One Real Thing…and two very troubled heroes
Thanks to the Manic Readers for inviting us to drop by today!
Last week, our first book with Carina Press was released. One Real Thing is a contemporary gay romance about Nick Addison and Hollister Welles, two men who are each convinced that the other couldn’t possibly be interested in him—not that way. They’re friends and yet they both want more. How to keep them apart? How to bring them together in a way that matters?
In character-driven stories like this one, the best conflict comes from within. As authors, we’re always trying to push ourselves. Not just in terms of structure, but also theme. Troubled heroes are easy to do badly: are they too over the top? Beyond saving? Is manufactured trauma just a placeholder for character development?
Internal crisis is the most likely way that two people would get themselves backed into a corner like Nick and Holly do. The obstacles had to come from within. So we set out to create two people who were on different paths for the same reason—trying not to become what their parents had been.
The anxiety of parental influence is a theme most readers can relate to. The mundane nature of the core problem cuts some of the potential for unnecessary drama. Because it’s such a common trial, it’s easier to connect to it, easy to manipulate, and believable when resolved. The path the troubled heroes walk is one that everyone does at some point in their lives. To make it challenging, we simply started them in a harder place than most.
The other trials are also common concerns, magnified through the lens of too much to lose, too many ways to lose it. What does he think of me? He’s too good to be true. I don’t deserve him. If I’m going to fail, I might as well fail big. I thought this was what I wanted, but when I got here, I found out I was wrong.
We knew if we could make the source of Nick and Holly’s troubles something easy to relate to, it would save them from being annoyingly melodramatic. If they are a bit frustrating at times, we all get frustrated with ourselves as well, so we can forgive them.
We hope that we’ve managed to do that with Nick and Holly—that in some way their experiences speak to your experience and that their troubles make them engaging, not enraging.
Excerpt from One Real Thing:
Holly woke up in hell. A nice hotel, sun slanting in the windows, Nick showering just feet away. Fucking Nick. Years with nothing but postcards and holiday cards, glimpses of Nick’s perfectly organized life, and then this. Like Holly had fallen down and needed rescuing. He didn’t. Holly pulled a pillow over his head and willed himself not to go looking for a drink.
He’d gotten where he was deliberately; he didn’t blame anyone but himself. He’d be damned if he’d give that away like he was some kind of puppet other people played with. Apparently Nick had missed that fucking memo. Now Nick’s interruption prolonged this continued failure to thrive that stretched in front of Holly like the Sahara. Christ, why did Nick have to pick now to give a damn?
Holly wanted a drink. He wanted not to be here, waiting for Nick to realize Holly was a mistake that didn’t belong anywhere near his life. Again. Yet, as desperately as Holly wanted to, he couldn’t bring himself to blow Nick off.
Nick walked out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist, his dark curls waterlogged and his skin still beaded with moisture. He was across the room and digging through his suitcase before realization hit and his head came up. He stared at Holly for a long moment and then said, evenly, “Good morning.”
“Glad it is for someone.” Holly pushed up to sitting, trying not to whimper at the pain in his head. His own fault. He dragged the blankets up to hug them against his chest. He was tired of being looked at.
“Why are you doing this?”
—Anah Crow & Dianne Fox
One Real Thing at authors’ website: http://foxwrites.com/published-works/one-real-thing/