A friend of mine emailed me to tell me she wasn't interested in reading "Scorpion".
(No, that's everybody's right - while I hope that people take chances on my writing, I understand those that rate a book badly because it's a menage and they hate menages, or people who don't buy books that deal with certain elements... writing romance, and especially selling romance, we make erotic fantasies. If it fails to turn on, it's not worth it for a huge amount of readers. People have a certain amount of things that gets them going - so they look for that. And ignore the stuff that doesn't... that's the deal with erotic romance. Like porn, people look for something specific and can't, usually, be brought round.... "look, you really want to try $kink" - no, they don't.).
So on the bus, I spent some time thinking about what it is that turns her off with "Scorpion". I analysed its deep structure. The underlying story. I wrote this by the seat of my pants, so I can only do the literary analysis now. I tend to discover the mythological structure (the "mythos") behind it much, much later. I'm not aware of it while I do this... I'm not sure I *want* to be aware of the structure, either. To re-create a myth, you have to firmly, deeply, passionately believe in it. Magic happens when you believe. I believe with my emotions and not my frontal lobes.
And I had this "oh wow" moment when I finally understood what the story is that I'm telling. Over the last two years, I've written a lot of stories that are about a younger/more immature guy maturing and proving himself "worthy" of an older, charismatic, even, in certain ways super-human man. Young alpha learns how to howl with the big guys. Young man becomes worthy of his idol.
It's in "Lion of Kent", "Return on Investment", "Blood Run Cold" (where the super-human is a vampire and the younger guy's a psychopath and craving to be a vampire, too), and, yeah, Scorpion. Usually, the moment of high drama is when the young alpha saves the older alpha's neck (William stops the murderer, Martin stops the rapist, Frederik is willing to lay down his life, Kendras frees Adrastes).
It's the same story. Sometimes told as a romance, sometimes told as a coming-of-age story, sometimes both in varying quantities.
This is one of my personal myths, one of the stories I carry in my bones, my creative DNA (and I'm pretty sure it's the most positive way for me to deal with the father issues I have. Fuck you, Freud).
The other story is that of the man reclaiming his humanity and independence. Usually, he's a deformed person with strong inner convictions that may or may not be good for him, and things that happen to him either break him or develop him out of an unbearable situation. Vadim in "Special Forces", the eagle shaman, and the spetsnaz in the sci-fi novel. It can even be applied to Thierry in "Test of Faith", Andrei in "Clean Slate"... and probably a number more.
Those are the two stories I'm telling. That's it. Fascinating stuff.