RDThis is a guest post from author Jill Sorenson. Her first motorcycle club romance Riding Dirty comes out on October 1st. Jill is giving away a copy of Riding Dirty to one lucky AAR reader. (Thanks, Jill!) Just enter a comment below.


I had an idea for a motorcycle club romance years ago. It was about an undercover agent infiltrating the Hell’s Angels and falling for one of the women affiliated with the club. I never pitched it to anyone or even sketched out a plot. I have tons of ideas like this that pop in and out of my head. When MC romance started to get popular, I considered developing it, but I was in the middle of my Aftershock series, too busy to take on a side project.

I kept on eye on the trend because I thought it had lot in common with romantic suspense. Gritty storylines, danger, working class characters. All of those things appeal to me. I’m a fan of criminal heroes—I’ve written several. Outlaws are basically the opposite of billionaires, and I like that. But I hesitated to jump on the bandwagon for a couple of reasons. I’ve never been one to follow trends and I was still contracted for other projects. I also wasn’t sure an MC book would work with my writing style and personal taste. Some of the popular MC heroes seemed really sexist to me. That kind of behavior turns me off.

Then one night I was watching TV with my husband and he came across a reality show called The Devils Ride. It was about a San Diego-based MC, The Laughing Devils. “

[Name withheld] is in this,” he said.

Someone we knew was in an MC, and on a reality show? What.

We watched a whole season of that show. It wasn’t the best reality television I’d ever seen, but I recognized the guy from high school. My husband went to school with him from K-12. The three of us graduated the same year.

What I remember most about this MC member were his actions during one of the wildest parties I’d ever been to. He wasn’t a club member at the time, just a rowdy teenager. The party was at a house on a hill with a huge deck. Some of our friends were renting it. A fight broke out on the deck. The boys involved broke a glass table and continued fighting on the glass shards, getting all cut up. There were dozens of people on the deck who couldn’t get around the fight. I was one of them. My husband, then my boyfriend, was inside the house.

The deck was old, overloaded and shaking like a leaf. It was also really high off the ground, maybe thirty feet or more. Two of my husband’s friends, Taka and Jesse, climbed from the deck onto the roof. Taka told me I’d better join them before the deck collapsed. He helped me up. If I remember correctly, we smoked a joint from this safe vantage point while the fight raged on.

Memories are fuzzy, as stoned, drunken teenage memories tend to be. The fight might have died down and started back up again. At one point a guy named Tractor, who lived there, brought out his gun and fired a warning shot into the air. The MC guy came up to Tractor and slapped him across the face for pulling a gun. It was against party code or town rules or something. This was a very tense moment. Tractor’s face turned bright red. The MC guy continued to goad him, just begging for trouble, but Tractor did nothing. Then it was over, and everyone left.

Tractor died a few years later, drunk driving on my 21st birthday. He wasn’t the only friend we’ve lost to drunk driving, sadly. I haven’t seen the MC guy since that party, but his family is still around. His nieces play soccer with my daughters.

When I saw that reality show, I made a connection between San Diego and motorcycle clubs, between my personal life and the trend. I hadn’t realized that there were MCs in our area, let alone people we knew in them.

Over the next few weeks, I developed an idea about a criminal informant hero and a psychologist heroine. Thoughts of writing this story plagued me day and night. I begged my publisher for a break in my schedule so I could switch gears. I had to do it. I was a real pain in the ass about it. After some stressful talks between me, my agent and my editor, we carved out a space to make it happen. I’ve never been so excited about a project.

Riding Dirty is definitely my take on MC romance. I don’t write super-macho guys in romantic suspense just because that’s popular, so why write a sexist outlaw? Cole “Shank” Shepherd is my kind of hero. He’s a little rough around the edges, but he doesn’t mistreat women. It’s part of his club code, in fact. Dirty Eleven MC has a rule against domestic violence and female victims. I don’t think that’s an unrealistic standard, even for hardcore criminals.

I had a great time writing this story and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world! I hope readers enjoy the ride as much as I have.

What do you think about MC romance? Are dangerous, domineering heroes part of the draw?

Jill S

 

Jill Sorenson