under sixteen due to mature content.
J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on the English Renaissance and the Romantic period. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He enjoys remixing elements of paranormal, supernatural, fantasy, horror and science fiction into new kinds of stories. He is the author of The Paranormals trilogy (Jenny Pox, Tommy Nightmare, and Alexander Death). Fairy Metal Thunder is the first book in his new Songs of Magic series. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Christina, his son John, two dogs, and two cats.
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