Why opposites attract.
I’ll admit that blogger probably had a valid point, but let’s face it, whose real life relationship would provide enough sexy conflict to fill the pages of a romance novel? No, there’s no need to answer that in detail ;)
I’m a huge fan of the opposites attract romance, because to me it’s a strong foundation for a character-driven story. If you have big conflicts of personality and lifestyle (and they have to be big, not merely cosmetic) then you have huge amounts to work with. You can just put your two characters in a situation, sit back and watch the sparks fly. Of course, you do have to cross your fingers and hope they’ll be sexy sparks rather than the third degree burns kind.
What about you, Jamie? Do you think pairing opposites is too contrived? Too much like something that happens in a book rather than real life? And if so, is there anything wrong with that?
JL Merrow (Jamie): I think like most things in life, what it comes down to is this: everyone’s different. Yes, there are couples who seem more like clones - but there are also those who find love by complementing each other, rather than by having absolutely everything in common. And I know which I’d rather read about! A pet hate of mine is romances where I have to struggle to remember which guy is which. I’d much rather see two very different guys work to find the common ground they can meet on.
Even if I didn’t believe opposites attract in real life, I’d still like to read about them. Although obviously there has to be believability, I don’t accept that books have to be exactly like real life. Think about all the conversations you might have in a day - then imagine writing them, word for word, in a book. If you’re anything like me, they’d likely be full of repetition, mis-hearings, and honestly, not that riveting to a reader. The primary purpose of writing is to entertain, and it can’t do that by being boring.
Jo: But what if my favourites are your characters?! I adore the pairing of large, tattooed and uneducated Al with diminutive professor Larry in Muscling Through--you couldn’t find two more different men, yet they work together so well! I’m also a huge fan of K.A. Mitchell’s mismatched couples, and out of her back catalogue, I would probably vote for Mason and Jon in Life Over Easy.
I have to admit, my whole character planning process revolves around finding opposing characteristics for my two leads, as well as a few areas where they will mesh perfectly. This method proved to be a real challenge when planning The Hot Floor, as how do you create three sets of opposites? I originally intended Josh to be a much more confident, tarty kind of fella, but the moment I started writing I realised that he wasn’t that way at all--that was Rai. Or at least, that was how Rai appears to be, when you don’t know him all that well.
I also had fun creating opposing physical characteristics: tall, skinny and blond Josh; lithe, compact and Asian Rai; and enormous, muscular, bald Evan. You really couldn’t mix those three up! Just as you don’t want your two leads to be too similar in character, it’s confusing if they look alike too.
What about Tom and Phil in Pressure Head: were their opposing characteristics a result of planning or simply the characters forcing you to write them that way?
Jamie: As you can guess, the guys in Muscling Through were deliberately opposites, but it wasn’t quite the same thing with Pressure Head. Tom, my narrator, was pretty much his charming, cheeky self from the word go; Phil needed a few rough edges knocked off him, but is still basically the same character I envisaged right at the start. He’s more reserved than Tom, and finds their shared past harder to let go of, but in some ways he sees things more clearly than Tom does.
So although they’re not quite opposites in the way Al and Larry are, there are still a lot of differences between Tom and Phil - and you know what? Those are my favourite bits!
And how about the readers? Do you like to read about the attraction of opposites? Have you met any real-life examples?
Comment to win! Jo and Jamie are both offering a choice of a book from their backlist to one lucky commenter on this post, and all commenters will also be entered into a draw for the grand prize (details here), to be announced on 8th October.
About the books:
Pressure HeadSome secrets are better left hidden. When Tom, a plumber with a talent for finding hidden things, is called in to help the police locate the body of a missing woman, he unexpectedly encounters a familiar face. Phil, Tom’s old school crush, now a private investigator working the same case.
Tom’s attraction to the big, blond investigator hasn’t changed—in fact, he’s even more desirable all grown up. But is Phil’s interest genuine, or does he only want to use Tom’s talent? Meanwhile, the evidence around the woman’s murder piles up...while the murderer’s trigger finger is getting increasingly twitchy.
Two plus one equals scorching hot fun. Every time Josh overhears his sexy downstairs neighbors, Rai and Evan, having loud and obviously kinky sex, Josh is overwhelmed with lust…and a longing for a fraction of the love he’s never managed to find. On the night a naked Josh falls—quite literally—into the middle one of Rai and Evan’s marathon sex sessions, the force of their mutual attraction takes control. But just as Josh dares to hope, he senses a change. Leaving him to wonder if the winds of love are about to blow his way at last…or if history is about to repeat itself.
About the authors:
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.
She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour.
Find JL Merrow online at: www.jlmerrow.com/
English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.
For more information about Jo’s published stories, regular blog posts and saucy free reads, visit JosephineMyles.com
Yin Yang picture courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net