Today we are lucky to be joined by Penny Hudson to talk about conflict. Don’t you just love some conflict in your romance?
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Thank you for hosting me, Nic! I am thrilled to have a chance to visit and talk about one of my favorite parts of any book, the conflict. Conflict does it for me, all the way around. There’s nothing like a pair of passionate guys snarling at each other because they want different things and still need each other to achieve them. Conflict isn’t always a flight to the death, like in this picture I took last weekend–three steps from the front door–of a black widow spider brawling with a red hornet.
See? Conflict! When I set out to write Winter’s Risk, I knew one character would be a park ranger called Alex. I wanted to use the wilderness setting–huddling for warmth inside the city limits just seemed lame–and the dangerous bear because it would be really interesting, but it took forever to make the second character work as a person and not just an injured man in distress. (Should it be D.i.D, Dude in Distress?)
In the first, extremely rough, outline, Martin was a random camper attacked by the bear…and it just wasn’t working. At all. Dead on arrival. *Cricket noises*
There was no conflict between Martin and Alex. He’d just been badly injured, any park ranger would be a welcome sight. Especially a handsome, flirty ranger! All my attempts to spark some passion between them came off as clunky and contrived. They were getting along and it was horrible.
The happy fluffy bunnies were drowning my draft!
I went back to the drawing board and drew in some conflict between them. They needed a history. Thanks to Alex, Martin got an arrest record. But in return Martin killed a project near and dear to Alex’s heart. When they meet again for the events in Winter’s Risk, their mutual disdain and loathing for one another leaped off the page. The snarky sentences and bitter banter practically wrote itself. The story hit the ground running and didn’t stop.
Conflict. I love it. Would you like to see some? Yes, yes you would.
The excerpt is the scene when Alex is diverted from tracking a murderous bear by his nemesis, Martin the hippy environmentalist, his least favorite person. Ever.
Veteran park ranger Alexander Doyle is tracking a nuisance bear when he runs across obnoxious environmentalist Martin Ramirez. He and Martin have clashed before, when Martin and the protestors under his leadership ended a plan to expand the network of paved trails and improve accessibility. Given a choice, Alex would rather face the bear.
When the dangerous grizzly attacks them and Martin is gravely wounded, his only chance of survival is Alex’s determination to keep him alive through the night. But they’re stranded miles from any hope of rescue with the year’s first snowstorm coming in fast.
Alex’s lip lifted in a sneer. Fancy finding him all the way out here. For a moment he forgot he was trailing a bear that had already killed two people. He called out to the other man.
“It’s a little out of the way for a protest, don’t you think?”
He was gratified to see Martin jolt and drop his expensive camera. Pity he had a strap around his neck, and it didn’t plunge all the way to the bottom.
“What the hell?” Martin spun around and snapped right back, recognizing him immediately. “Doyle, it’s a free country. I can hike and take pictures if I want to.” He sounded rather petulant for a man pushing fifty, but he still acted like it was the 60s. Go flower power and all that crap.
Alex rubbed his shoulders against the tree, idly scratching his back.
“I’m not after you, you big twat. Have you seen a grizzly? Two yellow tags?” He didn’t expect Martin to do something as civilized as help him, and he wasn’t disappointed.
Martin paused, considered his answer, and then jutted his chin out and glared. Alex had two decades of experience dealing with tourists, summertime volunteers, cheating boyfriends, and random idiots. Like the idiot standing in front of him. He knew he was about to hear a lie even before Martin answered like sugar wouldn’t melt in his mouth.
“No sir, Mr. Ranger, sir,” he said sweetly. “I haven’t seen anything bigger than a bird all day. Can I assist you further, Mr. Ranger, sir?”
“Don’t fuck with me,” Alex snarled, and walked to meet him on the edge. He could still see the girl’s mangled body if he closed his eyes. He jabbed a finger toward Martin’s chest, disgusted that he had ever bothered to ogle him from the treeline. It just wasn’t fair that someone so useless could have such a nice ass. Martin looked down at his finger and raised one perfect eyebrow.
“I don’t have time for your bleeding heart—”
The sharp crack of a stick breaking in the forest interrupted him.
“Shut up,” Alex growled, even though Martin wasn’t talking at that moment. He wheeled around to face the woods, rifle ready. “Just shut up. It’s here.”
I’m giving away a copy of Winter’s Risk to a randomly selected commenter once the tour ends. To enter, just comment on this post. The giveaway is open until July 21st and a complete listing of stops on the tour is posted at my blog.
Winter’s Risk is available from Dreamspinner Press, Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon India, Kobo, and All Romance Ebooks, which has a much longer excerpt posted.
You can always find me hanging out on my blog and as @AnyPennyH, where I talk about beer and hiking just as often as books and movies.