Sunday, August 16, 2015

Romance and Ogres

Jeffe and I have switched positions. The lovely lady got a surprise that's keeping her busy. If she chooses to share details, I'll leave that to here. But for those of you expecting Jeffe, she's here tomorrow.

Hi, for those of you who don't pay attention to Mondays, I'm James A. Moore. You can call me Jim.

Today's subject is one that's near and dear to my heart, believe it or not. We're focusing on whether or not romance belongs is fantasy and science fiction. As we have a herd of douche bags called the "Sad Puppies" who are trying to maker certain that all that is fantasy and science fiction should remain solely in the domain of misogynistic old codgers and nerds worrying about whether or not mommy will find the cache of stroke magazines in the basement before he gets them hidden away again, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say, "Yes."

Now, let me give my short answer first. Do you have love in your life? Do you want love in your life? is it a driving force in your daily decisions? If the answer to at least two of these questions is, in fact, "Yes" then why WOULDN'T it be a part of science fiction and fantasy (and horror for that matter)?

Listen, it's easy to come up with two dimensional characters. Bob the Overlord Hates everything about Cecil of the Sterling Council of Do-gooders. Why? because he does!

Yeah. No. That won't fly. For a short story, maybe that's enough, but if you want to have an actual STORY with DEPTH and characters you can give a damn about, romance in one form or another will come into it.

Let's take a look at my own works as an example: Why? Well, because I've recently read or written them.

I'm going to pull four characters from the SEVEN FORGES series.

First up in Andover Lashk. Andover is a quiet lad who is happily pining away for Tega. Unbeknownst to Andover, Tega is the apprentice of a sorcerer. That doesn't matter to Andover. What matters is that he gets to see her every day and she makes his day better. We've probably all been there at least once. It's called "a crush" or, to go with the euphemism already being used, "Puppy Love." He's got it bad. How bad? He's willing to risk the ire of the local City-Guard, the equivalent of cops, only more likely to be brutal, in order to see the girl of his dreams.

Andover was lippy. He misbehaved and got himself kicked out of the family home. Since then he's been working as a blacksmith's apprentice. That's all good and well, but it does;t help him in any form when the local City-Guard decides to shatter his hands because he looked at Tega one time too many. You take you chances and you hope to win. In Andover's case, he lost. Both of his hands, that is.

The good news? Tega found him. She arranges for her boss to see what he can do and the series of events that follows leaves Andover not only in a far better position but as one of the main movers and shakes in a war that comes around later.

Without a love of Tega, unrequited though it is, Andover would have had no part in the story. As time progresses he gets other love interests, actually has sex, and gets iron hands, but none of that matters at this junction, save for the simple fact that love, in one of its myriad incarnations, has led Andover to the pivotal point in his life.

Just like it does for so many of us.

I have three characters called The Sisters in the books. One is a blonde, one is a brunette, one is a redhead. They are, all of them, stunning. (* This footnote marks my rant at the end of this article.)

Now, not a one of them has a long term relationship in the book. In fact, I think there might be TWO long term relationships in the entire series and to call those "bumpy" would be a kindness.

That doesn't mean they don't have relationships. It also doesn't mean they are whores. Though I don't tend to dwell on it, the ladies in question use their wiles for numerous reasons. They also, sometimes, just plain have a tryst or two to satisfy their carnal instincts.

Mostly that's what I have happen in my series, by the way. Occasionally a couple of characters get together, have a little down time together and then move on. It's that sort of society. Just like in real life, sometimes the actions have repercussions. One of female characters gets pregnant and from there things for her get COMPLICATED.

Swech is another character. She has a one night stand with Merros Dulver. They come from two radically different societies and while she admires him and likes him, long term isn't really in her wheel house. They are far too different for things to work out and she knows that, but two books later she's still dwelling on him and he's returning the favor when he isn't pining over another lady.

Merros Dulver likes Swech. A lot. He is also drawn to Dretta March, who happens to be a widow. She also happens to be the widow of his best friend, who was assassinated by Swech. See? Complicated.

There are several more characters driven at least in part by their feelings or someone else. Lust, love, anger, hatred. They have many common threads and many common sources.

They should all be a part of the story you're telling. If not, you probably aren't doing it the right way.

Love is irrational, unfocused, merciless and often debilitating. It is also enough to make a lot of people go well away from their comfort zones in an effort to protect or even just to know someone they believe should be their everything.

YES. Characters and romance belong together. Do they belong together in the middle of a fight scene? Maybe not so much. Should we be dealing with them while the planet burns? Could maybe do with a better sense of timing. You get the idea.

Keep smiling


A Match Made In Heaven!

* Rant time: Want to know something I've seen in several reviews from women? That my male characters are all sexist pigs. All of them spend their time ogling breasts, butts, legs and everything else and that I focus too much on them.

I have to disagree. I have ONE CHARACTER who is fixated and he even has other characters tell him as much when he's not reminding himself. Why? because it's been a while since he was with anyone and he's spent six months behaving himself around the Sisters and he can't even take a cold shower. 

Several characters of both sexes notice that members of the opposite sex (and even the same sex) are attractive. They also notice when someone is looking homicidal and swinging a sword. I have them notice the people around them. Good and bad. But a handful of readers have decided that I'm a sexist swine of epic scale and were too disgusted to actually FINISH the book. So they miss out on the fact that the Sisters use magic to make themselves look insanely attractive for a reason. 

In short, thanks for buying the book, sorry you didn't like it and go suck an egg before you judge me. 

End rant. (Is it helpful? not at all. does it make me feel better? A little...)


  1. Thanks for bailing me out, Jim! Funny (not ha-ha) about those reviews from women. I didn't know. I think there's a big difference between male gaze that's entirely about ogling tits and ass, and reflecting that kind of realistic characterization about a male character. I recall doing warm-up stretches with my kung-fu class in the park one summer evening. I was the only female present that night. Several of the guys were bachelors and commented on a pretty girl on the other side of the park and how nicely she was built. I looked - she was wearing a t-shirt, not tight, and was easily a football field away. I said they could NOT POSSIBLY see her breast-size from where we were, and they shook their heads sadly at me and said I just didn't understand how that kind of radar works. When she got closer, I saw they were right. Learned something that day.

    1. The thing is, I will always look. I expect most people will. I also believe that art should imitate life. So the characters look. And they feel and they love and they regret. readers that can't dig that, I understand, but I don't agree.

    2. yes. we look because we're not dead! :D