Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Elemental Storytelling: STARLING by Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese

 With the blessing of TV Tropes, the Snarkology is pleased to host a blog series based on the Periodic Table of Storytelling.


The Chosen One/Subverted Trope --- Five Man Band -- Romance Arc --- The Storyteller

Considering that our novel Starling (and its sequels) is about the relationships amongst the cast and crew of a hit TV show, playing molecule game with TV Tropes is pretty much impossible for us to resist.

The Chosen One/Subverted Trope (NeoSv)
Starling's hero Alex is our (subverted) chosen one, plucked from obscurity and transformed nearly overnight from a production assistant to a star on The Fourth Estate, one of network TV's hottest dramas. Alex is, however, a subversion of the usual trope. He doesn't want to be chosen, he's not fighting evil, and this isn't his destiny. He's just a guy who wants to tell stories. Being chosen sucks, and Alex doesn't even get the satisfaction of saving the world while he's at it. Instead, a lot of people on the Internet are way too interested in who he's dating.

Five Man Band (5ma)
He is joined in his adventures by the rest of his own merry five man band: Victor (Leader), the madman mastermind showrunner of Fourth, who is, as far as Alex is concerned, way too into interfering in the lives of everyone who works for him; Paul (Lancer), one of Fourth's key writers; Liam (The Trickster), Alex's costar, who teaches him some important lessons about life and love, and Carly (the Chick), who loves all of her guys, would like them to all get along, and also, if at all possible, stay in one piece.

Romance Arc (Rar)
And then we have a romance arc since this is, after all, a romance novel. The relationship between Alex and Paul is the core of this story in Starling and in the entire series that will follow.  And if we tried to highlight the other romances in this book and amongst the key players?  All you'd get is a very big knot.

The Storyteller (St)
Lastly but most importantly the Storyteller is a key part of our molecule. Most explicitly this could be Victor, who pulls strings with both his TV creations and the real people he has gathered to bring them to life. But it could also be Paul, who writes stories, or Alex and Liam, who act them. But really, it's every character in the book: Everyone has their own story that they are telling in their own way, often unreliably.

Title: Starling
Publisher: Torquere Press
Date Published: September 10, 2014
Genre: Romance

Word Count: 71,000

Be careful what you wish for...

When J. Alex Cook, a production assistant on The Fourth Estate (one of network TV’s hottest shows), is accidentally catapulted to stardom, he finds himself struggling to navigate both fame and a relationship with Paul, one of Fourth’s key writers. Despite their incendiary chemistry, Alex’s inexperience and the baggage they’re both carrying quickly lead to an ugly break-up.

Because the stars aren't benign

Reeling from their broken hearts, Alex has an affair with a polyamorous co-star and Paul has an ill-advised reunion with an old flame. Meanwhile the meddling of their colleagues, friends, and even the paparazzi quickly makes Alex and Paul’s real life romance troubles the soap opera of the television season. 

But while the entertainment value may be high, no one knows better than Alex and Paul that there are no guarantees when it comes to love in Los Angeles.


Our publisher would like us to state that this is non-final copy; errors may remain and are entirely our own.

Paul keeps a hand at Alex's waist until they’re at the side of the room, and then grins and tugs him a little closer and starts moving his hips to the beat.
“Really?” Alex raises an eyebrow, though he doesn’t step away.
“C’mon, I know you can,” Paul tells him, and puts his other hand on Alex’s hips too. No one who can control their face and body like Alex can’t dance.
Alex smiles that small, dangerous smile of his and puts his hands on Paul’s shoulders. “Okay.”
Paul knows it’s game on. Alex moves beautifully, easy and strong to the beat, and Paul can feel the power of him under his hands, the physicality of his magnetism. It’s extraordinary. This is why Alex doesn’t like to speak, Paul realizes; he simply doesn’t need to, his body is a more faithful storyteller.
When Paul invited Alex to this party, he’d entertained vague fantasies of getting to talk with him somewhere not on the lot and maybe making out with him in a corner. But Paul has been thinking about Alex as desirable and intriguing for so long that with him in his arms now Paul wants to go big with that desire. He can't imagine a few kisses being enough.
Songs pass and they keep moving closer to each other until they’re way too close. Paul hopes Alex knows he can do what he wants here; sure they’re still being watched but it doesn’t matter. This feels way too good, and Paul pulls them together until their thighs are brushing and his arms are snug around Alex’s waist.
Their eyes keep catching in the dark, and more than once Paul’s gaze drops to Alex’s mouth. Alex tightens his fingers on his side when it does, his eyes flickering between Paul’s lips and his eyes. When the song shifts again to something heavy and slow their foreheads brush together, and Alex’s nose touches Paul’s cheek.

Add Starling to your Goodreads Shelf

Erin McRae
Racheline Maltese and Erin McRae's first novel, Starling, will be published on September 10, 2014; its sequel, Doves, will be out January 21, 2015. Both are from Torquere Press. Their short story "Lake Effect" was part of Torquere's June 2014 anthology, They Do.
Racheline Maltese

When not writing romance, Racheline is a frequent essayist on pop culture topics, while Erin applies her knowledge of international relations theory to their screen-based projects, because conflict drives narrative.

Website/Blog: www.Avian30.com
Twitter: @racheline_m and @erincmcrae


  1. Hi ladies,
    Thank you so much for joining us today! It's great having you. :)

  2. Fascinating way to look at stories. I'm learning so much about story structure following this series.