Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Romance in Fantasy by Laurie Lucking | Guest Post


Emilie here: I'm so excited to feature this lovely post by Laurie Lucking to "kick off" this month's focus of Science Fiction and Fantasy! I know you'll enjoy this - I know I have.

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I know this will prompt some eye rolls, but I’m going to admit it anyway. In almost any story, no matter what genre, the part that interests me the most and stays with me the longest is the romance.

Now, you’re probably thinking—this girl clearly missed the memo. Emilie’s focus this month is on fantasy and science fiction. But here’s the thing. For as much as I adore romance, I write fantasy. Why? There are hordes of voracious romance readers out there, so why would I bother with fantasy when I could just tap into that (probably more lucrative) market?

Because I prefer my romance with a touch of the supernatural. There’s something about love stories in fantasy settings that draws me in so much more than the historical or contemporary genres. I think it’s because, at least for me, the fantasy setting ups the ante and makes the story so much less predictable. Because in fantasy, anything can happen.

Take star-crossed lovers, for example. In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare created a tragedy surrounding a pair of lovebirds from feuding families. But how much higher could the stakes have been if an ancient prophecy predicted the breakout of a devastating war if a union ever arose between those two families? Or if the feuding households were instead comprised of devious fairies, or powerful sorcerers? You get the idea :)


The higher stakes and unpredictability of fantasy are fascinating in their own right, but when romance is involved, they also can help the reader understand love in new ways. They may call into question our assumptions, or shed light on aspects of romantic relationships we don’t usually have to think about within the parameters of our own world. For instance, Heart Song by Desiree Williams really got me thinking about how I’d react to being soul-bound to a person I barely knew. Would I embrace it, or fight it? Unblemished by Sara Ella had me pondering whether I could risk breaking someone’s heart if I knew that based on his Calling it could literally kill him. The Firethorn Crown by Lea Doué made me question whether I would be brave enough to declare my love for someone, when a positive response could break a curse, but a negative response would tighten the curse’s hold, not only for me but my entire family. The list goes on and on.



But perhaps the most profound value of incorporating romance into fantasy, or any kind of speculative fiction, is that it demonstrates the universal nature of love (tweet this). No matter where they are, no matter what their circumstances, people yearn to make connections with those around them, to feel important and valued, and to find a reason to hope for the future—something worth living, fighting, and possibly even dying for. These connections can come in many forms, including family and friendship, but are often manifested in romantic relationships. Whether in a high school algebra class, a distant planet, an epic quest, or a group of rebels fighting a corrupt government, someone will feel attracted to another person. He or she will get flustered in that person’s presence, and hope to catch their attention. Eventually it turns to daydreams about a future together, an outlook brighter than the present. Such feelings may cause the person to make poor decisions, or to lose sight of a purpose that should take higher priority. But they also can bring hope, a future to strive for, an incentive for self-sacrifice, and a manifestation of that character’s best self.

The prevalence of romance in almost any category of literature illustrates that love is a basic, but very powerful, human longing, something that spans every era and society.

Romance in real life is a beautiful, precious thing. I am so grateful that my husband and I get to live an ordinary existence, with our biggest challenges being house repairs and our kids’ misbehavior. But when I read or write, I love to have those boundaries stretch far beyond my own commonplace experience, causing me to think and feel that much more deeply. And maybe even swoon on occasion 😁

So, how do you feel about romance in speculative fiction? If you have a strong preference for or against romance in the books you read / write, why? Are there any exceptions?

Thanks for reading, and thank you so much for inviting me to visit today, Emilie!!

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An avid reader since birth (her parents claim she often kept them up late begging to hear just one more story), Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. She writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of romance, and her debut novel, Common, will release in 2018 from Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing. Laurie is the Secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of www.landsuncharted.com, a blog for fans of clean young adult speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and two young sons. Find out more about Laurie and her writing by visiting www.laurielucking.com.

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