Love’s No Joke author Cheri Ritz discusses the TV that inspired her new lesfic novel.
Do you ever get to the end of a season of a television show and you’re waiting for the next season to begin and you…miss the characters? I do. I love falling in love with a cast of characters. That’s why when I started writing Vacation People, I knew it was only the beginning of a series exploring the stories of the individuals in this friend circle. I studied the casts of characters on TV shows I loved and used what I saw in them to create a fictional group of friends for my book. Lez Vegas was born.
My Lez Vegas series is what is called a “static” book series – it follows a cast of characters, but each book is mostly self-contained. Any of the books can be read as a stand-alone, but together they show you more of that world, and more of those characters you might not be ready to let go of quite yet.
There are two things that stand out to me as staples of a good series whether on television or in books: balance among the characters and a common place for those characters to gather.
Consider the group of friends in The L Word. You can fit each of the characters into a neat box. Bette is the Alpha Female. Shane is the player. Alice is the free spirit. Dana is the Athlete. It makes sense. People are different and that’s what makes the interactions between them interesting to witness. We can dig Shane’s cool, confident demeanor all we want, but a show about six Shanes would be…a lot. I mean, how extra would six Helena Peabodys be? And heaven help us if we were given six Jenny Schecters!
I tried to keep this in mind with the characters in my series. Mara is the player, Jenna is the mother hen, Penny is the professional, and Frankie is the free spirit. Everyone has their individual lens that impacts how they see the world around them. When these characters mix and mingle, that’s when the magic happens.
As mentioned, the other element I believe is critical to a good series is a place for these characters to gather. Some common ground. The Planet serves this purpose on The L Word. Think Central Perk on Friends or Shorty’s on Wynonna Earp. This location is so familiar to the viewer, it’s almost like a beloved character itself. I figured this could work in a book series as well. In the Lez Vegas series I gave the group the Café Gato to be the place they can drop in, hang out, feel comfortable, and be themselves. It’s their home away from home. It’s a place that I want readers to picture. I hope they think, I’d love to grab a cup of coffee with Mara, Penny, and Frankie at the Gato.
My upcoming release, Love’s No Joke, is the second book in the series and tells Mara’s story. She takes plenty of ribbing from her friends about being the player of the group while drinking coffee at the Café Gato. The café is also the site of a fundraiser that introduces Mara to Victoria, a woman who makes her reconsider her player mentality. And in the next book of the series, Low Key Love, Frankie’s free spirit ways are challenged when she meets Lily, a rising country music star who has to follow the rules or risk losing her career.
So, the secret’s out! It was my love of television that sparked the idea that launched my book series. One of my hopes while writing this series has been that people will connect with my characters the way I have connected with so many from TV and books. So, here’s to all the Bettes, and Waverlys, and Maras, and Frankies! May these wonderful characters continue to inspire.