Considered by many the ultimate sell-out of prose, I would counter that Romance is the last vestige of the cult author. The career hack, the formula writer, the struggling fiction machine who writes words by the thousand and publishes by week’s end.
And what’s more? These heroes don’t have to work for a master any longer. They operated independently, slinging smut in settings across the board. Rising above their artistic intentions, they follow the formula… and within that they discover new territory.
I recently met one of these literary foot soldiers at a writer’s Meetup just outside Austin. I won’t divulge her name because you can’t find her work from that; she works under at least two pen names and never attaches her own to the market. The Ro-Musketeer (I like that, no matter how odd it sounds) took the time to sit with me and look through the market, explain the basics of the trade.
Now, I’m not going off the reservation any time soon. The Shroud’s in my blood, from postcard paper cuts and cigarette burns when I’m writing too long to realize my butt’s gone to the filter. But I don’t see any reason to hold back from exploring the publishing possibilities of Romance Fiction.
There’s a character referenced here and there throughout the Shroud, known as the Defense Minister, or Jesus H. Christ’s ex-girlfriend, or the Silver Haired Man. If there’s anyone out there who played Dungeon’s and Dragons with me as a kid, they’ll recognize the character. Spique, pronounced the same as everyone’s favorite nineties vampire.
If I’m being honest, Joss Whedon’s bleach blond is the reason I changed the spelling.
I’ve struggled with Spique for a couple years now. A brazen mercenary I first imagined at age ten, then the history defying lover of the world’s most renowned messiah. Now the Defense Minister of the Charm City Court, locked into service of the worst King ruling under the Shroud.
The struggle is in her trans nature. Ever since I started serious work on The Shroud, I’ve known that for Spique gender is a secondary interest. She loves to fight and fuck. The nature of either isn’t so much subject to interpretation as it is an opportunity. She’s not interested in definition; she lives for experience.
Her immortality, legend says, isn’t a gift of heritage. Age doesn’t dare to approach. Spique doesn’t know why she’s lived so many centuries. She’s no memory of her youth, only that when the Picts first crossed the English Channel, she waited on the beach. Her first words were, “took you long enough.”
I’ve got big plans for Spique. And now those plans include a couple romance short stories. Stay tuned!