Once upon a time, I had an idea. This idea came to me so fully formed I immediately sat down and wrote the story. After finishing it in record time, I knew it was completely different from anything I’d ever written before. I planned on self-publishing it. But would my readers like it? After being around for a while writing as Karen Erickson, they have certain expectations. I knew this new book might make them scratch their heads and wonder, “What is Karen doing?”
And that, in a nutshell, is the story of how New Adult contemporary author Monica Murphy was born.
Monica’s first book One Week Girlfriend was published in January. To Karen’s dumbfounded surprise, Monica took off pretty quickly. Now with two books under her belt, Monica is doing well. Dare I say, better than Karen (which makes Karen give Monica the side eye — yes, I’m talking about my two selves in third person. Clearly I’ve lost my mind).
What’s crazier (or maybe, what’s made the author with two pen names so crazy), is both Karen and Monica recently had books come out at the same time. Monica’s new book is the sequel to her Drew + Fable series, Second Chance Boyfriend. Karen released the second book in her Lone Pine Lake series, Tempting Cameron.
What’s the difference then, between a Karen book and a Monica book? What would make the books so different if I were to switch the author names on the covers? Well, let me tell you…
As Karen, I write mostly contemporary romance in third person point of view. For my Lone Pine Lake series with Entangled Publishing’s Bliss line, these books have a sweeter, small town feel, where the characters are surrounded by a supportive family, friends and even the nosy neighbors. In Tempting Cameron, the heroine, Chloe Dawson, is the hometown princess. Everyone knows her and loves her, she teaches second grade and she’s the woman everyone can count on.
Whereas the hero, Cameron McKenzie, left his hometown as soon as he graduated high school and never looked back. He felt like his roots were choking him and leaving was the only way he could survive. When he returns home years later after a traumatic accident, he finds himself slowly falling for Chloe — the very last woman he thought he would ever want.
If I were to transform Tempting Cameron into a Monica Murphy book, first off, I would’ve written it in first person, but still alternating points of view. Next, I would make the characters younger, because Monica writes New Adult, and though Chloe fits the age group (eighteen to twenty-five, give or take), Cameron is in his early thirties.
Next, I would give them different issues/a different conflict. In the New Adult genre, there is a lot more drama. A. Lot. More. Drama. During those years after high school, when you’re in college or working your first real job, struggling to make ends meet, living on your own for the first time…this is a period that is rife with turbulent emotions. You just seem to feel so much more. The highs and the lows are pretty intense.
There would be a lot more foul language (hey Monica’s characters curse a lot) and I would make the sex scenes sexier, but not by too much. Considering Tempting Cameron is a part of Bliss, which is Entangled’s sweetest line, I would need to spice the book up. But not eroticize it! I need to make that clear. There’s sex in my New Adult titles, some of it a little spicy, but after all, sex is a big part of those years. And my NA books are not erotic whatsoever.
I’d probably need to add more angst to Tempting Cameron too. Now, Cameron is a moody hero. One of my favorite heroes I’ve ever written actually. So he’s full of angst. But Monica’s characters are full of even more angst…and drama. And heartache.
So what if Karen wrote Second Chance Boyfriend instead of Monica? How would I change it up? Right away, I would make them older. Drew and Fable are young — he’s twenty-one and she’s twenty, he’s in college and comes from a wealthy, very screwed up family. Fable works and takes care of her younger brother since their mom is worthless and never around. These two characters believe they have too many differences between them, they are actually quite similar.
Making them older would naturally sway their conflict to the more adult, less drama-filled variety. At least, that would be my plan. Plus, I would switch to third person point of view versus first person. This would change the drama factor as well and make it not as raw.
Keeping in line with the Bliss imprint (because, hey my regular readers know that as Karen, I can write a pretty sexy story), I would tone down the sexual content in Second Chance Boyfriend, and the language. I would have a more supportive family involved because trust me, Drew and Fable both come from broken, screwed up families. They have no one to really cling to but each other.
I would tone down the emotion as well — not take it out per say, because hey, that sounds awful, doesn’t it? Toning down the emotion? Don’t we all want to feel, as readers, what our characters are feeling? Experience all those same highs and lows? The turbulence Monica’s New Adult characters go through, especially written in first person, allows the reader to be even more right there with them, experiencing their pain and heartache and having it in their face.
Writing as Karen, readers would definitely still feel the emotion but it wouldn’t be so painful, so dramatic, so raw. As Karen, I certainly wouldn’t transform Second Chance Boyfriend into sweetness and light, unicorns and cupcakes, but Karen’s voice would definitely change the tone and make the story not so heavy.
And I believe that’s what the real difference comes down to between my writing a book as Karen versus Monica. It’s the tone and my voice. Karen’s books are lighter, easier, sexy but still with conflict between two adults. Monica’s books are heavier, more emotional, a little dark, with two just starting out adults trying to navigate this thing called the real world.
But with both Karen and Monica, I’m always trying my best to take you on a journey to love…and that eventual, hard-won happily ever after.
- Karen Erickson/Monica Murphy
And readers looking for heart pounding stories of love found can check out RT's Everything Romance Page.