How Fantasy Loves Romance and Romance Loves Fantasy
by Dora Machado
People ask me all the time why I chose to write romantic fantasy. The short answer is that I can't envision writing one without the other. The long answer might be more complex. The union of fantasy and romance is a marriage of convenience. The genres complement, enhance and enrich each other. Beyond that, romance and fantasy are the Yin and the Yang, ebony and ivory, Billy Joel and Elton John. They belong together.
I love writing epic fantasy. Fantasy is a subversive genre, requiring the mind to bend and the imagination to flex, perfectly suited for me. I love the genre's creative freedom, the opportunity to rethink, redesign and reinterpret the human experience in fresh and diverse settings, and the mysteries that magic brings to the human equation. But fantasy without romance is like lemonade without lemons--blah, tasteless, inert. Add a voluptuous romance to a well-crafted fantasy and POW! Now you've got a story with grit.
This is exactly what I've tried to do in all of my books, and my latest novel, The Curse Giver from Twilight Times Books, is no exception. The Curse Giver is about an innocent healer named Lusielle, who is betrayed and condemned to die for a crime she didn't commit. When she's about to be executed, Lusielle is rescued from the pyre by an embittered lord doomed by a mysterious curse. You might think that Bren, Lord of Laonia, is Lusielle's savior, but he isn't. On the contrary, Bren is pledged to kill Lusielle, because her murder is his people's only chance at salvation.
The curse tormenting the Lord of Laonia is at the action crux of the story, but it's really the relationship between Bren and Lusielle that gives meaning to this grand adventure. The gradual transformation of enemies into allies, the clash of conflicted hearts and the forbidden passion that blooms between them, balance the action, deepen the story, and imbue the tale with a sense of gritty realism. This is the part that makes the reader care and the writer write. As Lusielle and Bren prepare to challenge the curse giver who has already conjured their ends, they must find the magic within, the inner strength to save not just themselves, but each other. In the end, romance lends fantasy the concept of affection, and affection turns out to be the most powerful magic of all.
In my fantasy novels, romance is not just a component of the story; it is the heart of the story. In my view, romance enhances fantasy by connecting the story to the experience of love, personal struggle and acceptance. Without this connection, fantasy loses focus, depth and perspective. The stories I want to tell are lush, vivid, passionate and exuberant. I can't imagine telling them without a sizzling romance sprouting right in the middle of it all to make a mess of things. At the end of the day, romance and fantasy belong together in a genre that is as much fun to read as it is to write.
Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats.
To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at www.doramachado.com or contact her at Dora@doramachado.com.
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