Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Big Challenge

I have a friend who has read many of my mystery/thrillers over the years and loved each one of them. I’m nominating him for sainthood or making him the President of my fan club, whichever I can wrangle. Recently he bought one of my contemporary romances and gave it a good review. This prompted him to ask why I occasionally switch gears to write erotic romance. The answer is really quite simple—that’s where the money is!

Seriously, I got into the romance field after releasing three successful thrillers featuring former spy Nick Seven. I was looking for something to flex my creative muscles and chose to write a romance novel, but with a twist. I wanted to add more laughs and tell it primarily from the man’s point of view. A lifetime spent in the relationship wars resulted in “Anywhere the Heart Goes,” which landed me with a new publisher, Extasy Books. It did well enough that I wrote a second one, “The Sweet Distraction.”

Then I chose to go back to more familiar territory, writing adventures featuring spies, thighs and private eyes. I created Vic Fallon, a footloose wisecracking detective whose cases involve him with a different femme fatale in each story. These books have given me the chance to write in the hard-boiled noir style of Chandler, Westlake and Spillane. To date I’ve released three with this character—“The Bundle,” “Lido Key” and “The Dirty Blonde.” Don’t you love that last title?

I was set to continue with that series until a great opportunity presented itself. The contract with my first publisher expired and the print rights for the Nick Seven character reverted back to me. I rewrote the first installment, “Memories Die Last,” then published it with Extasy Books. It accomplished what I wanted—introducing this character to a whole new audience. All of the books in that series have done well and gave me an excuse to spend great amounts of time in the Florida Keys for research. Oh, the sacrifices we have to make!

I still like to dabble in the romantic comedy field, mainly to keep my creativity fresh and to prove to myself that I can do something different. In between all those lusty adventure stories I’ve cranked out three that put me in mind of something you’d see on Lifetime or the USA Network. “Mistletoe and Palm Trees,” “Snowflakes and Palm Trees,” and “Who Gets the Friends?” are lightweight reading, just the kind of thing you’d like to breeze through after a rough day.

Recently I was hired as a freelance writer for an alternative weekly newspaper, the kind that focuses on local events while taking an off-center view of anything topical. I’m still learning how to write in a voice that reflects their editorial style, but it’s getting easier with each assignment. Granted, being the new guy on the staff hasn’t put me in line for any big stories, but I’m learning a lot. I’ve become well versed on things like the Tiny House phenomenon, local bands I’d never listened to, galleries devoted to ancient Mongolian art, and fundraisers for charities I didn’t know existed.

As writers, we need to continually challenge ourselves. Break out of your comfort zone once in a while and try something new. I discovered that there really wasn’t that much difference between writing a spy thriller and a sexy romantic comedy. A lot of elements remained the same. I still had to present fully developed characters, realistic atmosphere, witty dialogue and an engaging plot. Oh, and I also had to maintain a high heat level when it came to the dirty parts.

I like to think of fiction writing as being in the entertainment business. I have little use for authors who drone on and on about style, philosophy, and the important statements their books make about the human condition. Fiction writers write to entertain, period. I target the person in Delight, Arkansas or Parma, Ohio who just wants to lose themselves in a good story.

As for the newspaper gig, I’m hoping that one day I’ll get to do an interview with Taylor Swift or Michael Buble when they hit town for a concert. At this point I’d settle for a sit-down with Boz Scaggs. I might even write a feature on Mick Jagger and the Semi-Rolling Stones. Did you know that their latest concert tour was sponsored by Viagra? That gives new meaning to the song “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.”

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Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author whose books range from romantic mystery/thrillers to contemporary erotic romance. His website is www.timsmithauthor.com.


jean hart stewart said...

Interesting how you've been able to adapt so well. I admire your versatility.

Tim Smith said...

Thank you, Jean. In case you couldn't tell, I get bored easily lol. Probably why I switch back and forth.