Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Maybe this isn't a romance novel?

New York Heat is done.

The first draft anyway.

This nine-month long writing project, currently spanning 181K words, has finally entered the revising stage. New York Heat challenged me in several ways, like, how do I balance ten lead characters? (Yes, ten! Only five are POV characters, though.) How do I ensure that the final sex scene, which essentially has 175K words of build-up, is the most mind-blowing of all? And what do I do about that particularly chaotic scene?

I’d been thinking about New York Heat for years now. It’s a sequel to both Men In The Hot Room and Go-Go Boys of Club 21, the latter of which I published in September 2015. It took three years to come up with a plot that would be worthy of a sequel.

I’ve always thought of Go-Go Boys of Club 21 as a TV series in book format, and so I wanted New York Heat to have the same effect. And so that meant things had to be bigger and better. I couldn’t do the same thing I always did. That was what made the struggle so difficult.

But in the fall of 2017, everything fell in place. Including “that” scene. The chaotic one. The one that is a huge red flag.

New York Heat takes place in the hottest gay nightclub in New York City. And in the latter half of the book, someone brings a gun to the club and starts shooting.

Yup, I have a scene of mass violence. In a romance novel.

Maybe this isn’t a romance novel. Maybe it’s more of a general gay fiction novel (with a LOT of erotic content). After all, it does reflect reflect a lot on what it means to be a gay man in the present day.

To add fuel to the fire, one of the ten lead characters doesn’t survive the shooting.

Yup, I kill a romantic lead. In a romance novel.

I’m fucked. This can’t be a romance novel.

It IS all part of a master plan, though. I’ve got a fantastic romantic redemption story for the surviving half of the couple that will be fully explored in the sequel to this book — New York Ice. (Which will be harder to write and definitely longer. I don’t know why I do this to myself.)

For now, though, as I deal with the chaos I’ve set before myself and as I struggle to find a way out of it, I’ve got a million side projects that I’ve been neglecting while writing New York Heat. I’ll figure out how to calm the chaos. Eventually. I hope.

Cameron D. James is a writer of gay smut. Find out more at camerondjames.com. His upcoming publication is the (surprisingly smut-free) gay YA romance, Gay Love And Other Fairy Tales, under his YA pen name, Dylan James.


  1. Who cares if it's romance? It sounds amazing!

    I know what you mean now about sequels. I'd never written a series before, but now I am on Book 3, painfully aware that every volume needs to up the ante.

  2. And I always fall so deeply in love with my characters that I can't leave them once I write, "the end." Someone always starts "talking" to me, telling me their romances, and the others continue to show me what their lives have been like since "the end," and before I know it I've got at least 3 books written when it was only supposed to be one!

  3. Congratulations on getting this far, Cameron. And I don’t care either whether the new novel qualifies as “romance” according to traditional rules (made up by whom?).

  4. I've been following and commenting in a discussion elsewhere about readers expecting romance and getting pissed if they don't find it in a book. This pertains to lesbian fiction, "lesfic," but possibly not other types. Most of us have been wishing that books that are clearly tagged as something other than romance wouldn't get so many low ratings just because they didn't include romance. A few commenters, though (and apparently the majority of readers) don't think that a book should be called lesfic if it isn't romance. Just having lesbian characters doesn't count. I dunno. i'm not particularly fond of romance per se, but I may have been when I was younger. My very first novel, coming out in November, is not labeled a romance--it's a superhero adventure piece--but the two main characters have a long-standing relationship, and a couple of steamy sex scenes. I'm not at all sure that sex scenes count for romance in the minds of all lesfic readers, and in fact I know many shy away from erotica, but the fact of a bonded couple whose bond is essential to the story may get me by. Whatever.


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