Here is Kiersten, in her own words:
When I decided to write MIND GAMES, I knew it should be dual points of view. Fia’s voice came out fully formed, broken and intense and ready to go. But I wasn’t quite sure just who the other POV should be.
I wanted the book to be about an impossible relationship, and in the very first stages of drafting I thought that relationship would be a romantic one.
The first alternate POV I tried out was a guy. I had never written first person from a guy’s perspective before, and while I liked the idea of showing a romantic relationship from both sides, it quickly became apparent that Adam’s voice was not what I was looking for.
Here’s a small excerpt from my writing notebook, scribbled out by the pool on a warm summer’s day:
I deliberately overdosed the prettiest girl who has ever voluntarily talked to me.
But if she really was sent to kill me, it wasn’t really voluntary, was it?
Either she is insane, or…or what. I don’t know. The sleeve of my shirt is wet. She needs stitches. I should pull off at a hospital, drop her there, call the police.
“Who is Annie?” I ask. Her eyes are closed and at her weight with that dosage she should be hovering on consciousness, lucid but only just. And she won’t remember any of this.
Guilt roils in my stomach. This is entirely unethical.
Then again, she violently took down three men. Ethics have ceased to be a factor.
“Mmm,” she says. Her mouth is perfect. I wish she weren’t crazy.
“You have pretty eyes,” she says with a sigh. “Gray like the dawn.”
“Why do you kill people?”
“Have to keep Annie safe.”
“Who do you work for?”
Her eyebrows draw together and she peels her eyes open. “He’s going to kill me. But I won’t let him hurt Annie. Or you. I’m going to save you.”
“Who’s going to save you?”
“I don’t get to be saved.”
But I quickly found that writing Adam’s POV was getting me nowhere. I couldn’t get more than three pages, and I didn’t have a good sense of who he was, what his stakes were in all of this.
That’s when I do what I always do when I’m stuck—I messaged Natalie Whipple, my critique partner, and said, “This isn’t working waaaaaah.” And that’s when she gave me the key that unlocked the entire book. She said, “I thought the other POV would be the sister?”
Which: DUH. Looking back over the attempt at writing Adam’s POV, it’s obvious that the whole thing revolves around Fia and Annie. So why was I trying to force a different, less urgent POV? I re-learned what every writer knows: your main character(s) should always be the one(s) with the most to lose.
First drafts are for exploring, and messing things up, and figuring out how to fix them. Adam stayed as a side character, and Annie’s first chapter was a breeze to write—because it was the right narrative choice for a novel about an impossible relationship.
A relationship between two sisters.