My latest release came out on July 6th: Mixed Signals! I’ll put the spoilery stuff behind a cut, but to start with, let me say that Frank Sheldon is one of my favorite characters that I’ve written.
I wanted to write about a very beautiful, nay perfect, man who knows how good looking he is, and secretly hates it. I know more than a few truly beautiful people (I’m lucky like that!) and they are either A) totally oblivious to it or B) totally aware, for good or for ill. The ones who are aware of it are generally love the power it gives them or hate it. While the whole “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” trope is old news; I wanted to show a little more depth to it than we usually see in romance stories. Frank knows he’s gorgeous and is not above using that to his advantage, but regrets his attractiveness because it means people are usually only drawn to him for very shallow reasons.
So I gave him Benjamin Kaplan, who is about as far from perfect as possible. Basically Benjamin was created as an amalgam of several popular television geeks, with the end goal of being someone who is a bit of a social outcast and unwilling to flirt with Frank because he assumes Frank is out of his league. Benjamin was slower to gel as a character, but in the end I think he turned out to be a perfect match for Frank.
The plot developed haphazardly, which unfortunately I think might be obvious. I knew Benjamin had a secret, but I did not want to make it too horrible, so I gave him a muckracking news website to run. From there things slid into place fairly well, which always surprises me as a writer!
The main criticisms I’ve gotten on the story are that it is too short; and yes, it is a short story so of course it is short. But that’s not what the reviewers are talking about, and I know it. I was at a point in the story of turning it into a novel which would be twice as long, and crucially would take twice as long to write, or wrapping things up and leaving it at 70 pages. Due to other projects on the plate and a number of deadlines I was facing, I took the coward’s way out and put a bow on it. If I wasn’t in graduate school and working full time, I would not have made that choice, and we’d still be waiting for it to get published.
I like to think that the faster pacing doesn’t handicap it too much, but I’m also thinking I might go back eventually and expand the story to make it what it could have been. That’s far down the list of priorities, though. In the meantime it’s still a fun romp, and I adore Frank and Benjamin, and I hope you do too!