I always worry when I get an email from a reader telling me they've just discovered me and are devouring my backlist. Not because I don't like hearing from readers. It's like crack. I can't get enough and an email from a reader always makes my day. And I'm certainly not complaining about picking up some backlist sales because this writing career thing is also awesome. (I'm going to get a monthly check just for making stuff up and writing it down? Whoo-hoo!) What worries me is that the reader is going to put down the third or fifth or tenth book (figuratively if they're reading on a desktop, of course) and say, "Huh. Déjà vu."
I know that writers have themes that they like to explore. Sibling-parental issues, redemption, and reunions (guilty!) are just as common to genre fiction as secret babies and marriages of convenience are to series romance. I hope that all of my characters have a unique way of responding to the crap I throw at them. But hey, I worry, because if I didn't worry about that, I'd probably have to deal with worrying over something else that I'd rather not think about.
Take what happened to me last week. I was all set to start work on the next Fragments book, when another character started screaming in my head. I'd just turned in Bad Company and I knew from the minute Eli Wright popped up as a secondary character that he would be demanding his own book sooner rather than later. I had an idea for him (or an idea of how I could seriously mess with him) and I planned to get to that ASAP, but I didn't expect the guy I had planned for him to get so damned loud. He came to life and started spewing back story and issues so fast I couldn't have kept up if I had five secretaries taking shorthand.
What does this noisy guy have to do with my worries over rehashing the same theme? Well, Bad Company, which I love more than my favorite brownies and my favorite cookies together on a plate, is about sexuality being a bit more fluid than the characters expect. And what does the new man in my life have to tell me? That a lover's fluid sexuality just bit him in the ass. And not in the fun way. Even the title my brain gave me, Bad Boyfriend, just goes to show that my muse is determined to explore the B-side of the same issue. Now if I can just have the guts to not pull punches—to write on through no matter how painfully raw the feelings get in this—I should have one hell of a book to tell you about by the time you meet Eli in Bad Company. In the meantime, I hope you find things just as different or as familiar as you like them.