As my debut release date approaches, I’ve been thinking about the story choices I made in THE COLLECTOR. Taking chances when writing a novel is harder than it seems. People in the publishing industry, along with readers, say they want stories with an edge. Stories that make them uncomfortable and test their boundaries. But those same things can turn readers off. I believe human beings relish the safe and expected, as much as they’ll argue the opposite. So when you write a book with a controversial story, or a character that doesn’t fit a typical mold, you’re asking for opinions.
And that is exactly what you should strive for!
When I started brainstorming THE COLLECTOR, I knew Dante’s character before I knew anything else. You see, I’ve always loved villains. In movies, I almost always root for the bad guy to get better. You know Freddy Krueger? I loved how his weakness was always a chick. And Klaus from Vampire Diaries? Yes, more of him, please. I also liked Jake Nicholson from As Good As It Gets, and Clint Eastwood’s character in Gran Torino. I like the bad guys. So when I noticed that the main characters of YA books were usually “good people,” I wanted to take a risk. I wanted to tell a story from the villain’s perspective.
Dante isn’t just a bad boy. In the beginning, he’s an arrogant ass. He thinks terrible thoughts and is self-centered. And that’s just the way I wanted him. I wanted readers to live inside someone’s head who was far from perfect. But in order to encourage readers to stick with him, Dante had to have redeeming qualities. Therefore, Dante became attractive and funny. He’s still an asshole, but now he’s a funny, sexy asshole.
Still, in the beginning, he’s an ass. And that’s taking a risk.
Dante is also male–dun, dun, dun! When I was on submission, I was told several times that no one wants to read a paranormal romance from a guy’s perspective. I said hogwash. So did Entangled Teen. As an author, I decided I was okay with taking certain risks in this book. What’s more, I wanted them. I decided that if people disliked Dante, I was cool with that as long as they had some reaction. I may also have readers who dislike reading a para-romance from a male’s perspective. That’s okay, too. As long as readers are entertained, and they have a reaction, I’m happy. No reaction is the worst. It’s the enemy.
As authors, I feel we have a responsibility to do two things: 1) Give readers an entertaining story, and 2) Take risks.
If you’re a writer, I encourage you to do so knowing full well that you’ll have some bad reviews, that not everyone will like your story or your characters, that you’ll ruffle some feathers. Editors and agents say there’s “no market” for your book? Good, you’re on the right track. Take some chances. It’s scary, but do it anyway.
Because there’s nothing worse than a book trying to make everyone happy.
Keep writing! 🙂