Before I get started, I'd like to thank the Star-Crossed Romance authors for inviting me to be a guest blogger. I appreciate it!
Lynda asked me to talk about what drew me to write futuristic romance and why. At first, I thought this was a pretty easy topic to address, but the longer I thought about it, the more complex the answer became.
I've always been drawn to futuristics. I remember being in a writing class, and when the teacher went around the room asking what genre we were interested in, I said romance mixed with a little science fiction. She promptly shot me down, telling me there was no such thing and that I had to pick one or the other. I still remember finding my first futuristic romance when I was in Waldenbooks--I think I shrieked with the thrill of discovery. :-) Yeah, it's lucky I wasn't banned, but here was exactly the kind of thing I was interested in writing and someone was publishing it!
I found out other romances like this had been released and I started a search to hunt down every single title so I could read them. Most were out of print, some weren't easy to find, but I spent weekends hitting used bookstores, thrift stores and library sales until I'd gotten each book.
So what is it that draws me as a writer to the subgenre? The infinite possibilities.
I'm very character-driven in my writing and I like to see how certain scenarios impact who a character is. For example, the idea for The Power of Two came to me with one word: nanotechnology. I'd done a lot of reading on this years before because it interested me, not because I ever thought I'd use it in a story, but now what I knew was zinging around my brain. What if I used Quantum Brain Nanotechnology as a basis for the story? What if my hero and heroine were connected to each other this way, but they'd never met? What kind of impact would this have on who they were?
That last question is the one that interested me the most. How would this shape these characters?
This all took maybe a couple of minutes to zoom in my head and then Cai made an appearance and the possibilities began to snowball. She was brilliant, shy and had been ridiculed mercilessly her entire life because of her intelligence. She'd withdrawn from the world and her only real connection was the man on the other side of the nanoprobes. But no matter how safe she tried to keep herself, Jake was almost always in her head. She learned to trust him, learned to rely on him--and she never told him she was human.
Jake was impacted too. A loner by nature, he doesn't trust easily either, but here he is, forced to have the implants put in his head. But he thinks Cai is a computer and so he opens up to her, developing an emotional closeness he believes is safe because she isn't human. Imagine how happy he was to find out he'd been sharing his deepest thoughts with a real person and someone who was very young at the outset of their connection.
How could I duplicate these circumstances in a contemporary romance? I guess I could have had both Jake and Cai telepathic or something, but it doesn't have the same thrust as being coerced by the military into having implants inserted. It doesn't carry the same ramifications or shape who these people are in the same way.
The second reason I like futuristic romance so much is that I have the power to create my own society and watch how it plays into who my characters are. Near future, far future, alternate reality, alien planets--it's all an opportunity to torment the hero and heroine. :-) My motto for writing is: Torture the characters before they torture me.
Justine Davis in her futuristic books Lord of the Storm and The Skypirate created a very interesting world that greatly impacted her heroes and heroines. In LOTS, the heroine is a coalition pilot and the hero was enslaved and used sexually by the elite of this society. He has every reason to hate the coalition, but the heroine defies her people to rescue him and he finds himself falling in love with someone he considers the enemy.
Skypirate took this world and impressed its influence on the hero and heroine even farther than in book one. The heroine here is a former coalition officer (and not a nice person in LOTS) who's been enslaved because of the escape in the first book. The hero is a space pirate who happens to be from the same world as the hero of LOTS and he's believed all his people are dead. This has had a profound impact on his life and on his beliefs.
Another book that I think used the society in an interesting way is The Crystal Prophecy by Janice Tarantino. The heroine is from our world and brought by The Widows to future Earth. This is a fish out of water tale because this place is drastically different from ours. Here we see an author use a futuristic world to impact a current-day character.
In contrast, the world in Ravyn's Flight and Eternal Nights isn't all that different from what we have now since it's only about 40 years out in the future, but these characters grew up with war. Not just a off-in-a-foreign-land war, but an on-US-soil war. They've never known what it's like to have a true peace, they've forever been aware that the US could be invaded again.
This isn't the main thrust of the books, in fact the wars on Earth are barely addressed, but this has shaped who the heroes and heroines in this world are. Ravyn not only grew up in a war zone, her mother was on the front lines as an army surgeon. She'd already lost her father and knew she could be orphaned at any moment. I also find myself interested in the differences between Kendall and Ravyn as heroines. Kendall is only five years younger than Ravyn, but those five years made a difference in who each woman is because of what was going on in the world around them.
As you can guess from everything I've said, I don't have much interest in the world alone. It all comes down to the characters for me and how society and events shape who they are. Futuristic romance offers limitless opportunities and new and creative ways to torture my heroes and heroines. :-)
A third reason I love the subgenre is that the story can be as big or as small as the author wants it to be.
In Lord of the Storm and The Skypirate, a group of rebels is fighting for the freedom of their world from coalition tyranny. In The Crystal Prophecy the future Earth is fighting for its very survival. These are pretty huge stories.
But there's room for the smaller scope story as well. In Ravyn's Flight the goal for the hero and heroine is to stay alive until help can arrive from Earth, and if possible, take out the bad guy. The fate of the world doesn't hang in the balance, just the fate of two people. In Eternal Nights the hero and heroine are trying to stay alive too and expose a smuggling ring.
So these are the reasons why I love the subgenre so much, but I've spent days trying to figure out how, exactly, my interest originated. Before I knew there was a such a thing as futuristic romance, I wanted to write it, so why? Was it the reruns of Star Trek that my friends and I watched as very young children? Or was it born at some other time?