Alison Kent’s Hope Springs Series continues with The Comfort of Favorite Things, a second-chance romance set in Alison’s fictional Texas town. Like all of us, Alison is an enthusiastic reader who loves series, and is always interested in what — or more importantly, who — is next. She’s here to talk about series romance, and why she keeps returning to Hope Springs. Don’t keep US waiting, Alison!
(Also, check out the giveaway at the end of Alison’s post for a chance to win a copy of The Comfort of Favorite Things! US residents only)
Anticipation … it’s keeping me waiting.
How many times have you read a book series, and kept waiting and waiting for the author to tell the story of your favorite character? Virgin River, the Black Dagger Brotherhood, the McCloud Brothers.
Series pull us into the worlds authors create. We fall in love with the characters. We smell the enchiladas they eat in their favorite restaurants. We hear the beans grinding in their favorite coffee shop. We watch the sun set across the pasture behind the house that is the focal point of their lives.
I have written quite a few series. Some I fell into. Others I planned. My first was the gIRL-gEAR series for Harlequin Blaze. Then I wrote the Smithson group for Kensington Brava, and the Dalton Gang for Berkley Heat.
Most recently, however, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Hope Springs, Texas, a tiny little fictional town between San Antonio and Austin near New Braunfels and Gruene. When I wrote the first book, The Second Chance Cafe, I gave my hero, Tennessee Keller, two siblings, but neither one of them were part of the story at the beginning.
Ten’s sister, Indiana, came on the scene in the middle of that first book when I needed someone to help my heroine, Kaylie Flynn, plan out a big vegetable garden. Voila! Turns out Indiana owned a small organic vegetable farm. Who knew? And when I needed Ten to have family conflict, I decided his brother had been in prison, then vanished after his release, with neither Ten nor Indiana having a clue where he was.
Rather than writing Indiana’s story next, I wrote one for a friend of Kaylie’s in Beneath the Patchwork Moon. But Ten was still there, as was Indiana, though on the periphery. Book three became Indiana’s, and in that book, I figured out what had happened to the third sibling: Dakota. He arrives at the end of that tale, and settles things with his siblings.
Or DOES he…
(Might have been easier if I’d figured everything out from the beginning, but such is the way some series work!)
THE COMFORT OF FAVORITE THINGS picks up several months after The Sweetness of Honey. Dakota has been reunited with his siblings, though he’s still not quite comfortable in Hope Springs. Then a new construction project puts him in contact with a girl he’d known in high school. A girl who was the reason he was able to stay sane during the three years he spent behind bars.
Hinting at his past in previous books resulted in a whole lot of reader mail asking for his story. (I get more mail for another character, so have his story bubbling in a creative cauldron.) It’s a lot of pressure, writing about someone readers have already met, someone they’ve already bonded with, or judged, or formed an opinion about. The author can only write the character as he appears in their mind. Then cross our fingers we do his story justice.
What other characters have you waited anxiously to read about? Did you love what the author did with them?
A native Texan, Alison Kent sold one of the first of her over fifty published works live on the “Isn’t It Romantic?” episode of CBS 48 Hours. The resulting book, Call Me, was a Romantic Times finalist for Best First Series Book. Alison’s book, A Long, Hard Ride, part of Harlequin’s 60th Anniversary celebration, was nominated for an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Harlequin Blaze of 2009. Striptease, a 2003 release from Harlequin Blaze and part of her popular gIRL-gEAR series, was also an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award nominee.
Her 2005 Kensington Brava release, The Beach Alibi, was a nominee for the national Quill Awards, sponsored by Reed Business Information. Alison is also the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Writing Erotic Romance, and her 2009 novel, No Limits, was a Cosmopolitan Magazine Red Hot Read. The Second Chance Cafe, the first in her Hope Springs series from Amazon Montlake, was a 2014 RITA finalist in contemporary romance.
If there’s a better career out there than writing, she doesn’t want to know about it, as she’s quite happy putting pen to paper in the backyard of her Texas home. That’s where she lives with her petroleum geologist husband, three rescue dogs, and a colony of not-quite-feral cats, battling the heat each year to raise a bumper crop of tomatoes and jalapeno peppers.