One of the problems with writing contemporary romance nominally set in our world, in this year, is that sometimes, events in real life happen in a direction different than we thought when we first wrote the story.
Other times — and even more awkwardly — events in real life happen in exactly the same direction as in our story.
To a large extent, Racheline and I try not to predict the future when we write Love in Los Angeles. A lot of times, that can be hard. Love in Los Angeles is ultimately going to be a six-book series that spans multiple generations of Paul and Alex’s family. That requires reaching into the future and, occasionally, back into the past. And writing lgbtq romance, when the American political landscape on the issue is changing so rapidly, makes that kind of tricky. Racheline and I need to keep a map around of which states have marriage equality this week, because it keeps changing. And when Indiana — the state Alex is from — passed marriage equality last year, we had to stop and reconsider what that event, which we hadn’t planned on happening, would mean for Alex at this point in his life. Trying to predict what’s going to happen when, whether it’s six months or six years down the line, usually brings us more grief than it’s worth, so mostly we just try not to.
And sometimes, we try really, really hard to not predict the future. Like when we were working on Doves, and brainstorming for the series-climax conflict on The Fourth Estate, the hit TV show Alex stars on. We knew that Alex’s character, Zach, would be sneaking into Iran to report on a political situation unfolding there. I’m a political scientist by training, with more than a passing familiarity with Iran’s history and politics. And while I wanted the situation in The Fourth Estate to not contradict any current realities, I didn’t want the conflict Zach got himself tangled up in to be something that would ever actually happen. We also very much did not want to exploit any sort of real-world tragedy for the sake of our story drama. So we brought in a fictional group of Chechans, to be Zach’s antagonists. To us, that seemed like a thing that technically could, but definitely wouldn’t, happen in Iran.
Except then this summer ISIS happened, and while that situation didn’t directly involve Iran the way it did in our story, it did involve Western journalists in ways that looked a lot like our fictional Fourth plot. And, to our immense shock, it also involved Chechans.
It was — and is — uncomfortable for us. We wrote Doves half a year before most people in the US had ever heard of ISIS, but still, the fictional scenario we dreamed up for the sake of drama was now unfolding on our TV screens.
Which is a condemnation of us, in a way, for thinking we could play with big questions of war and conflict, even in a romance novel, and not have the real world touch it in some way. It’s certainly also a reminder that we really, really, really can’t predict the future.
As we write forward in the series — Book Three, Phoenix, is with our editor, and we’re currently writing Book Four — and farther into the future in the Love in Los Angeles universe, we’re going to diverge — and accidentally converge — more and more from the real world as it exists than we might like. But that’s part of the magic of storytelling: to explore many outcomes and possibilities, not just the one that’s happening around us.
Two years after the events of Starling, Cinderella story and star of The Fourth Estate J. Alex Cook is living happily ever after with his boyfriend, television writer Paul Marion Keane. But when Paul’s pilot, Winsome, AZ, gets picked up, the competing demands of their high-profile careers make them question their future together.
As Paul becomes increasingly absent from their relationship, Alex tries to regain control of his private life and establish a career path independent of Fourth’s enigmatic, and at times malevolent, showrunner Victor. But the delicate web of relationships that connects Alex, Paul, and their friends — including Alex’s excitable ex-lover Liam and his no-nonsense fiancée Carly — threatens to unravel.
With the business of Hollywood making it hard to remember who he is when the whole world isn’t watching, Alex is forced to confront major changes in the fairytale life he never wanted as he discovers that love in Los Angeles often looks nothing like the movies.
About the authors
Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese are authors of the gay romance series Love in Los Angeles, set in the film and television industry (Starling (September 10, 2014), Doves (January 21, 2015), and Phoenix (June 10, 2015)), all from Torquere Press. Their gay romance novella Midsummer, Book One of the Love’s Labour series, about a summerstock Shakespeare company, is from Dreamspinner Press (Summer 2015). Racheline is a NYC-based performer and storyteller; Erin is a writer and blogger based in Washington, D.C. They write stories and scripts about the intersection of private lives, fame, and desire. You can find them on the web at http://www.Avian30.com.
Social media links:
Joint Blog: http://Avian30.com
Joint Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Erin.and.Racheline
Erin’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/erincmcrae
Racheline’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/racheline_m
Erin’s Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8323893.Erin_McRae
Racheline’s Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1015335.Racheline_Maltese