Her Dark Angel is one of my rare books, and there have only been a couple, that began from one of my dreams. The dream was the kind I call movie dreams. I don't feel I am in them but watch them unfold. Even though I have a recent one also that became a novella, most of my movie dreams don't end up books. Even when the images and elements are strong, usually they don't seem like my kind of book.
To take a movie dream and make it into a book requires taking one key scene and using it as a keystone. I had that with Her Dark Angel. A young man was in an office with other people. Clearly violence was about to unfold. The young man threw himself in front of another to save his life and was shot. When I woke up, I liked what that young man looked like and decided he would make a good hero.
Sometimes a book begins from a plot element. Sometimes it comes from a key character and Dillon Delaney was for me a character that deserved a story. His name wasn't in the dream but that name perfectly fit the guy who was. Dill is a tough guy who has earned his own way through the kind of life that would have had many giving up. He has the kind of nobility that doesn't seek others to praise him. He does what is right best he knows it and suffers inside for the way life has often betrayed him.
He needed a heroine. I realized I not only had her as a secondary character in an earlier book, but it gave me more of what might have gotten Dill into the situation he found himself when Her Dark Angel opens.
The plot does deal with some difficult subjects including suicidal thoughts. It has an underlying theme from Beauty and the Beast as Dill has been living the life of a beast while the heroine is definitely the beauty.
The story begins in Reno, goes to Portland, then back to Reno and Tahoe before concluding in Portland. Some of the characters from Hidden Pearl are secondary in this one.
Snippet from Her Dark Angel:
Dill strode into his hot and stuffy apartment ready to kick the cat or anything else that got in his way. Fortunately for McGee, she was nowhere to be seen, not that the pampered alley cat would've tolerated mistreatment if she had been. The quality of food Dill bought for her would have proven, as much as the regular visits to the vet, that she led a good life, which as a gray-striped alley cat, she had no reason to expect, but that she had taken to with great gusto.Writers always like their characters or at least I do mine. I am not about to spend a month or more writing a story about people I dislike or don't respect, but Dill is one of my favorites.
Lighting a cigarette, Dill stood in the darkness staring out his kitchen window at Reno's night life. His apartment wasn't quiet, but it was cheap and convenient to everything-- if everything meant gambling and entertainment.McGee, evidently having decided he was home and alone, came out from wherever she'd hidden and rubbed around his legs. He reached down and absentmindedly petted her as he thought about the evening at Johnny's-- more accurately about Johnny's beautiful niece.He'd heard Johnny brag about his niece, of course. Heard the praise for her niceness, her mothering, then sadness of the tragic death of her husband, but he'd never dreamt Katherine Brown would also be beautiful. Black hair, flashing dark eyes and porcelain skin. Her features were evenly spaced, perfectly placed and gave her an ethereal, almost a madonna kind of look that a man rarely saw in a woman but that always stopped him his tracks. Beautiful wasn’t a big enough word for what he’d seen in Katy Brown’s face. There was an underlying fire, an intelligence, a caring that left Dill wanting. It didn't do much good to want, not for a woman like Katy Brown. Money, class, education. You name it, she had it, and he didn't.He opened the window and stepped out onto the fire escape, McGee happily followed sniffing the night air. He wondered if she sometimes wished for her freedom or did she appreciate the security she now had? It didn't matter because if he let her go, he'd never see her again. Life was that way.Dragging smoke deep in his lungs, he exhaled, his thoughts dark as he considered the dangerous situation he was in, a situation made worse now by Katy Brown's sudden appearance.