Let's see. This is book number...sixteen? If you count the Russell supplement stories, which I do. So this is sixteen, and still, typing those two words - THE END - never stops being emotional. So I had to stop, afterward, and pop over here to blog.
It's over. Thank the Lord it's over! And yet...it's sad. Bittersweet to close the door on them again.
I have some confessions to make. If Aidan was a real flesh and blood boy, I wouldn't give him the time of day. That whole tatted-up bad boy uber macho thing? Not my scene. Not in any way. Men like him have no power of persuasion over me. So it was with much trepidation that I approached writing his book. Mercy and Michael I can understand - they were loners, weirdos, sensitive and intelligent, intellectual, well-read. Walsh is older, mature, sharp as a tack. All things I value. But Aidan? Oh boy. That was going to be a challenge. Unfortunately, my readers gravitated toward him from the first, so I knew this book would happen. And it did. And I'm glad for it. I do love him now. But it took a whole book for me to come to understand and appreciate him. Because you know what was hiding beneath that swagger?
A sweet boy. Who was abandoned by his mother, who was raised by an unfeeling father and a kind stepmom who was only eight years his senior. By the end of it, I wanted to cry for Aidan, and that's a must for me. I have to want to shed tears for a hero, before he can be my hero.
It's incredibly important to me that my characters, regardless of gender, feel real, human, genuine. I reject the label of "alpha male" because I likewise reject the idea that a strong man comes in one variety, with a certain set of traits. Strength is a variegated adjective. In my mind, Ghost is the only true alpha of the series, because he truly is the leader. His strength lies in making the hard calls, the tough decisions that may result in bloodshed. Heartless? Not really. Just uncompromising. While Aidan is strong because he retains a certain softness, and can apologize for his mistakes.
Secondhand Smoke also dips a little deeper into Tango's history. And I won't lie - I have serious misgivings about writing his novel. Why? Because I'm not sure a romance audience is ready for a hero like Tango. Who is anything but "alpha," who has been a victim, and an addict, and who struggles. If I write his book, I want to do it total justice, without shrinking from the uncomfortable or the dark. I love him, and I want to do right by him. And I don't know if this is the right time to do so. We'll have to see. Of the bunch, he's my baby. And I won't sacrifice the realism; nor will I offer him up on a silver platter for the haters and the critics who refuse to examine literature that doesn't fit into a particular box.
Tired yet? This is my emotional dump. Finishing a book is always a sensitive time for an author. It makes me want to hug my characters, and hold them close.
Thank you, readers, for your patience. I wish I could write a book a month, but quality demands more time than that. I hope you'll enjoy Smoke. Look for it next month. I'll keep you updated.