We’re so pleased to welcome author Sarah Madison today on the tour for the re-release of the Historical Fantasy The Boys of Summer. Enjoy Sarah’s guest post and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win an e-copy of the book.
I love banter, don’t you? I love reading or watching my favorite characters sling verbal volleys at each other, only to have their partner effortlessly lob a comeback. The exchange of witty repartee is something that will hook me in every time.
But I think sometimes, people confuse banter with bicker. I hear readers and viewers alike complaining there isn’t any chemistry between characters because there isn’t enough tension. It’s almost as though these readers believe that unless there is slamming doors and bitter recriminations, the two characters can’t possibly care enough about each other. It’s definitely a theme I see played out on romances, and one I’ve written about before.
I’ll be the first to admit there can be something inherently sexy about an explosive argument that leads to two characters suddenly realizing their attraction to one another. One of my hot-button kinks in romantic fiction is where one person gets thumped up against a wall and thoroughly kissed! You have to walk me through the process though. You have to show me the slow burn of desire until it spontaneously combusts. If the entire story was one tumultuous exchange of such rough handling however, I’d wonder if they should make a PSA about the relationship! If you give me two characters constantly slanging mean statements at one another, you’re going to really have to make me believe in their attraction to one another. Common sense says if a perfect stranger frequently puts you down, you’re more likely to think he or she is a jerk rather than the love of your life. I love snarky exchanges, but while such sarcasm can sound mean, both parties have to understand that it’s not meant that way. The intent is an important distinction. To me, there is a world of difference between bicker and banter.
Let’s look at the definitions: Google defines banter as the playful exchange of teasing remarks. I think the word ‘playful’ is key here.
In one of the early episodes of Castle, Rick Castle is tagging along after NYPD homicide detective Kate Beckett, whom he has chosen to serve as the model for the new mystery series he’s writing. In the scene I’m thinking of, they’re about to knock on the door of a suspect, and Castle says something about inspiration.
Beckett says, “I thought I was your inspiration.”
Castle hastens to assure her she is, whereupon she shoots him a sly glance and says, “Be careful, inspiration might strike you sooner than you think.”
It’s witty, and clever, and she is obviously teasing him, even as she is still being dismissive of his presence in her investigation. It was dialog like this that made me a Castle fan. Well, that and Nathan Fillion.
When I was in college, I had a pair of friends who lived together and eventually married. In the beginning, I enjoyed hanging out with them, but the longer they were together as a couple, the more uncomfortable I became with their constant bickering. Google defines bickering as arguing about petty and trivial matters. OMG, that’s exactly what they did. Every little everything had to be picked to death, from who left the damp towel on the floor to the right and wrong way to put up Halloween decorations. There was no fun anywhere in their exchanges, and I seriously considered at one point trying to talk them out of getting married. We drifted apart after college, but it had more to do with what passed for dialog in their house than differing geographical locations.
Which brings me back to such exchanges in fiction. Believe me, nothing says sexy more to me than a healthy romantic relationship. Healthy isn’t constantly yelling or belittling each other. Healthy isn’t smashing crockery or peeling out of the driveway with screeching tires, or getting wasted in a bar because you are so angry and upset with your partner. I find the idea that these things are necessary to show ‘chemistry’ a disturbing trend in romantic fiction. Now, mind you, I understand how difficult it is to tell a story without introducing conflict. It’s conflict that makes for drama, which engages the reader and draws them in. One of the hardest things any television show can do is successfully maintain audience interest once the UST been the lead characters has been resolved. I can only think of a handful of shows that did it well. Why? Because happy couples make for nice endings, not interesting story-telling.
From a writer’s perspective, it’s a heck of a lot harder to write about healthy relationships. To me, it’s a bit of a cheat to make your characters angrily and abusively attracted to one another for the sake of dramatic effect unless you’ve laid out the background for why these people are so damaged in the first place. And then, if you want me to believe in their True Love at the end of your story, you have to show me that they’ve worked through these issues. You also have to show me why they are worth the effort. Telling me that they are so unbelievably hot doesn’t cut it.
Either way, you have to either provide the reason for the antagonism or the attraction—and if you have both, you have to resolve the antagonism to my satisfaction for me to accept the Happily Ever After.
I like putting my characters in hot water so I can see how strong they are. Like tea bags, only sexier. And to me, strong, sexy characters know the difference between bicker and banter.
TITLE: The Boys of Summer
AUTHOR: Sarah Madison
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Reese Dante
LENGTH: 200 Pages
RELEASE DATE: December 21, 2015
BLURB: 2nd Edition
David McIntyre has been enjoying the heck out of his current assignment: touring the Hawaiian Islands in search of the ideal shooting locations for a series of film-company projects. What’s not to like? Stunning scenery, great food, sunny beaches… and Rick Sutton, the hot, ex-Air Force pilot who is flying him around.
Everything changes when a tropical storm and engine failure force a crash landing on a deserted atoll with a WWII listening post. Rick’s injuries and a lack of food and water mean David has to step up to the plate and play hero. While his days are spent fighting for survival, and his nights are filled with worrying about Rick, the two men grow closer. David’s research for his next movie becomes intertwined with his worst fears, and events on the island result in a vivid dream about the Battle of Britain. On waking, David realizes Rick is more than just a pilot to him. The obstacles that prevented a happy ending in 1940 aren’t present today, and David vows that if they survive this stranding, he will tell Rick how he feels.
Sarah Madison is a veterinarian with a large dog, an even bigger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. An amateur photographer and a former competitor in the horse sport known as eventing, when she’s not out hiking with the dog or down at the stables, she’s at the laptop working on her next story. When she’s in the middle of a chapter, she relies on the smoke detector to tell her dinner is ready. She writes because it’s cheaper than therapy.
Sarah Madison was a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards and is the winner of Best M/M Romance in the 2013 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Awards.
If you want to make her day, e-mail her and tell you how much you like her stories.
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