Let’s Get Romantic

MyStepbrothertheGroom-600Because we have nothing else going on (it’s not like we decided to write and market the first three books of a fast-paced alien invasion series one spontaneous day in December or anything), Sean and I decided it was time to try something again that we’d botched before.

We decided to write a romance … for real this time.

I’m happy to report that the resulting book launches today as the new Lexi Maxxwell (but actually written by Platt & Truant) book, My Stepbrother the Groom. I absolutely love this book and laughed a ton while writing it. It’s one of my very favorites and I think you’ll love it, too.

But when you think about it, Groom was the book that almost didn’t happen.

See, we’d tried once before to write a romance and failed. We didn’t “fail” in terms of writing a great book (several S&S die-hards said La Fleur de Blanc was their favorite of “our” books so far, despite being under Lexi’s name), and likewise, that book’s promotion hasn’t “failed.”

No, we simply failed to write a romance. If that sounds bizarre, it is. It’s a bit like a painter setting out to paint a beautiful meadow, then at the end looking down and saying, “Well, shit. Looks like I accidentally painted a clown.”

La Fleur de Blanc is romantic, but it’s not a romance. It doesn’t really follow one man and one woman as they attempt to square their lives and personalities. And it doesn’t have a grand “happily ever after” that concludes the story of that love, making it clear that those people will be together forever.

If our goal was to write a romance (and it was) we’d screwed up.

Well … if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.

But … Why?

If you’re rolling your eyes at the idea of us writing a romance, hang on just a second and don’t be an asshole.

I’m not into “romance” in the Harlequin, Fabio-on-the-cover sense either. I don’t really want to read or write about bodice-ripping and “the forceful thrusts of Eduardo’s rigid man-hammer.” But that said, letting my personal disinterest in the cliché version of romances sour me on the genre was prejudiced.

See, Sean and I are both romantic guys. Sean used to write wedding vows as part of his job. I proposed to my wife with a custom message tucked into a fortune cookie. And both of us repeatedly do things that Dave thinks are eye-roll-worthy, like Sean’s frequent buying of flowers and the way I honestly don’t get angry when Robin dares to watch TV beside me and not remain perfectly quiet the entire time.

So why wouldn’t we want to tell some sort of a love story — one that began and ended within a single book, and followed the travels of two people meant for one another?

But still: Okay, okay, I know.

We’re the guys who wrote Unicorn Western. We tell a lot of dick jokes. Were we really going to delve into the realm of hot and heavy, where all declarations of undying love would be served on a silver platter?

You probably know us well enough by now to realize that wasn’t going to work.

Enter the RomCom

You know what’s great? Peanut butter. You know what else is great? Chocolate. I don’t like having to choose between them. That’s why it’s so great that Reese got around to making his (or her?) famous Peanut Butter Cups.

Similarly, we already knew we liked comedy and were capable of writing funny. So doing a “romantic comedy” instead of jumping into the throbbing love hammer stew with both feet was, we thought, a good way to move into a new genre without straying too far from known ground. It spilt something we knew we could do with something untried, kind of like writer’s training wheels.

To get in the mood, I revisited some of the romantic comedy movies I’d seen and liked, along with some new ones: Say Anything, Notting Hill, 10 Things I Hate About You, My Best Friend’s Wedding, more. I’d already seen all ten seasons of Friends (tagline: “A Decade-Long RomCom) more times than I could count. It gave us a rich palette to draw colors from. It set the mood, reminding us which beats we wanted to hit.

A relationship that seems impossible but is clearly oh-so right? Check.

An awkward leading character who’s always been kind of shit-upon by life, but who’s smarter and stronger than she realizes? Check.

A scene-stealing supporting character who acts as the lead’s foil and counterbalance … and in the case has a really foul mouth and loose morals? Check.

And most importantly, a similarly flawed love interest whose weaknesses match the lead’s strengths, and vice versa? Check.

Oh, and problems. We needed shitloads of problems and obstacles for our quirky lovebirds to face as they struggled through the narrative. BIG TIME check. 

We were off to the races.

Introducing our awkward, adorable, and hilarious bundle of joy

The full story of how we wrote My Stepbrother the Groom is one for another day. Let’s just say it was harder than we’d anticipated, and we had to stop in the middle, regroup, and go back to the beginning. Because in both romance and comedy, you have to believe the motivations and root for the right people.

We had a big challenge with Ella Roberts. How could we get her lusting for her future stepbrother and wanting to break up his forthcoming marriage to a very sweet fianceé … but not make the reader love her in the process?

Well now. I guess you’ll just have to read it to find out.

We’re also going wide with this one. You can get My Stepbrother the Groom at every major bookseller, starting today!

If you’re a Platinum Reader, My Stepbrother the Groom is available now in your library!

About Johnny B. Truant

Johnny started out as the writing everyman, barely managing a novel a decade. From there, he has become a storytelling superstar, pounding out a novel a month. He's the co-founder of Realm & Sands, as well as the host of the Self Publishing Podcast.


  1. Definitely added this one to my TBR – but I’m holding onto my ovaries, waiting for Dave to write a romance, LOL

  2. This is interesting. I’m currently reading a few romance novels. Not because I want to write romance, but because I want to write romance within my fantasy and scifi projects better.
    I didn’t grab Invasion yet, but I think I might read this one first because I’m currently looking for this kind of book.

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