Okay fine, it’s two words 🙂 My point is, I’ve been pubbing for almost two years now, and I’ve published four romance novels in the last year (holy crap, with a full time job to boot – no wonder I’m tired!). And I’ve had a lot of reviews, mostly positive. But I’ll ask you all, because it baffles me – why do so many readers (not you Team Vance members, or else you wouldn’t be here) dislike it when I do character development?
For me, there are two important things in CD – backstory and research. A character’s backstory in the Vance Canon has always ended up being either his childhood/youth, or at least enough of his life to show how he got to be who he is. “A Little Too Broken” goes back as far as Tom’s injury in Afghanistan, just after realizing he might be gay, and Jamie’s toxic relationship with the emotional abuser who gave him HIV. For “Given the Circumstances” I had to go back to Roger and Brian’s childhood to explain how they became who they are at the start of the story, and who they turned into after that.
Research means that if I write a story about a Special Forces guy, I make sure that I know something about that. For Sam’s Reluctant Submission, I read “Chosen Soldier” and “Inside Delta Force,” the Army’s SERE manual, and innumerable web pages. I wasn’t going to fuck that up – these guys do some seriously dangerous and important shit, and even if I was going to write a “mere” erotic short I was going to get it right.. Same for Colum’s Viking Captivity – I spent more time reading books on Vikings than I did writing the stories.
And a lot of people DON’T LIKE THAT! They say, too much sports in this romance about athletes, for instance. But for me, if you just say (and you’ve heard this pet peeve before), “Here’s Rocky the Rock Star and he Really Rocks, here’s some sex,” then why should I care if he falls in love or not? If characters are nothing more than the same paper dolls with different outfits (rock star, soldier, barbarian, billionaire, vampire, collect ’em all)…who cares?
And I suppose, I think, I guess, that a lot of readers have their own ideas of “the rock star” or “the billionaire,” and are only looking for the paper doll, they don’t want an author to get between them and their idea of what a hot rock star is like. I don’t get that. I like, no, I want, need, to surrender to an author, I want that author to create a real person who I want to spend time with.
Honestly? I think my approach is much better. Is that massively egotistical? Hell yeah! If you didn’t have a gigantic ego in this business, you’d give up on day one. I said it before and will say it again – the day is coming when M/M Romance/Erotica BLOWS UP like 50 Shades did. And I want to be the E. L. James of M/M. I want to be The King! I did cut corners on some of my stories, and that’s why I went back and did my “digital remastering” on all of them (except Worst Best Luck, my red-headed stepchild, which I just can’t face yet because I know it’s not up to my quality standards). Because when I blow up big, I can’t have anything crappy in my catalog. When one book blows up big, people go back and consume your backlist, and I want to make sure that it’s all good.
Maybe I’m totally wrong. Maybe it’ll blow up big, and I’ll be the also-ran because I did all that research for GTC on NCAA regulations on countable athletic activity time and division transfer rules and draft eligibility, and for the majority of people, that bogged down the story. So it goes! I gotta be me.
Umm, yeah, so anyway…your opinion in comments? Why do *you* think some readers don’t like CD?