The interesting thing about having a background in branding is that it's fairly easy for me to see other people's brands, and help them bring them to life. In fact, I wrote a whole book - REAL YOU INCORPORATED - about the process. But, just like the cobbler's children, when it came time for me to take a look at my brand, I froze. I mean, my stories have been "Sparkling with humor and heart" since 2011. I loved that tagline, and my happy Gerbera daisy, too.
But, change can be good, too! I'm beyond excited for next September when my second domestic suspense novel, BEST DAY EVER, arrives in the world. I say second because it is. ALL THE DIFFERENCE was my first domestic suspense novel, but I've been forcing it under the "sparkling" branding all this time. (Sorry, ALL THE DIFFERENCE characters.)
But now, it's time for a change, a darker change. After consulting with my awesome agent, Katie, and my fabulous editor, Margo, I've figured out my shift and the stories I love to write. I am fascinated by what goes on behind closed doors in seemingly perfect lives. And truly, I've been writing about this all along: entitlement, narcissism, the push to overachievement, the destructive power of affluence and keeping up appearances. In HERE, HOME, HOPE, Kelly faces a midlife crisis and the novel also deals with eating disorders, adultery, suicide and ultimately, self empowerment. The young mother in IN THE MIRROR has her perfect life put on pause by a deadly disease. Themes include mental illness, the power of celebrity, divorce, adultery and attempted rape. As for THE GOODBYE YEAR, the question is about what it means to be a couple once your last child goes to college. Darker issues include divorce, bullying, drugs in school and the empty nest syndrome. The black widow in ALL THE DIFFERENCE is, obviously, a dark character. Even my short story, A MOTHER'S DAY, deals with one tragic event that changes the lives of three mothers forever. When I think about the story lines of my romance novels, of course there is darkness. How else can we appreciate the light, the happily ever after?
So, I guess, I've been sparkling and looking at the dark side of people all along. Suburban people, with strong women protagonists who overcome a lot to find real, true purpose. These places, these lives of luxury, can make you lose your anchor, your moral center. And that's where good stories begin.
BEST DAY EVER's arrival next year will signify an even darker shift, but hopefully, the light will sparkle through the story, too. My new tagline: Behind closed doors of seemingly perfect lives. My new imagery is a closed door. I like it. I hope you do, too.