Sunday, July 13, 2008
The ah-ha moment for me came when I read an interview of Christine Feehan’s. She was asked why she felt her Carpathian series was so successful, and what she said has informed every book I’ve written to date. I consider it my secret ingredient to success, and in the spirit of Romance Divas, the forum of generous authors who have helped me enormously, I’m going to share it.
She said it wasn’t about the romance. It was about the community. (This is all me paraphrasing because I have no link or citation for this interview.) She said the books were popular because of the men as a group. It was the band of brothers, the subtext of ho-yay, the romance of wounded men who have nothing but each other. Queue Cheers theme song. Note how she has used the same technique in both of her newer series, the Drake Sisters and the Ghostwalkers. If I had to point to major ebook authors who have used this technique successfully I would list Lora Leigh, Shiloh Walker, and Sherri L. King.
In my first series, the Bonded fantasies, I specifically set out to use this technique. I used my knowledge of Norse history (I’m a lifelong student and practitioner of the runes) to create an honorable, isolated male community. I’ve had readers write me not to talk about the romance, but to tell me that they have fallen in love with the world of shape shifter Clans. If only, they say, the world still functioned on the importance of individual and collective honor. They want to live there. In my Singer stories, I created a trio of men, and their friendship is the core of their conflict and growth. In my Server series, the semi-parasitic alien warriors defending the universe work in four man teams. Even in my newest short story “Earning her Stripes,” the feline shifter contemporary has a closed secret community that is a major subplot.
At this point, I can’t imagine writing a one man-one woman romance. It isn’t about enriching the world building with realistic supporting characters, it’s about layering the romance of humanity at it’s best into the story. Who doesn’t wish they had a place where they belonged utterly, with people who knew them and accepted them? You wanna be where everybody knows your name, and where they’ve got your back.
Mima is a children’s librarian in western NY. First published last year at age 37, she crash landed with eight contracts at three publishers. She remains in a full body cast from the shock of it, which thankfully doesn’t affect her brain’s erotic musings. [www.mimawithin.com]