Treacherous Creativity

BVC release 10/8/13

BVC release 10/8/13

BVC is releasing my original novel, Notorious Atherton, today, in print and e-book. It’s the third book in a series that originated with a major New York publisher.

What you won’t see on release day is the behind the scenes trials and tribulations that crammed my creative process through the grinder of a narrow business world and turned it into a book.

I like to think I have a mind for business since I was once a CPA. It’s always been relatively easy for me to choose my more marketable ideas when deciding which book to write next. But as the romance market has grown consistently narrower over this past decade, I became increasingly bored. I’ve been writing romance since 1982. I need wider canvases, not narrower ones. “Been there,  done that” doesn’t even  begin to cover the stories I’ve written over the years.

Prior to writing the Rebellious Sons series, I was relieving my boredom by writing magical and paranormal elements into my Georgian and Regency romances. I gave readers the worlds and characters they expected but eased my restless creativity by adding fun new elements. But as book sales became increasingly constricted with the closure of so many  bookstores and distributors, publishers had to reach for the broadest possible audience to sell enough books to be profitable.

Regency romances sold to a large audience. Woo-woo romances didn’t sell as well. To justify my advances, I needed to write straight Regencies. And so I did. After brainstorming with my editor and friends, I developed the Rebellious Sons series about the younger sons of English lords who were expected to go to war or the church to support themselves. The first one, Wicked Wyckerly, was a lot of fun. My editor would have preferred another like it. See above about “bored” and “been there, done that.” I cannot replicate myself. So the second book—while still Regency—was a different tone.

By the third book, I was escaping into urban fantasy rather than think about romance at all. I gave my editor a proposal with a retired pirate and a would-be princess which was pretty far out there for the romance market, bordering on fantasy. Gee, wonder why? The result was predictable—we parted ways, and I was thoroughly relieved.

So now that I’ve had a chance to write my urban fantasy, complete some older books that have been sitting in my drawer, and play with my next mystery, I was ready to return to Regency World. Without worrying about big city marketing or my editor’s narrow expectations, I wrote Notorious Atherton the way I wanted to write it.

It’s possible my creativity doesn’t suit the current market. If so, I’m good with that. All I want to do is reach the readers who appreciate the kind of books I write—ones where the heroes aren’t jerks, the heroines aren’t wimps, and the couple finds romance while learning important lessons about themselves and life—and we all have fun as they romp across the pages. If that sounds like your kind of company, try the excerpt!

Do you expect your favorite authors to write the same types of books every time? What elements do you look for in a good book?

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Treacherous Creativity — 4 Comments

  1. Oh, sister — sing it! I am like the lady in the Sondheim song: I never do anything twice. Once, yes, once for a lark (go here for a YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mf33LcIe1A — this is not exactly NSFW, but if your kids are smart and sharp-eared I would send them out into the yard to see if it’s Halloween yet) but I can’t write the same book over and over. It has worked heavily against me professionally.

    • I hear and I’ll sing along with you! It does work against us, but it also keeps us writing, so it’s not all bad. If I’d stuck with Regency romance for 55 books, I might have been a bestseller, or I might have ended up in a looney bin. Ya takes your choices…

  2. You’re absolutely right, Patricia. We need novelty to keep our creativity humming and endlessly repeating even a winning formula doesn’t work for the truly creative.

  3. As a reader, I do not want my favorite authors to write the same book every time. There are a very few writers who I know I will like anything they write but it is not because they write the same story or even in the same genre every time – it is because they strive for quality and believable characters. And if an author writes something I don’t like, that doesn’t mean I’ll give up on them. I’ll stop reading a book I don’t like and go on to another.