by Amy Lane
And some friends of mine read it and said, “So, when’s the next one?”
I pointed to my head and said, “It’s all up here!” Because the minute they asked, I saw the next book unspooling in my head, and that was all she wrote. I was lost in sequel hell, for pretty much the rest of my life.
I have to admit—I’m not great with “one offs”. The single novel, self-contained, lights go down, the end? Yeah—I’ve written a few of them, but… you know.
There’s always the ficlet on my blog, the sequel that comes out years later, the possibilities in the world I created for another couple to evolve. I’ve written—and adored– single books and novellas. The ones I’ve put out have been lovingly received. But there’s always something more to write. Something else in the story for the characters to do. Another loose thread that I can pick up—and the Mannies series was no different.
I was so excited to write the first book—the Virgin Manny—for Dreamspinner’s Dreamspun imprint. As much as I’m known for my angst and drama, I’m a total fan of the sweet, fluffy romance, and I cut my reading teeth on Harlequin Presents and Silhouette Desire. I used to get subscriptions to them, and before that I bought them in the grocery store and before that I haunted my library every month until they got a new set. To write a gay romance category style? Whoopeee!!!
But I’d been breaking rules for most of my writing career—sticking to the well-loved tropes of a category held certain challenges, and in the back of my mind I was thinking, “Hey. I only have to do this once, right?”
And I might have let it sit like that—just one, one potato chip, one category romance—except the original title of the Virgin Manny sucked balls. And not in the good kinky way, either. Nobody liked it—and as the book was revised, it didn’t fit anymore.
So in a giggly bit of e-mailing my editor and I went back and forth with possible titles—
Stand by Your Manny?
Hee! How about Manny Get Your Guy?
But none of those titles fit the book’s premise, and so we decided on the Virgin Manny, since Tino’s virginity really was at stake. But that conversation, though—
The next morning I woke up and reread it, chuckling to myself, and then I had an idea.
A wonderful, awful idea…
Hey, uh, don’t hate me—but what if I wrote a SERIES of manny books, all in the same world? What do you think?
I do hate you—but let me check the schedule. I think that could work.
And it has—beautifully. I took Tino and Channing—the first two guys in the Virgin Manny–and their extended family, and found romances for Tino’s sister’s best friend, for Channing’s nephew Sammy, and for Sammy’s best friend, Quinlan.
The books actually span about twenty years—but don’t let that scare you. Each character is fully grown—although some of them are a little virginal—by the time the romance starts. And I found that Tino and Channing’s family, the Robbins-Lowells and the Robbins-Graysons, were a true delight.
I try to balance the type of books I put out—my angsty orange and paranormal purple titles often reflect some of the darkness and grit of our times. But my fluffy sunshine yellow titles are pure sweetness—and that’s what happened with the Mannies.
While writing four wonderful, heartwarming, kind and funny books, I got to pretend that the rich guys take care of the poor guys, every child is wanted, and every problem could be solved with enough love.
No—it’s not the real world—but it should be. I think romance readers take these moments of pretend and gather the strength to go out into their lives to do as much good as they can.
I hope these books give the readers as much warmth and laughter as they gave me.
You can find the Mannies series here:
A Fool and His Manny—Will be Out July 19th
And you can find Amy Lane here:
FaceBook Group: Amy Lane Anonymous