Author Commentary

This is an author commentary I initially did on my blog, now compiled in one convenient place. Obviously, there are spoilers for the entire book.

The Beginning

It all started with the red shoes, except it actually didn’t. While I was writing the first book, I started getting ideas for what would happen in the rest of the series, based on random bits of conversation when someone brought up the possibility of something happening, and I made a note that it should probably happen. As an aside, I guess I was pretty obvious about that because a few years ago there was a team attempting to turn this series into a TV series, and I had a conference call with the lead writer in which she was giving me the pitch she’d give to network executives. She outlined the pilot and first season, then possible plot lines for subsequent seasons. I had to stop her and ask if she’d read the whole series, and she said she’d just read the first book. But her outline for the way each season would go followed the books pretty closely, with season 2 being a lot like book 2, and so forth. It was kind of eerie (but, alas, no network picked it up, and I thought these people would have done a great job with it).

When I got an agent and she was getting ready to try to sell the first book to publishers, she had me put together blurbs for possible sequels, to demonstrate that it wouldn’t just be one book. Then she made me combine what I had for books two and three into one book. My planned book two was about the mole in the company, with book three about Katie losing her immunity. Combining those plots made the story a lot stronger.

Around this time, when I had an agent but hadn’t yet sold the book, I went shopping with a friend. Really, it was just window shopping. We went to one of the upscale malls and treated it almost like a museum. At the time, I had very little income. I’d been laid off from my job a couple of years earlier and was freelancing some, but that money didn’t quite cover my living expenses, so I was living off my savings while writing books. And then I saw the shoes, those candy apple red stilettos. They called to me. I wanted them. They were totally impractical. I wouldn’t have too many places to wear them or things to wear them with, and for that price I could have bought at least six pairs of shoes in my usual price range. I told my friend that if I sold the book, I’d buy those shoes. The shoes were not in the original plan for the book, nor were they in the plot line that was submitted to the publisher. I wasn’t even thinking about them being incorporated into the book at that point.

Several months later, I did sell the book, and it was a two-book contract, with the book I’d already written and a sequel I’d planned but hadn’t written a word of. I called my friend to tell her the news, and she asked what time I’d be over to pick her up to go shoe shopping. That day, we went to Nordstrom, and I bought the Infamous Red Stilettos. I must say, I was still wavering on whether I should do it because for me that was a lot of money and I’d never bought an item of clothing that expensive. When we got back to my friend’s place, I was still talking myself into buying the shoes I’d already bought, justifying it to myself. I mentioned that the shoes had called out to me. They were magical.

And then, click, I had the opening line and the opening scene for the book I needed to write. Since the book was going to involve Katie losing her immunity, the shoes were the perfect way to show that effect on her, as sometimes she was immune to the spell on them, and then there were moments when she absolutely had to have them. That opening scene was very much my experience when I first saw them and then later when I went to buy them. I just moved the scene to Bloomingdale’s in New York (because that was the store in New York where I saw the same shoes and knew for sure they were there) instead of Nordstrom in Dallas.

Incidentally, the original planned title for this book was Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered, which I thought fit it perfectly. Except we found out that a much more famous author was going to be releasing a book with that exact title a few months before mine, so there was a last-second scramble to retitle it. Someone in the marketing department came up with the new title.

Chapters 1-2

When I was working on the concept for this series, before I started writing it or even had a firm plot outline and specific characters developed, what I had in mind was a number of potential love interests for Katie, and over time maybe one would turn out to be Mr. Right. I didn’t want to do an outright triangle, and I didn’t want her going back and forth, but I liked the idea of her having a few men in her life who were potential love interests and letting her do some casual dating before one became the obvious winner. I envisioned shipper wars on message boards and people declaring themselves “team whoever.”

And then I started writing, and the character who was barely on my radar suddenly became obvious. But I didn’t want to go there too soon, so in the ending of the first book and the beginning of this one, I let Katie date someone else, just so we’d have the comparison (and because Owen was way too shy to make a move so soon). Ethan was my idea of the “good on paper” guy. They had a lot in common, and he was the kind of guy a mom would rejoice to see with her daughter. But having some common background and the same magical status doesn’t mean it will work out in reality. He’s not a bad guy. They just aren’t right for each other. That’s what I was trying to show in that first date at the wine tasting. He’s perhaps trying a bit too hard to impress her, and it utterly fails because this isn’t the sort of thing that does impress her. She just finds the whole thing a bit silly.

The wine tasting is somewhat based on an event I went to not too long before I wrote this book. There was a fancy wine shop in the neighborhood where I went to church, and they donated a wine-tasting party for a fundraising auction. One of the choir members bought it and invited the choir. They went through all these wines and then handed out order sheets so you could buy them. I like wine, and I do drink it, but I couldn’t honestly tell the difference between most of them at that tasting, and I never could taste all those flavors they said were in there. I could catch things like honey and pear, but not oak or coffee. I went through a few ideas of what kind of date Ethan might have come up with for an impressive first date, but most of them would have required a lot of research to get right, and then I remembered the wine tasting.

Meanwhile, this scene serves to remind us about the magical immunity and how it works while hinting that something might be wrong with Katie’s immunity. I didn’t plan it at the time I was writing it, but I realized after the fact when I was doing revisions that the wine fit thematically, since potions that change behavior or perception were so important to the plot of the book.

Then we get the meat of the main plot near the end of the chapter, where we learn about the possible mole within the company.

Chapters 3-4

I have to say that re-reading this book has become a total nostalgia trip. I’m remembering the process of writing it and all the stuff that had been living in my head before I wrote it. In a weird way, this book was kind of like my own fanfic for my own series. I’d written the first book but didn’t want to invest time in writing a second until I knew it would sell, but I was still making up stories in my head in that world. Selling the book and a sequel gave me the chance to write those stories down. The whole book didn’t come from that, but there were a lot of scenes that had their origins in daydreaming about these characters.

So, chapter three really gets into the plot about the mole within the company, which allowed me to play with all the corporate life tropes. One of my early descriptions of the series was “Bridget Jones meets Harry Potter and goes to work with Dilbert.” I didn’t get to do quite as much of that as I wanted in the first book, so this plot let me go crazy with all the stuff I remembered from my corporate life (and I was doing freelance corporate communications work at the time I was writing it, so I was still embedded in corporate America). There was the office grapevine more powerful than the CIA, where everyone knew everyone’s business. I slipped in the reference to Merlin reading Who Moved My Cheese? because my original concept of the character, before I decided he was Merlin, was a wizard who’d been out of commission for a long time and who was getting re-oriented by reading modern business books. I didn’t go quite as far with that as I originally planned because Merlin turned out to be too sensible, but my plan had been for the boss to go from management fad to management fad, depending on which book he’d just read. That was based on my corporate experience, where it seemed like we had one company retreat a year in which they presented a whole new plan to make us like our jobs more and do our jobs better based on yet another management fad.

Then there was the introduction of the frog boss. That was a nod to the cover art. I fell so in love with the businessman frog on the cover of the first book that I wrote him into the second book. I had a draft of the cover for the first book while I was writing the second one, so I was inspired to write him in as a character.

Chapter four was my sneaky way of working in some quasi-romantic scenes between Katie and Owen when they weren’t actually romantically involved. I’m a big fan of the slow-build romance, and having Katie be dating someone else allowed me to develop a strong friendship between her and Owen. I think that also worked with his character, where he was too shy to ask her on a real date, but he could manage “hey, wanna grab dinner?” on the way home from work. And then readers got to see lots of the two of them together and bonding. I did have a specific diner in mind. It’s near Union Square, and I ate a meal there when I was researching the book.

Chapters 5-6

The visit from the parents came from two things. One, I realized that we were approaching Thanksgiving on my book calendar, and two, when I was thinking of the worst thing I could do to poor Katie, it was having her parents show up while she’s in the middle of all kinds of craziness. She’s still getting her bearings in the magical world, and then she’s having to confront what to her are the primary symbols of her nonmagical life. She doesn’t want her family to worry about her, but she’s now in a situation where she’s actually under attack.

The other big thing going on is the office politics plot, where they know there’s a mole and that makes things get kind of crazy as everyone in the company becomes paranoid, and backstabbing ensues. This was roughly based on my experiences near the end of my tenure in the corporate world. We’d been in a real boom period in my industry, so we were expanding and hiring so many people that they joked about how you could get a job if you could fog a mirror when you breathed on it. Things were already getting shaky even before 9/11, but the bottom fell out afterward, and there were multiple rounds of layoffs. At first, it was just the fog-the-mirror people being let go, but then they started closing entire offices, including some that had just been actively recruiting. With each round of layoffs, people got even more paranoid that they would be next on the chopping block. I was dealing with an immediate supervisor who seemed to see me as a threat, so she kept deliberately excluding me from meetings, including the pitch team to re-pitch our biggest account, the one where I had become the CEO’s personal speech writer. We lost the account, and I got laid off (which worked out for me in the long run, and that company hired me as a freelancer). If we’d set up an anonymous tip line around that time, I can only imagine the kind of stuff that would have been on it.

You know it’s bad when even Owen is getting paranoid enough to rig a new security system on his department. It’s worse when, as paranoid as he is, he misses the fact that his own office is being bugged. I liked when he was getting testy while working because it kept him from being too, too perfect.

By the way, I came up with this plot and figured out who was going to be the mole when I was midway through writing the first book. so the clues were already being planted in that book, even though the possibility of a mole didn’t get raised until this book.

Then we have yet another big date with Ethan. I remember doing a lot of research to figure out things they might do. I knew I wanted it to be kind of an out-of-town event, but I hadn’t actually planned all the other stuff that might happen. I was looking up some famous foodie restaurants in the outlying areas, and stuff like that. And then I thought it more likely (given what’s to come) that he’d want to come to a magical party. There’s also his spontaneous nature, which isn’t a great fit for someone like Katie, who’d rather plan and know what to expect. So, all that research, and I didn’t use it. But some good stuff spun out of it that I hadn’t planned on, so I’m not complaining.

Chapters 7-8

I remember putting a lot of thought into that fight by the car, including researching exactly what to call the particular wrench in question and figuring out the difference between a tire iron and a lug wrench. Really, hours went into that brief scene. Ethan’s overpreparation is somewhat based on me. I don’t have quite the amount of stuff he does, but I do have a first-aid kit, an air compressor, and one of those electric battery jumper things in my car at all times. I probably should carry extra water, especially in the summer, and I do when I’m on longer trips where I’ll be out in the middle of nowhere.

The party was meant as yet another sign that Ethan just wasn’t the right person for Katie. I didn’t want the “Mr. Wrong” to be a bad person. Someone can be a great person who even has a lot in common with you and still be the wrong match. He’s not being a bad person here. It’s just that his idea of fun isn’t the same as Katie’s. I think there’s also some holding back on her part when it comes to the magical world. In this book, she’s still trying really hard to be “normal” instead of embracing the wackiness.

Then her parents show up. I want to state for the record that Katie’s parents are not my parents. They aren’t based on my parents. But there have been things about my parents that inspired them. Like Katie’s mother and her bag full of traveling snacks, including fried chicken. That’s something of an inside joke with my family. We lived in Germany for a few years when I was growing up because my dad was stationed there with the military. The way we did most of our touring was to take bus tours. We were fairly centrally located in Europe, so we could get on the bus around midnight and arrive at the destination first thing in the morning, spend the day touring, then get on the bus soon after dinner and get back home around midnight. We also took a longer tour, from Germany to Spain, that involved overnight on the bus and then spending about a week there. We learned very quickly that you can’t trust the published itinerary. They always mentioned stopping for breakfast or dinner, and that might or might not happen. The driver might be feeling great and just skip the stop. You might stop and the place had already run out of food after several other tour buses had stopped there. You might stop, but there were other buses and a long line, so it was time to leave before you got any food. So we started bringing our own meals. My mom would make fried chicken, and we’d be ready for a picnic wherever we went. There was at least one occasion in which we fed half the bus full of young soldiers after a dinner stop was skipped. Now we joke that we should open a fried chicken restaurant and say that the chicken has been enjoyed internationally. So, of course Katie’s mother had to travel to New York with fried chicken in her carry-on bag.

The travel stuff is kind of dated, since I wrote this book in 2004, before they started restricting liquids in carry-on bags and before they started charging for checked bags. Ah, the good old days of air travel.

I can’t remember when I made the decision to make Katie’s mom immune to magic. I don’t think it was in the original plan, but it came about when I was writing. If Katie’s trying really hard to stay “normal” and if she has a nosy and intrusive mother who’s likely to worry about everything, of course her mother had to see all the other crazy things in New York. This has a real-world parallel to the way tourists see the city and the way locals see it, where tourists notice all the things that are going on while locals just go past it all. The scene in Times Square was at least somewhat inspired by a conversation I had with my editor when I was writing the book. That morning on Good Morning America, which is broadcast from a studio overlooking Times Square, they were talking about the 80-foot tall robot that had been put in Times Square to promote a movie. When my editor called me that afternoon to talk about something, I mentioned the robot. She walked through Times Square on her way to work and didn’t remember having seen an 80-foot tall robot. She also probably wouldn’t have noticed any fairies, giants, ogres, or anything else odd. Meanwhile, the tourists were all taking pictures of the robot. I experienced a similar thing on a trip, when they had a giant inflatable ape in Times Square. I stood back and observed the number of people who walked past without even looking and the number of people taking pictures of it. I’m not sure what you’d have to put in Times Square for commuters to notice it. I figure that validated the premise of my entire series.

So, now we’ve got a nosy mom prone to worrying who can see magical stuff and who is in New York at a time when Katie is likely to encounter lots of magical stuff. We’re in for some fun.

Chapters 9-10

We start with the scene in Times Square in which Katie has just realized that her mom may be magically immune. I had way too much fun writing that. Times Square is actually my least-favorite spot in New York. It’s too noisy, crowded, and flashy. But it’s also very familiar because I’ve been to numerous conferences in hotels on or around Times Square, and the headquarters for the company I used to work for was on Times Square (in the same building where Good Morning America has their studio), so when I visited the New York office, that’s where I was. The only good thing about that area, to me, is the fact that this is where the theaters are. It can actually be quite entertaining to people watch there and see the tourists reacting to things. This scene in the book is somewhat based on spoofing things I observed from tourists, with the added layer of someone who’s reacting to the magical stuff that’s also there. But because of the oddities in that area, it’s easy for someone not in the know to think that this person is just reacting to the “normal” oddities.

Then we had to run into a gnome digging around in the park because how could I resist the chance to have a real garden gnome in a scene? Sometimes I can’t help myself.

The scene in which Katie buys the red shoes is pretty similar to my own experience buying my Infamous Red Stilettos, though I got mine at Nordstrom in Dallas rather than Bloomingdale’s in New York (they did carry them there — I checked, and sold a pair for them while I was there). It really was like they had magical powers that I was sometimes able to resist. I went back and forth on whether to buy them, and then was still trying to justify them to myself when I got them home. I only wear them a few times a year and for special occasions because they’re not super comfortable, and they’re kind of hard to coordinate with outfits unless I’m using them as a pop of color against all black. But they are rather stunning, and I have walked a red carpet in them (when I went to the Hollywood premiere of Serenity). I still hold out hope that I’ll get to wear them at a red-carpet event for a movie or show based on my books.

To be honest, I go through the same justification exercise for almost everything even remotely splurgy that I buy. That part of Katie is heavily based on me.

The deli scene in which Idris is messing with Katie and her mom was meant as the big comic set piece of this book. I guess you could say it’s my own version of the infamous When Harry Met Sally deli scene. I was trying to start with something that’s maybe a little odd that may or may not be magical and ramp up from there. I remember the first time I had matzo ball soup at a New York deli, and it wasn’t quite what I imagined it would be. And then I escalated from there. I’ve been to one of those restaurants with singing waiters doing show tunes, and I can imagine it would seem really odd if you didn’t know that was likely to happen. On the other hand, if you’ve seen a lot of musicals, maybe you halfway expect everyone in New York to suddenly burst into spontaneous musical numbers. I’m pretty sure I wrote this before the movie Enchanted came out, in which the “normal” guy expresses amazement about everyone just falling into the musical number and knowing the song, but that’s the kind of thing that appears to be happening here, and poor Katie is stuck being the “normal” one trying to explain it to her mother. This was usually the scene I read from when I had convention readings related to this book.

We end on the big midpoint twist — Katie’s realization that her magical immunity is on the fritz. I don’t know if it’s still the exact middle of the book, but it was the precise middle of the initial draft. Since the fact that Katie didn’t react to Rod the same way everyone around her did was one of the first clues that she was magically immune, it’s only fitting that seeing his illusion rather than his real self was the clue that her immunity wasn’t working anymore. She’s been wanting “normal” through the whole book, and now she’s got it. Spoiler: I don’t think she’s going to like it.

Chapters 11-13

The loss of Katie’s magical immunity is a pretty big deal, and it was interesting trying to imagine the full impact. Emotionally and psychologically, she feels like she’s lost the thing that made her special. At the beginning of the first book, she was on the verge of giving up on New York because she didn’t feel like she had what it took to make it. She was so ordinary that she didn’t stand out in any way. Then she learned that magic existed and that she wasn’t at all magical. That was a flip on the standard fantasy story that’s about discovering that magic exists and that you can use it. It was a real blow to learn that she wasn’t magical, but then she learned that her very ordinariness was at such a level that it counted as special, so she was valuable in her own way. That gave her a big confidence boost. She had something rare that she could contribute. And now, just as she’s gotten used to that, she’s lost it. That could mean losing her job, since she got her job by being immune. If she loses her job, she could lose some of her friends. She also worries that her friendship/whatever relationship she has with Owen might not exist if she weren’t immune.

Then there’s the physical danger and sense of vulnerability. She’s been able to see past the magic to spot threats, and now it’s like being blind. She knows there are things out there, but now she can’t spot them. I can imagine that would be terrifying.

At least one review of this book criticized Katie for not telling anyone about the immunity right away, but I thought that made sense for her as a character. She’s got a stubborn streak that makes her want to figure it out for herself (gee, I wonder where that character trait came from). But also, there are all those very good reasons to keep it to herself until she knows more because she has a lot to lose. She doesn’t know how the company will react if she’s no longer immune, and she doesn’t want to be cut off from the magical world now that she’s truly normal again.

Owen and Katie spend a lot of time in this book walking to and from the subway station, but you should have seen the first draft. I ended up cutting a lot of those scenes, or else I added more action to them. It was tricky because that was their main time of interacting, so that’s when all their good conversations took place. At the same time, I didn’t want this to be a book about commuting.

The secret Santa as team-building/mole investigation is something I got from my days in corporate America. Well, not the mole investigation (that I know of). There’s always that social butterfly in the office who thinks it will be really fun to have to buy something for a random co-worker you don’t know very well and to receive a gift from a random co-worker who doesn’t know you very well. Like we all need more candles (which seems to be the generic secret Santa gift). It can kind of work in a really small office, though that also opens things up to having to live with the ugliness later if someone gets it wrong. There’s always the overachiever who goes over the spending limit and the slacker who forgets to do anything and comes up with something like the coupon book for favors at a later date that they hastily make on their computer that morning (but just try to redeem them and see what happens). It’s worst when the slacker is the Santa for the overachiever, who ends up feeling ripped off. So, yeah, there’s a lot of potential there if you’re trying to depict (or create) tension within a company.

Then we have the scene that all the Katie and Owen shippers were waiting for: Ethan breaking up with Katie (and clearing the way for the one true pairing). I’ve never actually been on a break-up date (that I knew of — there was one that I later realized was meant as a big send-off, but he didn’t actually break up with me while on the date), but I’ve known people it happened to. I’m more likely to have guys just disappear on me right when I thought the relationship was going well, but apparently for the guys who do actually break up with a woman in person, it’s a thing to do so in a public place so they can avoid a big scene and possibly soften the blow. It’s particularly painful for Katie at this time because she’s already reeling from losing her immunity and therefore her sense of specialness, and now she’s getting dumped for being too normal.

My agent loved the line about even the evil magical creatures knowing not to mess with a woman who’s just been dumped.

It’s funny, even though I wrote the book, I get a little teary-eyed on Katie’s behalf during this scene.

Chapters 14-16

This is where Katie’s lack of magical immunity starts to get more intense, and it plays into her impostor syndrome. She’d always felt a little out of place in a magical company, and now she’s lost the one thing that gave her a reason to be there. In this section of the book, I tried to parallel incidents from the first book where she used her immunity to show how not having it was affecting her. First, we get the meeting where she’s supposed to let them know if the other person is using magical tricks. She manages to get through it by relying on her people skills and common sense, which have actually been her best assets all along. I’d imagine that having magical powers might stunt someone’s personal development. If you can get what you want with a wave of your hand, you don’t need to build a lot of other skills, and that’s why Katie’s common sense sets her apart from other people at her company.

But she does want to get back to “normal,” so she starts taking action by trying to look up her condition in one of Owen’s books. The bit about her frustration at not finding the information she needed or finding way too much being like looking up the common cold in a medical journal is based on something I experienced once. My first job out of college was at a medical school, and the library was just downstairs from my office. I was working on a book, and it involved one of the characters getting knocked out. I knew that the way concussions and head injuries are treated in fiction isn’t generally realistic, so I decided to go to the medical library after work one day to look it up in actual medical books. I never did find anything as straightforward as “here are the symptoms to look for and here’s what to do about it.” I couldn’t even find anything on whether the advice to keep a person awake was on target or not. There was a lot of stuff on physiological changes and what to look for on scans, but nothing that was useful for someone who wasn’t at a hospital. I’ve actually thought about teaming up with a doctor to write a “medicine for writers” book because even the one I’ve got isn’t very useful and is about the treatment someone with that injury would get at a hospital. What I’m more likely to need is how someone’s condition would progress until they got some kind of treatment, since it’s no fun to injure a character and then call an ambulance right away. They’re more likely to be trapped somewhere or in a time period before ambulances existed.

But I digress … The next part of the book, the big girls’ night out (another parallel to the first book) required subtly showing the effects of the red shoes plus the loss of immunity in a way that I hoped wouldn’t be screamingly obvious. Reading it now, more than a decade after I wrote it, I’m actually rather impressed at the way the tension built throughout the evening until Katie found herself face to face with Idris and realized that he knew about her immunity.

Then for a contrast to the night out that was so not Katie’s thing, there’s the shopping trip with Owen. I did a fair amount of research on jewelry to come up with what she’d recommend for his foster mother, and then I had to rely on help from a friend in New York when I realized that the rare books portion of the Strand is in a different location, where I’d never been. An online friend went there to tell me how you get in and how it looks. She did a great job describing it because I went there myself while I was doing revisions on the book and didn’t have to change anything based on what I saw.

When we find the camera in Owen’s office, it’s obvious that the book was written in 2004-2005 and set in 2005 because it’s wired. WiFi and Bluetooth existed then, but weren’t quite as common as they are now. I doubt anyone would plant a hard-wired spycam these days.

I recall not being quite sure I should have had Katie figure out who the spy was so early in the book, but I decided that the rest of the book could be about her finding evidence and trying to stop the spy, and if she hadn’t figured it out by this point, she’d look pretty foolish. I like that she figured it out while her immunity was out, before that got fixed. It was important that she be able to do this as herself, with nothing to do with magic playing into it.

The End

First, there’s the date with Rod. In my original vision for this series, before I’d even settled on characters and a main plot, when it was just a concept, I had planned on there being a variety of love interests, with maybe the Mr. Right being a slow burn kind of thing on the back burner. In my wildest fantasies, I imagined raging Internet ‘shipper wars over which guy Katie would end up with (though at that time, she didn’t even have a name). That never happened, in part because it was so clearly Owen from the moment I started writing and in part because I don’t think I have a big enough fan base to have factions, and there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of Internet discussion about my books. Anyway, while things were being weird in this book, I figured it was a good time to at least touch on some of the possibilities and show the “what if” scenarios.

Normally, Katie wouldn’t be interested in Rod, but with her immunity on the blink, she’s fallen under his attraction spell, and he doesn’t realize that she’s affected. Meanwhile, there’s also something working on him. The result is a perfect storm of awkwardness (and a good reason not to even try to date a friend you’re not usually that attracted to).

And then we get to my favorite scene, the scene that was playing out in my head before I even started writing the book, where Katie ends up at Owen’s house, and things are playing out according to her wildest dreams, with a truly dreamy first kiss — followed by the realization that it was the shoes all along, that they were under an enchantment. That bit is one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. It’s kind of an emotional sucker punch because up to that point, it’s pretty swoonworthy, and then the rug is pulled out from under Katie.

By the way, I don’t know if my red shoes are under that kind of spell because I’ve never actually worn them on a date (not that I’ve had that many dates since I bought them — I kind of gave up on dating around then).

I also like the follow-up parts a lot — Katie’s embarrassment and awkwardness, and the way that led to her finally confessing her immunity loss to Owen. The kiss may have been magically induced, but there’s real intimacy that comes in the aftermath.

I put in a lot of work of setting up the way Katie’s immunity might have been compromised and why it took a while to work when the water in her building was drugged. You may recall the scenes of the roommates arguing over who forgot to buy bottled water and Katie just getting water out of the tap. There’s also the way the shoes affected her — she just admired them in a normal way at first, but Ari was present, and so the spell was put on them later when Katie bought them.

Then we have the final showdown at the company holiday party, followed by a real kiss. When I wrote this book, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to continue the series, so I wanted to give some sense of resolution. I’ve sometimes regretted moving the relationship along so quickly since then because it didn’t leave me very far to go from there. They were already together, so I had to either just accept the relationship as an established fact with no drama, or I had to find ways to separate them.

Sales of the series dropped significantly after this book, even though I think it had a strong ending that would have made people want another book. I guess people thought the series was over? I don’t know. I know that the third book isn’t exactly popular, but people would have had to read it to know they didn’t like it, and it seems that a significant number of people who read this book didn’t go on to the other books.