I just reread A Great Prince, my only heteromance. (Well, setting aside my Angelina Vance 1930s divorce ranch/cowboy romance, which I may well reprint soon just because I have the rights back so why not.) With my poor Miss June recently deceased, I needed… escape. And I didn’t have a book at hand that would give me that. I noticed a couple of sales on AGP after a million years of none and thought, yeah, that one…
And you know what? It’s so Hollywood. I was casting it in my head – Miles Teller as Nikolas (young, hot, and with that inner darkness that will really pop in a role like this) and Jennifer Lawrence as Francesca Albertine (tough, but vulnerable). I’m telling you, it’s gold. Okay, they won’t go for Miles Teller, and Jennifer Lawrence is booked till 2099, fine, but still. That’s how it played in my head yesterday.
The whole story even had its genesis in targeted marketing. I read an article about the most popular Netflix search categories (Europe, royalty, weddings), and cracked wise to a friend of mine that “the next Brad Vance novel should be about two European princes who fall in love and get married.” Well, then I was off to the races.
Eventually I realized that the gay angle was just too comical, especially once I “got real” with the creation of the two nations out of the cloth of the former Austro-Hungarian empire, and started thinking about gangsters and oligarchs and refugees and… Yeah. I decided to turn it into a heteromance because I thought, shit, this could really sell some books!
It didn’t, but that’s because I had no mechanism for marketing a heteromance. I should have turned it over to people I know who are good at that, but, no, my delusions of grandeur insisted I’d have a best seller without all that… All the same. It’s there, it’s still fresh and exciting and topical, so hurry up Hollywood and buy this thing.
And that’s not the only book that’s good to go, cinematically. I realized that most of my books are camera-ready. If I had a couple hundred grand, I’d round up a crew and make A Little Too Broken into a small indie film. It’s got a limited cast, limited locations (an imaginary SoCal town and San Francisco), it’s got adorable dogs for gawd’s sake, a sweet love story but not saccharine, good supporting roles (Ava, Ed, Tom’s mom and dad).
I’m really glad that there’s more racial diversity in movies and TV now, but I’m left wondering, where are we? We’re still in the land of the gay second banana, the gay comic relief. And HBO’s Looking, the one show “about us” on TV in a long time, was, well, a big disappointment. I only watched the first season, in which nobody ever acknowledged the brutal economic realities of life in SF, and nobody was HIV+ (though two characters discussed it and one said he once knew someone who was poz…). And of course it was about a bunch of hot guys and their relationship problems, and that was it.
Though, okay, that’s what a lot of the audience wants. My books pass the gay version of Bechdel Test – in many romances, most successful romances, the MCs are either always together on the page, or, on the page with someone else talking about the other MC and the romance.
In my world, the characters have lives, friends, jobs outside the romance. I give lavish amounts of time and space to their backstories, their families, their friendships. I deal with veterans’ issues, or sports homophobia, or oppressive religious upbringings, or brutal economic realities. There’s a lot of meat on these puppies. I know that most of that might not make it into a 2 hour movie – fine, sure. But Given the Circumstances, or Have a Little Faith in Me, with the long timelines over which the characters grow and change, well, there’s a two part HBO miniseries there, at least, right?
The big reason that Hollywood isn’t diversifying into LGBT content outside the art house market? That’s simple: foreign markets. The Gay Don’t Play in Russia, or China, or Africa. And foreign market income is increasingly more important to studio bottom lines than domestic. Even Netflix hasn’t “gone there” with original gay content, other than with the lesbian subplots on Orange is the New Black.
But. There are so many content providers out there now, all so hungry for content. I know that so much of getting in there is about connections, contacts, and I get exhausted just thinking about even sending query letters to agents.
Still. Someday my prince will come, with a film option contract in hand…