(The Pennymaker Tales, #4)
By Tara Lain
Wendell “Wen” Darling lives in a world of shoulds and musts. Left to care for his brother and sister by his dull drudge of a father and wacko irresponsible mother, he suppresses his creativity, slaving in an ad agency seventy hours a week, letting his no-talent supervisor take the credit.
Then his bosses blow the campaign for their biggest client and Wen gets a chance to shine—but only if he can find the artist who painted a wild, glorious wall of graffiti in the subway. Hiding behind a pillar at 2:00 a.m., Wen comes face-to-face with the scarlet-haired, elven-faced embodiment of his divergent opposite—Peter Panachek, the flighty, live-for-today painter, singer, and leader of the rock group the Lost Boys. Everything Wen takes seriously, Peter laughs off, but opposites attract, even if their kisses always lead to battles. Peter’s devil-may-care persona hides a world of secrets, self-protection, and hidden fears, until the day a drug dealer, Vadon Hooker, threatens everything Wen holds dear. Guided by the mysterious Mr. Pennymaker, Peter has to choose between facing responsibility or burrowing even deeper into Neverland.
Picking Fairy Tales and Stories
Hi! I’m so delighted to be here today to announce the release of my new romance, Never, the latest in my Pennymaker Tales. As you might know, all the Pennymaker Tales are standalone novels united by a single common character Mr. Pennymaker. Each of the stories is a contemporary gay romance retelling of a famous fairy tale or children’s story. So far, the series includes homages to Cinderella (Sinders and Ash), Snow White (Driven Snow), Beauty and the Beast (Beauty, Inc.), and now, Peter Pan, aka Never.
The idea of rewriting fairy tales is a popular one but, interestingly, not as straightforward as you might expect. First, an author has to pick a story with enough plot to become a novel. Many fairy tales are super simple and I think that’s why a lot of the retellings are short novellas. Also, the tale needs to be well enough known to a wide audience that readers can appreciate the subtlety of the story. Having a guy named Snowden end up in a fraternity house with seven helpful fraternity brothers is an interesting plot point, but its a lot more fun if you know about Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Many fairy tales are very obscure and, therefore, would exclude most of the audience from enjoying the multi-level nature of the story. Choose a well-known story and different readers will get different references, but it’s still fun.
Very important, the story needs to lend itself naturally to romance and, in my case, gay romance. Of course, the author has total freedom to change and expand the story, but if there’s a chance for maintaining a romantic plot or expanding the story to be more romantic, it’s great. Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast are inherently love stories. Snow White, not as much, but I created a Prince character to represent all romantic heroes. In Peter Pan, of course, there isn’t a romance except that Wendy is taken to the island to be mother for the Lost Boys. Of course, in Never, I turned Wendy into Wendell and made him my central and romantic hero.
Most important, I think, the books must stand on their own as fully realized romances. Making them parodies of their source material might be okay for a short comedy, but not for a full romance. Are the books meaningful, fully developed, with their own themes and love stories? That’s the test of a good homage.
Many of my readers love the Pennymaker Tales and suggest stories I might retell. In fact, the idea of using Peter Pan was suggested by one of my friends/reviewers, Christie Thorsen. I loved the idea and the story as born with a dedication to Christie. Have an idea for a fairy tale that might make a good romance? Just let me know. I’m always on the hunt!