Fans of the Diversion series, listen up! I've recently fallen in love with some new crime fighters, and wanted to share with other m/m crime-loving readers. 'Cause we all love a great book, right?
I can't recommend Kaje Harper's Tracefinder: Contact highly enough. In fact, I love these guys so much that I begged her to write a post for my blog. So, dear friends, please welcome Kaje Harper to the blog.
PS: I love this cover!
Writing M/M Mystery-Romance
I was thrilled when Eden invited me onto her blog for the release of Tracefinder: Contact.
I'm a big fan of Eden's Diversion series, and I hope other readers who love Bo and Lucky might enjoy meeting my Nick and Brian. Both of our series have mystery-thriller plots, and a couple of guys who come together in the midst of the mayhem. So I started thinking about what it takes to write a good M/M romantic mystery or thriller, and whether it's the same for a mainstream mystery title. (My husband would like to think I might write one of those at any moment – he hasn't quite resigned himself to the fact that I'll happily trade a wider audience for my favorite genre corner, assuming I could find that wider audience in the first place.)
I decided after a while that it's almost the same skill set, but not quite. And I don't mean just the ability to add hot sex into the book. (Although, Lucky and Bo and chaps? *fans self*) But there are good M/M mysteries with romance but no on-page sex, like the Infected paranormal series from Andrea Speed. I think the real difference is in the focus.
No matter how much I like a mystery for the plot line, the puzzle, and the headlong rush into who-knows-what danger, I care most about the emotions of characters. Whether I'm reading or writing, one great main character or two can make up for a fair bit of plot mess. Not everything. Totally too-stupid-to-live professionals, or physically implausible plot elements, are hard to get past. But if I'm deeply engaged in the life of the main character, then I'm willing to watch him (or her) deal with life's ups and downs, crooks and thieves, even when logic strains at the seams. And the thing that engages my interest most about a character, (being a hopeless romantic,) is… romance.
I have a favorite mainstream mystery author – S.J. Rozan. Her stories are fun, with great plots, a culture clash element, and strong writing. But I've realized that I also judge them by the elements of the slow, slow-burn love story between the main characters. A recent release that dialed back the romance between Bill and Lydia left me feeling cheated, despite the strong mystery story.
So I am, and will probably always be, a romance-mystery author, not a mystery author with some romantic elements. The emotions of my characters are front and center. The plot bends to the needs of the guys and their relationship. Hopefully it's still logical. Hopefully I let cops be professionals, write crooks with real motivations, and assure that no one is without both virtues and flaws. But at the end of the day, I'm writing about two men, together.
In Tracefinder: Contact those men are Nick and Brian.
Nick is a street cop who is given an undercover assignment he isn't expecting. As he moves deeper into his undercover persona, he comes into more contact with Brian, a young man caught up in the case. Nick realizes that his compassion for Brian's dilemmas, and the complications of their developing physical attraction, will seriously mess with his life, and possibly damage the chance to stop the bad guys. And because I write romance and love, that attraction is compelling. A cool, logical, cop-appropriate answer doesn't surpass the personal. That's not my book.
Brian is a guy trapped into helping a criminal do evil things, things he tries not to know about. He's stuck, and his solution to the pressures in his life has always been to retreat. He pretends he's too dumb to understand what's going on around him. But how far can you shield yourself from evil by ignoring it? How do you deal with loyalties that are not just divided, but splintered? He loves his brother, his pregnant sister, but he loathes his life and is bitterly ashamed of the things he does to survive. And then there's Nick…
I enjoy seeing where the mystery plot goes, who the killer is, what the bad guys will do. As an impulsive writer, I have fun watching those things develop in unexpected ways, even in my own first drafts. But more than that, I love watching two men figure out their own needs and each other's. So the romance remains vital, worked into all the corners around the plot at first, and sharing center stage at the climax.
Tracefinder: Contact is the first book in a planned series, (although with my go-with-the-flow writing methods, I'm not sure how many books it will be.) The guys have a lot to overcome, and their happy ending is begun, but not assured, by the end of the story. I hope to have at least two more installments in the series, and hope to release book two before the end of 2016. I'm excited to find out how readers react to my guys and their lives.
And if the story appeals to the faithful fans of Lucky and Bo, that will be very cool indeed.
Find Tracefinder: Contact at:
Kaje Harper grew up in Montreal, and spent her teen years writing, filling binders with stories. But as life got busy, the stories began to just live in her head. The characters grew up, met, endured, and loved, in any quiet moment she had, but the stories rarely made it to paper. Her time was taken up by work in psychology, teaching, and a biomedical career, and the fun of raising children.
Eventually the kids became more independent and her husband gave her a computer she didn't have to share. She started putting words down in print again, just for fun. Hours of fun. Lots of hours of fun. The stories began piling up, and her husband suggested if she was going to spend that much time on the keyboard she ought to try to publish one. MLR Press accepted her first submission, Life Lessons, which was released in May 2011. Kaje now has many novels and short stories published, including Amazon bestseller The Rebuilding Year, and a selection of free short stories and novels available on Smashwords and elsewhere. She currently lives in Minnesota with a creative teenager, a crazy omnivorous little white dog, and a remarkably patient spouse.
Goodreads Author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4769304.Kaje_Harper
Books by Kaje Harper:
The “Life Lessons” mystery series (novels from MLR Press): Life Lessons, And To All a Good Night, Getting It Right, Breaking Cover, Home Work, Compensations, Learning Curve
The “Hidden Wolves” paranormal series (novels from MLR Press): Unacceptable Risk, Unsettled Interlude, Unexpected Demands, Unwanted Appeal, Unjustified Claims
Contemporary novels from Samhain Publishing: The Rebuilding Year, Life Some Assembly Required (Rebuilding Year #2), Sole Support
Free books on Smashwords and other retailers: Into Deep Waters, Like the Taste of Summer, Nor Iron Bars a Cage, Lies and Consequences, Show Me Yours, Laser Visions, The Family We're Born With, Chasing Death Metal Dreams
Self-published novels: The Family We Make, Second Act, Tracefinder: Contact
A complete list with links can be found at http://kajeharper.wordpress.com/books/