Vision is the first character outside of fanfic that I fell in love with the hardest. I wrote Castoffs as a birthday present for a friend, not thinking that much would come out of it, but after the first couple scenes I realized it was better than most everything else I had written. I’d known that there was no description, there was only point of view for a while, but the stories that were really successful and sold incorporated not only description within the point of view but every sentence seemed to be dictated by the characters in the moment.
I loved Janus’s character in the first book, and I decided that I had too many characters described as just being a thug. I needed to give the blond thug that apparently had some sort of history with Janus a name, and Vision just popped into my head. The rest was history.
Rather than succumb to the Stryder effect, where a secondary main character suddenly takes over whole dang book, I let Janus finish the book as his own hero. Book two and the rest of the series, though, started and finished with Vision.
I like writing in a different gender than who I am to give me that comforting “it’s just fiction” as I cannibalize my life. Personally, I have always taken the bit and ran with it. My whole life was about pushing boundaries. No matter what I had, I wanted me. And then I met my wife. People who do not know her very well think she’s pretty much the stereotypical librarian and think that I must just run roughshod over her to get what I want. My own mother, a couple of weeks after meeting her asked me, “Are you serious? She’s so…quiet.”
There are strobe-light moments in my life where I remember every single detail. This was one of them. I looked my mother in the eye and said, “She’s the first person in my life who has told me ‘no’ and I listened.” My mother and I are too similar for our own good, I think. But her eyes got really wide.
I am not Vision and Vision is not me. I don’t want to get much deeper than that when it comes to my own experiences, but Vision was an amazing opportunity to play with a character who has only ever wanted power outside the bedroom but wanted a lover who could control him inside the bedroom, but serve him outside.
The world of the vampires have been divided into territories. Vision by the end of book 2 has control over two small territories, but gives them both so that the man who allows him to live at the end of book 1 doesn’t die.It just about kills him and doesn’t revert back at the end of book 3 to return the power to him.
Is Vision the most interesting character? The first three books were the first three books I had written at the professional level, but looking back to it now almost a decade later there is a lot that I would have done differently. I still love them. I think the moments when Vision acts most out of character, either by sacrificing his power when it means the most to him or turning tables on his lover, Hanz and fucking him instead of getting fucked are the most interesting moments in the book.
Vision loves his boyfriend more than anyone else in the world, but he also knows he loves Janus as well. It’s the difference between being in love with Hanz and loving Janus. The characters are monogamous-ish, so while his love for Hanz is absolute, Janus just needs to crook his finger most of the time and Vision will be there. Janus is certainly stronger than Vision is, power-wise. Hanz is Vision’s equal in all things and I think if he wasn’t as clever as Vision was, Vision would have lost interest years ago.
The more anyone writes the better they get at it, so I think the later books in the series; Prodigals and Coda are far stronger books than Lineage and Restitution are. Prodigals introduces Kane, Hanz’s son from when Hanz was a human bisexual teenager.
Kane would be Vision and Hanz’s love child, if that were physically possible. He has Vision’s lust for power but Hanz’s methodical stick-to-it-ness. Not that he has it easy. The vampires on the west coast have a completely different power-structure. Kane was offered to an elder vampire. Kane’s lover, Jinx, had already stabbed the elder vampire in the chest with a knife so Kane used the knife to make the whole bigger and yanked the heart out of the elder’s chest.
It almost destroyed Kane, burning a blackened tattoo from Kane’s hand to his own heart and made him a vampire 2.0. No, not like Blade. Well, kind of like Blade, but better. He has most of the vampire’s strengths without a lot of their restrictions.
Another equally compelling character is Jinx, Kane’s lover. He’s Fae, crossing over from the Changeling universe, but not in any way that has been explained yet. The Master of the Lines isn’t from any one character’s Point of View, but each section may have a different point of view, and I think in this case that’s more of a strength than a weakness. Keeping a truly alien POV from the reader is a good thing to do if the character isn’t relateable, but that isn’t a problem here.
I think the longer a series goes on, though, the more difficult it is to through antagonists that are a realistic threat against characters who slowly amass great power, which is why, should I ever get the 3/4 of the way finished manuscript off my hard drive, I’ve rebooted the world by blowing up a good 7/8ths of it.
I’ve learned so much more about writing than I had the day I sat down to start writing Castoffs. I tell writers who ask me if they should publish their first books to make sure that their first attempts at writing are not going to come back and humiliate you. Even though I’ve written dozens of books before Castoffs, going back to reread the series isn’t the cringefest I assume it was. I would have done the books differently now, but, especially from Lineage and onward, I’m still proud to have them in my bibliography.