06-18 Sarah Raplee – WHY PSYCHIC AGENTS?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fire isn't coming...Wildfire is here

by M. L. Buchman

It's odd...one of the things I've become known for is the level of my research. It wasn't a skill I set out to achieve, or something I really expected in my writing. But the characters and the stories took over and insisted that they were real world tales. Even when I write my thrillers or fantasy, some part of me insists on making the world's setting as realistic as possible.

So, study very hard to get as much right in my stories as I can. I am no more a firefighter than I was a Special Operations helicopter pilot or a former Delta Force operator (upcoming new series this winter), but I do seek authenticity. Granted, it all is background to the love story, the relationship, the emotional roller coaster ride of self and other, but still it is there.

And one of the problems with all of this research is that sometimes I learn too much. So how do I find a balance between telling a romance and the pending horrific wildfire season that is already burning in unlikely places like the Olympic National Forest (which is a temperate rainforest for those of you who don't know Washington state)?

I keep my focus tight on one key element, the origin of all of the heat in a romance, even in one about smokejumpers: the characters.

One of the amusing things was that I made the focus so tight, that I fell in love with both of the characters and didn't know which one should be on the cover.

So, I asked my newsletter readers and offered them this image to vote on:

And that's where "realism" tripped me up in an interesting way. When I write a romance, I typically write about "Strong women and the men they deserve." This naturally made me want to place Krista on my new book cover, because she was more "real" to me, or at least a more realistic reflection of my story, at least as I thought it up.

What happened was I lost focus on the "story" of Wildfire on the Skagit.

The story here, according to my reader survey (who agreed by a surprisingly strong factor of 4-to-1 out of hundreds of votes), was focused on the object of the woman's search for romance (even when, like Krista, she isn't looking for it). Many fans wrote in to tell me that they already knew what they themselves looked like, already knew they were strong. They wanted to see the man they deserved in order to project themselves more easily into the story.

Which is what it's all about. The ride. Journeying along in the hero and heroine's right-hand pockets through all of the fun and misadventures on the path to that perfect Happy Ever After moment that we all so want...even if we're already living our own.

So, I offer you a pair of "Hot" wildfire rides that are accurate, but only pleasantly real to help you while away the hot summer. :)
Available now -book #3 of the Firehawks Smokejumper series.
Coming August 4th -available for pre-order -book #3 of the main Firehawks series

For folks who love to feel the heat, check out the links at my website at: www.mlbuchman.com or your favorite retailer now!


Judith Ashley said...

Very interesting about why your readers want to see the hero on the cover. Thanks for sharing that bit of research!


PS: I'm ready for a couple of weeks of really good soaking rains about now. It feels like August in the Willamette Valley and it's still June!!!

Paty Jager said...

It is interesting how readers perceive covers. My oldest daughter was here over the weekend and critiqued my covers. (My other daughter designs my covers) My oldest daughter feels there shouldn't be photos of people on the books because she sees them in her mind differently than the people on the covers. She only liked the covers with limited views of the people or no people. Then you have the other readers who want a hot guy on the covers. We can't win. ;)

M. L. Buchman said...

I've lately gone and stood in a number of bookstores and stared at the shelves for an hour or two. Oddly enough, I find the that grocery stores, Fred Meyer, WalMart, etc are the most useful. If they have a decent book section, it only includes hot titles that their buyer thinks will move or top names. And the trends are changing (at least the ones coming out of NY and those are still plenty strong to define indie trends per genre as well).

Contemporary romances, that used to have the charming couple in the foreground, now have a distant couple or a distant single woman viewing a landscape. Suspense, my primary genre, is predominated by a male or a couple on front (though rarely facing the reader directly). Other genres are in sharp flux. A thriller rarely has more than the hint of a setting, it's all typography. And science fiction...I have no idea what NY designers are doing there; as far as I can tell, they don't either. :)