My original intent for Love & Peace was to create a historical novel with hot steamy romance with Persons of Color as main characters. While the core of my mission has not changed, the focus has shifted.
Pax and Ami were to be the central story. Pax is a French Huguenot escaping religious persecution under King Louis XIV of France. He arrives in the New World as an indentured slave and struggles toward freedom. As he does, his world collides violently with Ami, a maroon, who was born free. When her freedom is threatened, Pax becomes her most unlikely ally. As they make peace with each other, they find love.
However, at the beginning of the story, Pax and Ami are children and are not fully formed. By the second part, they were to become lovers and partners in a great adventure. That turns out to be a long story, as well as the machinations of the antagonist, Smith, uses to entangle Pax inextricably.
Despite being new at this whole historical romance novel writing thing, I used to be (and still am when the right one comes along) an avid reader of the genre. I understand the need to build sexual tension and have it culminate in the big pay-off. After covering their back story, Ami and Pax would not get there in there. Or they would, but much too late in a very long book.
So, at page 450, I realized that this story needs to be cut in half. I would rather keep the story intact as it is but I’m no big name author with some big-time publisher backing me. Printing long books, I have learned, is expensive and the return in investment is not assured, especially in small presses. So, they tend to discourage my epic stories which tend to be the case with every book I’ve written to date.
Cutting Love & Peace would mean rushing Ami and Pax’s consummation of their romance. I don’t want to do that. I want them to grow up first. There are things they must go through.
I do have secondary characters involved in romance. Pax’s brother Ivan take a male lover and a pretty mulatta falls in love with a Chinese pirate. Also, I had hoped to do a separate timeline with Ami’s grandmother, who was raped by a slavemaster and explore the difficult dynamics of love and power and coercion, not to mention forgiveness.
Since I have been following Ivan separately and have written in sparks and sexy time with his interest, I want to shift the focus of Love and Peace to a same-sex couple. However, I am worried about how the book will be marketed and received.
In the end, my book–all my books–are about characters and how they love, hate, and need each other. It’s not about black or white or gay or straight or any kind of labels because people and the way I intend my characters are much more than that one attribute. I can deal with labeling books according to genre although there’s little accuracy in that too. However, I fear my books will be marginalized because the characters come from marginalized backgrounds when the book is about so much more.