This week I’ve been working on Mirror, Book 8 in The Unfinished Song, and also on a section of Sworn, Book 10. (There’s a reason; technically the events of the storyline from Sworn antedate the events in Mirror. That’s one of the odd things that happens when the Story Order of events differs from the Chronological Order of events.)
Meanwhile, relevant to this month’s theme about Fantasy Romance, check out this fun interview on fantasy in romance, romance in fantasy, blending genres, Beta heroes, pricing of ebooks and much more!
Here’s a snippet where Rachel discusses her appearance on a panel at the Romantic Times convention:
Rachel: Exactly, and, and it’s so funny, ‘cause, like, I was sitting, I’d be sitting on a panel, and it’d be, like, you know, really badass-looking chick in tight leather and, like, a dude with abs, and, like, a clinch cover, and then there’s me with powered armor. You know, I, I was, it was very kind of a strange situation, but I really, really loved it, because romance readers are, are some of my favorite readers, because the romance community is so welcoming of other genres, and, like, ‘cause I, when I put kissing in my military sci-fi, I got a lot of are you sure you want to do this?
Sarah: Oh, no, kissing cooties, man!
Rachel: ‘Cause there’s going to be cooties in your powered armor.
Sarah: You cannot have kissing cooties.
Rachel: And, and, but you know what, ‘cause my readership is about 50/50 male/female, and I had very few complaints about the actual romance. I had a couple of complaints from people who either didn’t think it went far enough or thought there was too much, so it was like the amount of romance was in question, but the fact that there was a legitimate romance was just kind of accepted. Like, I didn’t, I didn’t get nearly – ‘cause I was, I was girding my loins for, like, the true science fiction author brigade, but no, everyone, everyone was real happy with it.
Sarah: No, it’s, it’s a total, it’s a tonal difference, I think, between science fiction and fantasy communities –
Sarah: – and the romance community, especially at RT. I remember when John Scalzi was a guest because he was receiving an award, he came to RT – I want to say it was Kansas City, two years ago – and wrote a post on his blog about how he realized at some strange moment that he was the only dude in, like, a room of several thousand women. No one asked him for his credentials, no one wanted to quiz him on how much he knew about something. It was like, you’re here, there’s a bar, let’s hang. It’s a completely different kind of interaction from what I know of the two different communities.
Rachel: That, that is absolutely true, and, like, ‘cause I’ve done a lot of sci-fi and fantasy cons, and they are lovely, don’t get me wrong. They’re really fun, they’re really nerdy, and it’s very exciting, ‘cause I’m also a big sci-fi/fantasy fan and reader so, again, as a fan, it was very exciting, but there is definitely sort of a geekier-than-thou thing going on, where you’ve got to constantly kind of one-up your geek cred –
Rachel: – whereas at RT it was like, oh, my God, you’re a writer? I’m a writer! What do you write? That’s amazing! Oh, you read romance? I love Regencies! Let’s talk about our favorite Regencies! It was just this really, really warm, welcoming atmosphere, and every, and every interaction I’ve had with the romance community has been like that.
Rachel: It’s, it’s just been fantastic, and I, I hang out on romance blogs just ‘cause they’re freaking fun places to be. I, that’s how I found you! I was a giant reader of Smart Bitches. Back when I had my day job, y’all were, like, my favorite thing to read at work –
Rachel: – and, and I got a bunch of book recommendations from you when I was first getting into romance, ‘cause I didn’t even read romance until I was out of college. I’d never even –
Sarah: Oh, no kidding!
Rachel: Yeah, well, I’d never, I’d – my parents were big sci-fi/fantasy nerds, and they didn’t read a lot of romance, and I’d read, like, some Anne McCaffrey, which kind of blurs the line, ‘cause she’s got a lot of romance in her sci-fi, but I’d never read, like, a Regency, and then one day, I’m like, that sounds really cool, and I picked up, I can’t even remember what the first one was now, but it was, like, a free book, and I just kind of picked it up, and oh, that was the rabbit hole –
Rachel: – let me tell you. Like, couple hundred books later, and, and I love it. I do.
Sarah: Cool! So you mentioned earlier that you were working on dragons –
Sarah: – which of course is the thing that I like most.
Sarah: What are, what are you working on, book two?
Rachel: I’m working on, I just, I finished the, the second book about a month ago, which is called One Good Dragon Deserves Another, and – ‘cause we got a theme here –
Rachel: Nice Dragons Finish Last, One Good Dragon Deserves Another –
Sarah: Of course.
Rachel: Dragon theme, and this book is really fun. It was kind of a bear for me to write because I, I would just, I just had a, I just had a wrong-headed idea about the series and I kept trying to make it work, and it didn’t work, and I can be very stubborn. I kept trying to make it work, and eventually I just had to say, okay, this plot is clearly not working. Let’s back it up and try something totally different –
Rachel: – and that’s when I fixed it, but it took me a lot longer than it should have because of that. But we’re on, we’re on track now, and I’m very excited about the book. It’s all about sort of – you know, in the first book, it was all about Julius gets kicked out – Julius is my nice dragon – gets kicked out in the middle of Detroit, in the DFZ, which is the Detroit Free Zone, which is ruled by a, by a spirit who has ordered all dragons kill on sight, and his dragon form has been sealed, so he’s stuck as a human without all his powers, and he’s really just –he spends the whole book just desperately trying to survive and keep his head above water –
Rachel: – and in the second book, he’s really got his feet under him more, and you really start seeing him kind of come into his own, and it’s, the books are, you know, Julius is twenty-four, so he’s, he’s definitely an adult in these books, but they’re really almost a coming-of-age story, ‘cause Julius was this big slacker. He was, you know, he lived in his, he lived in his mom’s basement of her mountain, basically, and hiding from all of his more powerful siblings, and it’s the story of how this dragon whose motto used to be keep your head down, don’t draw attention, shut up, and hope they go away, started, becomes, starts really coming into his own and standing up for what he believes in, and he is a very nice, nice dragon. He’s a very good person in a world where niceness and goodness are seen as unforgivable weaknesses to be exploited, and so he has to kind of be almost, almost aggressively nice, if that makes sense, and I have a lot of fun with that, ‘cause I really love, I really love the idea of compassion as a, compassion as a strength, because it gets shown as a weakness so much.
Rachel: And so I loved, I love working with that. And also in this book, the secondary character, Marci, who’s the love interest, ‘cause there’s a little romance between Julius and Marci, and she’s a mage, she really comes into her own in this book. Marci is just amazing, and she is so too short for this ride, but makes it work. Oh, it was so fun. Her stuff is so fun to write, but this, I mean, it just goes crazy, and, yeah. I don’t believe in, like, small stories. All my stories always get enormous, and, like, not in terms of word count, but in, just in terms of the scale and the scope. I like to go big or go home, and that definitely happened in this novel, Sarah. It’s going to be really fun.