Thursday, April 03, 2008

Readers Would Kill For This Hero

They’ve been called “little books” and much worse, but this month marks the publication of my sixteenth category romance. Bachelor Boss, from Silhouette Special Edition, tells the story of Lucy Sutton, who returns to her hometown and a temporary job with family friend, Carlo Milano. She knows he still sees her as a kid (he greets her as “Goose” short for the "Lucy Goosey" nickname she was called by her older siblings) and she’s determined to crush the crush she’s always had on him.

Of course, being his personal assistant for a few weeks makes it just as easy for that crush to blossom into something bigger…

I had a great time writing this “little book” for several reasons. One, I love category romance and the tight focus it puts on the hero/heroine relationship. Two, I’m the younger sister in my family and, like Lucy, was never (am never) taken all that seriously by the rest of the clan. Three, Carlo Milano showed up in another book I wrote, published in 2000, called The Bridesmaid’s Bet. It starred Carlo’s sister, Francesca, who was involved in the wedding of her best friend, Elise Sutton. And in the course of that story, Franny figured out that her brother Carlo was in love with the bride—and he was not the groom. When that wedding went off without a hitch, and Elise and her John married, well…romance readers are the most soft-hearted creatures on earth. The e-mails I received! Was Carlo going to get his own story? I must write it! I can’t leave darling Carlo sans the love of his life!

And that’s when I found out that romance readers are also the most blood-thirsty creatures on earth, too, because many of the e-mails told me exactly how I should write Carlo’s story...

Elise’s new husband John must be done in.

I’m not kidding. Some people sent me detailed scenarios of exactly how that deed should be done (hmm, which may have spawned my books about the Wisegirls, the daughters of the California Mafia, that I wrote for Avon Books). I’ve already given away that Carlo does not end up with the beautiful Elise (who is enjoying her HEA), but instead with her little sister who is now all grown up. The money quote from Romantic Times says this: “Christie Ridgway's Bachelor Boss (4.5) has a simple, effective plot and terrific characters -- and it's very sexy for this series.”

And here’s what’s fun too. Already I’ve received an e-mail from a reader asking if I’m going to tell the stories of Lucy and Elise’s brothers…and I didn’t leave them hanging, though I admit we do see them dating a pair of identical twins. Maybe my mind was working ahead…

When reading, are you guys always on the lookout for characters in the book who might get their own story? I think it’s a tricky line between seeding a later story and having a character walk through wearing a neon sign that reads “BUY MY BOOK NEXT” but I am a complete sucker for a community of characters I get to read about. How about you?


Betina Krahn said...

Christie, I have really gotten into series characters lately. I agree that once you've fallen in love with an author's world, it's hard to leave. And if you have other eligible characters in the story, it's only right that they get their own stories. . . especially if their love was unrequited in the first or earlier book.

I do think it's tricky, too. You don't want to be too obvious. On the other hand, I've really enjoyed JR Ward and she nearly hits you over the head with the fact that its a series!

I have to say, I want the books I read (even with continuing characters) to stand alone. There are a lot of suspense series out there that don't make good stand alone books. . . that makes me crazy.

Carlo sounds wonderful. I can't wait to read this one!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Christie, I love series romance, too. SpecialEd was my original publishing home, and I get notes from reader asking for more on a regular basis. A neat idea for one popped into my head (okay, credit where due, DH actually planted it) and I'm writing it now. I'll be working with the same editor I've had at Silhouette since I started. That's rare in this business!

Anyway, series within series is more difficult that it sounds, isn't it? I've had a few connected stories, but they haven't been planned that way from the first. Somewhere along the way they grew out of the first book. Readers have asked me for more stories for characters who wouldn't have their own stories. I thought about it and couldn't make it work. It's really cool that the characters made such an impression, but there's a whole organic thing to be considered.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Speaking of connected books, I'm going to offer a drawing on my post tomorrow for an autographed copy of RIDE A PAINTED PONY (a 2006 RITA finalist), which came before MYSTIC HORSEMAN--unplanned, but it turned out that Dillon Black (MH) has quite a story of his own.

So pop in and post. That's all you have to do to enter.

georganna said...

I do like to read about a community of characters, but... 3-4 related books are great, more than that tend to be annoying. I love reading tidbits about former lead characters. It's like catching up with an old friend.
I didn't get to read your 2000 book, but I would love to read a book or 2 about Lucy's brothers.

wolfpackgirl said...

I really like series romance as well. It's nice to be able to drop back in on the characters living their HEA. Plus, when there is a good supporting character I want to hear their stories as well.

Michele Hauf said...

Christie, your book sounds awesome!

As for series, I don't read a book looking for a character that might have his own book next. If the book was great, and I see the author has a new one out, with a former secondary character, yeah!

As for my own writing, I never think about the series far enough in advance. This is not a good thing. I've had secondary characters that I know I want to give their own story. That's cool. BUt what about those throw-away secondary characters I'd never expected to see again? I'm working on one of those right now. DIdn't think I'd seen the guy beyond the few pages I gave him in one of my books. Now, he's back. And man, I certainly didn't give him a very good name the first time around.

Note to authors: If a secondary character has the smallest chance of ever getting his own story, do give him a good name. :-)

Christie Ridgway said...

Michele: I'm LOLing on giving a secondary a "good" name in case he sparks his own story! In my category romances I don't think I ever planned connected books. They just happened!

I've written connected books in single title and I'm working on a trilogy right now. But they're definitely standalone. I'm working on the 2nd book and it was fun to bring in the original couple as a touch here and there. They're actually necessary to the plot, but they take up little stage time.

I'm SO glad we're going to have more Kathleen Eagle Special Editions. Makes me even more excited about my own Specials (I have two more coming down the pike).

Playground Monitor said...

"Little books" my eyeball. Let THEM try writing one. Ha! It's a lot harder than most people think.

I love category romance and it comprises about 75% of what I read. Of course now I'll have to go out and buy your book because you've piqued my interest. And then I'll have to search the used book store for Elise and John's story. SSE and Super are my new lines of choice now that Desire has gone all Presents-like with uber-alpha heroes who have testosterone running out their ears and oozing from their nostrils. Sorry... I'll get off my soapbox. ;-)

LOL on the emails about how to kill off the husband. I knew romance readers were a loyal bunch but that's taking it a bit too far.

I like reading about communities of characters and have been known to write an author and ask "When is X's book coming out?" I especially like a series where you have a group of brothers and sisters and get to see them all find HEA.


Verification word = nzjuz. Sounds like some drink from down under.

Christie Ridgway said...

Marilyn: The book that had Carlo in it previously wasn't really about Elise and John (though they did marry) in the book. The heroine was one of the bridesmaid's, Carlo's sister, Francesca.

I love SSEs and haven't tried a Super in a while. I must. I get in a Presents glom on occasion, so I know the new Desire guys will appeal to me when I'm in a certain mood. I'm not sure I can think of a single type of romance that doesn't appeal to me when I'm in a certain mood!

Christie Ridgway said...

Ooops, meant to put in the blog...I said that each time it was my turn I'd drop the title of a book I enjoyed when I'm wearing my reviewer hat but didn't have the space to highlight in my BookPage column. So here's my tip: The Ex-Debutante by Linda Francis Lee. It's more on the side of chick lit than romance and it's a hardback. I really enjoyed it!

Playground Monitor said...

Oh rats. Another book to read. I loved Linda Francis Lee's "The Devil in the Junior League" and if the new book is half as good as that, it'll be great.

Elise... Francesca... I can't remember my own name half the time.

Jane Doe ::grin::

Verification word = judyi. Looks like some cutesy spelling of Judy.

lois greiman said...

Good job on the RT review Christie.

I love continuing characters, but I don't necessarily look for them. They just appear, like sunshine. :)

flchen1 said...

Hmm... I do love related books, but I don't I necessarily need to be smacked over the head with it. I don't really mind when it's sort of obvious how it'll be continued, as with Julia Quinn's Bridgertons or Nora Roberts's Chesapeake Bay Quinns (oops... didn't mean to do that)... I also do enjoy where they're all set in one place but with more loosely related characters, as Marilyn Pappano's done with Bethlehem or Heartbreak Canyon.

Don't think I've ever gotten to where I'd consider doing away with an existing spouse first though... ;)

Christie Ridgway said...

Georganna: I think 3-4 books tops it for many series, unless you can send the characters to different locations, maybe, or on different kinds of assignments (like with some romantic suspense series).

Flchen1: I like the ones connected by place, too. I recently read one of Debbie Macomber's Blossom Street books and I wanted to move there!

Linda said...

I appreciate how hard it must be to write a series with connected characters but I love them. That's the price you pay when even the secondary characters are drawn so well that, in your readers' minds, they take on a life of their own.

Bridget Locke said...

I'm late commenting, but felt compelled to put my two cents in. :) I love books with characters that go from book to book. Lisa Kleypas is the Queen at that. :)

I don't like being smacked over the head with characters that you know the author just wants to write about. I want secondary characters to have personality & be real. I don't like wooden characters that are one thing in someone else's book & totally different in their own (if that makes sense).

I'm working on a series right now and though it's obvious that there are multiple books, I'm doing my best to make it so that each individual is their own person. :)

Amy Addison said...

Christie: Just finished Bachelor Boss. Fantastic. Whoever readers THOUGHT Carlo was supposed to be with, they were wrong. He was meant to be with Lucy. Good job, girl.