The summer between my Freshman and Sophomore year of high school I decided to write a book. At the time our family was living on Lake Havasu, and my summers were spent working at Havasu Palms’ small convenience store and marina. It could get a little boring working at the store, so I hauled my manual Royal typewriter to work with me and would sit behind the counter in my bathing suit, working on my manuscript when I wasn’t waiting on customers or stocking shelves. My friends inspired my characters. It was a mystery, sort of love story, about a bunch of teenagers, told by the family dog’s perspective. I called it The Privileged Ones.
My next manuscript was also a mystery, based on a screenplay I wrote for a college course. Characters in that book were college age. I used the same title for the book that I used for the screen play, which was, Mischief or Murder?
In my 30s and 40s I was a voracious romance reader. Favorite authors during that time included Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught, Jude Deveraux, Johanna Lindsey, and Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. Inspired by my favorite authors, I decided to write an adult romance. It’s setting was based on a fictionalized Havasu Palms. I called it, Desire at Chief’s Head
I may have finished The Privileged Ones, Mischief or Murder, and Desire at Chief’s Head, but they will remain unpublished. I think of them as my practice novels.
After finishing my first romance, I decided to start another one. I called it After Sundown. Life got in the way, so instead of finishing the book, I tucked the manuscript in a box and forgot about it.
Fast forward to 2012, and I have already published Lessons and The Senator’s Secret (which eventually became Coulson’s Lessons and Coulson’s Secret, books 3 and 4 in the Coulson Family Saga.) I decide to write a standalone romance under my Anna J. McIntyre pen name and dug out my unfinished manuscript.
The problem with After Sundown—which I didn’t realize at the time—it was influenced by many of the romances I had read years earlier—and romances had evolved, readers had changed, and frankly my male protagonist was more in line with those found in books 30 years earlier.
When my mother beta read the book, she told me she hated the male protagonist, Cole Taylor in the story. He could be something of a jerk. So, I toned him down, yet not enough. If you read its reviews, you’ll see many of the reviewers agreed with Mom. I personally saw Cole as a flawed individual who evolved, and while he did behave inappropriate early in the book—much of it was because of his life experiences—I thought he had redeemed himself by the end of the story. Unfortunately, a significant number of readers disagreed with me.
I may have a soft spot for Cole Taylor—but I’m afraid many of my readers didn’t. It’s not like everyone hated the book, some people actually gave it five stars.
I’ve no regrets writing After Sundown, and I have no desire to rewrite it to make Cole more likable to more readers. Cole Taylor simply is who he is, and I have moved on.