I’m so happy to be here, celebrating my new release. Against the Wall might be my most anticipated book yet, because it features my most-requested character: Eric Hernandez from 2011’s The Edge of Night. (AAR’s DIK review is here.) Eric was introduced in that story as a 20-year old gang member and drug dealer from Chula Vista, California. Against the Wall opens with his release from prison. It’s my debut New Adult romance, and my first attempt at writing first person, present tense.
I’d planned to write Eric’s story years ago, but The Edge of Night didn’t sell well enough to warrant a sequel. I moved on to the Aftershock series, and then the Dirty Eleven series. I’d considered a venture into New Adult when the subgenre was picking up steam. My readers know I’m fond of YA and NA subplots. But by the time I had a break in my schedule, the NA market seemed overcrowded.
As I wrapped up my second motorcycle club romance, I came to a crossroads. I wasn’t sure which project to take on next, or if I should even continue writing romantic suspense. Should I self-publish, go digital-only, or pursue print? Adopt a new pen name? Join the circus?
During the throes of my existential crisis, I got an email from a well-meaning reader. She suggested that I might have more success if I didn’t leave any loose threads at the ends of my novels. My secondary characters were “too interesting.” I should give them all happy endings, or not put them on the page.
Well. This email made me pretty sad. Mostly because this feature of my writing is one I can’t seem to change, but also because the truth hurts. I have left loose threads untied. There are some storylines I meant to revisit, but didn’t. The lack of closure for Eric, in particular, has always bothered me.
So I decided to just go for it. I developed ideas for two sequels, because I received almost as many requests for Maria and Ian from Caught in the Act as Eric and Meghan from The Edge of Night. My agent sent the proposals to my editor at Penguin Random House, who’d published the originals. Loveswept, their digital romance imprint, snapped up both ideas. Success!
I chose to branch out to New Adult for two reasons. I wanted to try something different, and I thought NA readers might be thirsty for a different sort of story. A lot of popular romance, NA included, delivers an elite fantasy scenario. Ivy League settings. Sports star heroes. Wealth, privilege, white-only. You know the drill. Those stories are fine, but I’m a working class girl. I’ve never been a fan of the idea that good men, true love and happy endings exist only in fantasies. Or worse, in the lives of the very rich. My NA is similar to my RS. It’s multicultural, gritty, feminist (or at least, female-friendly). I also do outdoorsy, action-adventure stories—the sequel to Caught in the Act is in this style.
Someone once said that I write books about “fucked-up people falling in love,” and that’s about right. My main characters have serious flaws and issues to overcome, but they’re always in a better place at the end, stronger together and working toward a bright future.
I can’t promise a happy ending for every secondary character I’ve written. I can’t promise that I won’t introduce any new ones, either. You’ll find more in Against the Wall. *sheepish grin* If you want a story for Kelsea and Tank, or Matthew, you’ll just have to wait. Right now I’m working on Ian and Maria’s story, Off the Rails.
I’m not sure what I’ll do after that. I’m keeping my options open. Joining the circus is still on the table. ;)
What do you think about my secondary characters? Are you interested in reading Against the Wall and/or Off the Rails? Is there another story you’ve been patiently waiting for?
Jill Sorenson is the RITA-nominated author of more than a dozen romantic suspense novels, including the Aftershock series by HQN. She lives in the San Diego area with her family. She’s a soccer mom who loves nature, coffee, reading, twitter and reality TV.