Just a reminder that Interlude Press has reduced eBook prices across the board. Get the multi-format Sotto Voce eBook for $2 off its original price! store.interludepress.com
Unfortunately, today's tour stop at Happily Ever After Book Blog got waylaid by a hacker who took the blog offline over the weekend. So I'm going to go ahead and post today's column on brooding heroes here...
* * *
When I first started to draft Sotto Voce in the fan community, there was a lot of talk about the Greg Kennedy character, and how he was "dark, brooding and hot."
Dark. Brooding. Hot.
Two of those three make perfect sense when we're trying to sort out what we find attractive in a hero. But what is it about brooding men that we find so hot?
In concept, that shouldn't be an attractive character trait, not really. Because "brooding" is really just another word for "grumpy".
But here we are, time and time again, talking about "brooding heroes". And I won't lie—I fall for them like everyone else.
So what gives? How is it that a brooding man is hot, while a grumpy man is just annoying?
I suspect that a brooding hero suggests that there is something underneath that grumpy external layer—that there is depth to his concerns. And if it's a "brooding hero," it's likely that those layers will reveal something in his back story or in his priorities that make him complex, relatable and maybe even a bit vulnerable in ways we did not first suspect.
That's certainly the case with Greg Kennedy, the winemaker in Sotto Voce. When we first meet Greg, we know him to be smart, hard-working and a bit reclusive. We also discover that he is moody, somewhat volatile, and stand-offish. But we also discover that he is generous with his colleagues, protective of the people he cares about, and yes, a bit lonely.
"That day in the vineyard, when you asked about Rhapsody being isolated?...It is. It was, especially when I was first getting my footing here. I just really felt alone," Greg tells Tom, the wine critic to whom he is drawn, confessing a long-ago fling that haunts him. "He was someone I knew, someone familiar."
And eventually, we find that there are reasons why he has isolated himself from the world, and that vulnerability is what ultimately opens him up to love.
Ah. There it is. Peel back the layers, and underneath than moodiness we find a man we can love.
So for me, at least, it isn't necessarily a brooding nature that makes this character hot, but the suggestion created by his moodiness that there is something more to him that makes me want to know him more.
That, and maybe I have a thing for denim shirts, open-top trucks and dark aviator sunglasses.
Between now and its release date on October 21, Interlude Press is hosting two giveaways of Sotto Voce! (And because I have ZERO HTML SKILLS, I'll post pictures and links...)
On Goodreads, US readers can enter for one of five print editions being raffled off.
And on Rafflecopter, anyone can enter to win a free, multi-format eBook edition of Sotto Voce, ready to load on your computer, Kindle, Nook, iPad, phone or other mobile device!
And don't forget, I'm sponsoring my own giveaway! If you pre-order Sotto Voce from the IP Store, Amazon, or any other book retailer (here's one in Australia!), you can win a tour of the wineries, restaurants and locations of Sonoma and Napa that inspired Sotto Voce. You have to be 21 to enter and you will have to get yourself to California (sorry, airfare not included), but one you're here, you'll join me on a day of chauffeured wine tasting and site seeing in Sonoma and Napa.
When I sat down to think about Sotto Voce as a novel instead of a work of fan fiction, I had to ask myself some tough questions about what worked and what didn't in this little story about love and wine. Things were destined to be cut. Other details needed to be added. Others simply needed a rewrite, stat.
Sotto Voce was never a story that followed canon, so it made decisions about the plot easy. I was satisfied with the story, and its structure. If you know the story from its fan origins, then you pretty much know the story of the novel.
What needed work? The characters.
From the day I finished writing the original draft of Sotto Voce, I knew I wanted to do better by the characters by giving them more detail and reason for their actions, and by removing some cringe-worthy cliches. There were a couple of secondary characters, in particular, that I wanted a second crack at. And for the lovers, Tom and Greg, it was a chance to write more detail about who and why they are who they are, from the little physical characteristics like freckles and chest hair to memories of sweaty summer childhood afternoons watching minor league baseball.
Every little detail should say something new about them, and it was a joy to go back and fill in the blanks.
So in the weeks leading up to (and past) Sotto Voce's launch, I'll be posting a series of little character sketches to help you get acquainted with the Tom, Greg, Carmen, Brooke, Diego, Tate and their respective worlds.