This is how a typical romance works: Boy meets girl, boy and girl are kept apart for 90% of the book by circumstance, and the story is concluded when boy and girl get together. There are certain expectations about romances which the author must keep in mind while navigating these swoony waters.
|The very first romance I ever read.|
Yes, there was sexual assault, but not from the hero.
Once the hero and heroine hook up, they're generally not allowed to hook up with anyone else. It's strict monogamy from there on out. And if there's a love triangle, the heroine will usually end up with the first guy she meets (who is usually The Good Guy, because there's no love for Bad Boys out there).
Loyalty is hugely important. Studies have shown that romance readers are more forgiving of a hero who rapes the heroine (because he desires her so much that he must have her, consenting or not) than a hero who cheats on the heroine with someone else. That is a whole can of worms I won't touch today. Suffice it to say, romance readers have spoken: they love One True Loves.
Despite having all these rules, it's hardly a formulaic genre. There are a lot of great ways to approach this structure. It's not easy keeping love interests apart for twenty-some chapters, and it takes a skilled writer to pull it off.
I enjoy reading paranormal romance, but anyone who's read my books can tell that I'm not interested in writing it. My stories do not have HEAs or HFNs. The plot does not resolve with the hero and heroine kissing and hugging or whatever it is you kids do nowadays. Yet I think a lot of readers go into my books expecting these things, and it's led to some disappointed reviews.
|In short, when reading YA paranormal,|
people expect something like this.
I completely understand why people might pick up my books expecting to see these things.
So let me say this now: I don't write paranormal romance novels.
At its roots, urban fantasy is a mashup of detective noir and fantasy. YA paranormal shares teen issues through the lens of speculative fiction. They can be romantic, but they don't have to be.
And my books definitely are not. In The Descent Series, I'm hoping to accomplish epic fantasy in a contemporary setting. And the Seasons of the Moon series is more of a family drama with a girl who turns hairy and eats people.
Definitely not romances.
Given that the majority of Kindle owners are adult women, and that the population of Kindle owners also skew toward the romance-lovin', my life would probably be a little easier if I did write romance novels. I know that many readers would be happier with my books.
The problem is this: I don't like One True Loves. I also don't believe in soulmates. I think there are a lot of people who can complete us in a lot of different ways, and that we can love someone intensely, passionately, and deeply, then move on to love someone else just as passionately if that first relationship ends. It's a totally normal, totally okay part of life.
Plus, I feel like romances -- particularly those with the "one true love" thing -- completely miss how tough real relationships can be, and how that's actually a really good thing. Good relationships take work. You don't just click with someone and live happily ever after. You have to communicate, respect each other, and work on meshing your lives together.
Bad things happen. Good things happen. You fight to stick together and handle it as a team. The end result is (ideally) an ever-growing, ever-changing partnership with another human being, and it's awesome. But it doesn't always end that way! Sometimes things go sour, and that's okay too. That's a normal part of life and growing up.
That's what I hope to write in my books: Flawed relationships between people who work to conquer things together, or... don't.
So please allow me to apologize to all the people who have been bummed out to pick up one of my books and find it ends with the heroine running off on all fours and leaving the hero behind (Six Moon Summer), or that the heroine is sexually compatible with her boyfriend, but not romantically compatible (The Darkest Gate), or that the heroine falls out of love with the hero because he didn't treat her well and they don't get back together (Monsters).
There might not be one true loves in my books, but there is one true butt-kicking. I hope that makes up for my transgressions a little. ;)
What say you, friends? Do you prefer your paranormal with or without a heaping serving of romance?