I love Spring: it's a predictable beginning. The tender shoots of grass; the slow burst of pear blossoms; the first brave red wasps; the rain of loose horse hair falling off the curry comb - it's all familiar, all missed, all welcome. Other beginnings, though, aren't as comforting.
I'm staring down the barrel of the last 4,000 words or so of the last book of my series. It's bittersweet: it's a relief; it's a terror. Once I finish Fix You, I'll start working on something else. Not because I want to, but because I have to. Writing is a disease for me; I'm manic, and I can't remember a period in my life in which I wasn't writing something. Even if it was a short story in the margin of my history notes, I've always had some sort of fiction project going. I can't stop. I have a problem. Hello, my name is Lauren. I can't stop writing...
The change of season feels like a good time to do some springing forward of a personal nature. The Walker series has been all about family and the complicated way it links people to one another. It was my pet project, my passion. The men were the kind of men who really deserve to be loved; the girls were the kind of girls you'd want as sisters and friends. They felt real to me, and I meant for them to. But the more I look at the market, the more I see that my books don't fit into what readers are terming romance these days. So what's a manic writer to do? Stay the course? Crank out my own carbon copy erotica novel?
I think the answer, for me, is neither. While I might be ready to go a little darker and a little more exciting with my next novel, I might as well face the fact that I have a style and I need to stick to it. I want to continue to write emotional, character-driven stories. Like Shelter, my next novel will bring a little murder into the mix. And I want to build it around a character who makes a cameo in Fix You: a stand-alone piece that doesn't need the Walkers, but tips a hat to them.
I want to write about this guy:
Ben looked every inch the businessman, save the black motorcycle boots he opted for instead of dress shoes. “You ever try to chase down a meth addict in wingtips?” he’d asked once. Over the side of the plate, Chris recognized those black boots standing beside his table, and heaved a sigh.
“Two days in a row. How’d I get so lucky?”
Ben flashed a tight, humorless smile as he slid into the booth across from him. “I figured I’d find you here pouring grease over your rotting liver.”
“Don’t you have a dead body to find?” Chris asked, shoveling in eggs. “A crackhead to run down?”
“In a minute.” Ben pulled a napkin from the dispenser, wiped a patch of table, then folded his arms over it. “I went to see Jessica,” he said, and Chris’s eggs got stuck in his throat.
And his story is a mystery. And his girl is too good for him.