Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Here Be Romance?

Posted by: Jane Kindred
I've never thought of myself as a romance writer (well, not since high school, when my dream was to become the next Victoria Holt...look her up, ya little whippersnappers); I consider myself a fantasy writer. But somehow my books have landed with publishers who specialize in romance. I worry I'm somehow misrepresenting myself.

It's not that there isn't any romance in my books, it's just that the romance doesn't drive the plot of the story. As for an HEA ("happily ever after," a requirement in most romance), well, it depends on your definition of "happily." My characters are generally happy with their choices, and they don't usually end up alone, but the relationships certainly wouldn't be covered by the Defense of Marriage Act. (Side note: I always hear that in my head as "Defensive Marriage Act." Makes a lot more sense that way, if you ask me.)

The funny thing is, I spent many years agonizing over the fact that there was too much romance in my fantasy. Back when I started writing fantasy (yes, it was the Stone Age; thanks for noticing), the bastard child of speculative fiction—itself the bastard child of genre fiction—looked down upon the redheaded stepchild of romance, and frequently beat it up for the heck of it and stole its lunch money. Paranormal romance and urban fantasy didn't even exist then. (I said it was the Stone Age, whippersnappers. Stop rubbing it in.)

But while I was busy trying to make my epic fantasy acceptable to the keepers of the status quo, writers like Lynn Flewelling and Jacqueline Carey came along and told the establishment to suck rocks. (I'm sure there are other, earlier examples, but these are the ones I noticed and fell head over heels for.) They wrote the stories they wanted to tell, and romance happened to be a part of it.

So now I'm working on revisions to the final installment of the first trilogy in my House of Arkhangel'sk series, and I'm having a fight with the heroine. Seems I was so successful at suppressing her romantic leanings to fit the traditional mold that a scene that should have been the romantic climax is utterly devoid of passion. I think I've stumbled upon the solution, though. I had the love interest slap her when she finally confessed her feelings. That woke her up. ;)

I know I'm pretty much asking for an "amen" from the choir here, but how do you feel about romance in your fantasy? Is it "You got your romance in my fantasy!", "You got your fantasy in my romance!", or is it an awesome tasty flavor combination you can't believe somebody didn't think of before?



  1. Great post, Jane!

    I like a good balance of both. Many a time I'd read a fantasy book and wait, wait, wait for the romance. But if it's all romance, then it loses me. It's got to be a combo for me. Which makes me think I'll really enjoy your book. :)

  2. Excellent post!

    I'm on the "awesome tasty flavor combination" side of the fence. I'm a sucker for a good fantasy with romance as a part, but if it's bogged down to all romance all the time, I lose interest.

  3. Romantic Fantasy is my most favourite genre, and much neglected :)

  4. Ditto to what Jus said. Oh, and I remember Victoria Holt. (sigh!)

  5. I love the balance of romance and fantasy. I'm a huge romance buff (can't help it, that's what makes me happy), so to me romance is pretty integral to a good storyline.

  6. See, I knew I was preaching to the choir. ;) I prefer more fantasy than romance, but romantic elements always make me happy. I don't generally read romance these days unless it has some fantasy or paranormal component...or unless it's about two hot guys doing each other. ;)

    But I'm thinking of trying to find some of those good ol' Victoria Holt books to read again...Lord of the Far Island...*dreamy sigh*.

  7. "Amen!" :)

    These days, if I read a fantasy without a touch of romance in it, I feel cheated.

  8. Ha! Those mean other genres beating up romance and stealing its lunch money! LOL

    You know I could never finish a single Tolkien novel because without the romance and passion eh, my heart wasn't in it! :)

    So yes I'm all for romance in fantasy otherwise the "epic-ness" isn't enough to pull me in...

    Great blog!

    Lisa :)

  9. Lisa, that is *exactly* why I could never get through Tolkien either. I appreciated the addition of that element in the movies.

    The very first adult fantasy novel I ever read was Piers Anthony's A Spell for Chameleon, and as male oriented as that book was, there was still, at the heart, a love story. :)

  10. Actually I prefer the romance to be more of a meaty subplot to the MAIN plot, you know? CJ Cherryh spoiled me there. *sigh* But yeah, I prefer the focus on teh fantasy plot, but I love it when two characters get it on too.

    I never set out to write romance either. I always set out to write straight fantasy, and then my characters start whispering they fancy the pants of the other character and what am I going to do about it? My husband says I write romance for people who don't normally read romance...

  11. Awesome, awesome post. I have the same problem. I write fantasy, there's romance in it, but it doesn't drive the plot. In my current WIP(epic fantasy), I just realized she doesn't meet the romantic interest in the book until 2/3rds through...and they don't end up together. It's not a tragic ending, but it has me panicking a little. Should I keep writing? It's one of four, and she does get her HEA, but she has a few hits and misses on her way. You know?

  12. Shawna, I say write the story you want to write and it will find a place.

    Julie, I love the phrase "fancy the pants." :D My characters are constantly falling for people I'd never expect. I didn't even know my male MC was gay until he started flirting with another man. LOL.

  13. I have maybe ten or twelve Victoria Holt books on my shelf. My mother liked them, so I read them, and while I haven't read them since high school I haven't gotten rid of them despite moving several times.

    And for years I've been a die hard fantasy writer, but slowly I'm figuring out how this romance thing works and might actually lean more in that direction. . .


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