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This month I’m chatting it up with Reese Ryan, Author of Making the First Move, in which secrets and the risks of taking love to the next level are largely at play.
1. In Making the First Move, your heroine Melanie Gordon suffered the loss of her parent and a love interest. What makes her relatable as “one of the girls” so to speak and do you think her journey in the story conveys a common thread found in the ebb and flow of relationships?
What makes Melanie relatable is that she isn’t perfect. Everyone handles pain and loss differently. The option she chose was comfortable for her, but she didn’t realize how deeply her decision impacted everyone else she cares about. We all have moments when we’re forced to realize that we’ve made choices that are unhealthy or hurtful to others. Melanie has a few of those moments.
The changes in Mel’s relationship with her family, best friend and Raine do reflect the ebb and flow of real life relationships. Our relationships change over time—even with siblings and parents. Making the First Move serves as a reminder of how easily those relationships can become fractured when we don’t put time and effort into preserving them.
2. Melanie and Raine develop a long distance relationship with no strings attached. What’s your take on casual hookups? What do you think it takes to make a relationship work?
Frequently in romance, characters embark on a relationship that supposed to be casual, but it quickly leads to something more. There’s a reason that formula works. It reflects reality, only there aren’t as many happily ever afters. In theory, I’m thrilled that we have the freedom to approach a relationship in the manner that makes us happy. If it works, that’s great. In reality, keeping it casual is a lot harder to pull off. Feelings develop and people get hurt, because, in the words of The Script, “when a heart breaks, no, it don’t break even.”
What makes relationships work? I’ve been married 25 years, so you’d think I’d have a magical answer to this. I don’t. It’s a lot of hard work, self-sacrifice and compromise. But the highs make the lows well worth it.
3. What do you feel gave Melanie the strength (besides Raine being undeniably sexy) to take a chance on love and what’s your take on emotional insecurity affecting relationships?
She doesn’t think that far. Not at first. She knows that she cares for Raine and she doesn’t want to let the opportunity pass. Love sneaks up on her. It has to since she’d trying pretty darned hard to resist it.
Emotional insecurity can be crippling to a relationship. Melanie has been hurt badly. She chose unwisely in her previous relationship, so she doesn’t trust her own judgment. That kind of insecurity can be stifling. It prevents her from moving forward because she’s so afraid of doing the wrong thing that she does nothing. Once in a relationship, that kind of insecurity can be destructive because it’s hard to establish trust.
4. Between Raine and Melanie, which character left a lasting impression on you during the creation of your story and why?
I love them both, but Raine’s backstory and journey of redemption truly made a lasting impression on me. From the feedback from readers, Raine has made a lasting impression on many of them, too.
We all make mistakes. How we handle the aftermath of the situation is what matters most. Raine could easily have gone down the wrong path, but he chose to help others. I love that about him. There are so many men like him out there, who turned their lives around. It would be great to hear more stories about them. It sends a powerful message to others in a similar predicament.
5. Raine and Melanie both carry scars from their past, as well as secrets. What do you feel justifies keeping a secret such as Raine did in a relationship or are there boundaries?
I’m sort of fascinated with the secrets we keep and how the revelation of those secrets impacts our lives and the lives of the people we love. Raine has a couple of secrets and both of them are tricky. There’s a lot at stake, so he can’t just run around telling every girl he dates. Of course, that creates the problem of when it is the right time to reveal those secrets. In situations like Raine’s, it’s a catch-22. You have to be invested in the relationship before you can reveal the secret, but at that point it’s quite likely that the other person will be hurt by the revelation.
6. What movies—if any—influenced you in writing Making The First Move?
No particular movie influenced the story. However, I’m a huge fan of the romantic comedy and I own several of them. I’m especially fond of the friends-to-lovers storyline, so I love Brown Sugar and Love and Basketball. Undoubtedly, the feeling of those movies is always in my head a little when I’m writing.
7. How true to life are your characters and where do you draw their personas from?
I love flawed characters who feel real and a little raw. The people I know and love (including me) aren’t perfect. Not by a long shot. But they’re still wonderful and inspiring. Since I like to read about every day, relatable characters, those are the kind of characters I create. However, no character is based on a particular person. The characters begin to come to life as I’m writing. Then I typically create a character chart or use an astrology chart to really flesh the character out and give them believable traits and flaws.
8. What do you want readers to take with them after reading one of your novels?
So far, all of the books written or planned for the Bad Boys Gone Good series deal with the themes of forgiveness, family and self-identity. Yet, each book has a different takeaway. After reading Making the First Move, I hope readers are inspired to reexamine their goals and to go after what truly makes them happy. Secondly, I hope Raine’s story encourages people to forgive themselves. Learn the lessons of past mistakes, and then apply them to the future. The takeaway of Love Me Not is that happiness is a choice. No matter how miserable our past might have been, we can still choose to be happy.
9. What are you working on next?
I’m more than two-thirds into what I hope will be the third book in the series. Leslie Morales from Making the First Move is the heroine. I’m also plotting stories for three other characters that appeared in Love Me Not. I have three or four other stories that aren’t part of the series which are in various stages of completion.
10. Where can readers find out more about you and your books?