By Keri Kruspe
“Author of Otherworldly Romantic Adventures”
A long time ago, on a planet we call home, lived a shy, red-headed girl with spectacles who only wanted to spend her day reading. Immersed in heroines of old, she vicariously read every comic book she could get her hands on; from Supergirl to Archie to The Avengers.
Having a mother that lived for really old scary movies, the girl watched Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Peter Cushing “B” movies that showed on late night TV. The poor child never saw a Disney movie until she had children of her own.
When she entered the uncharted life of a pre-teen, she discovered science fiction novels. Now Heinlein, Asimov, and McCaffrey were her new best friends. Old reruns of Star Trek along with its “sequel” The Next Generation combined with Quantum Leap fueled her imagination.
Then, in her late teens, she discovered the love of her life—romance novels. Now she vicariously read the likes of Jude Deveraux, Kathleen Woodiwiss, and Johanna Lindsey. These were mostly historical romances, but an occasional contemporary love story would find its way into her eager hands.
To her everlasting sorrow, the saying “and nary the twain shall meet” held true about her two loves, Romance and Science Fiction. Until that one glorious day when the two genres bravely joined and began a lifelong journey of harmony and bliss.
After that happened, the young girl’s lifelong fantasy to become a published author finally found life in the universe.
I’m sure by now you guessed that hapless girl was me.
Once the genre of “SciFi Romance” was born, I worried that it wouldn’t survive. After all, the two separate genres attract two distinct types of readers. Science fiction mostly explores concepts and ideas that change our lives. Romance explores the inner, emotional parts of ourselves that strive for a quest of community. SF is great at “what if” while Romance creates memorable characters we fall in love with.
While I’m being general here (there are always exceptions), I firmly believe when the two tropes merge it creates an ideal canvas to work from. After all, where one is weak, the other is strong.
Too bad it’s hard to convince hard-core SF readers to read Romance, and many romance readers shudder and avoid science fiction. But what I’d like folks to understand is the opportunities in combining both genres to create near limitless avenues of love, adventure, and heart-pounding action.
Kit Rocha (author of Gideon’s Riders series) explains the appeal:
“Speculative (sci-fi/dystopian/steampunk/etc.) … combines all my favorite things—the chance to build new worlds and new cultures, or the chance to take ours and break it down and put it back together with slightly different pieces. When you get to redefine the rules of what love is and how people express it, you get a lot of opportunities to explore new themes—or old themes from a new perspective.”
One of my favorite authors (ever!) is Sherrilyn Kenyon. When asked what about the genre (paranormal) did she like, she put it this way:
“Blood, guts, goats, ghosts, zombies, vampires, shapeshifters... Everything. I’ve never been the kind of person who liked to color inside the lines or who wanted to play by other people’s rules. With the paranormal and science fiction and fantasy, the only limitation I have is my imagination. I can do anything and go any place (as long as it makes sense and follows the rules of the worlds I’ve set up). I love the freedom of it all.”
Sigh—what’s not to love?
Another aspect of writing SciFi Romance is a biggie for me: it empowers women.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the "bodice rippers" (so coined by the then emerging novelist, Danielle Steel, from the Syracuse Herald Journal, 1983), they focused on the virginal young thing confronted by a powerful, older man. The virgin resists, until the lust between her and the hero become too much to deny. Of course, marriage was the undeniable ending.
I thank the stars above that the women in today’s romance story isn’t afraid to be in charge. Their needs and desires are tended to, and as with any romance, it has a happy ending. Marriage optional.
That’s important to me, especially now. Times are tough for women. When we feel like we have no control over our crazy lives, we want to read stories not only about romance, but about the feeling of being in charge of an adventure. Add to that the promise of finding that certain someone who gets us. I find it’s even better if that person turns out to be a studly, sexier-than-humanly allowed alien.
To embrace my chosen genre, I drafted my author tagline to be: “Author of Otherworldly Romantic Adventures”. Immediately after that I have the following statement that explains who I am and what I passionately write about: “Stores about feisty heroines who aren’t afraid to take a chance on life… or love.”
What a perfect way for that gangly, red-headed girl in glasses to realize and live her dream.