When I wrote Just Right, the first book in the series, I had no idea it was going to be a series! Talk about great pre-planning, huh?
As a side note to any writers out there: try to plan these things ahead. Otherwise you may find yourself having to deal with things in future books that you would have done differently had you known there would be future books!
Anyway, I wrote Just Right, revised Just Right, polished Just Right, rewrote parts of Just Right and then put it in my closet. Cuz back then, that's what I did with the books I wrote.
About two years later, I found myself working with Samhain and the fabulous Lindsey Faber on a book called No Matter What. Thankfully, after that book, Lindsey wanted to see more from me, so I pulled Just Right out (I'd always loved Ben! :) and sent it to her.
Her quote back to me after reading it was "this totally rocked my world!" Needless to say, that got me excited. Working on that book, doing a few revisions here and there, I realized that I really wanted to find a girl who could handle Sam Bradford. It's no secret to those close to me and the Bradfords that Sam's my favorite (don't tell Ben and Mac-I love them too :). He also won Lindsey over and when I told her I was writing his book she was very excited.
Just Like That, to this day remains the easiest book I've written. The story came together so quickly, the characters and what they wanted and the way it all worked out just fell into place. In addition, Lindsey wanted almost no revisions and the cover we picked was the first one the artist put together. It all just worked out smoothly!
Well, if I was going to write Sam's story, I had to write Sara's story too, right? Of course! I went into Just My Type immediately after finishing Just Like That (Lindsey read and edited them back to back too). When I was plotting the book, I was trying to put Sara with another doctor at the hospital who worked with Ben. But in thinking about what would complicate things for Sam's little sister it quickly became clear that the most difficult situation would be for her to have the hots for Sam's best friend. To make matters worse, Mac's older and wilder and knows that he shouldn't hook up with Sara. But he wants to.
Anyway, I worried a little at the start that Sara and Mac's story would be too sexy. LOL! Looking back now, I realize that was a silly fear, but at the time it seemed that Sara and Mac were so much wilder than Ben and Jess and Sam and Dani. I mean, that was my first foray into the world of nipple clamps! :)
So, the Bradford series was born and thanks to Lindsey and Samhain we released the books all in 2010. Just Right came out in March, Just Like That in June and Just My Type in September.
Now, of course, Sam wasn't the only character in Just Right that stood out in my mind as someone who might need his own story. He was my favorite (did I mention that?) but the other guys in their group were pretty strong characters themselves!
I had Mac taken care of with Sara, but part of me really wanted to give Dooley and Kevin their stories too. But that was more difficult. For one thing, Dooley isn't portrayed as the... deepest... guy. I wasn't sure what, if anything, was under the surface there. Was there enough to him to make a story?
And then there was Kevin. The born-again Christian. Now, I loved Kevin and the Christian thing certainly didn't make him any less attractive to me-or to the readers apparently. But, it would be pretty tough to throw a sweet romance into this series-where the bedroom door gets firmly shut, if the characters even make it to the bedroom! My guys swear, all my characters like fun, hot sex, and I didn't want to offend anyone with having this good Christian boy doing those things. Besides, that wouldn't have been true to Kevin's character. He hadn't always been an angel : but he was really trying to be a good church-going guy now. I didn't want to introduce a girl who would "ruin" him :)
So, I held off on their books. Yes, I loved them, but I just wasn't sure what their stories would be.
Then the e-mails started. Tons of fans writing to say how much they loved the Bradfords and then to ask "when are you going to write books for Dooley and Kevin".
And the e-mails continued. I still get them. And I love every single one!
So it wasn't just me. Okay, I had to start thinking. I talked to Lindsey about it. She was all for adding books to the series. But she understood and shared my questions.
Interestingly, the idea for Dooley came to me first. I knew just what to do with this guy who seems so laid- back and superficial- Give him some secret depths, some things people wouldn't have guessed at but that readers would be delightfully surprised to discover.
Turns out, Dooley's a really great guy. He's got a lot going on and he's a sweetheart underneath it all. Oh, don't get me wrong, he's still politically incorrect and downright crude at times. But there were glimmers of more there, especially in Just My Type, and it was fun to find out that there was a lot more there as I dug down.
So, what to do with Kevin?
Then, one morning in the shower it came to me! Who is the only woman he can actually have hot, sweet sex with and have it not be a conflict of faith?
A woman he's married to, of course.
Now, Kevin doesn't seem the type to get drunk and accidentally married in Vegas, does he? What about a marriage of convenience? No, I don't think he'd do that either. Marry a friend who needed to stay in the country? Maybe. But then it hit me... he's already married! He just doesn't know it!
Ah, so now I had books four and five!
But it had been two years since the original trilogy. Had people forgotten? What about new readers who didn't know the Bradfords? I wanted them to find them too.
Well, how about a short story? Something to update the readers on where everyone is, to get them excited about Dooley and Kevin's stories, to introduce the whole gang to new readers. I thought about putting it up on my website for free and sat down one weekend and wrote the whole thing in just a few hours. I had some friends-some who'd read the Bradfords and some who hadn't-read it to see if it was true to the series and the characters (and to see if it was interesting at all!). They loved it. So I mentioned it to Lindsey too.
She wanted to put it out, still free, through Samhain so the series was cohesive. Wonderful!
We titled it Just the Way I Like It and it does truly function as an epilogue of sorts to the first three books-we see where all the couples are and what they're doing-and as a prologue for Dooley and Kevin's books.
In it, the three couples-the girls in particular-are determined to find Dooley and Kevin true love and they set them up on a series of not-so-spectacular dates.
So there's how the series came together for me.
It's been fun. I love these characters and LOVE that readers do too.
I'll be honest though, it's sad to think about being done with this series.
Now I do wish, as a couple of readers had suggested, that there was at least one long lost brother, or a bunch of cousins, or something...
Hmmm... come to think of it... why not?