Hi Everyone! Please welcome Brandy to my blog today! I met her at RomCon and we instantly bonded. I think something annoyed me and she was all “yeah! yeah! Get violent!” 😉 No, but she’s super cool, and I’m definitely glad I met her and that we’re online buddies.
Hey look at me… I’m guest posting. Thanks Lime for letting me play around on your blog. Hope you don’t regret it. lol
This is kind of a funky post. Like a good book this will start one place and go somewhere completely unexpected. At least to me it will since I’m just winging it and watching TV. Actually watching one of my favorite shows: Gangland. (I LOVE Gangland!)
The show has been a ton these days and I can’t help but watch. Hell I even text back and forth with a friend while we watch. I mean who doesn’t want to see how gangs are formed and how they evolve as time goes by. They are organized and the violence insane. But that’s not what the post is about.
I’m fascinated by the whole concept of the gang. But there is one thing that always crosses my mind. I’m not cut out for the gang life. The biggest reason besides not wanting to join one – EVER, is that I have no doubt my fingers would cramp up trying to throw gang signs. My god I have no idea how they do all of those signs without hurting themselves or throwing their backs out. My luck I’d try making a sign, make the wrong one and something bad would happen.
Watching today I finally had a new thought and it’s an odd one at that. Where in all of the romance out there in booklandia is the former gang member love story? The storyline that has the hero as a past gang member trying to make his life better. The heroine who doesn’t know about his past and loves him as he is now. What would she do if confronted with his past? Would she stay by his side or run for the hills?
Could a couple ever overcome such a past life?
I have a feeling that there are some stories that will never get told. Maybe they shouldn’t be heroes in our love of slightly flawed men overcoming stuff in their past. This might be more than we readers can handle. You will always know that he did
some nasty stuff and I’m not sure pure trust could be achieved. Some fantasies just shouldn’t make the cut in the world of romance.
So my questions for you guys: What story line do you think should never be told? Is there a background that just can’t be forgotten?
Thanks again to Lime for letting me babble away and thanks for stopping by.
Thanks so much for guesting, Brandy! She also has this gorgeous new site that’s all fancy and hosted and everything and I’m so jealous. 🙂 Please make Brandy feel welcome and not regret her agreeing to blog here! 😉
*NB: As I’m having a guest author each month, I like the balance of having a reader guest each month as well – so please let me know if you’re interested! Thus far I’ve had to hunt people down and put them on the spot, and they very kindly agreed to visit. <3
Thank again Lime for having me here. I’m really interested in hearing what people think is a bad story line.
I forgot to mention. I have 2 sites.
My reader self http://brenaereads.blogspot.com/
and aspiring writer self (which is the new hosted one). http://braeelliot.com/
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sounds like a great idea for storyline. Go for it, Brandy!
I’m not sure if that’s the story line for me to attempt to write. My guy would probably barely make it in the gang before deciding it wasn’t the life for him. Then its a totally different story.
Thanks so much for agreeing to visit with me, Brandy – I LOVE Gangland, though I haven’t watched it in a while. And… you know I think a Gangster Romance (ex-gangster?) – anyway a somehow actual gang related book would be really interesting.
And which story should never be told? Hmmm… well romance wise? Tragedies… :X Incest. Bleh.
Gangster Romance would be a tragedy in my mind. I think I’ve watched too many episodes to believe in the HEA for them.
Agree in the incest bit too. No way is that ever right.
Brandy, I very much enjoyed your Guest Posting today and hope to see/read more from you in the future.
I am in agreement that a Gangland Hero/Love storyline should definitely be explored and you are just the right person to do the exploring. Looking forward to reading what you come up with down the road.
Thank you for the vote of confidence but I just can’t see a happy ending. Maybe a guy undercover in the gang would be a character to pull off that HEA.
Great post Brandy!
I agree about some topics being to real to turn into a romance. I think former gang members will continue to be portrayed as villians and not the heroes. I do think there are some crimes that a heroine wouldn’t be able to forgive. In reality people are forgiven and redeemed every day. I’m not sure that a publisher would believe it would sell very well. After all, the bottom line is what counts to publishers. I think a story where the hero was a former criminal or a gang member would turn off some readers. If it was handled in the right way it could be a great story.
Yeah, getting the book written would be one thing but selling it another. You would have to be one hell of a saleswoman/man to get it sold to a more traditional publisher. Ebook though might have more wiggle room. Ebook pubs seem to take more risks.
Murderers and anything having to do w/ hurting kids….would be a def no buy for me.
Thanks for taking time to chat.
I totally agree with that. Nothing redeeming can ever happen there.
As a Brit, when I hear gangland, I always think of London East end villainy and people like the Krays. They were hard, hard men and really quite evil.
But a reformed gangster, who was still tough and uncompromising, but on the side of the angels now having paid for his sins, would certainly make a fascinating hero.
A reformed gangster would make a fascinating hero. He would have to move far away from his previous life I’m sure.
I never thought of the gangs in the UK. Though a lot of the motorcycle gangs they show have branches away from the States. It would be interesting to see a Gangland set outside the US.
I think authors write those kind of stories, but have a hard time selling them. I have one about a guy who spent 7 yrs in the pen for a murder he didn’t commit, but an editor once told me that it’s hard to get past the skank factor, because prison changes a person. So that story never could find a home.
I do think a gang member turning his life around would be interesting, but the publishers might be unwillng to go there.
Interesting discussion, Brandy
That makes a lot of sense, Katy – and may be why we don’t see stories like that generally. I’ve been thinking all day (and since Brandy sent me this post) if an e-pub might potentially be more willing to take a look at that story, since in my limited experience, it seems e-pubs have more diversity in what they publish.
I agree with Lime. e-pubs can take the risk easier. The author has to be open to thinking in terms of e-pub though and not traditional publishing. Which is good with me since I happen to read more ebooks then print.
But don’t let my print TBR hear you. They may get jealous. lol
I think…gang life would be a top for me because you just don’t know what they did! I also think jail time for certain crimes, child abuse or partner abuse for example. I once read a short story with the hero being in jail for abuse charges (that were legit) and he was trying to move on. I just don’t your redeemable for a romance hero in my opinion.
Marnie – good point. I think a lot of the military/merc type heroes are like a “light” version of the ex-gangster romance – troubled childhood, was oftentimes previously a bad person/kid… may have been in juvie, etc. I think age matters, and definitely the previous crime as well. Along with circumstances.
I’d like to think I’d be ok with *certain* ex-criminal stories depending how the author explains it. But yes, I think it’d be hard to appeal to say like a mmpb audience.
Lime has another good point. The military/spec ops/merc type do make good heroes. They are generally older and know what they’ve done is wrong and are looking to be redeemed. As a romance reader I rooting for him to finish his path and finding that one true love.
I think the difference is that hero is older and already well along the way to redemption.
Actually, I think a former gang member would totally rock as a Romance hero. I’d be astonished if if hadn’t been done already. It would take some strong writing, but I really do think it could be done.
As for pasts that aren’t redeemable, part of me says that any past can be overcome by a strong enough writer, but hmm. I think there are people who are irredeemable. Someone who has abused children, a rapist, domestic abusers.
The few times I’ve seen this done, there’s always been a cop out factor — the charges were bogus, the intent wasn’t there, etc. In which case, the story isn’t about a redeemed hero, but a wronged hero. That cop-out factor never works for me. I always feel like the author, well, copped-out and didn’t do the really hard work.
Such a good point. The writing would have to be VERY strong and a lot of care taken with the character. He can’t go so far down the path that he can’t find his way back.
Something I didn’t think about was in the paranormal romances there is a lot more leeway. Some of the more violent behavior is excused because of what he/she is.
My husband has a friend who was a biker and pretty hardcore at that. Now he’s a respectable married man with a delightful wife and regular life. I’m not sure he would work well as a romance hero though, because he seems to be just ever-so-slightly amused by his past. Perhaps a defense mechanism? Bottom line is, much as I like him, he just doesn’t strike me a fully “redeemed”!
LOL Being amused by your past would probably put me off too. I’d wonder if he was fully redeemed and if he really wanted to be.
That is one thing I’ve noticed with some of the Gangland men, they are very loving and protective of their family.
I think there are a few storylines/backgrounds that a person just can’t get past – with regards to romance, anyway. In my mind, other than obvious things like murder, there are three traits of men that I can’t forgive or reason away:
1. Spousal abuse
2. Child abuse
3. Animal abuse
I don’t know that you can reform any hero enough in my eyes if he’s got any of that in his background.
1. I agree
2. I agree
3. I agree
Nothing in the world would make me forgive and forget. Even if the man had a trauma to the head and had amnesia. It would have to come back and bite him in the ass. Making him an unworthy hero.
What a cool post! I hope I’m not too late to comment because my upcoming book, THE EDGE OF NIGHT, might be exactly what you’re looking for!! The main hero, Noah, is a gang unit police officer and the heroine is a cocktail waitress. There’s a strong secondary romance between a gang member (who is a family member of the heroine) and Noah’s little sister.
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. Really good YA romance with gang member hero.
Christie Ridgway also has a book with a secondary romance between a former gang member. He has tattoos and a shaved head, IIRC. Maybe it was How to Knit a Wild Bikini?
About Gangland, I really dislike the show. I think it makes the men seem like animals instead of real people. JMO.
Jill! Finally I have a chance to come and respond 😀 Gang unit police officer – oof. I bet you had a ton of fun researching it! And also found/heard some really sad stories…
Eek. Secondary romance with gang member – that’s tough.
Thanks for the recommendations – I’ve had …. actually I dunno if I have “How to Knit” but I know I have a bunch of her books in my TBR…
Hmmm… what do you mean about Gangland? Like… actually, yes. I’m curious – what part makes you say that?
The show doesn’t delve into the social issues or economic conditions that drive at-risk kids to join gangs. It’s all about the what (violence) not the why. I don’t like the screaming soundtrack and flashing images. Are those photos random, or can they actually be attributed to the gang they’re showcasing?
IMO the show has a conservative slant. As in, “Let’s all buy guns to protect ourselves from these monsters!” vs. “Let’s change the environment that created them.”
But that’s just my take, you know? I get that the show is informative and entertaining, not supposed to be a deep, thoughtful commentary. As for me, I’d rather watch Spartacus! 🙂
Jill – I see. Yes, the show definitely doesn’t talk about the “whys” – just once they’re in, and the most violent aspects. I *think* one of them focused on a “better” gang in Chi-town? But… it may not have been Gangland :X
The flashing image and soundtrack are like “credits” right? I think the photos *during* the segments are the specific gangs…
And I agree, the show definitely isn’t concerned with changing things/helping the poor kids. I worry about it a lot because the hoodbrats – or my kids as I all them – have to deal with gangs and know all these gang signs and they’re only in 4th and 5th grade 🙁
I think Gangland works as a “hey this is happening in the states” and hopefully everyone watching realizes it’s only one… I won’t say “perspective” but it’s more a “tell – all.”
Although now it’s going to drive me nuts. Like when – was it Diane Sawyer? Did this series on Camden, NJ, and it was just so tragic. I cried so much, and in the end ABC(?) was like “oh and we’re not going to do anything for them or help them because we want it to stay realistic.” Or some crap like that. I don’t know that I’ve ever forgiven them.
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