The Slippery Slope to Magic

Faerymagic2 By Mary Jo

Being a writer is satisfying, frustrating, hard work, crazy-making—pick the adjective that fits on any given day.  But some projects are touched with fairy dust.  For me, that was never more true than for the Faery Magic anthology.  It was one of five romances designated as Notable Books by Library Journal in 1998, when the book was first published.  (This may be the only time an anthology has been so chosen.)  Now it’s being reissued and should be arriving in your bookstores any day now.  (THis is the new cover.  It scans very badly but is quite pretty in real time.)

The real magic came in the creation.  Three of the authors—the Wenches’ own Jo Beverley, Barbara Samuel, and Karen Harbaugh—were part of a dynamic online community based on the old Genie server.  They decided that it would be fun to write an anthology of romances involving fairies, but they needed a fourth author.  Jo and I were old friends, and she and I shared a taste for science fiction and fantasy.  So they asked if I’d like to join them.

I still remember getting Jo’s e-mail where she described the project.  I was crazy busy at the time, but even so, I looked at that e-mail and thought “FUN.”  Irresistible! 

Most anthologies are developed by publishers.  They come up with a concept, decide who they would like to have in it, and issue invitations.  It’s much rarer to have authors generate a project because that means several people must come up with a concept, write a proposal that explains what the stories will be, then find an editor who wants to buy the package.  Add in the fact that there are likely to be different agents involve (three in this case), and a certain amount of politics, and the business end can get complicated.

Faeriesmidsummers_eve But the creative end—now that was indeed fun! We really burned up the pixels as we developed the rules for our particular faery world.  We worked out the laws of magic that would bind our faeries.  The land of Faerie would touch the world we know in different places, and since faeries are nature spirits, they would be increasingly under siege in an England becoming industrialized.

These would not be cute little sugar plum faeries.  They would dangerous, edgy powers to be reckoned with.  Bad boy faeries.  (As an aside, Virginia Kantra wrote a wonderful, Rita-nominated contemporary novella where the bad boy fairies rode big honkin’ motorcycles. Great stuff!  But I digress. <g>)

Barbara and Karen decided on Georgian settings while Jo and I chose Regency.  We had little touches between stories—a passing reference to the Love Talker, a brief glimpse of a character from another story who has unnaturally green eyes. 

And it was all possible because of the magic of cyberspace.  In the introduction to the volume, we quoted a few bits of our conversations:  Imagine, if you will, fey whisperings of—

"Let’s use faery (Faery), not fairy.  It’s more mysterious."
"What about faeries mating with humans? My group is against it."
"Mine think it’s essential for survival."
"My heroine is half faery—and wouldn’t her mother be surprised to know!"
"Faeries are creatures of nature and must have greenery to live.  How will she survive in London?"
"She could live in Hyde Park."
"Or under a parlor aspidistra!"
"It’s reasonable for the humans to be scared.  It’s not wise to try to fool or foil the Queen of Faerie!" 

Faerieslady_with_train It’s been ten years since we wrote the stories in Faery Magic.  (I was still on dial-up!)  I came late to the online world, unlike my three faery sisters, who were all early adaptors.  I clung to my old Leading Edge computer as long as possible since I had a dark suspicion that going on line would be a huge time sink.  Boy, was I right!  E-mail addiction is not a pretty sight, and like most attractive nuisances, one doesn’t want to kick the habit.

But the benefits are great, most especially when in comes to building community.  It’s a fantastic tool for collaborating on writing projects, too.  All four of us in Faery Magic had a love for fantasy, and this was a wonderful first opportunity to indulge that taste. 

But a taste was not enough.  These days Karen and I both write paranormal historicals and Jo has written a goodly number of short works in both fantasy and science fiction.  (Jo and I were both in the Irresistible Forces anthology, too.)  Dragon_lovers Since the desire to write fantasy hasn’t abated, a couple of years ago we four decided to do another anthology.  Dragon Lovers will be out early next year from NAL.

I think that when Faery Magic was published, we were a little ahead of the paranormal curve.  Now there are fantasy elements all over romance, from vampires and werewolves to demon hunting soccer moms. My personal preference is for magic, and I’ve been happily weaving it into all my most recent work.  Some readers just don’t Get It, while others love it.

What do you as readers enjoy?  Do you hate paranormal elements?  Tolerate them if you like the writer’s style?  Or do you love them and find that they give freshness to classic stories?  (My June book, The Marriage Spell, was a classic  Regency marriage of convenience story, but with magic added.)

Tell us how you feel about the many varieties of paranormal and fantasy stories that are out there! 

Marriagespell_2_comp_3 Magically yours,

Mary Jo

66 thoughts on “The Slippery Slope to Magic”

  1. This leads up to another question I wanted to ask the Wenches: You are willing and often eager to read–and write–historical novels with fantasy elements, as well as fantasy; what about futuristic? I don’t mean the kind of stuff that you need to study quantum mechanics for a couple of years to get right, but the space-opera type.
    Also, it is my considered opinion that as a general rule good SF writers do a romance element better than good romance writers do an SF element. This is not necessarily true of fantasy, btw.
    Would you agree?
    The book I’m working on (if I ever get back to it) is an alternate Regency with magic, incorporating elements of THE FAERIE QUEENE, in a world in which the Etruscans beat the crap out of the Romans.
    I’m also working on one which tells the further adventures of Cinderella’s stepsisters, especially the one whose godmother is a witch.
    Some of my favorites, which I’ve mentioned here before, are the alternate Regencies by Andre Norton and Rosemary Edgehill, Patricia C. Wrede, and Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. I also love Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy and its sequels/prequels. (I hope the Tigress doesn’t read this; she’ll hit me again.)
    In SF/romance, I love the Liaden Universe© books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Andre Norton, Linnea Sinclair (recent discovery), and Jayne Castle.

    Reply
  2. This leads up to another question I wanted to ask the Wenches: You are willing and often eager to read–and write–historical novels with fantasy elements, as well as fantasy; what about futuristic? I don’t mean the kind of stuff that you need to study quantum mechanics for a couple of years to get right, but the space-opera type.
    Also, it is my considered opinion that as a general rule good SF writers do a romance element better than good romance writers do an SF element. This is not necessarily true of fantasy, btw.
    Would you agree?
    The book I’m working on (if I ever get back to it) is an alternate Regency with magic, incorporating elements of THE FAERIE QUEENE, in a world in which the Etruscans beat the crap out of the Romans.
    I’m also working on one which tells the further adventures of Cinderella’s stepsisters, especially the one whose godmother is a witch.
    Some of my favorites, which I’ve mentioned here before, are the alternate Regencies by Andre Norton and Rosemary Edgehill, Patricia C. Wrede, and Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. I also love Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy and its sequels/prequels. (I hope the Tigress doesn’t read this; she’ll hit me again.)
    In SF/romance, I love the Liaden Universe© books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Andre Norton, Linnea Sinclair (recent discovery), and Jayne Castle.

    Reply
  3. This leads up to another question I wanted to ask the Wenches: You are willing and often eager to read–and write–historical novels with fantasy elements, as well as fantasy; what about futuristic? I don’t mean the kind of stuff that you need to study quantum mechanics for a couple of years to get right, but the space-opera type.
    Also, it is my considered opinion that as a general rule good SF writers do a romance element better than good romance writers do an SF element. This is not necessarily true of fantasy, btw.
    Would you agree?
    The book I’m working on (if I ever get back to it) is an alternate Regency with magic, incorporating elements of THE FAERIE QUEENE, in a world in which the Etruscans beat the crap out of the Romans.
    I’m also working on one which tells the further adventures of Cinderella’s stepsisters, especially the one whose godmother is a witch.
    Some of my favorites, which I’ve mentioned here before, are the alternate Regencies by Andre Norton and Rosemary Edgehill, Patricia C. Wrede, and Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. I also love Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy and its sequels/prequels. (I hope the Tigress doesn’t read this; she’ll hit me again.)
    In SF/romance, I love the Liaden Universe© books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Andre Norton, Linnea Sinclair (recent discovery), and Jayne Castle.

    Reply
  4. I’ve been an avid fantasy reader for years – long before I started to enjoy romance, I confess. In fact, I think it was Ellen Kushner’s “Swordspoint” that led me in the direction of Georgette Heyer (thanks to one of the critics on the back cover) and voila! The world of historical romance pulled me in.
    So I love the combination of paranormal and romance. Mary Jo, your “Guardians” series and the new “Stone Saints” series are definitely on my keeper shelf.
    But I’ve also enjoyed paranormals by Patricia Rice, Susan Carroll, Shana Abe, Karen Harbaugh, and Susan Krinard. Patricia McKillip and Robin McKinley write beautiful, fairy-tale inspired fantasies. Judith Tarr’s “The Hound and the Falcon” trilogy – set in an alternate medieval England and Constantinople – is one of my all-time favorites. More recently, I discovered Sharon Shinn (she was in an anthology with Patricia McKillip) and I found her Samaria novels an interesting blend of myth, science fiction, and romance.
    A quick question for you, Mary Jo: Could you expand a little as to how you decided what rules of magic would work – and what wouldn’t? I’m working on a Regency-set paranormal – a world where magic has been bestowed upon those descended from faery changelings – and I’m wondering how closely I should follow the traditional faery tales.

    Reply
  5. I’ve been an avid fantasy reader for years – long before I started to enjoy romance, I confess. In fact, I think it was Ellen Kushner’s “Swordspoint” that led me in the direction of Georgette Heyer (thanks to one of the critics on the back cover) and voila! The world of historical romance pulled me in.
    So I love the combination of paranormal and romance. Mary Jo, your “Guardians” series and the new “Stone Saints” series are definitely on my keeper shelf.
    But I’ve also enjoyed paranormals by Patricia Rice, Susan Carroll, Shana Abe, Karen Harbaugh, and Susan Krinard. Patricia McKillip and Robin McKinley write beautiful, fairy-tale inspired fantasies. Judith Tarr’s “The Hound and the Falcon” trilogy – set in an alternate medieval England and Constantinople – is one of my all-time favorites. More recently, I discovered Sharon Shinn (she was in an anthology with Patricia McKillip) and I found her Samaria novels an interesting blend of myth, science fiction, and romance.
    A quick question for you, Mary Jo: Could you expand a little as to how you decided what rules of magic would work – and what wouldn’t? I’m working on a Regency-set paranormal – a world where magic has been bestowed upon those descended from faery changelings – and I’m wondering how closely I should follow the traditional faery tales.

    Reply
  6. I’ve been an avid fantasy reader for years – long before I started to enjoy romance, I confess. In fact, I think it was Ellen Kushner’s “Swordspoint” that led me in the direction of Georgette Heyer (thanks to one of the critics on the back cover) and voila! The world of historical romance pulled me in.
    So I love the combination of paranormal and romance. Mary Jo, your “Guardians” series and the new “Stone Saints” series are definitely on my keeper shelf.
    But I’ve also enjoyed paranormals by Patricia Rice, Susan Carroll, Shana Abe, Karen Harbaugh, and Susan Krinard. Patricia McKillip and Robin McKinley write beautiful, fairy-tale inspired fantasies. Judith Tarr’s “The Hound and the Falcon” trilogy – set in an alternate medieval England and Constantinople – is one of my all-time favorites. More recently, I discovered Sharon Shinn (she was in an anthology with Patricia McKillip) and I found her Samaria novels an interesting blend of myth, science fiction, and romance.
    A quick question for you, Mary Jo: Could you expand a little as to how you decided what rules of magic would work – and what wouldn’t? I’m working on a Regency-set paranormal – a world where magic has been bestowed upon those descended from faery changelings – and I’m wondering how closely I should follow the traditional faery tales.

    Reply
  7. I’m on both sides of the fence for this one. I used to really enjoy SF/Fantasy that dipped over into romance, but romance that dips into fantasy almost never works for me. I cut my teeth on Andre Norton, I read Ann Maxwell’s sf series, I adored Tanith Lee’s fairy tale reworkings, Robin McKinley……..
    But in romance it’s so often used as an excuse for lazy writing. One of the very few who walk the tightrope well is Kay Hooper – she’s done a lot of elements in romance without making me crazy. Susan Carroll too. I suppose talpianna and I are the poster children for YMMV, because Jayne Castle is the exact example I’d use for the flip side of the coin. I hate when it’s precious, when it doesn’t move the story, when there’s no reason for it to be there except that it is there, when it has the air of the author patting themself on the back for their own cleverness.
    I mostly avoid it. I avoid all the vampire series. I used to enjoy it, but now I poke at it like it’s fugu at the sushi bar.
    If I was asking the Wenches a query tonight it would be “why is it ok for the heroine to try and cheat the hero out of his inheritance? This is my LEAST favorite genre cliche – the dotty relatives whose support force her to, well, STEAL!’

    Reply
  8. I’m on both sides of the fence for this one. I used to really enjoy SF/Fantasy that dipped over into romance, but romance that dips into fantasy almost never works for me. I cut my teeth on Andre Norton, I read Ann Maxwell’s sf series, I adored Tanith Lee’s fairy tale reworkings, Robin McKinley……..
    But in romance it’s so often used as an excuse for lazy writing. One of the very few who walk the tightrope well is Kay Hooper – she’s done a lot of elements in romance without making me crazy. Susan Carroll too. I suppose talpianna and I are the poster children for YMMV, because Jayne Castle is the exact example I’d use for the flip side of the coin. I hate when it’s precious, when it doesn’t move the story, when there’s no reason for it to be there except that it is there, when it has the air of the author patting themself on the back for their own cleverness.
    I mostly avoid it. I avoid all the vampire series. I used to enjoy it, but now I poke at it like it’s fugu at the sushi bar.
    If I was asking the Wenches a query tonight it would be “why is it ok for the heroine to try and cheat the hero out of his inheritance? This is my LEAST favorite genre cliche – the dotty relatives whose support force her to, well, STEAL!’

    Reply
  9. I’m on both sides of the fence for this one. I used to really enjoy SF/Fantasy that dipped over into romance, but romance that dips into fantasy almost never works for me. I cut my teeth on Andre Norton, I read Ann Maxwell’s sf series, I adored Tanith Lee’s fairy tale reworkings, Robin McKinley……..
    But in romance it’s so often used as an excuse for lazy writing. One of the very few who walk the tightrope well is Kay Hooper – she’s done a lot of elements in romance without making me crazy. Susan Carroll too. I suppose talpianna and I are the poster children for YMMV, because Jayne Castle is the exact example I’d use for the flip side of the coin. I hate when it’s precious, when it doesn’t move the story, when there’s no reason for it to be there except that it is there, when it has the air of the author patting themself on the back for their own cleverness.
    I mostly avoid it. I avoid all the vampire series. I used to enjoy it, but now I poke at it like it’s fugu at the sushi bar.
    If I was asking the Wenches a query tonight it would be “why is it ok for the heroine to try and cheat the hero out of his inheritance? This is my LEAST favorite genre cliche – the dotty relatives whose support force her to, well, STEAL!’

    Reply
  10. Hi Liz,
    Glad to find another Ellen Kushner fan! She’s going to be here in Seattle next week, doing a booksigning, and I am so excited – can’t wait to meet her.
    Just wondering if you’ve read of Sharon Shinn’s latest books. I think the first one is called “Mystic and Rider.” Any thoughts?

    Reply
  11. Hi Liz,
    Glad to find another Ellen Kushner fan! She’s going to be here in Seattle next week, doing a booksigning, and I am so excited – can’t wait to meet her.
    Just wondering if you’ve read of Sharon Shinn’s latest books. I think the first one is called “Mystic and Rider.” Any thoughts?

    Reply
  12. Hi Liz,
    Glad to find another Ellen Kushner fan! She’s going to be here in Seattle next week, doing a booksigning, and I am so excited – can’t wait to meet her.
    Just wondering if you’ve read of Sharon Shinn’s latest books. I think the first one is called “Mystic and Rider.” Any thoughts?

    Reply
  13. P.S. for Liz: You might try Karen Harbaugh’s “The Vampire Viscount.” I’m very picky about the vampire books I read, too, and this one is something special. It was recently repackaged by Signet with another of her fantasy retellings, which was (if I’m remembering correctly) based on Faust. Anyway, happy reading!

    Reply
  14. P.S. for Liz: You might try Karen Harbaugh’s “The Vampire Viscount.” I’m very picky about the vampire books I read, too, and this one is something special. It was recently repackaged by Signet with another of her fantasy retellings, which was (if I’m remembering correctly) based on Faust. Anyway, happy reading!

    Reply
  15. P.S. for Liz: You might try Karen Harbaugh’s “The Vampire Viscount.” I’m very picky about the vampire books I read, too, and this one is something special. It was recently repackaged by Signet with another of her fantasy retellings, which was (if I’m remembering correctly) based on Faust. Anyway, happy reading!

    Reply
  16. MJ asked… “Tell us how you feel about the many varieties of paranormal and fantasy stories that are out there!”
    Hi MJ!
    Wow! This is a hard one for me. I am a fan of fantasy and SF. Have been since childhood. I prefer it over the ‘normal’ stuff.
    I am, however, very, very picky.
    Star Trek, Star Wars, the SF stuff, I expect there to be the very unusual in a very unusual world.
    When I read in adult fantasy I prefer ‘powers’ over ‘magic.’ I also prefer powers that are just a touch off of normal. Like Abby in TMS. She has a healing power (can stop bleeding, set bones, etc…) But she is also a healer of the soul. She helps Jack accept who he is and what he can become. This is natural/normal/real.
    Take Duncan in KOF. He’s a weather mage and draws energy from its patterns. A power on the other side of real. But yet, it is not. For I often find my moods shifting when the weather changes. I feel a cathartic release when the thunder claps and the lightening slices the sky. My heart lifts with a brilliant rainbow and I smile at an azure sky. This is natural/normal/real.
    Marrying the natural with the unnatural is, IMHO, what makes a good fantasy book. A story real enough that I don’t have to work to believe and fantasy enough that I wish it was real.
    A tough balance, true. But you. MJ, have mastered the scales.
    –the littlest wenchling

    Reply
  17. MJ asked… “Tell us how you feel about the many varieties of paranormal and fantasy stories that are out there!”
    Hi MJ!
    Wow! This is a hard one for me. I am a fan of fantasy and SF. Have been since childhood. I prefer it over the ‘normal’ stuff.
    I am, however, very, very picky.
    Star Trek, Star Wars, the SF stuff, I expect there to be the very unusual in a very unusual world.
    When I read in adult fantasy I prefer ‘powers’ over ‘magic.’ I also prefer powers that are just a touch off of normal. Like Abby in TMS. She has a healing power (can stop bleeding, set bones, etc…) But she is also a healer of the soul. She helps Jack accept who he is and what he can become. This is natural/normal/real.
    Take Duncan in KOF. He’s a weather mage and draws energy from its patterns. A power on the other side of real. But yet, it is not. For I often find my moods shifting when the weather changes. I feel a cathartic release when the thunder claps and the lightening slices the sky. My heart lifts with a brilliant rainbow and I smile at an azure sky. This is natural/normal/real.
    Marrying the natural with the unnatural is, IMHO, what makes a good fantasy book. A story real enough that I don’t have to work to believe and fantasy enough that I wish it was real.
    A tough balance, true. But you. MJ, have mastered the scales.
    –the littlest wenchling

    Reply
  18. MJ asked… “Tell us how you feel about the many varieties of paranormal and fantasy stories that are out there!”
    Hi MJ!
    Wow! This is a hard one for me. I am a fan of fantasy and SF. Have been since childhood. I prefer it over the ‘normal’ stuff.
    I am, however, very, very picky.
    Star Trek, Star Wars, the SF stuff, I expect there to be the very unusual in a very unusual world.
    When I read in adult fantasy I prefer ‘powers’ over ‘magic.’ I also prefer powers that are just a touch off of normal. Like Abby in TMS. She has a healing power (can stop bleeding, set bones, etc…) But she is also a healer of the soul. She helps Jack accept who he is and what he can become. This is natural/normal/real.
    Take Duncan in KOF. He’s a weather mage and draws energy from its patterns. A power on the other side of real. But yet, it is not. For I often find my moods shifting when the weather changes. I feel a cathartic release when the thunder claps and the lightening slices the sky. My heart lifts with a brilliant rainbow and I smile at an azure sky. This is natural/normal/real.
    Marrying the natural with the unnatural is, IMHO, what makes a good fantasy book. A story real enough that I don’t have to work to believe and fantasy enough that I wish it was real.
    A tough balance, true. But you. MJ, have mastered the scales.
    –the littlest wenchling

    Reply
  19. I remember reading the FAERY MAGIC anthology when it first came out. Truthfully, nothing will top MJP’s treatment of the Beauty & the Beast story in the Victorian Christmas anthology for me in terms of short stories.
    Do I hate paranormal elements?
    No.
    Do I tolerate them if I like the writer’s style?
    Yes, but just barely. I would like to see more stories dealing with Greek Mythology. That is my idea of paranormal elements that I would like. I refuse to read vampire and werewolf stories; I know they are popular but they just aint my cup of tea.

    Reply
  20. I remember reading the FAERY MAGIC anthology when it first came out. Truthfully, nothing will top MJP’s treatment of the Beauty & the Beast story in the Victorian Christmas anthology for me in terms of short stories.
    Do I hate paranormal elements?
    No.
    Do I tolerate them if I like the writer’s style?
    Yes, but just barely. I would like to see more stories dealing with Greek Mythology. That is my idea of paranormal elements that I would like. I refuse to read vampire and werewolf stories; I know they are popular but they just aint my cup of tea.

    Reply
  21. I remember reading the FAERY MAGIC anthology when it first came out. Truthfully, nothing will top MJP’s treatment of the Beauty & the Beast story in the Victorian Christmas anthology for me in terms of short stories.
    Do I hate paranormal elements?
    No.
    Do I tolerate them if I like the writer’s style?
    Yes, but just barely. I would like to see more stories dealing with Greek Mythology. That is my idea of paranormal elements that I would like. I refuse to read vampire and werewolf stories; I know they are popular but they just aint my cup of tea.

    Reply
  22. I like a little magic or reading about someone who has some powers as long as its not to over the top. I can’t get into sci-fi. I don’t understand it and can’t get interested.

    Reply
  23. I like a little magic or reading about someone who has some powers as long as its not to over the top. I can’t get into sci-fi. I don’t understand it and can’t get interested.

    Reply
  24. I like a little magic or reading about someone who has some powers as long as its not to over the top. I can’t get into sci-fi. I don’t understand it and can’t get interested.

    Reply
  25. Yo to Kristian –
    I’ve read all of Harbaugh and I liked what she did with it – good suggestion. On the more recent Shinn books – I read and enjoyed them but they weren’t compelling – it reminded me of McCaffery – the Pern series really struck me when it came out, then I enjoyed the Ship Who Sang (but less so) and had dwindling returns from there – haven’t read her in years. So the series that kicks off with Mystic & Rider is enjoyable, but not rave-able and I’m on the fence to see where she goes next. Have you tried Sean Stewart? Since our tastes seem to be dovetaling, you might like him.

    Reply
  26. Yo to Kristian –
    I’ve read all of Harbaugh and I liked what she did with it – good suggestion. On the more recent Shinn books – I read and enjoyed them but they weren’t compelling – it reminded me of McCaffery – the Pern series really struck me when it came out, then I enjoyed the Ship Who Sang (but less so) and had dwindling returns from there – haven’t read her in years. So the series that kicks off with Mystic & Rider is enjoyable, but not rave-able and I’m on the fence to see where she goes next. Have you tried Sean Stewart? Since our tastes seem to be dovetaling, you might like him.

    Reply
  27. Yo to Kristian –
    I’ve read all of Harbaugh and I liked what she did with it – good suggestion. On the more recent Shinn books – I read and enjoyed them but they weren’t compelling – it reminded me of McCaffery – the Pern series really struck me when it came out, then I enjoyed the Ship Who Sang (but less so) and had dwindling returns from there – haven’t read her in years. So the series that kicks off with Mystic & Rider is enjoyable, but not rave-able and I’m on the fence to see where she goes next. Have you tried Sean Stewart? Since our tastes seem to be dovetaling, you might like him.

    Reply
  28. Having slept on this topic I’ve arrived at more opinion.
    I think the reason I accept romance in my SF/F more easily than SF/F in my romance is that there is less logic in the latter. In the SF/F world the author has usually put a great deal into the plausibility of it all and making you believe in this world as it exists. then the romance is an offshoot of the character interaction which may or may not work.
    In the romance, the effort is put into bringing the characters more fully to life and the SF/F is often not as thought out or convincing – it requires a lot more acceptance to take the magic into a world that’s 90% normal than it does to take the romance into an ‘other’ world. It’s easier for me to suspend disbelief, moral opinons, plausibility in the ‘other’ than in the ‘real’. Hooper succeeds because she acknowledges along the way how out there it would feel.
    But still the precious factor. Can’t stand the precious almost as much as I can’t stand the conceit of using ‘mundane’ to refer to ‘normal’ people. I think part of the problem arises from my education, where certain forms of intelligence were prized over others and we were encouraged to look down on people without a certain type as somehow ‘less than’ when we were often the ones more socially crippled. So when a character feels special by their abilities, I get digusted with them. I respond much better to the Hooper/Bishop series style of integration where the character is not self congratulating and may in fact be damaged.

    Reply
  29. Having slept on this topic I’ve arrived at more opinion.
    I think the reason I accept romance in my SF/F more easily than SF/F in my romance is that there is less logic in the latter. In the SF/F world the author has usually put a great deal into the plausibility of it all and making you believe in this world as it exists. then the romance is an offshoot of the character interaction which may or may not work.
    In the romance, the effort is put into bringing the characters more fully to life and the SF/F is often not as thought out or convincing – it requires a lot more acceptance to take the magic into a world that’s 90% normal than it does to take the romance into an ‘other’ world. It’s easier for me to suspend disbelief, moral opinons, plausibility in the ‘other’ than in the ‘real’. Hooper succeeds because she acknowledges along the way how out there it would feel.
    But still the precious factor. Can’t stand the precious almost as much as I can’t stand the conceit of using ‘mundane’ to refer to ‘normal’ people. I think part of the problem arises from my education, where certain forms of intelligence were prized over others and we were encouraged to look down on people without a certain type as somehow ‘less than’ when we were often the ones more socially crippled. So when a character feels special by their abilities, I get digusted with them. I respond much better to the Hooper/Bishop series style of integration where the character is not self congratulating and may in fact be damaged.

    Reply
  30. Having slept on this topic I’ve arrived at more opinion.
    I think the reason I accept romance in my SF/F more easily than SF/F in my romance is that there is less logic in the latter. In the SF/F world the author has usually put a great deal into the plausibility of it all and making you believe in this world as it exists. then the romance is an offshoot of the character interaction which may or may not work.
    In the romance, the effort is put into bringing the characters more fully to life and the SF/F is often not as thought out or convincing – it requires a lot more acceptance to take the magic into a world that’s 90% normal than it does to take the romance into an ‘other’ world. It’s easier for me to suspend disbelief, moral opinons, plausibility in the ‘other’ than in the ‘real’. Hooper succeeds because she acknowledges along the way how out there it would feel.
    But still the precious factor. Can’t stand the precious almost as much as I can’t stand the conceit of using ‘mundane’ to refer to ‘normal’ people. I think part of the problem arises from my education, where certain forms of intelligence were prized over others and we were encouraged to look down on people without a certain type as somehow ‘less than’ when we were often the ones more socially crippled. So when a character feels special by their abilities, I get digusted with them. I respond much better to the Hooper/Bishop series style of integration where the character is not self congratulating and may in fact be damaged.

    Reply
  31. Oooh – another book for my TBB list. Can’t remember why I didn’t buy it the first time round. Ah well – at least I’m getting a second chance 🙂

    Reply
  32. Oooh – another book for my TBB list. Can’t remember why I didn’t buy it the first time round. Ah well – at least I’m getting a second chance 🙂

    Reply
  33. Oooh – another book for my TBB list. Can’t remember why I didn’t buy it the first time round. Ah well – at least I’m getting a second chance 🙂

    Reply
  34. I used to hate most paranormal romances. I had such a hard time suspending disbelief. My usual reaction to a historical romance with paranormal elements was that this might have been a decent historical if someone took all the fantasy c— out of it. There were a few I enjoyed but not many.
    I have not read many fantasy/sci fi novels. Growing up I thought of them as boy books and of no appeal to me. I have probably read a handful of fantasy authors in my life and have really enjoyed some of them. My favorites would be JK Rowling, Anne Bishop’s Dark Jewels Series and Lois McMaster Bujold. I just read the Bujold books this summer and enjoyed them so much that I wanted to read more fantasy, but I have no idea where to start. I did some online searches and saw some of the lists, recs, etc. but none really captured my attention. I’d love to know where LMB’s book fit into the fantasy genre for instance.
    While some of the fantasies had romantic subplots, the romantic relationships were never that well developed and by using the standards I apply to romance, they were unsatisfying. However, I can’t hold them to those standards because they are subplots. I just judge the novels by whether or not they’re a good story or not.
    I think Liz may be onto why I did not enjoy the majority of the paranormal romances I read. When I think of the ones I did really enjoy, the world building in them was really good – and therefore the story made sense in that world. I could suspend disbelief.
    The books with just a touch of a paranormal element – or fantasy element – seem to use that touch as a “cheat” in the plot. Oh, it all worked out because of a touch of magic – some goodhearted, matchmaking angel, the hero can now use his magic and save the day in the big test at the end of the book, etc.
    In the end, I just want to read a great book – one that sweeps me away and I can’t turn the pages fast enough. It can be any genre.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  35. I used to hate most paranormal romances. I had such a hard time suspending disbelief. My usual reaction to a historical romance with paranormal elements was that this might have been a decent historical if someone took all the fantasy c— out of it. There were a few I enjoyed but not many.
    I have not read many fantasy/sci fi novels. Growing up I thought of them as boy books and of no appeal to me. I have probably read a handful of fantasy authors in my life and have really enjoyed some of them. My favorites would be JK Rowling, Anne Bishop’s Dark Jewels Series and Lois McMaster Bujold. I just read the Bujold books this summer and enjoyed them so much that I wanted to read more fantasy, but I have no idea where to start. I did some online searches and saw some of the lists, recs, etc. but none really captured my attention. I’d love to know where LMB’s book fit into the fantasy genre for instance.
    While some of the fantasies had romantic subplots, the romantic relationships were never that well developed and by using the standards I apply to romance, they were unsatisfying. However, I can’t hold them to those standards because they are subplots. I just judge the novels by whether or not they’re a good story or not.
    I think Liz may be onto why I did not enjoy the majority of the paranormal romances I read. When I think of the ones I did really enjoy, the world building in them was really good – and therefore the story made sense in that world. I could suspend disbelief.
    The books with just a touch of a paranormal element – or fantasy element – seem to use that touch as a “cheat” in the plot. Oh, it all worked out because of a touch of magic – some goodhearted, matchmaking angel, the hero can now use his magic and save the day in the big test at the end of the book, etc.
    In the end, I just want to read a great book – one that sweeps me away and I can’t turn the pages fast enough. It can be any genre.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  36. I used to hate most paranormal romances. I had such a hard time suspending disbelief. My usual reaction to a historical romance with paranormal elements was that this might have been a decent historical if someone took all the fantasy c— out of it. There were a few I enjoyed but not many.
    I have not read many fantasy/sci fi novels. Growing up I thought of them as boy books and of no appeal to me. I have probably read a handful of fantasy authors in my life and have really enjoyed some of them. My favorites would be JK Rowling, Anne Bishop’s Dark Jewels Series and Lois McMaster Bujold. I just read the Bujold books this summer and enjoyed them so much that I wanted to read more fantasy, but I have no idea where to start. I did some online searches and saw some of the lists, recs, etc. but none really captured my attention. I’d love to know where LMB’s book fit into the fantasy genre for instance.
    While some of the fantasies had romantic subplots, the romantic relationships were never that well developed and by using the standards I apply to romance, they were unsatisfying. However, I can’t hold them to those standards because they are subplots. I just judge the novels by whether or not they’re a good story or not.
    I think Liz may be onto why I did not enjoy the majority of the paranormal romances I read. When I think of the ones I did really enjoy, the world building in them was really good – and therefore the story made sense in that world. I could suspend disbelief.
    The books with just a touch of a paranormal element – or fantasy element – seem to use that touch as a “cheat” in the plot. Oh, it all worked out because of a touch of magic – some goodhearted, matchmaking angel, the hero can now use his magic and save the day in the big test at the end of the book, etc.
    In the end, I just want to read a great book – one that sweeps me away and I can’t turn the pages fast enough. It can be any genre.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  37. From Mary Jo:
    Thanks for all the opinions! I love knowing what people think.
    >>In SF/romance, I love the Liaden Universe© books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Andre Norton, Linnea Sinclair (recent discovery), and Jayne Castle.>>
    Don’t forget Lois McMaster Bujold! Not all her books have romances, but some do, and they are great reads.
    >> quick question for you, Mary Jo: Could you expand a little as to how you decided what rules of magic would work – and what wouldn’t?<< I didn't want the characters to be all powerful--that would be boring. They're human, not another species like fairies, so I kept it in line with what seemed reasonable to me. I.E., it was basically personal taste on my part. 😉 >> I’m working on a Regency-set paranormal – a world where magic has been bestowed upon those descended from faery changelings – and I’m wondering how closely I should follow the traditional faery tales.<< You can stick close if you want, or throw the fairy tales out altogether. (Fairy tales are a different subgroup from fantasy.) The essential thing is to be consistent in your world building, and stick to that while writing the book rather than tossing in new abilities because it suits the plot. >>I’m on both sides of the fence for this one. I used to really enjoy SF/Fantasy that dipped over into romance, but romance that dips into fantasy almost never works for me. >>
    On the whole, I think sff authors do romance better than romance authors do sff because just about everyone has romance in their life, but not so many romance writers have the solid scientific and technical grounding needed to write good sf or futuristics. I think that romantic fantasy is somewhat easier to write than romantic sf, but it still requires intellectual rigor.
    >>If I was asking the Wenches a query tonight it would be “why is it ok for the heroine to try and cheat the hero out of his inheritance? This is my LEAST favorite genre cliche – the dotty relatives whose support force her to, well, STEAL!’<< Liz, I also have problems with this set-up, which is why I've never used it. I don't think theft is okay (though I can understand trying to recover what was stolen.) But it might work for a lot of readers because generally men have so much more power than women that it doesn't seem so bad if a woman tries to achieve some personal balance. Nina, good point about marrying the natural and the supernatural. I guess that's what I've been trying to do since it makes the most sense to me. Sharon Shinn is definitely a writer who can combine romance with either fantasy or science fiction. Loved her Samaria books. I've read her more recent series, too. She's always good, but I liked Mystic and Rider more than The Thirteenth House. The stories have a fair amount of political stuff in them. Seton, there have been some books that use classical myth elements, but not too many. Have you tied Kristine Grayson? She does quite a bit with these. (It's a pseudonym for the very versatile Kathryn Kristine Rusch.) Mary Jo

    Reply
  38. From Mary Jo:
    Thanks for all the opinions! I love knowing what people think.
    >>In SF/romance, I love the Liaden Universe© books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Andre Norton, Linnea Sinclair (recent discovery), and Jayne Castle.>>
    Don’t forget Lois McMaster Bujold! Not all her books have romances, but some do, and they are great reads.
    >> quick question for you, Mary Jo: Could you expand a little as to how you decided what rules of magic would work – and what wouldn’t?<< I didn't want the characters to be all powerful--that would be boring. They're human, not another species like fairies, so I kept it in line with what seemed reasonable to me. I.E., it was basically personal taste on my part. 😉 >> I’m working on a Regency-set paranormal – a world where magic has been bestowed upon those descended from faery changelings – and I’m wondering how closely I should follow the traditional faery tales.<< You can stick close if you want, or throw the fairy tales out altogether. (Fairy tales are a different subgroup from fantasy.) The essential thing is to be consistent in your world building, and stick to that while writing the book rather than tossing in new abilities because it suits the plot. >>I’m on both sides of the fence for this one. I used to really enjoy SF/Fantasy that dipped over into romance, but romance that dips into fantasy almost never works for me. >>
    On the whole, I think sff authors do romance better than romance authors do sff because just about everyone has romance in their life, but not so many romance writers have the solid scientific and technical grounding needed to write good sf or futuristics. I think that romantic fantasy is somewhat easier to write than romantic sf, but it still requires intellectual rigor.
    >>If I was asking the Wenches a query tonight it would be “why is it ok for the heroine to try and cheat the hero out of his inheritance? This is my LEAST favorite genre cliche – the dotty relatives whose support force her to, well, STEAL!’<< Liz, I also have problems with this set-up, which is why I've never used it. I don't think theft is okay (though I can understand trying to recover what was stolen.) But it might work for a lot of readers because generally men have so much more power than women that it doesn't seem so bad if a woman tries to achieve some personal balance. Nina, good point about marrying the natural and the supernatural. I guess that's what I've been trying to do since it makes the most sense to me. Sharon Shinn is definitely a writer who can combine romance with either fantasy or science fiction. Loved her Samaria books. I've read her more recent series, too. She's always good, but I liked Mystic and Rider more than The Thirteenth House. The stories have a fair amount of political stuff in them. Seton, there have been some books that use classical myth elements, but not too many. Have you tied Kristine Grayson? She does quite a bit with these. (It's a pseudonym for the very versatile Kathryn Kristine Rusch.) Mary Jo

    Reply
  39. From Mary Jo:
    Thanks for all the opinions! I love knowing what people think.
    >>In SF/romance, I love the Liaden Universe© books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Andre Norton, Linnea Sinclair (recent discovery), and Jayne Castle.>>
    Don’t forget Lois McMaster Bujold! Not all her books have romances, but some do, and they are great reads.
    >> quick question for you, Mary Jo: Could you expand a little as to how you decided what rules of magic would work – and what wouldn’t?<< I didn't want the characters to be all powerful--that would be boring. They're human, not another species like fairies, so I kept it in line with what seemed reasonable to me. I.E., it was basically personal taste on my part. 😉 >> I’m working on a Regency-set paranormal – a world where magic has been bestowed upon those descended from faery changelings – and I’m wondering how closely I should follow the traditional faery tales.<< You can stick close if you want, or throw the fairy tales out altogether. (Fairy tales are a different subgroup from fantasy.) The essential thing is to be consistent in your world building, and stick to that while writing the book rather than tossing in new abilities because it suits the plot. >>I’m on both sides of the fence for this one. I used to really enjoy SF/Fantasy that dipped over into romance, but romance that dips into fantasy almost never works for me. >>
    On the whole, I think sff authors do romance better than romance authors do sff because just about everyone has romance in their life, but not so many romance writers have the solid scientific and technical grounding needed to write good sf or futuristics. I think that romantic fantasy is somewhat easier to write than romantic sf, but it still requires intellectual rigor.
    >>If I was asking the Wenches a query tonight it would be “why is it ok for the heroine to try and cheat the hero out of his inheritance? This is my LEAST favorite genre cliche – the dotty relatives whose support force her to, well, STEAL!’<< Liz, I also have problems with this set-up, which is why I've never used it. I don't think theft is okay (though I can understand trying to recover what was stolen.) But it might work for a lot of readers because generally men have so much more power than women that it doesn't seem so bad if a woman tries to achieve some personal balance. Nina, good point about marrying the natural and the supernatural. I guess that's what I've been trying to do since it makes the most sense to me. Sharon Shinn is definitely a writer who can combine romance with either fantasy or science fiction. Loved her Samaria books. I've read her more recent series, too. She's always good, but I liked Mystic and Rider more than The Thirteenth House. The stories have a fair amount of political stuff in them. Seton, there have been some books that use classical myth elements, but not too many. Have you tied Kristine Grayson? She does quite a bit with these. (It's a pseudonym for the very versatile Kathryn Kristine Rusch.) Mary Jo

    Reply
  40. Mary Jo–
    I very much enjoy a mix of paranormal/fantasy elements in my romance. I devoured THE MARRIAGE SPELL and STOLEN MAGIC, though I had a harder time with the other Guardian stories–not sure why.
    And I cannot say enough how much I LOVED Wen Spencer’s A BROTHER’S PRICE. She does such an excellent job of world and character building that I was sucked in and craving more at the end. I keep hoping she will do more with that world.
    I tend to think that recommendations from other romance readers scifi/fantasy are helpful. I picked up Asaro, Spencer, Lee & Miller, and Bujold from readers on the RRA listserv, and have yet to be disappointed.
    Also looking forward to more from the group of friends from TMS.
    Stephanie

    Reply
  41. Mary Jo–
    I very much enjoy a mix of paranormal/fantasy elements in my romance. I devoured THE MARRIAGE SPELL and STOLEN MAGIC, though I had a harder time with the other Guardian stories–not sure why.
    And I cannot say enough how much I LOVED Wen Spencer’s A BROTHER’S PRICE. She does such an excellent job of world and character building that I was sucked in and craving more at the end. I keep hoping she will do more with that world.
    I tend to think that recommendations from other romance readers scifi/fantasy are helpful. I picked up Asaro, Spencer, Lee & Miller, and Bujold from readers on the RRA listserv, and have yet to be disappointed.
    Also looking forward to more from the group of friends from TMS.
    Stephanie

    Reply
  42. Mary Jo–
    I very much enjoy a mix of paranormal/fantasy elements in my romance. I devoured THE MARRIAGE SPELL and STOLEN MAGIC, though I had a harder time with the other Guardian stories–not sure why.
    And I cannot say enough how much I LOVED Wen Spencer’s A BROTHER’S PRICE. She does such an excellent job of world and character building that I was sucked in and craving more at the end. I keep hoping she will do more with that world.
    I tend to think that recommendations from other romance readers scifi/fantasy are helpful. I picked up Asaro, Spencer, Lee & Miller, and Bujold from readers on the RRA listserv, and have yet to be disappointed.
    Also looking forward to more from the group of friends from TMS.
    Stephanie

    Reply
  43. I never thought I’d like paranormals until I’d read A KISS OF FATE. I really liked that story. I liked the plot in STOLEN MAGIC, too.
    I’ve actually grown to like them and enjoy the magic. I’m still not a fan of vampires, werewolves, shapeshifts, or the like. I like my people to be people, with an occasional unicorn thrown in ;o)>
    I do like time-travels, though.

    Reply
  44. I never thought I’d like paranormals until I’d read A KISS OF FATE. I really liked that story. I liked the plot in STOLEN MAGIC, too.
    I’ve actually grown to like them and enjoy the magic. I’m still not a fan of vampires, werewolves, shapeshifts, or the like. I like my people to be people, with an occasional unicorn thrown in ;o)>
    I do like time-travels, though.

    Reply
  45. I never thought I’d like paranormals until I’d read A KISS OF FATE. I really liked that story. I liked the plot in STOLEN MAGIC, too.
    I’ve actually grown to like them and enjoy the magic. I’m still not a fan of vampires, werewolves, shapeshifts, or the like. I like my people to be people, with an occasional unicorn thrown in ;o)>
    I do like time-travels, though.

    Reply
  46. Jo here.
    Tal, I love most of the books you mentioned, but especially the Lee & Miller, which are also very romantic.I adore the Turtles. 🙂
    As for who does it best, however, I don’t think it’s clear either way. For my taste some SF&F authors who write romantic books shy away from the emotions and physicality of relationships a bit too much. I don’t mean they must have explicit sex scenes, but sometimes they’re too far the other way on the physical nature of desire for belief, and for my romance reader’s taste. Much of mating behavior is hard-wired in animals, including humans. It isn’t calm and logical, so show me some truth or tell me another story.
    Excellent point, Mary Jo, that we all know something about mating relationships but many don’t know that much about myth, magic, and science.
    Often we don’t know what we don’t know. There have been romance writers who decided to write SF romance without realizing that SF readers would expect the science to be correct. They treated it more like fantasy — open to interpretation. Sometimes it is, but often most people think there are hard facts and want at least an explanation for why this time science doesn’t work that way.
    The same thing can happen with myth and magic. While no one can really say that demigods must be X, dragons must be Y, and magic must work like ABC, there are a lot of people who’ve thought a lot about this who believe there are some certaintie. They get twitchy when someone walks into their territory assuming different facts without any explanation as to why.
    In fact, it’s a lot like travel. It’s not wise to go to a foreign country assuming we can act the same way as at home with the same result.
    Cross genre is always very tricky, so three cheers for Mary Jo for doing it so brilliantly!
    Jo

    Reply
  47. Jo here.
    Tal, I love most of the books you mentioned, but especially the Lee & Miller, which are also very romantic.I adore the Turtles. 🙂
    As for who does it best, however, I don’t think it’s clear either way. For my taste some SF&F authors who write romantic books shy away from the emotions and physicality of relationships a bit too much. I don’t mean they must have explicit sex scenes, but sometimes they’re too far the other way on the physical nature of desire for belief, and for my romance reader’s taste. Much of mating behavior is hard-wired in animals, including humans. It isn’t calm and logical, so show me some truth or tell me another story.
    Excellent point, Mary Jo, that we all know something about mating relationships but many don’t know that much about myth, magic, and science.
    Often we don’t know what we don’t know. There have been romance writers who decided to write SF romance without realizing that SF readers would expect the science to be correct. They treated it more like fantasy — open to interpretation. Sometimes it is, but often most people think there are hard facts and want at least an explanation for why this time science doesn’t work that way.
    The same thing can happen with myth and magic. While no one can really say that demigods must be X, dragons must be Y, and magic must work like ABC, there are a lot of people who’ve thought a lot about this who believe there are some certaintie. They get twitchy when someone walks into their territory assuming different facts without any explanation as to why.
    In fact, it’s a lot like travel. It’s not wise to go to a foreign country assuming we can act the same way as at home with the same result.
    Cross genre is always very tricky, so three cheers for Mary Jo for doing it so brilliantly!
    Jo

    Reply
  48. Jo here.
    Tal, I love most of the books you mentioned, but especially the Lee & Miller, which are also very romantic.I adore the Turtles. 🙂
    As for who does it best, however, I don’t think it’s clear either way. For my taste some SF&F authors who write romantic books shy away from the emotions and physicality of relationships a bit too much. I don’t mean they must have explicit sex scenes, but sometimes they’re too far the other way on the physical nature of desire for belief, and for my romance reader’s taste. Much of mating behavior is hard-wired in animals, including humans. It isn’t calm and logical, so show me some truth or tell me another story.
    Excellent point, Mary Jo, that we all know something about mating relationships but many don’t know that much about myth, magic, and science.
    Often we don’t know what we don’t know. There have been romance writers who decided to write SF romance without realizing that SF readers would expect the science to be correct. They treated it more like fantasy — open to interpretation. Sometimes it is, but often most people think there are hard facts and want at least an explanation for why this time science doesn’t work that way.
    The same thing can happen with myth and magic. While no one can really say that demigods must be X, dragons must be Y, and magic must work like ABC, there are a lot of people who’ve thought a lot about this who believe there are some certaintie. They get twitchy when someone walks into their territory assuming different facts without any explanation as to why.
    In fact, it’s a lot like travel. It’s not wise to go to a foreign country assuming we can act the same way as at home with the same result.
    Cross genre is always very tricky, so three cheers for Mary Jo for doing it so brilliantly!
    Jo

    Reply
  49. Thanks for the suggestion, Liz! I haven’t read any of Sean Stewart’s books, so I’ll have to check them out.
    I also just remembered that the particular genre of fantasy novels that I like – Kushner, Wrede, Stevermer, et al – has sometimes been referred to as “fantasy of manners,” and I thought everyone might enjoy the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasy_of_manners.
    The article cites both Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer as influences on this genre. Interesting, no?

    Reply
  50. Thanks for the suggestion, Liz! I haven’t read any of Sean Stewart’s books, so I’ll have to check them out.
    I also just remembered that the particular genre of fantasy novels that I like – Kushner, Wrede, Stevermer, et al – has sometimes been referred to as “fantasy of manners,” and I thought everyone might enjoy the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasy_of_manners.
    The article cites both Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer as influences on this genre. Interesting, no?

    Reply
  51. Thanks for the suggestion, Liz! I haven’t read any of Sean Stewart’s books, so I’ll have to check them out.
    I also just remembered that the particular genre of fantasy novels that I like – Kushner, Wrede, Stevermer, et al – has sometimes been referred to as “fantasy of manners,” and I thought everyone might enjoy the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasy_of_manners.
    The article cites both Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer as influences on this genre. Interesting, no?

    Reply
  52. I guess for me, it is all about the story itself. I really enjoy the books where the special powers or magic are integral to the story but do not dominate it.
    I love J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and Mary Jo’s Kiss of Fate. I also really like the Nora Roberts series’ that have some magic in them (the Key trilogy, the Gallagher trilogy, and the Three Sisters trilogy). I don’t usually like the vampire type of books, but the series that Linda Lael Miller did was really good too, because it did not focus on the dripping blood, but on the lives and loves of the characters.
    In all of these books, the mystic side of the characters was accepted as part of them and was part of the story, but did not drive the story or take over the plot. And the way I look at it, who knows, maybe all of these powers were in use in the past, are in use today, and we just don’t know it! 🙂

    Reply
  53. I guess for me, it is all about the story itself. I really enjoy the books where the special powers or magic are integral to the story but do not dominate it.
    I love J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and Mary Jo’s Kiss of Fate. I also really like the Nora Roberts series’ that have some magic in them (the Key trilogy, the Gallagher trilogy, and the Three Sisters trilogy). I don’t usually like the vampire type of books, but the series that Linda Lael Miller did was really good too, because it did not focus on the dripping blood, but on the lives and loves of the characters.
    In all of these books, the mystic side of the characters was accepted as part of them and was part of the story, but did not drive the story or take over the plot. And the way I look at it, who knows, maybe all of these powers were in use in the past, are in use today, and we just don’t know it! 🙂

    Reply
  54. I guess for me, it is all about the story itself. I really enjoy the books where the special powers or magic are integral to the story but do not dominate it.
    I love J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and Mary Jo’s Kiss of Fate. I also really like the Nora Roberts series’ that have some magic in them (the Key trilogy, the Gallagher trilogy, and the Three Sisters trilogy). I don’t usually like the vampire type of books, but the series that Linda Lael Miller did was really good too, because it did not focus on the dripping blood, but on the lives and loves of the characters.
    In all of these books, the mystic side of the characters was accepted as part of them and was part of the story, but did not drive the story or take over the plot. And the way I look at it, who knows, maybe all of these powers were in use in the past, are in use today, and we just don’t know it! 🙂

    Reply
  55. >>Virginia Kantra wrote a wonderful, Rita-nominated contemporary novella where the bad boy fairies rode big honkin’ motorcycles.
    I’m so glad you mentioned this story! I loved it but haven’t been able to remember who wrote it so I can find it again!
    >>”SF writers do a romance element better than good romance writers do an SF element.”
    Sadly, I’ve also found this to be true. I do love SF and fantasy elements, but too often those elements get blunted in romance novels even by authors who can write the real stuff. I love Susan Sizemore’s “Laws of the Blood” series which is labeled horror, I think; but her vampire romances do nothing for me. Is this a result of some kind of publishers rules’ or do authors consciously soften the paranormal to make it “romantic?” When I read some SF/paranormal romances, I can clearly see the “hearts and flowers” filter in different scenes; and I find myself thinking “a real vampire/werewolf/alien would do this instead.”
    I’m not sure if I’m expressing myself very well, here. I guess what I’m trying to say is if there’s a SF/paranormal element I expect the story to be otherworldly and to abide by the rules of that other world. A hardened space captain doesn’t act like a politically correct man from the 20th century!

    Reply
  56. >>Virginia Kantra wrote a wonderful, Rita-nominated contemporary novella where the bad boy fairies rode big honkin’ motorcycles.
    I’m so glad you mentioned this story! I loved it but haven’t been able to remember who wrote it so I can find it again!
    >>”SF writers do a romance element better than good romance writers do an SF element.”
    Sadly, I’ve also found this to be true. I do love SF and fantasy elements, but too often those elements get blunted in romance novels even by authors who can write the real stuff. I love Susan Sizemore’s “Laws of the Blood” series which is labeled horror, I think; but her vampire romances do nothing for me. Is this a result of some kind of publishers rules’ or do authors consciously soften the paranormal to make it “romantic?” When I read some SF/paranormal romances, I can clearly see the “hearts and flowers” filter in different scenes; and I find myself thinking “a real vampire/werewolf/alien would do this instead.”
    I’m not sure if I’m expressing myself very well, here. I guess what I’m trying to say is if there’s a SF/paranormal element I expect the story to be otherworldly and to abide by the rules of that other world. A hardened space captain doesn’t act like a politically correct man from the 20th century!

    Reply
  57. >>Virginia Kantra wrote a wonderful, Rita-nominated contemporary novella where the bad boy fairies rode big honkin’ motorcycles.
    I’m so glad you mentioned this story! I loved it but haven’t been able to remember who wrote it so I can find it again!
    >>”SF writers do a romance element better than good romance writers do an SF element.”
    Sadly, I’ve also found this to be true. I do love SF and fantasy elements, but too often those elements get blunted in romance novels even by authors who can write the real stuff. I love Susan Sizemore’s “Laws of the Blood” series which is labeled horror, I think; but her vampire romances do nothing for me. Is this a result of some kind of publishers rules’ or do authors consciously soften the paranormal to make it “romantic?” When I read some SF/paranormal romances, I can clearly see the “hearts and flowers” filter in different scenes; and I find myself thinking “a real vampire/werewolf/alien would do this instead.”
    I’m not sure if I’m expressing myself very well, here. I guess what I’m trying to say is if there’s a SF/paranormal element I expect the story to be otherworldly and to abide by the rules of that other world. A hardened space captain doesn’t act like a politically correct man from the 20th century!

    Reply
  58. Pat Rice here:
    I’m coming to this discussion late but it’s a great one, thanks, MJ!
    I can’t speak for all authors or publishers, but in general, publishers prefer to target the “romance” market because it’s much larger than sf/f. In targeting romance, we are often required to pull our punches. Reader expectation is a major guideline in mass market books, so if a book is to be marketed as romance, even if it contains sf/f elements, then our heroes must be “heroic,” because that’s what romance readers expect. It’s a very tight line we walk.
    I would like to see the day when the genre barriers come tumbling down, but until then, the hardened space captain will lean toward the PC in romance.

    Reply
  59. Pat Rice here:
    I’m coming to this discussion late but it’s a great one, thanks, MJ!
    I can’t speak for all authors or publishers, but in general, publishers prefer to target the “romance” market because it’s much larger than sf/f. In targeting romance, we are often required to pull our punches. Reader expectation is a major guideline in mass market books, so if a book is to be marketed as romance, even if it contains sf/f elements, then our heroes must be “heroic,” because that’s what romance readers expect. It’s a very tight line we walk.
    I would like to see the day when the genre barriers come tumbling down, but until then, the hardened space captain will lean toward the PC in romance.

    Reply
  60. Pat Rice here:
    I’m coming to this discussion late but it’s a great one, thanks, MJ!
    I can’t speak for all authors or publishers, but in general, publishers prefer to target the “romance” market because it’s much larger than sf/f. In targeting romance, we are often required to pull our punches. Reader expectation is a major guideline in mass market books, so if a book is to be marketed as romance, even if it contains sf/f elements, then our heroes must be “heroic,” because that’s what romance readers expect. It’s a very tight line we walk.
    I would like to see the day when the genre barriers come tumbling down, but until then, the hardened space captain will lean toward the PC in romance.

    Reply
  61. I think the reason romance writers usually don’t do SF/fantasy as well as SF/F writers do romance, is that they don’t take what Tolkien (in “On Fairy-Stories”) called “secondary creation” as seriously–making their fictional worlds self-consistent. (Incidentally, Jayne Castle DOES, which is why I like her better than most futuristic romance writers.)
    I remember chatting online with a would-be paranormal romance writer who was working on a series set in the Wild West only with weres. IIRC, her hero was something like a werefox, but her father was a were-eagle. I tried to get her to explain the genetics of this, but she didn’t see that there was any problem. She had some sort of vague idea similar to the daemons in Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, but it wasn’t worked out at all.
    Incidentally, years ago Walker published an anthology of fantasy short stories set in the Regency, called something like ALL HALLOWS EVE. The contributors were about half romance writers and half SF/fantasy writers, and on the whole, the SF writers did better.
    I did an article myself years ago on “The Laws of Magic.” This was originally going to be the topic of my Ph.D. dissertation–distinguishing between white, black, and natural magic in Renaissance heroic epics–but I found it impossible, as there were no consistent, generally agreed upon beliefs. So you have to set your parameters and stick to them. I remember that a character in one of Diane Duane’s early books compared two kinds of magic to seducing the world vs. raping it. I was using a similar system in my book.

    Reply
  62. I think the reason romance writers usually don’t do SF/fantasy as well as SF/F writers do romance, is that they don’t take what Tolkien (in “On Fairy-Stories”) called “secondary creation” as seriously–making their fictional worlds self-consistent. (Incidentally, Jayne Castle DOES, which is why I like her better than most futuristic romance writers.)
    I remember chatting online with a would-be paranormal romance writer who was working on a series set in the Wild West only with weres. IIRC, her hero was something like a werefox, but her father was a were-eagle. I tried to get her to explain the genetics of this, but she didn’t see that there was any problem. She had some sort of vague idea similar to the daemons in Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, but it wasn’t worked out at all.
    Incidentally, years ago Walker published an anthology of fantasy short stories set in the Regency, called something like ALL HALLOWS EVE. The contributors were about half romance writers and half SF/fantasy writers, and on the whole, the SF writers did better.
    I did an article myself years ago on “The Laws of Magic.” This was originally going to be the topic of my Ph.D. dissertation–distinguishing between white, black, and natural magic in Renaissance heroic epics–but I found it impossible, as there were no consistent, generally agreed upon beliefs. So you have to set your parameters and stick to them. I remember that a character in one of Diane Duane’s early books compared two kinds of magic to seducing the world vs. raping it. I was using a similar system in my book.

    Reply
  63. I think the reason romance writers usually don’t do SF/fantasy as well as SF/F writers do romance, is that they don’t take what Tolkien (in “On Fairy-Stories”) called “secondary creation” as seriously–making their fictional worlds self-consistent. (Incidentally, Jayne Castle DOES, which is why I like her better than most futuristic romance writers.)
    I remember chatting online with a would-be paranormal romance writer who was working on a series set in the Wild West only with weres. IIRC, her hero was something like a werefox, but her father was a were-eagle. I tried to get her to explain the genetics of this, but she didn’t see that there was any problem. She had some sort of vague idea similar to the daemons in Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, but it wasn’t worked out at all.
    Incidentally, years ago Walker published an anthology of fantasy short stories set in the Regency, called something like ALL HALLOWS EVE. The contributors were about half romance writers and half SF/fantasy writers, and on the whole, the SF writers did better.
    I did an article myself years ago on “The Laws of Magic.” This was originally going to be the topic of my Ph.D. dissertation–distinguishing between white, black, and natural magic in Renaissance heroic epics–but I found it impossible, as there were no consistent, generally agreed upon beliefs. So you have to set your parameters and stick to them. I remember that a character in one of Diane Duane’s early books compared two kinds of magic to seducing the world vs. raping it. I was using a similar system in my book.

    Reply

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