Monday, February 15, 2016

The Making of a Love Triangle, er, Quadrangle, er, Quintangle, er, Sextet?


Suzanne Johnson

Once upon a time, a young woman…well, okay, a middle-aged woman….sat down to write a story, never really expecting to do anything with it except exorcise her inner demons left from living through the destruction and revival of New Orleans in Hurricane Katrina.

She had a story that, she thought, was filled with important themes. That things we love can disappear in an instant, with no warning. That we are all stronger than we think. That people who make good leaders in times of prosperity often make the worst-possible leaders during times of disaster. That there are always those who will take advantage of others’ adversity. That “family” is what we make it, not necessarily what we are born with. That you never know how much you love a person or a place until you lose it, or almost lose it.

Lo and behold, that book, called ROYAL STREET, got published. It was unleashed upon the world in 2012, and what did many reviewers focus on? The deep themes? No. It was The Love Triangle.

To which I responded, “Huh?”

Many readers, I learned, abhor love triangles. But ROYAL STREET wasn’t about a love triangle, I argued to deaf ears. It was a fantasy novel; it wasn’t even a romance. There was nothing romantic about it. (Well, okay, there was that scene in the laundry room.) DJ only crushed on Jake because her world had turned insane and he was so normal.

But suddenly, here came “Team Alex” and “Team Jake” and, yeah, okay, unintentionally, I had created a love triangle.

Feeling misunderstood, I decided to get rid of the love triangle and put it to rest with the
second book, RIVER ROAD. I would do this by having DJ explore her feelings for Jake but realize they weren’t going to work, and I would heat up her relationship with Alex. To keep readers’ minds off romance, damn it, I’d increase Jean Lafitte’s involvement in the story (because DJ has always insisted that wasn’t going anywhere) and introduce some merfolk. DJ’s one attempt at a date with Jake turned into a disaster. Alex upped his game.

All fixed, right? No, by gosh, reviewers complained: I had now created a LOVE QUADRANGLE. Not only had the French pirate been taken seriously as a suitor, but the grouchy tattooed merman Rene Delachaise had somehow gotten into the game.

Huh?

I wrote blogs and answered emails and protested to anyone who’d listen (which was no one) that this was NOT A LOVE QUADRANGLE. I had never felt so misunderstood. I had to fix it.

With teeth-gritting determination, I embarked on book three, ELYSIAN FIELDS, determined there was going to be nothing—NOTHING—that would perpetuate a love quadrangle. I had Jake infect DJ with the loup-garou virus and then run like a big old chicken to the Beyond. I had Alex and DJ take their relationship to a new level—they had SEX, for God’s sake. I made it perfectly clear that DJ and Rene are in no danger of becoming a couple. They’re too much alike. I brought in a beautiful, despicable elf named Quince Randolf, aka Rand, as a mystery element—a creature of unknown species involved with Dj’s best friend.

O.M.G. Now, somehow I had created, with Rand’s addition, a Quintangle. How could that possibly be? DJ was sleeping with Alex. Yeah, she ended up married to Rand in some elven sort of way but she hates him. Not “pretends to hate but really wants to jump his bones,” but hates.

This simply had to stop. So in PIRATE’S ALLEY, I found Jake someone to be engaged to, and DJ is happy for him. Problem solved. DJ sits down with Jean Lafitte and says, plainly and clearly, we are nothing but friends. Problem solved. DJ and Rene continue to be good friends but very clearly are not involved with each other—she helps him get dressed for a date with someone else. Problem solved. Rand is so despicable even his own mother couldn’t love him, plus he got another woman pregnant. Problem solved. DJ and Alex are arguing like blazes, but they say the “L” words to each other. Problem solved. After introducing all of the new species into the multiverse of the series except the fae, I brought in Christof, the Faerie 
Prince
of Winter, and his insane brother Florian. Their antics helped bring DJ and Alex closer. Right?

Sigh. I think it worked. Jake has his own woman. Christof has shown an interest not in DJ but Eugenie. Rand is so awful, no one wants to see DJ with him. They’ve still not given up on a DJ-Jean liaison. They seemed to have accepted Rene as a platonic friend. Alex is again the front-runner despite being so pig-headed that readers now would rather see DJ with no one than with him.

It took me five books but I no longer have a love triangle squared or whatever. 

Except DJ and Alex are so incompatible….

Stay tuned for book five, BELLE CHASSE. What comes after Sextet….The Love Septet?




24 comments:

Liv Rancourt said...

Hahahahaha! You obviously have the best intentions...
;)

Suzanne Johnson said...

I did, Liv, I really did. Those characters never have listened to me--never mind reviewers!

Andrea Thompson said...

This is really funny! I don't think I read as much into the relationships as a lot of readers, that sounds stressful!

I like Alex a lot, and assume he and DJ will finish the series together. But...as illogical as it is, I have strong DJ/Jean feelings. Then again, he's so charismatic that it can't be helped. Maybe you can pair him with a beautiful Historical Undead lady, you know, just to make *me* happy.

Roger Simmons said...

We did a Q&A/Survey once about D.J., I voted she find someone else, someone we haven't met yet. Still think that's a good idea. Have really enjoyed the voyage so far, keep us wondering. As a reader/fan, you may never find that right someone for a HEA, that I will like.

Suzanne Johnson said...

@Andrea--I didn't read that much into the relationships either! I too like Alex, although I'm not sure he and DJ have the stuff to make it last. And I, too, adore Jean Lafitte :-)


@Roger. You want DJ for yourself! Hahaha. I honestly haven't decided which way DJ will go romantically--it might be that she decides she doesn't need anybody. I only guarantee that she will not end up with Rand--or anybody from Fairie, because as we all know, Faeries is crazy.

SandyG265 said...

I don't think DJ and Alex make a good couple.

Liz S. said...

I don't think Alex can bend enough to be what DJ needs. I might be very wrong. As much as I love Jean, I don't see him having any long term relationship with DJ. Looking forward to reading Belle Chasse.

Heather said...

Can't wait for Belle Chasse. DJ Is my favorite heroine of all times! (and I am captain of Team Alex)

Suzanne Johnson said...

@Sandy. I think they make a good physical couple--the attraction is definitely there--but personality-wise, I'm not so sure either.

@Liz. I fear you might be right about Alex, and Jean would make a great AFFAIR, but long term? He's a pirate. LOL. We'll see how the events of BELLE CHASSE change things!

Anonymous said...

In all honesty I really don't know who DJ should end up with, am with Roger in the introduction of someone new for that.

Anonymous said...

Oh and that last comment was from me, Lil

Suzanne Johnson said...

Ha, Lil, sneaking in anonymously. Holy cow, though, if I introduce another new character, I'd be accused of a love Octet! :-)

miki said...

^^ i definitively don't see Alex and DJ lasting... attraction yes but it's not enough in front of so many misunderstanding, he would want her to calm and settle and Dj is simply explosive and imprevisible changing her is no love.
Rene i never saw him as a suitor really, he is just teh friend she should have grown up with to do a lot of mischief and they are doing it now^^

now Jean he won me over really but at teh same time as much as i would like him to be with DJ something is amiss... they understand each other a lot better than alex does but i guess Dj need to be with someone more modern

for me your story was explicit ^^;; but i guess once a story it's released we loose control over it partially^^

just keep us dreaming as long it's an hea i don't mind who Dj choose you will make it believable

JenM said...

I know you keep trying to make this story go in one direction, but it just keeps veering off LOL. Much as I like Alex, he needs to bend a bit, or at least start demonstrating that he can live with the DJ induced chaos that always seems to surround her. Until you find someone else for Rene like you did for Jake, I'm still going to be rooting for him, even if they are "just friends". As for Jean, he is the perfect man for her, but I do realize that his undead status would cause difficulties long term.....

Lisa Richards/alterlisa said...

Don't you just love when your characters hijack your story

Suzanne Johnson said...

@Miki. Yes, Alex is going to have to change--and so will DJ--for it to work. We'll just have to see what they decide, and what happens that might impact their decision.

@Jen...It does keep veering off. Alex didn't turn out to be who I originally thought he would, nor did DJ or even Jean. They have taken on lives of their own, somehow. I think that's a good sign of a well-developed character (I hope so, and not an indecisive author). So I have decided that for the final book of this particular story arc, the as-yet-untitled book six, I am going to stop reining them in and see where those characters want to go.

@Lisa....I absolutely love it. There's something magical about writing when that happens! Except every once in a while, I have to stop and say, Wait, who's driving this bus? :-)

Ali Hubbard said...

Your characters go where they want! I used to think I hated "angles," but I was just kidding myself. Lol. A touch of it helps me root for them and wonder what's going on. Can't wait to see where yours go next! It's always a good place!

Suzanne Johnson said...

Ha, Ali. I'm such a PLOTTER, how is it that my characters are in utter anarchy? I have no idea where they're going next, either. I know how the next book ends but not a clue how they get there :-)

Mary Preston said...

Thank you for such a fun post.

Suzanne Johnson said...

Thanks for stopping by, Mary!

Jess said...

LOL - DJ is just the most popular lady around. It really helped to add some other female interest for the other male characters.

bn100 said...

interesting choices

Suzanne Johnson said...

Thanks to everyone for your comments, and congrats to HEATHER ("president of Team Alex"), who was chosen by good old random.org to win the $5 gift card! See my blog on Sunday for how to claim your prize!

Lisa Creane said...

This is hilarious, Suzanne, and educational, and uncomfortably familiar. Thank you for teaching us a thing or two while we laugh.