Several people have asked me for some plot information about The Storm and The Darkness. I’m in the middle of re-writes now (I know I’ve been saying this since November, but this time I really mean it), but for the most part, I’m in the home stretch and I think we’re looking at a final draft by March.
House of Crimson & Clover
If you’ve read St. Charles at Dusk, you’ll know that the story centers around two families- The Sullivans and the Deschanels- specifically, one member of each: Oz of the Sullivans, and Adrienne of the Deschanels. When I originally wrote this book, it was meant as a standalone story. The end of the book is pretty “tied up,” so to speak, as I never intended it to have a sequel. Yet, as I continued to write other things, I still found myself drawn to the story; not so much Oz and Adrienne’s story, but the greater stories of the Sullivans and Deschanels. Even when I tried writing something else, I kept coming back to these families. The secondary characters were drawing me in, and suddenly other characters were coming to life as well.
In 2010, I wrote The Storm and the Darkness as my NaNoWriMo subject. Then in 2011, I wrote another Sullivan/Deschanel story, and again in 2012. It occurred to me that a pattern was emerging and that rather than being afraid of it, maybe it was time to embrace it. Thus, this has become a series, and I’ve named it House of Crimson & Clover.
In addition to writing additional stories, I’ve also started some complex genealogy charts for both families. Snapshots of these are posted on the House of Crimson and Clover Facebook Page.
Introducing The Story
The Storm and the Darkness, as I mentioned, started as my NaNoWriMo project in 2010. One of the characters I had been most drawn to from St. Charles at Dusk was Nicolas. I loved writing him, but I wasn’t ready to write for him as a central character. I didn’t want to write about Oz and Adrienne as centrals anymore, either. So, the idea came to me about a Deschanel cousin, one that could have a friendship with Nicolas, which would give me more opportunities to find his voice. This angle also allowed me to make mentions of Oz and Adrienne if I wanted (and I did; they do figure into this story as well).
The story is told through alternating POVs. There are three main characters: Ana Deschanel, Jonathan St. Andrews, and Finnegan St Andrews. There are also pieces of the story told by supporting characters, two of which will be familiar to readers and one that is new: Nicolas Deschanel, Oz Sullivan, and Alex Whitman.
The central character in this story is Ana Deschanel. Ana is quiet, reserved, and mostly introspective, which lends to her having very few close relationships in her life. She is an only child, and her mother died when she was an infant. Despite having a huge network of cousins, aunts, and uncles, the only relative she finds herself able to relate to is Nicolas, who is also her only close friend. She sees Nicolas as the only one who actually understands her, and on the other end, Nicolas sees Ana as one of the only people whom he can be himself around as well.
Entering her thirties, Ana begins to think more deeply about what she wants to do with her life. She has seen moderate success as an essay writer, and she is mostly content with it, but she begins to feel as if something is fundamentally wrong with her life. She can’t put her finger on it, but as the feelings grow, they become impossible to ignore. The thoughts begin to become oppressive, and she realizes she needs to leave New Orleans for a while to clear her thoughts.
She decides to spend a winter at one of her father’s properties: a home on a small island community off the coast of Maine, near Portland. The island is small- about a thousand residents- and secluded, and most of all, quiet. She arrives in the late fall and prepares for what is expected to be a harsh winter-something she has never experienced growing up in New Orleans.
The house is on the coast, and faces the Atlantic. It is located at a curve in the bend of the island and although she has neighbors on both sides, only her neighbors to the north are in near proximity to her. These neighbors are the St. Andrews brothers: Jonathan and Finnegan.
Jonathan St. Andrews
Jonathan is the oldest St. Andrews brother, being a couple of years older than Ana. Like Ana, he is also introverted but often comes across to others as rude and reclusive. He is challenging to read, and he says very little about what he is thinking. He is the island’s veterinarian, a profession he chose after a short-lived medical career that he abandoned because of the pressures of dealing with people. Ana’s first interaction with him is unpleasant at best, and for his part, Jonathan is unsettled by her arrival on the island due to his averseness to change.
Finnegan St. Andrews
Finnegan, or Finn, is the younger of the brothers. Unlike Jonathan, he is spirited, outgoing, and sees the world through happier eyes. Although he went to college as well, he has chosen a life on the island, as a man of the sea, and spends his days out on the ocean fishing. He feels a connection to the island that runs deep, and his aspirations in life do not extend beyond its shores. His reaction to Ana’s arrival on the island is one of mild curiosity, and seeing her sitting in her chair reading when he comes back from the ocean becomes a welcome part of his daily routine.
The Storm and the Darkness
When Ana had been on the island about a month, she and Finn have their first conversation one afternoon as he is coming back from a day on the sea. Over dinner at her house, he tells her that he thinks the first of the winter storms are coming in that evening, and by the time he leaves to go home, there are already several inches of snow on the ground and winds are picking up. Later that night she realizes he has left his keys and naively decides to brave the storm to return them. Along the way she stumbles, falls, and loses consciousness after hitting her head on the rocks. By accident, Finn and Jonathan find her and take her back to their house, where she continues to remain unconscious, but stable. As the brothers watch over her, the storm worsens, and communication is cut off from the island to the outside world. Things only get worse when their food storage is discovered to be spoiled and they slowly begin to realize that there are other sinister forces at work, involving someone they’ve known their whole lives who is harboring a dark secret. At the same time, Nicolas begins to worry when he hasn’t heard from Ana, and he enlists the help of Oz to investigate the situation. All of these situations begin to escalate as the storm grows, and finally come together in a dramatic conclusion.
What’s Next For the Series
There are two partially completed, as yet unnamed, stories in the series. Book 3 features Nicolas as the central character. Book 4 explores some of the additional branches of the Deschanel tree, with a story that starts several generations back and continues into the present. Both will need some heavy editing (in other words: they are pretty terrible in their current state), but I feel like both stories have a lot of potential, and there are plenty more in my head just waiting to be written.