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
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.
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
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?