Have you met Blade yet? He's one of my favourite characters in my biker series to date and after talking with a lot of my readers I know he's one of their favourites too. So I thought I'd share some info on how he came to be and give you some more background on him.
Note: there are spoilers ahead so if you haven't read the whole series yet you may not want to read this until you do.
Blade first appeared towards the end in Storm, however when I began writing this book I had no plans for his character. I knew his father, Marcus was an asshole, but I didn't know just how much until I got to the part in Storm where we learn about Blade. My writing tends to go this way for each book I write. As much as I plot the story and the characters out, sometimes things surprise me along the way, and Blade was one of those for me.
He has lived such a troubled life and my heart broke for him as I got to know and understand him better. After his brief appearance in Storm, he showed up more in Fierce. I was still just learning about him while writing that book. One of my favourite parts was the following passage when he helps save Harlow, mostly because it reveals a part of him we haven't seen before –
Blade moved towards me and pulled a knife out. He cut the ropes that bound me to the bed and removed the gag from my mouth. Then he took the sheet and covered my body. His movements were gentle and deliberate. He was safe. I knew it in that moment. He would never hurt me.
And he never did. In fact, Harlow and Blade developed a bond after that. Not the kind of bond that blared brightly for the world to see, but rather a quiet one that they sensed about each other. She called on him again in Command and he came through for her again.
One of the bonds I love the most in the Storm MC series is the one between Scott and Blade. It wasn't easy for them to leave their pasts behind and embrace their family ties and I think that made it all the more special. Although he may not have realised or admitted it, he desperately wanted that relationship, just like he'd always held out hope his father would show him the love he'd been deprived of his whole life. This passage in Fierce gives you a glimpse of this –
Blade flinched. It was hardly noticeable but I was studying him so I saw it. The hard set of his jaw was back in place straight away but he'd been affected by the way Dad spoke to him.
And then there's the bond between Madison and Blade. *sigh* If not for Madison, Blade may never have found his way to his family.
Madison hit me with a look that made most of the shit I'd been through in my life worthwhile. Having her as my sister had changed me in ways no one had ever been able to, not even Ashley. Madison made me want to be a better man. I was buried under a million fucking layers of darkness, but with her in my life, I was trying hard to find a way out from under the murky depths.
Writing Slay was hard. Going in, I knew it would be. Blade was my most tortured character to date and I'd have to dig deep to bring him to life in a believable way. And to give him the space to redeem himself and show everyone that underneath all his cold, calculating ways he really was a man worthy of love would be tricky. Writing alpha men the way I do is a fine line to walk. My Storm men are a mixture of bossy, demanding, dirty and sometimes asshole-y. Trying to get that mix just right can take some effort. The last thing I want to do is create a male who becomes too mushy and sweet. I mean, sweet can be swoon worthy, but at the same time it can lead into eye rolling territory, right?! I chose to write bikers who can do sweet and while some MC readers don't like this in their bikers, my readers love it. And I love it. I've written men I would fall for.
I wrote more than half the book and it was closing in on my deadline and I was struggling. Something wasn't quite right. I was waking up with a sinking feeling in my stomach every day and going to bed with it after writing all day. My experience told me this meant something was very wrong. Figuring out what that was took me time. Time I didn't have if I was going to hit my editing deadline.
And then I lost words from my document.
Any writer will tell you this is the worst feeling. If I'd been feeling sick before that, I felt like it was the end of the world after.
I soldiered on and rewrote words. At that point, Layla (Blade's woman) was a single mother. Before that, she'd been a single woman who was a property developer. I went through three versions of Layla before I got her right.
I remember the day I figured out where it was all going wrong. It was a Friday afternoon and in desperation I opened a blank Word doc and just started typing. This was exactly what I typed and I knew straight away that this Layla was a woman Blade could fall in love with –
I stood in the alleyway behind my bar and stared up at the inky sky. Full moon tonight. Fuck, I hoped the bar wasn’t about to be invaded by the crazies. Diverting my gaze down the alleyway, I took in the two drunks passed out, completely oblivious to the thief raiding their pockets.
“Hey!” I yelled out, stalking towards him.
His head snapped up, hard eyes meeting mine. “Fuck off, cunt,” he snarled, his voice full of venom.
Yeah, like fucking hell, asshole.
I ignored his directive, and when I got to where he stood staring at me, I punched him hard in the face. The element of surprise never did me wrong. He staggered back, holding his face, surprised as fuck.
“What the fuck, bitch?”
“That was for trying to steal.”
He advanced towards me, hatred blazing from his eyes. His intent was clear, and as his arm came up to punch me, I kicked my leg out so my foot connected with his balls. At the same time, I ducked to avoid his punch and spun out to the side, away from him. The agony my kick induced, coupled with the momentum he had going with his punch, caused him to fall forward. He landed on his hands and knees, at which point I kicked him hard in the gut.
“Fuck!” He collapsed into a ball, arms around his stomach, his breathing choppy.
“That was for calling me a cunt.”
I walked to the drunks and prodded one of them with my boot. His eye cracked open and he gave me a what-the-hell look.
“Get up,” I snapped. “This asshole just tried to steal from you. It’s time to go home.”
Without waiting for a response, I turned back to the thief. Squatting, I said, “You think that hurt? If I see you here again, you’ll know what pain is. Your balls got off lightly this time.”
He grunted something unintelligible at me before attempting to stand.
I straightened and watched as he stood. My body tensed, waiting to see if he would try anything.
He glared at me. “Fucking bitch,” he grumbled, still clutching his stomach.
I raised my eyebrows. “Really, dude? You want to go there with me again?”
He muttered more shit I couldn’t understand before stumbling out of the alleyway. When he rounded the corner, and I could no longer see him, I allowed myself to relax.
Why did the world have to be full of scum like that?
I looked at the drunks. The one I’d woken up had passed out again. I gave him another prod. “Time to go home,” I ordered. Fat lot of good it did because he didn’t stir this time. Fuck it, his grave to dig, not mine to try and spare.
I headed back inside. I had better things to do than worry about people who didn’t worry about themselves.
So, I discarded about 40k worth of words and started Slay over. I typed furiously for two weeks, from early in the morning to at least midnight every day. I breathed Slay for those two weeks and fell in love with Blade and Layla. Side note – up until that point, I'd been spelling her name as Leila, and even that didn't feel right. I wrote most of Slay in two weeks and didn't want to ever leave those characters. It was the first book I published that I wasn't nervous about – because I absolutely loved them and their story. I figured even if no one else loved the book, at least I did and that was all that mattered to me.
This book resonated with me on a deep level.
The whole inner struggle of desperately wanting to accept ourselves for who we are and of embracing our flaws.
And also allowing someone in to help us put our pieces back together after we shatter.
The dedication I wrote for Slay was pretty much a note to myself as much as to anyone else feeling this way…
I am like Blade. I struggle to let people in. I never want to burden them with my stuff.
To everyone who struggles to accept themselves for who they truly are…
It’s okay to embrace our flaws and own them…
To accept every part of ourselves
And love ourselves
And to let others love us, too.
“Sometimes you have to shatter to find strength. And sometimes you have to let someone in to help you put the pieces back together.” ~ Layla
We will see more of Blade and Layla.
Their story isn't done yet.
It may take me some time, but I'll write the rest. And it may not be in a book I'll release… It may come to you in chapters at a time or through the rest of the Storm books I'm yet to write, but you'll see how their HEA pans out. Because I love them to death and can't not write more of them 🙂
I'm going to be over in my Facebook group chatting about Blade and would love to see you there (bring questions if you have any!!). Here's the details –
Date – 17th Feb at 9pm US EST (converts to 18th Feb 12pm Brisbane time and late for the UK – sorry girls!)
Join my group here.