So after writing nearly thirty romances, why did I want to write something different? Well, I didn’t. I never even thought about it.
But then a former editor asked me to write something for her. Something that wasn’t romance, because she wasn’t publishing romance. She’d asked me before and I’d said no. I said no again. But this time we were sitting at a table together and she pressed the issue. I squirmed. I told her I didn’t have any ideas for something like that. She insisted I did.
I kept saying no. But by the time I walked away, I was turning the possibility around in my head. What subject would fascinate me enough to keep my interest for 6-12 months? That’s the thing about writing a book. I read lots of different genres. I love horror, romance, historical fiction, narrative non-fiction, thrillers, suspense. But spending a few days reading a book is not the same as spending months writing one story. You have to really want that book. You have to feel it in your bones. I didn’t think I had the bones for anything except romance, but now I was wondering. Now I was plotting.
I knew any story I’d dedicate myself to would have to be female driven. I knew it would have to be dark and complicated. And I knew it would still include sex, if not romance, because that drive is part of any deep dive into someone’s character. (I often say horror & romance are two sides of the same coin: our basic, primal urge to live.)
After brainstorming for a few days, I told my agent I maybe, possibly MIGHT have an idea. She contacted my former editor. The idea wasn’t quite right. I brainstormed again. And this time, the idea caught. We went back and forth a few times. Tweaked some details. And then my editor made an offer for a book unlike anything I’d written before.
And I was terrified. In fact, my editor made a two-book offer and I wanted to negotiate down to one. What if I only had this one idea inside me? This is not how negotiations work. My agent told me to woman up.
So I signed the contract. And I wrote the book. I did it! I wrote Evelyn, After! And once I told my fear to sod off, I had a great time with this story. The best time I’d had in years. I got to write a protagonist who did truly bad things. I got to write a romance that didn’t work out. I got to write the depths of heartbreak and recovery. I loved it. And before I was done, I had an idea for another book. I HAD ANOTHER IDEA!
That second idea was Half Past. It comes out September 19th. Any my third idea is called Jane Doe and comes out next May. (My third idea!) Right now I’m trying to brainstorm a fourth book and facing a tiny little fear that I won’t think of anything. But I know I will. That doubt is just a fading memory of what it used to be.
When I was nearing forty, I started facing my fears and trying new things. At forty-five, I’ve realized that staying afraid takes way too much energy. More energy than I have these days. I haven’t walked away from romance but I am relishing trying something new and terrifying. It’s exciting and I’m enjoying the hell out of it. In fact, maybe it’s another of those primal urges to live.
Next up: That time I tried rock climbing.