So here’s the topic, and it’s one of my faves: Romance. Ahhh, romance. What work of fiction is complete without it? I mean, seriously. Okay, okay, I’ve read some books lately that don’t have a smidgen of a relationship in them. At least not a romantic one. To me, literature is all about relationships and there is none better than the romantic one. Sandra asked a lot of questions, so I’ll break them down for you in my now infamous fake interview format.
SUA: Do you write romantic relationships in your books?
EJ: Yes. Even when I try not to, I still do. In fact my NaNo novel (Elemental Hunger for those of you keeping track) has this on the front page (I wrote it by hand): THIS IS A DYSTOPIAN NOVEL WITH NO ROMANCE. Yes, it’s in all caps. Pen even.
Yes, there is romance. A lot. I just couldn’t help it! I’m either a huge sucker for romance or a complete wimp when it comes to disciplining my characters. You choose.
SUA: If so, what do you do to show the attraction between your characters?
EJ: Uh, they’re hot and stuff. LOL. Just kidding. I don’t mind my characters being uber-hawt and all that, but I’m sort of drawn to regular people. In Elemental Hunger, I say this about the male MC (Adam), through the female MC’s (Gabby) POV: “He had the pinched, unhealthy look of someone who hadn’t eaten a decent meal in days.”
It’s not all about how rockin’ hot Adam is (and he is, just wait a few chapters, he has this wicked cool tattoo…). It’s about the protection he offers to Gabby. He’s something she needs desperately to survive. Like air. How romantic is that? I mean, come on.
I’m not sure I answered this question, so let me have another swing at it. I try to show the attraction between them as realistically as possible, so that the reader can see that romance is not all about looks. This may be lame, but I think one of the most romantic things is how comfortable each person is with the other in complete silence. That speaks a lot for me. When I’m with the one I love, we don’t have to be speaking or doing anything. We’re happy just because we’re in the same room with each other. I try to infuse that into my relationships, because it’s real for me.
SUA: What problems do your characters encounter?
EJ: As many as humanly possible. No, really. That’s what makes great fiction, so I try to torment them to the point that they just cannot go on. This is usually where I paint myself into a corner and I have to delete, but whatever. I’m not afraid of the delete key. I’ve done some (what I hope are) nasty things. For example:
- I imply that Jag is Vi’s brother. And she’s been kissing him.
- That tattoo I was telling you about? Yeah, it transmits locations and Adam can’t touch Gabby unless he wants to broadcast where she is for the bad guys. That complicates the romantic side of things.
- I make one of them betray the other. It’s usually for something the betrayer can’t control, but the betrayee doesn’t know that, and there’s this huge thing. Trust is a big deal in relationships, so if you can break that down and toss it out the window, that causes quite the dent in the romance. Of course, then you have to build it back up…. Isn’t writing fun?
SUA: What qualities do you think make a romantic relationship work in fiction?
EJ: The same things that make romantic relationships work in real life. Thrills, chills and automobiles. I mean, didn’t you always want to go out with the guy with the smokin’ car that made your skin tingle when he touched you? Yeah, me too. Never happened. Le sigh. But that’s why I’m a writer! I can make it happen for those living in my head. Man, they have such a good life in there.
I’m gonna skip the fictional couples to save myself the embarrassment points.
So, how do you feel about romance? Do you write it in your novels? Is it hard to write? Easy? Natural? How do you make it work?