J. L. Willow

Author ~ Blogger ~ Storyteller

I’d like to start this by thanking all of you. If you’re reading this right now, you’re interested in my work and want to support it, and I cannot express my gratitude. I love reading all your comments (whether it be a praise or criticism). It’s amazing to have such a supportive writing community and I’m so glad to be a part of it.

Now that The Scavenger has been out for a few weeks, I’m finally able to start delving a little deeper into my the specifics as to how it came to be. Books change a lot when they are in production, and The Scavenger was no exception. To give you a little glimpse behind the pages (so to speak), I’ve compiled a list of ten facts about my debut to share, solely for my blog audience!

Just a warning, there are SPOILERS AHEAD! If you haven’t read it yet, I strongly recommend you reading the book first so you don’t spoil it for yourself. Buy a copy here!

  1. Catherine was the main character

I originally starting writing The Scavenger with the perspective that I was telling Catherine’s story and how she reacted to everything that was happening in her life. But as I really began delving into the characters, I realized that this wasn’t Catherine’s story — it was Samuel’s. Catherine is an important part of the story and she has a character arc, but the character that the story really revolved around was Samuel. Once I made that discovery, it really helped hone down the final title, which takes me to my next point.

  1. Title changes

As you might’ve seen in the Scribbles to Scavenger video, The Scavenger had quite a few title changes. It started as “Brewing Tension,” then changed to “The Webs That Bind the City.” That phrase was based off of an exchange between Victor and Frank that was later cut. Once I realized how Samuel was really what the story revolved around, the final title fell into place.

  1. Nathan shot first

In the original draft of the book, the climax was a chase scene on foot between Nathan, Therese and Samuel. It ended with Samuel getting shot and having to call Catherine to pick him up and take him back to Frank’s. I didn’t really like the dynamic between the characters, and it became obvious that things needed to change. That’s when one of my Beta Readers had the idea of having Frank go after Samuel instead of Nathan. That idea grew into what became the final sequence of events.

  1. Eve is Christian

Although it doesn’t play a huge role in the plot, when I was doing character work for Eve, it made sense for her to have a background in religion. Her choice to avoid swear words, always placing Catherine’s needs before hers and being openly honest with her friend when she believed her to be in danger all fit into place. This character was actually based on a very close friend of mine who ended up being one of my Beta Readers.

  1. The ending wasn’t easy

When writers say that they’re struggling with finding an ending for their work, I absolutely feel their pain. For weeks on end, I wrestled with the final few chapters, trying to find a way to pull everything together. I needed something that wasn’t cliche or overused, but fit with where the characters were in the story. I knew that Catherine and Samuel were going to end up alone in the hospital, but I just couldn’t see where they ended up after that. I kept running the scenario of them over and over again in my head, trying to get the exchange just right. It eventually hit me in the middle of a history class — I could make it come full circle and bring Samuel’s parents back. The whole scene came to me in a rush, and I vividly remember gasping in the middle of class, then scrambling to pull out my writing journal and scribble down my revelation. I got a lot of weird looks, but it was worth it.

  1. Chemistry class ideas

I got a lot of my best ideas during my chemistry class. Now, if my chemistry teacher is reading this, don’t take this the wrong way — I really enjoyed chemistry. But when we were doing redundant, math-based exercises like stoichiometry, I was able to let the back part of my mind wander while I was crunching numbers. That relaxed concentration really helped me come up with new ideas and directions to take the book in. As a subtle nod to brainstorming I did in that class, I decided to make it the class that Catherine and Samuel share.

  1. Musical references

You may have noticed if you have a good eye, but there are two major references to musicals in The Scavenger (one obvious and one a little more subtle). The first is what Catherine is referencing when she says, “I have no idea how they did that thing with the chandelier” after spending the night in NYC with Samuel and seeing a show. She is talking about the famous Broadway show The Phantom of the Opera. During the production, the chandelier falls from the ceiling and is lifted back to its original place. It’s a really cool effect and the show is one of my personal favorites. I thought it would be cool to have Catherine and Samuel experience the same wonder I did the first time I saw it live. The other reference is a bit more obvious. When Samuel tells Catherine they’re at Weehawken, she recalls that the location also held the final duel of Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton took Broadway by storm two years ago and continues to be one of the hottest tickets on the market. If there was a way I could fit a reference in The Scavenger, I had to find it. And it worked out perfectly!

Well, there you go! Hope you enjoyed this “glimpse behind the curtain.” Let me know in the comments below if you like hearing stories about the making of The Scavenger!

Happy writing, everyone! Keep working with those New Year’s Resolutions (if you haven’t broken them yet 🙂 )

— J. L. Willow

2 thoughts on “Behind the Pages: Scavenger Trivia

  1. Laura Wierzbicki says:

    Great blog


  2. jon287 says:

    I find it fascinating to hear the story behind the story. Every writer’s process is such a unique journey. Thanks for sharing.


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