Deluge Deep Dive
Back at it again at Krispy Kreme with another deep dive, this time on Deluge, the second book in The Tempest Series. The response to the first one on Brontide was incredibly kind. I had no idea so many of you were learning some of those fun facts for the first time! It’s easy to forget that so many of my readers haven’t been there from the very start of things. But that just means you get to discover them now while I reminisce. I’m hoping this particular deep dive carries with it some more fun revelations for all of you out there—and I think most of them will be new knowledge this time.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
Deluge was written in the winter of 2016 and published in 2017. It serves as a direct sequel and picks up just a few weeks after the events of Brontide, and is written from Ruari's point of view. It’s about his struggle to cope after the loss of Corbet’s memories and ascension to the Unseelie throne. They aren’t enemies, per se, but they are no longer what they once were, and forces in Corbet’s newfound Court conspire to keep it that way. I’d hate to spoil people by describing things in more detail than that. If you haven’t read The Tempest Series, maybe get on that XD It’ll probably help you enjoy these blog posts a bit more, especially as we get deeper into the series.
This book is pretty unique in a lot of ways. It’s probably my favorite book in the series. That is to say, the experience writing it made it my favorite. I don’t necessarily believe Deluge is the best book of the lot. What makes this book stand out to me was that it was the easiest for me to write. For some reason, I always seem to hit a strange stride when it comes to the second book in a series. It was the same way for Aquiver, the second book in The Duskriven Chronicles. There’s just something about having one book under your belt and a deeper understanding of the characters that guides your fingers over the keys faster than you ever thought possible. I wrote Deluge in a grand total of two weeks because of this. Which sounds insane, I know, but I was in college at the time and winter break was upon me. I knew I only had a short amount of time unburdened by school work to write unfettered, and back then, so long as I had nothing else going on during the day and didn’t have to worry about feeding myself (thanks mom <3), I could churn out a chapter a day. Fourteen chapters equals fourteen days. The book came quickly, and with that ease came good memories and good associations with the creative process.
I think that ease had a lot to do with how I structured this story from the get-go. I actually planned the book before I began writing it. Before Deluge, anything I wrote was more or less written by the seat of my pants. I’d occasionally do bullet points for a multi-chaptered story, but rarely did I ever know how a story was going to end when I wrote back then. Deluge, however, was the book that helped me develop the modern outlining formula that I still use to this day. Given what I was used to doing for prep, this was an enormous change for me. I wrote up chapter notes. I started utilizing my thesis statement method of outlining (I’m sure one of these days I’ll have an entire blog post dedicated just to explaining how I plan stories, so more on that then). I took the time to world-build the universe I’d already established in Brontide. For a few months straight, in between my college classes I would reread Brontide and take notes on small little nuggets I’d unconsciously left behind, and with the help of Sun as a sounding board, I found ways to carry them forward into the next.
I remember sitting in the Engineering Building—where the campus coffee shop was, by the way. There was little other reason for me to be in a math-centric building XD—typing away on my laptop, sipping a mocha and chatting via Skype with Sun during one of the two times out of the day where our schedules lined up about some new insight I’d had and where it might take the story next. For those who aren’t aware, Sun lives in Australia. There was more than a 13 hour time difference between us, and back then, we had to make the time difference work as best we could. There were many nights where I’d be up until four a.m. just to have a few extra hours to chat with her during our cover development step, and I know she was up just as late to catch me before I left for my classes in the morning just so she could get the sign-off from me that the sketch she’d done looked how I wanted it to look.
I think that if I tried writing The Tempest Series now at my current stage of life… Well, the end product would be very different. The story would be very, very different, and probably better written, but the amount of time we put into the art just wouldn’t be the same. The work ethic we both had at this time was incredible, and with Sun freelancing often and me with a college student’s sleeping habits and flexibility, we were able to dedicate a lot of time and effort to things like that. Neither of us slept much back then, and I still don’t to some extent, but our dedication to creating the prettiest series we could muster up was something else entirely.
Something that I didn’t touch on too much during Brontide’s deep dive was the art. I was saving it for this one, since to me, Deluge is almost more important to me than Brontide’s. I love this cover. I actually have a phone case with the Deluge cover on my iphone, and out of all the book covers we’ve done, Deluge still remains to this day my favorite. I have a few goals when it comes to book covers. Since I write romance, there’s an annoying assumption that all romance novel covers boast shirtless, headless photoshopped torsos, usually of cowboys or vikings, with little to no actual relation to the content inside. I hated that. A huge reason I haven’t branched out into traditional publishing houses is that I want to maintain creative control over the covers, and since I write LGBT+ romances, I want whoever’s reading my work to feel confident carrying the book in public. I’ve had many queer readers approach me at conventions to tell me how grateful they are that the Tempest covers are art-forward instead of your traditional romance novel cover. It allows them to read the book at home without outing themselves to their family or guests, and that is just—so important to me. I believe everyone should feel confident reading what they want to read, whenever they want to read it. Sun helped me to realize that goal, as well as achieve a few more along the way.
Doing art-forward covers allows for a level of symbolism traditional romance covers just don’t contain, and for every Tempest book we did, I wanted it to have maximum impact after you finished the final page and closed the book. Every cover spoils the book if you know what to look for in the symbolism, and man, did we spend hours hammering out the best way to articulate each book’s plot through Sun’s beautiful art. I feel like we succeeded on that front. Take a minute to pick up your copy if you’ve got one; think about the story, then look at the cover. Do you see what we did? I hope so. Boy, do I hope so.
I’ll keep saying it til the end of time: The Tempest Series probably wouldn’t exist at all if it weren’t for Sun’s help. I am what I am thanks to the relationships I have with others, and what I produce is thanks to the unending support and skill of those who want me to succeed. If you haven’t yet, seriously, go check out the Artist tab on my website. Take a look at Sun’s work, at Yougei’s art, and go support the people who have helped me produce the work you’ve all gotten to enjoy reading.
But back to Deluge, since that’s the point of this whole post. Deluge is… Lord. It is by no means a perfect book, or even that great of a book, but when compared to Brontide, I think it’s an improvement by leaps and bounds. Also, the scene with Ruari and Corbet in the garden? Still one of my favorite scenes I’ve written. The prose is dated and clunky in my eyes, but man, I was proud of that for a very, very long time, and very proud of how emotional it made readers when they got to it. There were a lot of very emotional moments in this book that stuck with readers long after they put it down. That’s probably another reason I really liked this story. Deluge was the first time I’d tried to write a mystery-centric plot. I remember being so excited about the process, about the mystery I was building and the clues I was leaving. One of my favorite things to ask people once they finished the book was if they had seen the plot twist coming—if they’d found all the clues and realized what it was all building towards. Some of my favorite books to read are crime dramas and mystery novels. I was thrilled to get to try my hand at it myself, and I had so much fun in the process.
And now, onto some questions.
Why did you choose to write in Ruari’s perspective this time?
I typically try to tell stories from the most interesting perspective within the story, and that can either be a case of one pov character per book or varying the pov character based on each individual chapter’s contents. When it came to Brontide, Corbet was the obvious choice for that. He’s a stranger in a strange land and the audience surrogate, so everything he experiences is going to be more interesting and engaging to us as we experience it alongside him. But, now that we’re in Deluge and so much has happened to drive a wedge between Ruari and Corbet, firmly seating ourselves in Ruari’s perspective just makes for a much more interesting ride. We’ve gotten our basic overview of the setting and dynamics between some of the characters, so now we’ve got our prerequisite class under our belts. We’re ready for a deeper dive into the fae world at large, and what better way to get that view than through Ruari? Also, he’s just got a lot more going on in regards to his emotional state. He’s incredibly depressed and besieged with longing for what he’s seemingly lost. It just made the most sense, so I went with it.
There’s actually sort of a cool trick we went for with all the books, covers, and chapter allotments as well. Brontide is in Corbet’s pov and the cover is red. Deluge is in Ruari’s pov and is blue. Petrichor alternates between Corbet and Ruari evenly, and it’s purple, signifying the resolution to their stories, the merging of them as a couple at long last. I really can’t stress enough how stupidly intricate we made some of these design and structure choices be. There’s not much use for most of it, but it makes me happy to think about XD. Hopefully, you guys appreciate it a little too!
What’s one fact about this book that really shocks people when they learn about it?
This one took some pondering, but in the end, I did come up with a really surprising fact—though it’s more about the series as a whole in some ways. When I wrote Brontide, I didn’t intend to make it a series until I reached the end of the book. Corbet losing his memory wasn’t originally planned. It was a spur of the moment twist I added because I realized I wanted to do more with the world and continue the story on. Again, another weirdly intricate aspect of planning the aesthetics of this series was the title scheme. Brontide had always been called Brontide, and when I decided to write a sequel, I originally settled on the name Petrichor. But then I got to thinking, and when I got to thinking, I inevitably hit up Sun via Skype and said, “Man, I wish I was doing a trilogy so I could call a book Deluge just to better echo the timeline of an actual storm.”
That one single aside led to me doing a third book, smacking Deluge on the direct sequel and pushing Petrichor to the third book. Apricity happened because of Sun (we’ll get more on that when it comes time to deep dive that book) but the title itself came before the conception. The theme of these storm/rain/sunlight words has really led to an expansion in this series I never intended to have happen. I guess that goes to show how I’ll write a book for pretty much no real reason at all. I’m not sure what that says about me as a person or author, but I think that’s definitely a fun fact that pretty much no one knows.
Which chapter illustration is your favorite?
Christ, I don’t have children but this sort of question is the same as asking which kid is your favorite. All of Sun’s work is gorgeous. She was going through a lot of health issues during the making of this book, so the fact that she continued to pour out her normal high quality of art regardless is just so… insane to me. I couldn’t pick if I tried, but the standouts to me that keep me looking again and again are probably the bird’s nest (she didn’t NEED to spend so long rendering those twigs!! The eggs??? Sun is a god and I don’t deserve her!!), Tailan peeking under the blankets (any art of Tailan—and we are contractually obligated to have at least one per book—is sublime), and the curse bundle (can’t imagine a better looking talisman of bad vibes as that!).
Honestly, that’s the sort of question I’d ask all of you: which illustration is your favorite? And I don’t just mean in this book. Sound off below!
That’s all we’ve got this month in terms of questions, so I’ll get to wrapping this up. Deluge isn’t quite as tarnished in my mind as Brontide is. I haven’t tried reading it in full in a very long time, and I think if I go back now to do so, I’ll probably have a worse impression of it than my nostalgia would allow. I choose instead to remember this book for other reasons; for the ease in which I wrote it; for the late, late nights I stayed up skyping with Sun over Christmas break, sending her snippets, asking her opinions and letting her egg me on; for the countless times I played Panic!at the Disco’s Death of a Bachelor album on repeat while writing; for the victory I felt when I reached the final sentence just hours before Christmas Eve turned to Christmas Day. It was an experience. A great one.
I think, above all else, Deluge was one of the high points for me. Not necessarily in my writing career—I firmly believe my best days are still ahead of me—but because in those days, I had the time and lack of self-doubt needed to produce without a second thought. I miss the days when I could dedicate two full weeks to nothing but writing. I miss the simplicity in my schedule that allowed me to write a book from start to finish without extraneous projects or responsibilities getting in the way.
But that’s just part of getting older, I guess. And, like I said, my best days are still ahead. I’ll keep looking forward to them, even as I sigh wistfully for the halcyon days of Deluge and those cold, productive winter nights.
Until next time,
T. D. Cloud