I write fantasy because I need an escape. The nightly news is so terrible that I have stopped watching. My life is wonderful, but I am always afraid of something happening to bring my world crashing down. All around me there is pain and disappointment, so much so that I sometimes feel like May in The Secret Life of Bees; it seems as though my heart will stop beating for the heartbreak of others.
Fantasy offers better places to go. They aren’t perfect places because perfect isn’t very compelling, but they are worlds where life is more good than bad. They are peopled with resourceful characters who solve their problems in creative, surprising ways. The achievement and maintenance of these places is the goal that drives the plot, because the better a place is the more forces there are that want to destroy it. Even though my first book, Soul Lost, is set against real historical events, I took literary license and made 9th century England a place where my protagonist, Isabel, can exchange the soul-killing ways of contemporary life for a time of more satisfying priorities. That is how I want that medieval time to be, and I dare you to produce eye-witnesses to prove me wrong.
Romance is an integral part of fantasy stories for me because I believe in the notion of the “split apart,” even though Plato was kidding around when he proposed it. The dangers of an exciting, conflict-filled story can be daunting for its characters as they face the devastating “slings and arrows” of life. When they find their “split apart,” the person who fills their empty spots, they becomes strong and battle-ready. An author (in this case, me) can throw all kinds of difficulties in their paths, and they can overcome them. Their evolution as they go from lonely withdrawal to inspired defense makes for a very interesting story line. In Soul Lost, Alfred and Isabel have been forced apart because an evil genius knows that the world will be a terrible place when they are not together. When they find each other (with a little help from their own non-evil genius), they do great things and make life better for everyone, all the way through time to today.
So…for me, romantic fantasy covers all the bases. It has interesting charcters motivated by the achievement of a clear, worthy goal. It is either set in a world where I want to be or driven by the quest for such a place. That world is never perfect (where’s the fun in perfection!), but the story does have a happy ending (with a hint of more trouble to come–can everyone say “sequel?”). Romance is a crucial element because it is ultimately so satisfying. Seeing two people who are desperate and alone become strong and united makes everything else seem so hopeful. This is a story where I want to spend my time.