Every once in a while, someone reads my very first YA novel, DREAMING ANASTASIA and goes off on a rant about how it's trying to be like Twilight. And I always shake my head. I know why they say it -- Ethan starts the series as an immortal hottie and Anne falls for him. But then (not giving away the whole plot) she saves him (not that she means to; she's supposed to be saving Anastasia -- which she also does, at least sort of) he starts over again at 18. Anne's the hero of this 900 pages or so of trilogy. She's got a destiny. And a mission. And power that goes back to sources it takes her most of three books to figure out. She's got a plucky best friend named Tess. A mixture of feelings for Ethan. And did I mention that the series is a reimagining of the Baba Yaga Slavic fairy tales? With other Slavic folklore added with each book, including malevolent mermaids called rusalkas and a guy who can't be killed called Koshi the Deathless? Did I mention that Anne is quippy in the face of danger? More powerful than Ethan for most of the books? And that she sacrifices herself in a variety of ways for the greater good? Or that Ethan felt trapped as an immortal, fooled by the Brotherhood that recruited him. Guilty about how things turned out for Anastasia? Or that Anne saves him more than once?
So yeah. Absolutely nothing like Twilight.
You know what it is like in many ways? Buffy. But okay, without the vampires.
Plus I started the kernel what would become Dreaming Anastasia way back in the dark ages of 2004. Buffy was just ending its 7 year run. And I loved that show. You knew from the very first episode that it was turning tropes on their heads. Buffy was innocuous looking. Blonde. Petite. Seemingly harmless. But she wasn't. She was a vampire slayer. A destiny girl-- something she struggled with mightily. How do you balance having the life you want with the fact that you have to save the world? Or that the world sees you one way when you know you're really the Chosen One? (Okay, I know, sitting here in 2018 that this may seem old hat. But in 2004, it was not.) And she was also destined to one of the great star-crossed loves -- with Angel, the vampire with a soul. (well, until he lost it again and started killing all the people she loved)
Anne was - and is- my homage to Buffy. She's less frivolous and but just as loyal and she struggles so hard to balance this thing she's been given that she doesn't want. As soon as Ethan crashes into her life, everything changes. She's the hero of the story. And she suffers because of that. She's also funny and brave and witty and very smart. (In short, she's as far from Bella Swan as I can imagine, with all due respect to those who love Bella -- whose story wasn't in the world while I was writing Anne.)
Ethan was-- and is -- a lesser homage to Angel, except that he's not a vampire, and while heroic, is definitely not the hero of the story. He's a sweet, loyal, handsome hunk who has been in over his head for like a hundred years and managed to do what the bad guys assumed he was too bumbling to do -- which was to find Anne and to mentor her and to help her figure out what the heck was going on with all this magical wackiness. (In short, he's no creepily over-protective Edward, again with all due respect to those who are still fond of that sparkly guy)
So there you have it. Buffy the Vampire Slayer inspired me to write a girl named Anne and a boy named Ethan, who ended up in Dreaming Anastasia, which somehow miraculously got me an agent, who sold it to Sourcebooks, who eventually published it in 2009.
The rest is history. More or less.
You might say I was chosen.
Okay, you don't have to say that. But you could.