A Happy Ever After: When Characters Become Family

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In Reverb, book three of the Twisted Wishes series, Mish Sullivan, the band’s kick-ass bass guitarist, finally gets her long-deserved happy ever after. She’s the last of the band members to find her HEA, and the band has each other and their extended found family. At the end of her story, all the band members are whole and happy and have found their partners. It’s the end of this particular set of stories I had a passion to write.

I have to say, it’s sad to let go of these characters, especially after all we’ve been through together, but also so very satisfying to see these books come into the world and be enjoyed by people. They represent quite a lot of writing—about 300,000 words all together and took about a year and a half to write. At times this series was daunting, especially when I dug deep—there are pieces of myself scattered throughout all of the books and in all the main characters. At other points, it was the most fun I’ve ever had writing, because rock stars and music are so much fun to write about, and you get to step into a life that’s so large. I have to say, it’s hard to let the band go. Which is not to say that I won’t ever write another story around Twisted Wishes…but for now, there are other stories to write.

When I started Syncopation, I wanted to explore that age-old question: What is love? (And in my case, I hear the Howard Jones song, which probably explains much of my romance.) Love can be so many things, but it’s also a very heavy term. I believe that what happy ever after means can be expanded beyond what we normally see in romance. HEAs exist for everyone. In Syncopation, for Zavier, an intimate partnership built on deep trust where he can truly be himself is his ultimate HEA. Romantic attraction isn’t something he feels, yet his commitment to Ray is second to none. Ray, on the other hand, loves the snot out of Zavier, enough that he has no desire to change him or the balance they found. Ray finds a person he can trust with his body and his will (through BDSM) and his music, and that’s everything in his life.

In Counterpoint, I ended up exploring the masks we wear and how that can be both a trap and a form of freedom. Dominic creates a persona for himself to overcome anxiety, but that persona is still him and a large part of his life. But it ends up subsuming so much of his life that the nerdy bookish man who’s actually kind of shy gets lost. Meeting Adrian tips the scale in the other direction until he can find a way to be his whole self. Again, trust is such a huge part of both their HEAs, in this case through a dominant and submissive dynamic. Dominic isn’t weak in submission. He’s a strong, passionate man. Adrian isn’t a hard-ass dominant—he’s actually quite vulnerable and thoughtful. It’s another form of caring for the both of them. And a way they can share who they are with each other.

I’m not going to delve too much into Reverb, since it’s just coming out, but one of the threads that weaves throughout the Twisted Wishes series is the idea of found family—especially queer found family. Part of this is because queer people find each other. We support each other. We become family as well as friends. I adore stories about found family, especially when it involves queer folks of different stripes. While all the books focus on couples, they also all explore the interactions between the members of the band—and how they support each other and love each other. Reverb especially touches on this. David, during his black moment, realizes that he’s not just on the verge of losing the woman he loves—but also a family that has invited him in for who he is and what he brings to the greater whole.

And I suppose that’s the happy ever after for Twisted Wishes—these musicians and friends found each other. They turned into family. The bonds there are so strong that it’s love—a different kind than romantic to be sure—but a love that’s as fulfilling and important, and should be celebrated and cherished too. We should all strive to find friends and family who accept us for who we are.

About Reverb:

Reverb by Anna Zabo

The tougher they are, the harder they fall.

Twisted Wishes bass player Mish Sullivan is a rock goddess—gorgeous, sexy and comfortable in the spotlight. With fame comes unwanted attention, though: a stalker is desperate to get close. Mish can fend for herself, just as she always has. But after an attack lands her in the hospital, the band reacts, sticking her with a bodyguard she doesn’t need or want.

David Altet has an instant connection with Mish. A certified badass, this ex-army martial arts expert can take down a man twice his size. But nothing—not living as a trans man, not his intensive military training—prepared him for the challenge of Mish. Sex with her is a distraction neither of them can afford, yet the hot, kink-filled nights keep coming.

When Mish’s stalker ups his game, David must make a choice—lover or bodyguard. He’d rather have Mish alive than in his bed. But Mish wants David, and no one, especially not a stalker, will force her to give him up.

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