|My two boys before they were teens.|
Wow. I never used the random number generator before. It was kind of exciting. Marcie and Summer are the winners. Please get in touch via my email: ellen AT ellenhartman DOT com. Let me know if you'd rather a print book or an ebook.
With the two books I have coming out this year, I'm at a grand total of eight Superromances. Exactly half of my books include a teenager in a significant role.
Sometimes I tell myself, "Smarten up, Hartman. Write about a baby, or better yet twins. Books with babies on the cover sell like hotcakes."
You want to know a sad truth about teenagers? They aren't even allowed on the cover of romance novels.* Who knows what their angsty, argumentative, sometimes sullen appearance would do for sales? (Note to the marketing department: The answer to that depends on the buyer. Forget hotcakes, I snap up single-parent-raising-teenager books like crispy, fresh bacon!)
I understand the appeal of baby characters, in theory. Infant are helpless. They need to be loved and protected. Infants are all about intense need and devotion. They cry and sleep and eat and...infants....umm...there must be more, right? Maybe I don't understand the appeal of babies, after all.**
Teenagers, on the other hand, are solid gold secondary characters for a romance novel.
- Teenagers do dangerous, bad things. And their parents are rapidly losing the capacity (legal, physical, etc.) to
- Teenagers are articulate, observant, and scathingly honest. Especially when it comes to their parents' flaws.
- Teenagers want desperately to be loved and respected as individuals precisely at the moment in their lives when they are least able to ask for affection and connection from the adults who care about them most. The teenager and caregiver relationship is a delicate dance and it's so easy for either side to mess up the steps.
- Teenagers know their parents' hopes and dreams intimately. This makes them uniquely suited to crush those same hopes and dreams.
There is an element of fear running through the interaction of many of my characters and their teenage children. In His Secret Past, Mason Star is afraid that he hasn't been a good enough dad to his son, that somehow his own inadequacies as a person have left his son open to succumbing to bad influences.
In Calling the Shots, Clare worries that her son will stop needing her and that she won't be able to keep him safe, while Bryan worries that his daughter will decide to move to California because a relationship with him doesn't have much to offer. That fear brings out the vulnerability in the characters and reveals their deepest desires. It's rich territory for an author writing about relationships.
In my May Super, The Long Shot, Deacon Fallon is guardian to his 18-year-old brother, Wes, who gets suspended from college in the first chapter. Here's the beginning of their first scene:
Deacon slammed his hand against the glass door of the university administration building and stalked through. He made no attempt to hold the door for the idiot he called a brother. In fact, the way he felt right now, he hoped the door would hit Wes in the face. The kid desperately needed someone to knock some sense into him.
As if Wes wasn't trouble enough, Deacon also gets roped into coaching a girls' high school basketball team. I enjoyed myself thoroughly as I wrote all of these complicated and fascinating kids.
So who has a teen story for me? I want to hear about the time the teenage you pushed the boundaries or had a revelation. What about teenagers you've raised or worked with? What's a moment that captures the joy of caring for kids who are this special age?
I'm giving away copies of The Long Shot to two people who comment!
*This is probably not exactly true. I'm just being dramatic. Although who knows...I don't remember seeing a romance novel with a teenager on the cover. Maybe they are banned. :-)
**Kidding. I know why babies are appealing. It's their tiny little toes. Plus the gummy smiles. And their soft hair. Or the way they snuggle up when you hold them just right...sigh. I have a new nephew and now I really want to drive to his house and hold him.