Friday, August 19, 2011

People Will Say They're in Love

by Meredith Cole

The interesting thing about writing a book and having it published is that it starts to belong to someone other than you. I don't mean someone steals your copyright or anything. I just mean that people start feeling some ownership of your characters and start expressing their opinions of your work. I once had a reviewer who was quite outraged that my second book, DEAD IN THE WATER, didn't do Lydia McKenzie justice. I consoled myself with the knowledge that they must have really, really liked POSED FOR MURDER. Enough to get all upset, anyway.

So now my characters are out there and I have two books published, my readers have all sorts of opinions about what should happen in book three. Lydia should move out of New York. Lydia should focus on her photography. Lydia should give up her photography. Lydia should become a PI. Lydia should quit working for the D'Angelos. But mostly I hear that Lydia should get together with Detective Daniel Romero. Soon. And I hear that a lot. Even from my agent.

It's important to introduce romantic tension (as well as lots of other kinds of tension) in a book, and sparks flew immediately between my photographer sleuth and the Puerto Rican New York City cop. They rub each other the wrong way. He thinks the worst of her. She thinks he's a lousy dresser and ridiculously hostile. He hauls her in for questioning. She withholds evidence from him. They fight. They forgive each other. He saves her life. She solves the case. They hug and then are embarrassed. People will say they're in love...

And in homage to Rebecca Cantrell, here's a movie star who could play Romero. The talented and handsome Javier Bardem.

So now I imagine you're thinking Lydia McKenzie is really crazy not to hook up with him. But, like life, it's complicated. Romero has an ex-wife and a small son to think about. Lydia is still trying to figure out where her life is going to take her, career-wise. And they only come into close orbit when there is a murder going on. That makes it difficult to get too cozy and comfortable.

But here's the real reason they haven't hooked up on a permanent basis before now. It would destroy the tension. You know what I mean. You've read those series where the couple is fighting and carrying on and as soon as everyone gets lovey-dovey and gets married--poof! The series becomes deadly dull and the writer has to end it. There's no conflict. And without conflict, well, there's just no drama.

So will Romero and Lydia ever hook-up? Um, maybe. But one thing is certain. I will leave you in suspense a little longer.



8 comments:

Gabi said...

Personally, I'd sacrifice tension for Javier. Lydia has much better self control.

Meredith Cole said...

You're so funny Gabi! Yes, Lydia does have better self-control... I guess it helps that I'm controlling her (insert evil laugh here).

Michael Wiley said...

I'm always fascinated by how sexual tension plays of and increases other suspense/tension. A nice post, Meredith!

Meredith Cole said...

Thanks Michael! Romance can definitely spice mystery books up (although too much can sometimes get in the way of the plot). It's a delicate balance sometimes...

Kelli Stanley said...

Wonderful post, Meredith!! :) It's the Moonlighting lesson! (one of my favorite shows in the 80s until Maddy and David got together).

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

When I married off Odelia Grey to Greg Stevens at the end of book 3, other authors told me 1) I was nuts, 2) it would hurt the series (my publisher was totally behind me on the idea). While #1 may be correct, I've proved them wrong on #2. Book 6 in the series recently came out and readers have embraced the marriage. ALTHOUGH, there are some readers who are still upset that homicide detective Dev Frye didn't get Odela. Come on folks, that was 3 books ago!

That said, I am being much more coy with my other series and the budding romances within the pages. I don't want to try to beat the odds twice.

Meredith Cole said...

It can definitely work, Sue Ann. I think I'm just afraid I won't beat the odds...

Meredith Cole said...

Kelli-
Moonlighting is an excellent example! Just wasn't as thrilling when the two of them stopped sparring. I guess they could have done it while they were married, but it really wouldn't have been the same.