YOU GOT SCI-FI IN MY ROMANCE!
Is anyone else old enough to remember that old Reese’s commercial? Two great tastes that taste great together? (Click for nostalgia, if you dare.)
One of the questions I’m often asked in interviews is why I decided to blend romance and science fiction in my recently released debut, GHOST PLANET. To be honest, it wasn't something I put a huge amount of thought into when I wrote it, but I have certainly thought a lot about it since.
I was just writing what I love – stories that explore relationship dynamics against the backdrop of a speculative setting. Like DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN. THE MISTS OF AVALON. And even Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER -- though the speculative element is small in that one, the impact on the plot and characters is huge.
I think that encapsulates what appeals to me most about blending romance with sci-fi/fantasy. When a character’s whole world is flipped upside-down in a way no one has ever experienced before, really interesting things happen. It sets the stage for mystery, plot twists, and great character development.
And when the story does move into familiar territory for readers – starting a new job, falling in/out of love, becoming pregnant – the sci-fi/fantasy lens can show these elements in a whole new light.
At the time I came up with the idea for GHOST PLANET, I was entering romantic fantasy stories in the Writers of the Future Contest. I kept getting honorable mentions, and was finding it hard to come up with fresh ideas. I thought maybe I’d fare better with sci-fi.
The title of the story came to me first. As I noodled on what a story called “Ghost Planet” might be about, I got the idea for a scene where a scientist travels to a newly discovered world, only to find herself tethered to a sexy alien. Then I thought, “She should be the sexy alien,” and it all took off from there.
The short story version of GHOST PLANET earned me another honorable mention, but more importantly, the premise inspired me so much I kept going. Six weeks later the first draft of the manuscript was finished. A year later it had been named a finalist for RWA’s Golden Heart Award in the paranormal category (umbrella category for romance with a speculative element).
What I didn’t realize at the time: Sci-fi romance has typically been considered a niche market, with a devoted but small audience. I think that’s beginning to change with the popularity of genre blending shows like Battlestar Galactica, and SFR certainly seems to be busting out all over the big screen.
Reader perceptions come into play as well – but I’m willing to bet lots of people are SFR fans without even knowing it. For folks who like sci-fi, novels with romantic plots offer strongly character-driven stories. For folks who like romance, sci-fi offers fresh ideas and healthy servings of adventure and mystery.
Like I said, two great tastes that taste great together. :-) What’s your favorite genre blend?
About Ghost Planet
Tor Books, October 30, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
When psychologist Elizabeth Cole arrives on a recently colonized planet to start a new job, she doesn’t expect to find her supervisor, Murphy, so incredibly attractive. She doesn’t expect to see alien beings, native to the planet, materializing as ghosts and following the “colonist” humans around. Most of all, she doesn’t expect to learn that Elizabeth Cole in fact died in a crash en route to this planet, and that she herself a reincarnated ghost-alien, connected symbiotically to Murphy—who, bound by the “Ghost Protocol” that he himself created, is not allowed to interact with or acknowledge Elizabeth in any way.
Confused, alone, and discounted as less than human, Elizabeth works to unlock the secrets of her own existence and fight the blatant discrimination of the Ghost Protocol. But as she draws closer to the truth, she begins to realize that she is only a pawn in the struggle for control of the planet. Oppressed by her ghost status and tantalized by forbidden love, Elizabeth may just be the one to upset the planetary balance….
We trotted up half a dozen steps and were passing through the glass doors when Murphy said, “We’ll be scanned by security just inside. I hate them being here, raising people’s anxiety level in a place where we want them to feel safe. But all new arrivals pass through here, and someone decided it was a good idea.”
Thinking about the illicit-substance and weapons scans in all the airports and public buildings back home, I raised my eyebrows. “What’s it for?”
“To get a sort of fingerprint on everyone,” he explained, walking through the doorframe-shaped scanner. “Just to make sure we know who’s who. They can’t do it at the transport terminal because no one has ghosts when they first arrive.”
I followed him through the scanner, and a long beep sounded somewhere off to my left as I joined him inside. Murphy’s head jerked toward the sound. His eyes moved to the glass doors we’d just come through, and slowly back to me. He glanced at the security desk on our right.
“Where is it?” Murphy called to the guard, whose fingers were flying over his keyboard. The guard’s ghost leaned against the wall behind him, little more than a shadow.
The man stopped typing and looked up. “I’m sorry, Dr. Murphy?”
“I heard the alert go off, but I don’t see her. My ghost, Simon,” Murphy added, growing impatient. “Do you see her?”
The guard blinked at him a couple times. Then he cleared his throat. “She’s standing right next to you, Dr. Murphy.”
About Sharon Lynn Fisher
GHOST PLANET, coming from Tor Books on Oct. 30. The book -- a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist -- is a sci-fi/romance blend that offers a "fresh and fascinating take on the human-alien problem" (says author Linnea Sinclair). She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is hard at work on her next novel and battles writerly angst with baked goods, Irish tea, and champagne. You can visit her online at SharonLynnFisher.com.
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What: Three commenters will win a print copy of Ghost Planet from Tor! US/CANADA ONLY
How: Answer Sharon's question:
What’s your favorite genre blend?
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Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Monday, November 19, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.
*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*