Alternative point-of-view books: What a cool concept, right? You read a story from one perspective and then you get the opportunity to see that same story from another. There’s been an influx of these books over the past year or so, and I’ve loved watching reader reactions, but then... my readers starting asking (begging) for me to repeat Flat-Out Love from Matt’s perspective.
I panicked. I said no a hundred times. Maybe more. I didn’t see how I could pull this off without the book getting repetitive, and I had grave concerns about somehow compromising the integrity of Flat-Out Love by retelling the entire story.
But I stewed on the idea. If I was going to do something from Matt, it would have to give readers more time and connection with Matt, but also give new information and insight into who he is. Then I realized something else: I don’t like to play by rules. Although that usually causes me trouble, here it works in my favor. Who said I had to approach an alternative-POV book the way other authors had? My readers were begging for specific scenes, and that, I figured out, is what I could give them. It didn’t make sense for them to hear the full story from Matt, but it did make sense to give them their favorite Flat-Out Love scenes. So, a ha! I could do a companion piece. And thus, Flat-Out Matt came to life.
Writing this companion novella turned out to be an incredibly special experience for me. I created Matt and I thought I knew everything about him, but it wasn’t until I was really in those scenes again that I developed a deeper understanding of my character.
And then...there was one more reader plea that I couldn’t refuse. Flat-Out Love is a pretty tame book—especially given today’s YA and romance markets—and the fade-to-black scene resulted in more than a few cries of, “I want to see what happened!” I was initially hesitant to write out a love scene because it truly wouldn’t have fit with the style of the original story. But since I’m a big ol’ rule breaker, I wrote it. And it was a great writing challenge to do one that kept the Flat-Out Love style and suited the characters. It resulted in what I think is a really beautiful and caring chapter that absolutely fits the relationship. Plus, you know...it’s kinda hot. In a nerdy, intellectual way.
Flat-Out Matt proved to me the symbiotic relationship between authors and readers; we feed off of each other, we learn from each other, and we challenge each other. And great things can come from that.