Monday, July 17, 2006
REBIRTH OF A STORY...
I was just thinking, as I sent edits back on this upcoming book, about how many times I've gone back to visit Dani and Brand since they came into my mind back ...oh God, it's been fifteen years since I blindly created a hunky football hero/southern aristocrat and made him fall in love with the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Since the situation I envisioned reminded me of a catchy '60s song, I decided to call the story "Rag Doll".
Back then I was chasing rainbows, certain all I had to do to gain fame and fortune as a romance author was dream up a hero and a heroine, load them up with hopes and dreams and a good dose of reasonably credible conflict, and write their story without making the sorts of mistakes that used to make my college composition instructor bleed red ink all over the pages. A completely unexpected finalist ranking in the 1991 Moonlight and Magnolias contest for unpublished writers fueled my belief that, hell, writing romance was a piece of cake.
I could have saved myself a lot of headaches if someone had been kind enough back then to let me know pro athletes were near the top of no-no occupatiions for heroes. It would also have been helpful if someone had pointed out that being able to churn out "A" term papers didn't mean I had a clue about the how to write commercial fiction. It took me a while, but I finally figured after half a dozen rejections and as many revisions that RAG DOLL had a place only in a corner of my heart. I set it aside, going on to write and sell three steamy contemporary stories with ghosts to Berkley...and the sizzling novella, "The Barbarian," that sold to Red Sage for SECRETS 3 and started me on the road to writing erotic romances as Ann Jacobs.
But RAG DOLL refused to die. In 1998 I dusted it off and sent it to my then-agent, Natasha Kern, who answered a call for completed manuscripts by published authors and sold it to Kensington for its new Zebra Bouquet line. I gulped when she called to tell me, horrified because I thought of the goofs I'd made before learning basic things like point of view and so on--writing skills I'd learned by trial and error, and from some incredibly generous authors who shared their knowledge at conferences and online workshops.
But RAG DOLL had finally sold, and it was revision time once more. In three weeks, I tore the story apart and reassembled it, fixing the most glaring mistakes and tailoring it to fit the tight word count requirement of the Bouquet imprint. Thus was born ENDURING LOVE, a title no one particularly liked but which probably beat the whimsical "Rag Doll" that nineties readers weren't likely to connect to the lyrics of that old, obscure song.From the cover it looked like a sweet, family story...when in actuality the heat Dani and Brand generated scorched the pages of the book and shocked more than one reviewer with its wide-open bedroom doors and the lovers' overwhelming sexuality.
Fast-forward eight years... I'm now exclusively Ann Jacobs, working on my fortieth erotic romance or thereabouts. ENDURING LOVE had sold fairly well, but the Bouquet imprint was long gone. I asked for and received the rights back on it and a second Bouquet book, COMING HOME. With a good bit of hesitation, because although ENDURING LOVE was hot it didn't put out the steam heat Ann Jacobs had become known for, I sent it to SueEllen Gower, my editor at Ellora's Cave.
As it happened, we were working at the time on preliminary edits for WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME, my second BDSM contemporary suspense book featuring pro football player heroes. SueEllen saw a possibility that intrigued me: bringing Brand into WRONG PLACE then tying his story back into WRONG PLACE and TIP OF THE ICEBERG while doing a complete rewrite of ENDURING LOVE--and making Brand and Dani frankly dominant and submissive in the process.
It was deja vu. Once again I sat at the computer with the book that had marked my first attempt at writing romance, the two EC stories open in other windows. Brand came back into my head as if I'd never really let him go as I brought him into Wrong Place as a major secondary character--in a menage a trois. It amazed me that while I'd originally written Brand and Dani's story as a conventional vanilla story about a secret-baby-with-a-twist, they were naturals for BDSM. He was a born Alpha male, and his profession and his backstory made him a natural Dom. Dani, on the other hand, had been shaped into a cautious, conservative woman--a woman who could let herself go and find the ultimate joy in sex only when she relinquished control, let Brand force her to let go her inhibitions.
Hey wait. I've got to leave some surprises for readers about the evolution of a beginner's effort at writing a love story...to a NY-published category romance...to OUT OF BOUNDS, a layered tale of erotic romance that brings out Brand and Dani's hopes and fears and hopefully will sweep readers up in all the emotions that drive them.
Tonight I'm feeling, after more than fifteen years, that I've finally brought these lovers full circle. Maybe they've matured as characters at the same time I've been growing as an author. You know, I can't help thinking maybe someday I'll bring them back...but that's for another project, another time.
Later... WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME? is coming out this week, and I'd better spend some time promoting it!