See, it has to do with Forever Promised, and one of the central conflicts there, which (and this is probably not a surprise to many people) revolves around being able to have children.
Now see, this is sort of irritating.
I know many couples who, by choice or by chance, will not and often do not want to have children. They live happy, productive, amazing lives, and they give a tremendous amount of wisdom and kindness into the world, and the world is definitely a more glorious place for their coupledom without the blessed little event. I am a big believer in the non-traditional family, and in forging family ties with the people you love, blood ties notwithstanding, and I think my work has made it clear. Jace and Quent? Sonny and Ace? Colby and Terrell? Chris and Xan? These couples are not going to have children. It is not in their psychological make-up, and it's not something they need to do. (Seriously-- Sonny and Ace? Fathers? Holy Goddess is that a mistake.) I don't think this is a lack in them, I think that if I were to write a sequel to any of them, they would be doing exciting, amazing, productive things without children.
The guys in the Johnnies series? Well, they have a lot of sex, and not all of it is butt-sechs, and that's gonna make us some babies, and babies are a complication in the world of sex, and so that's gonna fucking happen, whether they want it to or not.
Which brings us to The Promises series. The people in the Promises series want children.
Fucking sue me.
I know this is going to come as a shock to people who aren't great at reading between the lines, but Deacon has wanted children from the very first book. Crick took one look at the picture of Parry Angel and said, "Deacon, why didn't you tell me?" And Deacon wanted Crick more, and so it wasn't a sacrifice. Jeff and Collin both came from happy families-- is it a surprise to anyone that they'll want to recreate that happy family for themselves? Shane is a nurturer--and whether he wants to admit it, so is Mikhail-- should anybody be surprised that they need to choose a way to nurture? Anyone who has gotten to be a certain age with friends of the same age can tell you this-- whether you're in the center of the maelstrom or not, baby fever does hit a group of people around the same time. I've had friends who've sat the sidelines, and planned to do so for their entire lives-- but they are actively involved in my children's lives, and my children adore them. I've had friends who've had their own families, become the nucleus of their own molecule, and, when we were younger, we raised our children together. That too is marvelous. I do not advocate children as the only way for true happiness-- but there's no denying the subject of the little buggers comes up when you're starting a life together. For people like Deacon and Crick, from a place like Levee Oaks, they're going to be something both parties are going to at least think about when starting a relationship, and, well, the guys from the Pulpit are all around the same age.
For those critics who are bitter because I took characters to their logical conclusions, to the place in their lives that every other couple I've ever known has been to and dealt with, with whatever reckoning at the end?
Tough. It's not a decision I'll take back. I'll worry about my craftsmanship, and I'll worry about the sad things that happen in my work, but I'm not going to worry about this. I'll stand by the decisions the characters made in this book as very real, and very timely in the lives of couples in their twenties and thirties, whether they're gay or straight or a two-some or moresome. How a couple moves on and makes an impact on the future is always a consideration. Are babies necessary? No. But they're one possible answer to the age old question every couple has ever asked themselves once they're established: What next.
And another thing. My girl-children came hard upon the heels of my boy-children, but my boy-children were reluctant to come. I have spent, by my reckoning, nine years of my life worrying about getting pregnant. That's two and a half years when we were trying for Big T, and seven and a half when we thought we'd try again after Chicken and suddenly there was Zoomboy. While we were hoping for our first baby, my step-sister became pregnant (by accident, right out of high school) and I was devastated. The hurt was amazing. And I've also held friends' hands as they've endured the same thing--I once sewed two quilts for a friend that I donated to charity, because his wife miscarried twins at five months, and I had no words.
So it comes to this--reading what critics say is never easy-- never easy. But when you pour literally heart and soul into a story to have not your craftsmanship attacked but your life choices as seen through the lives of your characters? That's hard. I won't say it takes away some of the joy of the story, because too many awesome people are telling me I did good, and I won't take away from their good words. But it does remind me of the basic unfairness of people in general. I guess in a way, this is good-- I was starting to wonder if I had the capacity for basic rage anymore now that I was out of the public school system, and it's great to see I can still rant with the best of them. Nothing I've ever written-- or ever will write-- will ever judge another person for a choice or a chance to not have children. How dare people judge my characters or me for that matter for the choice and the chance to have them.