In case you missed this over at Riding With the Top Down yesterday, here's it is x-posted here:
What do you do AFTER boy meets girl – or, in my case, after vampire meets witch? The classic set-up of the romance is the first blush, the excitement of falling in love -- so what do you do for a sequel?
That was the question that faced me – and, well, continues to haunt me as I write subsequent books – when starting Dead Sexy (Berkley, May 2007) the follow-up to Tall, Dark & Dead (Berkley, May 2006).
I’ve been in a relationship with the same person for twenty odd years, so, intuitively, I think I sense the romance in the long-term, but how do you write about it – so that it’s interesting? I mean getting him to learn to pick up his dirty socks can be a real challenge, but it doesn’t necessarily make for scintillating reading, you know?
Luckily, the guy in my novels is a thousand year-old vampire, so nothing having to do with Sebastian is typical. Plus, Garnet, our heroine, has a lot of, shall we say, baggage. In other words, before she can even consider settling in with Sebastian, Garnet has to deal with her own crap. In the first book, Garnet had witch-hunters after her, and in Dead Sexy, she’s got an FBI agent hot on her trail. Plus, there’s all that unfinished business with her ex-....
...you get the idea. Even though all these events keep my hero and heroine nearly too occupied to deal with each other, I snuck into the book some of what I consider “real-life” milestones for any relationship. In Dead Sexy, for instance, Garnet and Sebastian have their first fight. It breaks them up a little – hopefully, enough to keep the reader in suspense – and it gives Garnet some time to finally figure out if Sebastian is the one for her.
Garnet is a modern woman, in that she’s in no particular hurry to commit. I think, in some ways, this makes her slightly more difficult for some readers to identify with, but I chose to make Garnet a touch leery about jumping headfirst into a relationship because, well, Sebastian’s not exactly human. And, as odd as this might sound, I wanted my paranormal romance to have a touch of realism, in that the heroine has to consider and weigh all the consequences of a serious, long-term relationship with someone who drinks blood to survive.
For me, that’s one of the appeals of reading and writing urban fantasy. I like to puzzle out the real-life problems of dealing with a fantasy lover. What would it really be like to be married to someone who never ages? If your boyfriend is thirty times older than you are, does he get your references to the Brady Bunch or Schoolhouse Rock? Can people from two fundamentally different eras really breech that gap to fall in love – and, more importantly, stay together?
What about you? How has your favorite author dealt with the question of how to keep a continuing romance hot and spicy and interesting?