I don’t think I’ve told a whole lot of people about this, but I got into writing to write what was then called “futuristic romances.” I was going to redefine the subgenre the way Professor Tolkien redefined fantasy.
Okay, so I haven’t done it. Here’s why.
Back in the middle of the second Clinton Administration, during a period of ardent personal ignorance in the ways of the (publishing) world, I had the whole thing planned. I’d write one—count that—one historical romance. Then, once I had my foot in the door, I’d switch to futuristics. Woo hoo, the first step in Sherry’s Grand Strategy for World Domination.
Remember the Improbability Drive from THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY? If I could build a star drive that runs on naiveté and wishful thinking, I’d be halfway to Alpha Centauri already.
When I learned that once you publish in a subgenre, people kind of want you to keep writing it, I clutched my heart. I had a special hatred for research that people usually reserved for colonoscopies. And I never had any ideas for historicals beyond the current work-in-progress. But somehow, I managed to churn out historicals year in, year out, without my head visibly exploding. So I said, alright, I’ll write both historicals and science fiction romances. And wrote only historicals.
But now, times, they be a-changin’.
Last weekend, I sent off a three-chapter proposal to my agent. Science fiction romances suck in that they require a plot, and I’m weak on plots. But oh, baby, what freedom after a steady diet of nothing but the Queen’s English all these years. Here’s my personal favorite snippet from the prologue, where the hero and the heroine were about to engage in, ahem, unmentionable activities:
“Say ‘fuck me,’” he ordered.
“Fuck you,” she replied with equal courtesy.
Halleluiah! All praise to vulgar vernaculars. There are no two other words in the English language—with the possible exception of “I’m pregnant”—that pack quite such a wallop.
And this bit, from the first chapter, when our not-quite-amorous lovers reunite after many years. Watch out for another potent two-word combination.
“You look like shit,” she said.
He rubbed a knuckle along his jaw. “And feel even worse. You, on the other hand…”
He looked her over, once, twice. “Bitch goddess.”
Oh, yes, baby. Something else you can’t say in a historical.
I already write dark, powerful heroines in my historical romances. I hope science fiction romances would allow me the freedom to make them even darker and more powerful. The above proposal has just regular human beings. But I am intrigued by the concept of, say, a genetically modified woman who is physically much stronger than any normal man and made to kill. What can she do with that strength? What has she done with it? And what kind of man would have the big, brass balls required to go up against her?
Update in the Mighty Struggle for a Good Shag: I have found The Way. But alas, The Way will require even more rewrites than originally scheduled. In fact, The Way changes the whole dynamic of the story. Forget short hiatuses. I am taking a medium hiatus from the blog to devote the rest of December to DELICIOUS. So have a great, memorable holiday, everyone. See you in 2007.