Hey everyone! Please welcome the wonderful Jill Sorenson who is guesting today – she’s got a new book coming out next Tuesday, so she’s here to tell us a bit about it. And it’s really a perfect tie in – you’ll see!
No, not that kind of gang-banging! I’m talking about gangs on the streets, and gang member characters in romance novels.
A few weeks ago Brandy W. wrote a guest post here about Gangland, a documentary-style show on the History Channel. She asked “Why aren’t there any gang member heroes in romance?” and I answered with a couple of recs.
The first was Simone Elkeles’ YA romance Perfect Chemistry. This book has a dreamy bad boy hero who runs with a tough Chicago gang. The heroine is a cheerleader princess whose life isn’t as perfect as you might think. I’m a sucker for characters from different worlds and cultural backgrounds. I love the cover and the story.
I picked up Perfect Chemistry after writing an outline for The Edge of Night. I’d never read a gang member hero before, and I wanted to make sure my idea wasn’t too similar to hers. Thankfully I had nothing to worry about. Perfect Chemistry is YA, and high school dynamics play a big role. Although my characters are fairly young, my book is romantic suspense and the plot is very different.
The Edge of Night is about a gang unit police officer on the trail of a killer. Office Noah Young discovers the body of a cocktail waitress in a gang hangout. He interviews the victim’s coworkers and feels an instant connection to April Ortiz, a struggling single mom.
Eric Hernandez, my gang member hero, is the uncle of April’s daughter. He gives April money to help his niece and makes ends meet any way he can. Having been raised by the gang, and grown up on the streets, he’s involved in a lot of criminal activities. But underneath his hard exterior, he’s a good person. When he meets Meghan Young, Noah’s little sister, he realizes that he wants to change his life.
I decided to write about gangs for a couple of reasons. My family moved from a quiet neighborhood in Kansas to a rough, urban area in Oceanside, California when I was twelve. That experience made a huge impression on me. As an adult, I went back to that neighborhood to work with at-risk kids at a community resource center. I learned more Spanish there than I did in college, and I minored in the subject.
When I watch shows like Gangland, or read books with gang member villains, I don’t see the kids I knew reflected in the pages or on the screen. What I notice more often is a caricature, or a picture taken from the outside, looking in. I think Simone Elkeles did a really nice job of getting inside the hero’s head and portraying him (if not all of his choices) in a positive light. I hope I’ve done the same with Eric Hernandez.
I’d love to answer any questions in the comments! Please let me know if you’d like to win a copy of The Edge of Night.
You hear that? A giveaway! Also PW said this book is hot hot hot (actually, they said something else hilarious that might’ve referenced Penthouse? Jill – help me out here?) I’ve already got this book pre-ordered in kindle form, and can’t wait to read it! 😀