The Inspiration for Lonely Awake

Lonely Awake was my first major project I published.

The new mood board I created to explore the new feelings this revamped version would have.

I had been writing my entire childhood, but by the time I graduated high school, I couldn’t shake that I felt called to be writing stories. So as I was working on my graphic design projects for clients during the day, I would be up late working on comics by night.  Originally, Lonely Awake was just a short story I did on a snow day when we were assigned homework. My creative writing teacher gave us a prompt to explore some psychological horror, and so I wrote about a girl who was the only one awake, cursed by some unnamed cryptic being, who would watch her go crazy until she would kill herself to everyone would wake up. I still have it too, you can read it here.

When I graduated high school, I set to officially create a book and print it. So I rolled with that short story because it got my gears spinning. It was simple, so I could focus on the experience of learning the entire process of comic creation without concerning myself too much with a complicated world or plot. My priority was to learn how to market, schedule myself, and interact with my audience and eventually I learned how to print and ship as well. But, it took off a lot more than I ever thought it would, and I was at over 40,000 readers a month and I sold over 100 copies of that giant 400 page graphic novel. (In a one time run, and please no, I am not printing that again.) As fun as it was, I did put down the project once it was complete, and took on Nonesuch after.

I chose to revamp Lonely Awake because there were always lots of ideas and themes I felt had fallen flat, or I didn’t realize would enhance the story so much until all these years later. There is also a lot of life experience and people I’ve met that have influenced and strengthened the original message of the first Lonely Awake, and I feel now that this story isn’t over, and that the message is more important now than ever. As a writer, I am far more equipped to share this message authentically, realistically, and effectively.

I originally wrote the story to talk about what true love was. In a world of high divorce rates and “me, me, me,” the idea of self-sacrifice and a “reckless” love were things I always felt this story was going to be about. I had faced a lot of judgment from people for marrying fast and young, and still do. But I see now so many things that make my marriage work, and why so many others don’t. And it has nothing to do with the timing, knowledge, or “stupidity” on my part and everything to do with me and my husband’s hearts toward our mutual and everlasting agreement of “‘til death do us part.” If you want to read more about the theme of Lonely Awake, you can read about it here.

Road trips.

Joe and I have spent a LOT of time on the road. Especially during our early years of marriage. During the season we were feeling the feelings of romantic and fluttery swoons and yes, the sexual tension, we did a LOT of traveling. It’s such a firmly rooted thing between me and Joe. There was always a trip coming up.

Our vacations and anniversaries are still more the journey than the destination. So, of course, naturally, the revamped version NEEDED to feel like an amazing road trip. It could feel like a quest! Joe and I do most our traveling to North Carolina, often seeing a lot of his family throughout the trip, hitting those beautiful landmarks like Deal’s Gap, Hiking trails and backpacking in Asheville, eating chicken cooked over fires at campsites and making memories with his family under the shade of the RV, enjoying the tight communities around his family member’s hometowns all the way up to the shores, staying at AirBNB beach houses, standing at the shore watched Joe wade in the waves. It was all too obvious this feeling of staring at the road passing at 70 miles an hour, lost in a big thought, or lost together in a thought over hours on the road… these are the things that give a journey character. 

The Fantastical.

This universe the crew and I have gotten to explore has been full of excited elaborations and uncontrollable laughter. That’s the goal of this world-building project. A fun, lighthearted, subtly-more-fantastical-than-our-own world that gives us enough freedom to push the limits but keep the day to day relatable to our own everyday lives. Rabbits are real, but you might find a jackalope in your front yard too. You might be studying to be a nurse and go over a course in hexes. You might find an ancient famous nymph on the cover of a magazine, or stumble across Bigfoot’s tiktok account. Maybe you’ll need to make sure you bring your cockatrice bite kit if you’re going backpacking or keep real still and quiet when a little fairy approaches you. You might have a friend who can talk to animals, or your dad might go to work at the law firm, where he helps people get out of bad deals with a fae, sue a snake oil company for fraud, or break a spell cast by his client’s ex-wife. Legendary creatures come from their own land where they were first originated, but you might find the Loch Ness Monster anywhere along the Atlantic Coasts, or see gnomes on your hike. They’re considered an invasive species in the Appalachian mountains, they snuck on ships from Europe when the colonists came to America.

Biblical Imagery

The more serious and prominent characters and scenes are much more heavily leaning on the bible, sometimes directly. The story of Adam and Eve was the biggest inspiration, one that I return to often when I’m stuck writing. It’s the root of our purpose as a creation, the bedrock of marriage, and the defining point of masculinity and femininity. Snakes, leaves, skulls, and apples. A man and a woman, alone, where every decision decides the fate of all mankind.

Some more sketches developing the feeling of the new story.