Meet Ann McMan
I don’t write romance novels. Generally. At least, not in the traditional ways that seem to define this subset of the lesfic genre. Although it’s true that my first novel, Jericho, has been defined by some as a romance. But to many others, Jericho falls more into some kind of gray area that hasn’t really inherited a category yet. And my subsequent books seem to have drifted even further afield from the romance realm—although they all contain strong romantic elements. Still. To be fair…I don’t write romances. And I get lots of feedback about that. Lots. Many readers begged me to, please, please, please write another Jericho. When I did, finally, revisit the town and the characters in the sequel, Aftermath, a slew of readers (and several reviewers) were disappointed that the book wasn’t just like its prequel. Set aside for a moment the notion that any author would want to keep rewriting the same book—why would any group of readers want to keep rereading it? A paradox. I struggle with that one. It’s not that I don’t understand what it’s like to have favorites. I read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice every year. Religiously. And I have been doing so for more than thirty-five years. That means I have been pouring over the love story between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy for twice as many years as Justin Bieber has been adding digits to his bank balance. Sobering thought. But still…I don’t write romances. Even though I enjoy reading good ones.
Meet Salem West.
She doesn’t write romances either. She doesn’t write any kinds of books. She writes reviews at The Rainbow Reader. In fact, it was her review of Jericho that first brought us together. And not because she gave it a perfect score. She didn’t. I think I walked away with a 5.1 on her illusive 6-point scale. But since I also managed to walk away with HER in the bargain, I try not to complain too much about the rating. And if you’ll forgive me for being a proud and biased spouse: I’ll go on record and state that she writes damn fine reviews that are full of wit, humor, and gentle, self-deprecating satire. She has a strong voice, and her reviews have a literary merit all their own. So, Salem doesn’t write romances either. But like me, she enjoys reading them.
So what happens when one night over a bottle of Fess Parker Pinot Noir, Ann and Salem (two writers who don’t write romances) got what they thought was a GREAT idea for a romance? Why not think about it? People had been after the two of them FOREVER to write something together… And this was such a GREAT idea! A book that would combine the best of both of them: Ann’s feisty and sharp-tongued irreverence; Salem’s corn-fed Midwestern quirkiness; Ann’s rust belt childhood, growing up with a father who was a labor organizer; Salem’s upbringing on a farm in the plain-speaking, god-fearing American heartland; and, finally, Ann’s blue collar, and Salem’s red neck. Oops. Did I say that last part out loud? Sorry, honey… Any way. That was the idea. But how to bring it to fruition? Well. Ann couldn’t write it. Remember? She doesn’t write romances… And Salem couldn’t write it. She reviews books, and couldn’t compromise her independent status. But this little book called Hoosier Daddy was such a great idea that SOMEBODY had to write it.
Enter Maxine Redwood
Thus was born the love child of Ann McMan and Salem West…sort of. We gave Maxine her own identity, and her own Facebook page. We gave her a style all her own. At least, we tried. And it seemed to be working because, unlike Ann and Salem, Maxine could write a romance. It was a perfect solution. Maxine would write the book, quietly and in relative anonymity. She’d post it online for free. And Ann and Salem would stay outta her pond, and let her sink or swim on her own merits. Great idea, right? Well. It WAS…until the wonderful world that is contemporary lesfic reached out and embraced Maxine, supplying her with advice and encouragement…affording her kind and generous feedback—and even offering her a contract for publication.
Now what? Salem and I began to feel dishonest. Every kind word and good deed directed at Maxine heightened our sense of disingenuousness…which was NOT the road we intended to travel. Ever. So, today, we’re coming clean about our little enterprise (and not just because Michelle Brooks busted us!). But what about Maxine? And what happens to Hoosier Daddy? We confess that we’ve grown very attached to Maxine—and, although it’s unmaidenly to confess it…we LOVE this little book of ours. So we want to keep writing it. And we hope that folks will want to keep reading it, too—and that they’ll understand how two well-intentioned upstarts brazenly dared to write a romance…even at this remove. So we think that, at least for now, Maxine should live to write another day. She even has her first critical review: “The sentence structure of Hoosier Daddy suggests the lighter works of Ann McMan, such as Bottle Rocket, while the vocabulary echoes the midwest sensibility and wry wit of Salem West”
Maybe we’re on to something…
To begin reading Hoosier Daddy (new chapters are posted as they are completed) click here.