I Know How This Ends by Imogen Markwell-Tweed Genre: Sweet M/M Paranormal Romance
Alone in the woods of West Virginia, Tabbris lives a quiet life. He tends to his garden and communes with the bees and feels the presence of holiness in his every small, humble action. A fallen angel with the ability to see the future, Tabbris tries his best to stay out of humanity’s sight.
In L.A., Daniel is the life of the party. Loud, abrasive, desperate for approval and companionship, Daniel never sits still — and he’s never alone.
When Daniel gets a large research grant to investigate cryptids, he sets off for West Virginia. What he thought would be a good prank and a fun conference paper turns out to be an adventure he never saw coming.
Tabbris’s quiet life is uprooted by a mysterious man falling across the borders of time and into his front yard. Daniel is not supposed to be here! But there’s something intriguing about this man, beyond his surprising appearance and penchant for mythological creatures. When Daniel keeps showing up, Tabbris is plagued by the possibilities that the man ignites in him.
The only problem is that Tabbris can see the future. And he already knows how much pain they have in store. He knows how this ends.
There’s a distinction in Tabbris’s life that can easily be split into two: before Daniel and after.
He didn’t mean for that to happen. But the man’s ability to walk straight into his house, no care or consideration for how he’s slipped between two half fragments of time, is curious. And Tabbris is a lot of things — but he’s curious, firstly.
Daniel comes nearly every day. Sometimes, he brings bread or cakes. Other times, he comes with books or little square devices that play music that Tabbris has pretends to know about. Every day, Daniel comes bearing a small smile that is tenfold felt in the stretching soul in his chest, and every day, he doesn’t ask a single question… well, no questions except:
“Seriously? Seriously. Your name is… Tabbris? Like, your God-given name is Tabbris.”
Tabbris has to bite really hard on the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing at that. Daniel doesn’t understand just how God-given his name truly is.
“Seriously,” he confirms.
Daniel laughs. Tabbris really likes Daniel’s laugh.
Tonight, Daniel had shown up later than normal. So late, in fact, that Tabbris had thought perhaps Daniel just wasn’t coming today. They’d only met a week ago and had already spent five days together, and Tabbris was reluctant to admit how disappointed he’d felt when he thought that Daniel wasn’t coming. But then, he did show up, a little drunk and with a six pack of beer, and the delight Tabbris had felt in that was… remarkable, to say the least.
Tabbris has always enjoyed living on Earth. God’s greatest creation — the most bountiful and interesting and plush of all the worlds that Tabbris has ever seen — Earth brought great joy to Tabbris during his extended stay. But he hadn’t realized how little true delight he’d felt on Earth.
In Heaven, God was delight. To be in His presence was always delightful. But Tabbris is only a shadow of an angel now, and this delight is likely only a shadow of that true feeling. Still, it’s more than he’s had in six hundred years, and he’s grateful for it.
Even if the source of that delight is currently laughing at him for his silly, angelic name.
“I Googled it.”
Tabbris doesn’t know what that means. But like most human conventions that he’s unsure about, he merely lifts an eyebrow and makes a low humming noise in his throat that conveys curiosity but not confusion. He’s become extremely practiced with it since meeting Daniel.
“The angel of self-determination.” Daniel clicks his tongue, shaking his head. “Your parents really had it out for you, huh?”
Tabbris tilts his head. Daniel’s nose scrunches as he smiles, and Tabbris wonders if all humanity possesses this ineffable sweetness.
“Quite a rude thing to say,” Tabbris says, tilting his head.
Daniel is unflapped. Tabbris wonders with relative frequency if Daniel is, in fact, just unflappable.
“We both know it’s true. God, middle school must’ve been torture.”
Tabbris tilts his head the other way. Daniel is no less flabbergasting from this angle. “I did not attend middle school.”
“Homeschooled,” Daniel nods, seriously. “That’s probably for the best.”
He scoots closer and offers Tabbris the bottle. The liquor is brown and thin and smells awful coming from the bottle, and yet, somehow, when Daniel’s breath blows over Tabbris’s face from leaning too close, it smells sweet. Tabbris sways a little, and Daniel sways with him.
Angels can’t get drunk. Or, at least, Tabbris can’t. He never has. He imagines it’s the poison within the alcohol that gets burnt as soon as it enters his bloodstream. He’s spent his fair share of time in taverns, though, and he understands the effects it’s meant to have.
Even if he wasn’t familiar with the effects of alcohol, though, Daniel was displaying them beautifully. His eyes are wide and glossy, and his cheeks flushed the softest pink that not even Tabbris’s garden roses could mimic. His lips are clumsy, and he slurs a word here and there. But his laughter is the same, if a little less grounded in humor now.
Tabbris tries to relax his posture. His shoulders slip, and he manages to feel his spine curl under the released pressure. He can’t quite mimic the correct physiological traits of intoxication, but he thinks his performance is good enough.
“Tell me of you, then.”
He hopes that here, in the solace of night, cradled by alcohol, there is room for truth from Daniel. He hopes that Daniel tells him of himself, because the curiosity is heavy on his tongue, weighing down his every syllable. Despite the visions of past, present, and future that always make up his thoughts, Tabbris sees them for what they are: imitations of reality, like stained glass but nothing more. He doesn’t want to just imagine, regardless of the accuracy. He wants to know. He wants to… feel.
Imogen Markwell-Tweed is a queer romance writer and editor based in St. Louis. When she's not writing or hanging out with her dog, IMT can be found putting her media degrees to use by binge-watching trashy television. All of her stories promise queer protagonists, healthy relationships, and happily ever afters.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Originals, fan fictions, stories half-way between were how I spent most of my time when I was growing up. In college, I started ghostwriting romance as a part-time gig. It quickly grew bigger than that and after a few years of working in the industry as a ghostwriter, I decided to start publishing my own original work. I started writing for Bryant Street Shorts over on Scribd, an exclusive platform similar to Kindle Unlimited. I’m starting to branch out to selling my own stories now. I’ve been very lucky in my journey to be able to write about things that I’m super passionate about.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always self-described as a writer and I believe strongly that we don’t need to be making money from something in order to be an artist. That’s rooted way in a capitalist view of value and not one I agree with. I’ve been a writer since I was eight and wrote my first short story and realized that was what I was. It is, of course, incredibly wonderful and I feel very lucky to be able to have writing as my career, but all it really has changed in my consideration of myself is how lucky I think I am.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
My first novella, Life After Love, now available on Amazon, is probably the one I most clearly imagine in a movie form. The absolute first iteration of that story that I wrote was actually a short TV pilot for a class I took in undergrad. It was a little less romantic and a little less gay, but I’ve always been able to really see the cinematic aspects of this story.
What inspired you to write this book?
Before the time of COVID social distancing, I would often go to coffee shops to co-work with friends during the weekend. One particular day, I was struggling to decide what I wanted to write. My friends threw out suggestions: “angels and demons!” “baking?” “grad school” and “Mothman!” I tried my best to fit all these moving parts into this short, sweet romance. After I figured out how it all went together, it was pretty simple. My favorite scenes to write are the soft ones, where two characters just spend time with each other and consider their affection for each other, which is pretty much what this book is about.
What can we expect from you in the future?
All the stories I write, at least right now, are queer and feature happily ever afters or happily for nows. I love the romance genre and being able to write short, queer, happy stories has been so good for my soul. I do love my fair share of pining, yearning, and angst, and try to incorporate that, but never at the detriment of my characters’ ending happiness. I’m always jumping to different sub-genres, testing both my skill and interest, but these are the themes I keep always.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
It’s not a fun answer but honestly what I do is, assuming the characters aren’t meant to have a particular religious, political, or ethnic background, I just Google the most popular names from the year they’d be born and choose two that I like and think fit together. It’s such a boring answer but it’s the only way to keep me from falling into crippling ennui about naming so many characters.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I think I learn something in every single book I write. I write in the format of fast-fiction, which basically means I spend very little time, objectively, on each book. On average, from conception to finished draft, it’s about 30 days. It’s not the easiest way to write, but one of the things I love about it is that it doesn’t allow me to second guess myself, my characters, or my stories. I have to jump in, commit, and finish it. I think the process of writing that quickly and that consistently— it’s been my full time job for about a year, and part-time for years before that— is that I am constantly testing myself, developing my skills, and redefining what I personally think is a good story.
How did you come up with name of this book?
The mythology around the Mothman was probably my favorite thing to research for a book, ever. While pitching the idea of including the Mothman, a friend explained to me that part of his lore is being able to see the future. We became immediately enamored with the idea of someone being able to see exactly how a relationship would end— all the pain, struggles, difficulties, on top of the good— and choosing to go for it anyway. I think that it’s a clear moment of love, knowing the ending, and picking it anyway.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
There’s a moment that Tabbris offhandedly thinks about making bread and then Daniel shows up with a fresh baked loaf. I think that it when I knew these characters fit together. The instinct to spend a lazy afternoon eating bread came to them both, and they were better together for it. Why is bread so romantic? I don’t know. But it is.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
Yes, absolutely. I try to write character-first stories because that’s what I like and what I find motivating in romance. So the first thing I do as a writer is think about my characters: I make them playlists, I consider what their daily routine would be, their desires and fears. I try to make them as real to me as my best friends. Then, I start writing.
I do come up with basic outlines— major plot points, the scene for each chapter, but I let the dialogue and nuances of their personalities really lead.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Yes! I write fast fiction novellas with Bryant Street Shorts on Scribd. With an account, you have access to almost twenty novellas I’ve written in the past year. I also publish on my Patreon, and have quite a few books not published in the works.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
For creative writing, I like noise. I use Coffitivity and a playlist at the same time usually. For copywriting or any sort of editing, I need silence. I think it comes down to intention and inspiration: for creatively writing, there is room to be swayed by your surroundings. Like, if I’m in a cafe, the buzz of the noise or a person’s sweater or mannerisms might make it in. But when I’m editing, or doing other types of writing, I need to be focused entirely on the words themselves: the syntax, the grammar, the style.
Pen or type writer or computer?
The idea of being so aesthetically pleasing as to write with a typewriter or in a nice notebook is what drives me through the days— but in honesty, it’s me hunched over a laptop with a blanket over me.
Advice they would give new authors?
It’s cliche but write what you want to read. I spent a lot of time at the beginning of my writing career considering what it is I needed to do, or what books I needed to write. But the truth is, I don’t want to write the best book ever written. I want to write beautiful, soft love stories, funny stories, stories that after you’re done, you feel better for a little bit. I want to write things that I wish I could have read when I was younger. Maybe you do want to write the best book ever written— but I think figure out what it is you’re wanting, what it is you want to say and what you can say, and go forward from there.
What makes a good story?
Characters that you root for and understand their motivations. I don’t always agree with the characters I read about, but if I understand how they got there, and believe that they truly are doing their best, then I can forgive a lot of mistakes. I am 100% character driven in my writing and reading preferences, so if I believe in the people in the story, I’ll read pretty much anything.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I try to be original. Of course, as I write romance, I stick to some of the conventions and tropes. I respect the genre and that means understanding it. So, for example, I’m not going to kill off a character— I write romance, and that means HEA, and that’s what I’m going to deliver. But other than that, I try to just write what I think is good, interesting, and honest to the characters.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
For the love of God, invest in some decent wrist braces for your impending carpal tunnel. Also, you’re right for refusing to re-learn how to type just to satisfy your high school’s computer teacher. We’re STILL faster than they were! Take that!
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Because I write fast fiction, the turnaround is super quick. I often don’t devout more than five weeks to a novella. I aim for anywhere between 2,000 - 4,000 words a day, and then do a big edit at the end. But my goal is never the most polished or fraught over piece: it’s something sweet, honest, and fun. I definitely know that fast fiction isn’t for everyone, as a writer or a reader, but it really allows me to tell the stories I want to tell, and how I want to tell them.
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