SPOILER ALERT: This post (and the comments section) has major, major spoilers for Widow’s Web, the seventh book in my Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. So if you haven’t read that far in the series and don’t want to be spoiled, you will want to skip this post. You have been warned.
So Widow’s Web has been out for about six weeks now. I said that I would try to do a discussion post talking about the book after it had been out for several weeks, and this is that post. So let’s get to it, shall we?
SPOILER ALERT REDUX: Seriously, this is your last chance not to be spoiled. Look away now.
Many of you have seen this already, but here’s the back cover copy for Widow’s Web:
I used to murder people for money, but lately it’s become more of a survival technique.
Once an assassin, always an assassin. So much for being plain old Gin Blanco. With every lowlife in Ashland gunning for me, I don’t need another problem, but a new one has come to town anyway. Salina might seem like a sweet Southern belle, but she’s really a dangerous enemy whose water elemental magic can go head-to-head with my own Ice and Stone power. Salina also has an intimate history with my lover, Owen Grayson, and now that she’s back, she thinks he’s hers for the taking. Salina’s playing a mysterious game that involves a shady local casino owner with a surprising connection to Owen. But they call me the Spider for a reason. I’m going to untangle her deadly scheme, even if it leaves my love affair hanging by a thread.
In the book, Owen’s ex, Salina, comes back to town, and Gin learns all about Owen’s relationship with Salina, his time living on the streets as a kid, and how Owen and his younger sister, Eva, were friends with Phillip Kincaid. This book is all about Owen and how his past — especially Salina — affects his relationship with Gin. Basically, Gin and Owen break up because Gin kills Salina, who tries to kill Gin and most of the folks in the Ashland underworld, among her other crimes.
So why did I decide to break up my happy couple? Well, there were several reasons. When the book starts out, Gin is in a pretty good place professionally (so to speak) — Mab is dead, and Gin has gotten her revenge, even if she’s on everybody’s hit list now. So I wanted to do more of a personal story with Widow’s Web.
In By a Thread, the previous book, Gin dealt with her lingering issues with her ex, Detective Donovan Caine. That sort of led me to the idea of flipping the story around and having Owen having to deal with one of his exes in Widow’s Web.
But I wanted to do more than just have Owen’s ex come to town. I also wanted to really delve into how finding out that Owen once loved someone else would bring up all of Gin’s old insecurities and how she would respond to that.
Also, up until Widow’s Web, Owen has been a really good guy and really supportive of Gin. I wanted to peel back his layers and show his backstory and how his relationship with Salina and her sudden departure from town mirrored Gin’s experience with Donovan in some ways. I think that learning more about Owen’s past and his mistakes (both past and present) makes him a more interesting character. That’s my hope, anyway.
I also wanted to focus in on Gin and Owen’s relationship and some of the questions and issues that they have to deal with because of Salina and just Gin being an assassin in general. What do you do when someone you love does something you don’t approve of? How do you get past it? Can you get past it? Or do you go your separate ways?
I thought those sorts of questions would make for a good story arc, especially set against the backdrop of the Ashland underworld being in so much turmoil and Gin being everyone’s target now. Plus, one of the things I like about writing urban fantasy is that you can do a story arc like this and have your characters struggle to get together, stay together, etc.
Plus, I had been wanting to write a villain with water magic for a while, and Salina’s character seemed like a good fit for that.
So I thought writing Widow’s Web would be a way to accomplish several things at once — delve into Owen’s past, write an interesting villain, and tackle some Gin/Owen relationship questions.
I thought a lot about breaking up Gin and Owen at the end of this book, and I talked to a lot of folks about it — Wheezley, my book group, my editor. My editor made the comment that Gin and Owen were just two people caught up in an impossible situation, and I think that sums up the book nicely.
I’ve gotten a few e-mails that have been less than flattering to Owen, and I’ve been told that there is some Owen backlash going on online. But I realized when I was writing the book that what happens might upset people, but this was part of Gin’s story that I wanted to tell, and I thought that it was necessary for certain events to happen like they did.
I can’t really say too much about future books without giving out spoilers, but I do have a plan for Gin and Owen too. How well I execute that plan and how folks respond to it, well, we’ll just have to wait and see. But I hope that the payoff in the end will be worth the journey for readers. That’s my goal, anyway. I hope that folks will continue reading the series, but I understand if people don’t.
So there you have it. Some of what went into writing Widow’s Web and the direction that the story and characters went in.
If there are questions, I’ll try to answer them in the comments section, although please keep in mind that I can’t give out any spoilers for the next book, Deadly Sting.
Anyway, hope everyone enjoyed the post.