When ID Press Publishing invited me to submit for their second anthology, Allucinor, and told me it was a romance theme – I panicked. My writing tends to be of the darker side of fiction slanting towards horror or supernatural themes. Romance? In truth, it was a genre I avoid writing about. I’m happier writing about the monsters under the bed rather than the delicate dance between two lovers. Of course, I have read romance in my time and even enjoyed romantic elements in some of my favourite books. But to write a romance?
Wait – romantic elements.
The team that makes up ID Press were authors I knew, in fact, admired. When they had challenged a plethora of writers to “write something different,” they assured me that they weren’t looking for traditional romances. So I figured, why not give it a whirl? At the very least it would be a fun, creative challenge and if a story materialized out of it, that was an added bonus.
To start the process, I researched romance beats to remind myself about the structure of a romance. There was something way back in my brain about a hero and a long ago discussions about what makes up a romantic plot.
So, after one frustrating night trying to come up with an idea, one image kept popping again and again in my head – a frozen rose that I had photographed a few months earlier. Alongside that, I thought long and hard – where did I read and consume a lot of romance? Fairy tales. As a much younger person I had cringed at the struggle between hero and villain. Felt the angst of two-star crossed lovers and cheered in the end when love prevailed and the characters lived happily ever after.
As an adult, I wasn’t buying it and hadn’t for years. Life was way to complicated, messy and sometimes downright cruel to believe in happily ever after. The bottom can always fall out. Romance was a childish notion that I avoided in most of what I wrote, read and consumed. At least it used to be..
The more I tried to reconcile the long ago person who got a thrill from the romantic and the adult who explored the underbelly of life in monsters or very flawed characters – I also remembered the concept of the Other. The anti-hero. The redeemable hero. The flawed hero. All archetypes learned in long ago English classes. Then I flipped it and asked myself, if a romantic hero has become “villainous,” can their new romantic quest lead them to face questionable past actions? Would they be able to redeem themselves by putting another’s well-being ahead of their own in an act of pure selflessness and regain romantic hero status? Can this be romance?
Combine those questions with the persistent image of a frozen rose and a writer who likes to explore the “what if” as a prompt and I was left with one final question; What happens post happily ever after? What if it isn’t so happy? Can the light of romance be found in the darkness?
So I wrote, and cursed and wrote some more until a story emerged. I submitted it having no idea if I had hit the mark that ID Press wanted.
When they accepted the story and, in one of those rare breaks that a writer gets, offered some wonderful editorial advice and told me to write more. In fact, they wanted double the word count! Needless to say, I was happily surprised. So, after a bout of writing overseas and a continued productive collaborative effort – the short story titled, “Frozen Beauty” emerged.
As we enter February, the month of romance, try something different. Find out what a romance short story looks like written by a dark fiction author and the added bonus, all the other wonderful stories included in the anthology, Allucinor – The Element Of Romance. Combine it with ID Press’s first offering, a wonderful collection of horror stories in Purgatorium. Both can be found for your Kindle, KOBO or in print at Amazon and don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads!
For the writers out there – ID Press has a new submission call – Nefariam – The Element of Crime. If you want to try something different Submission Deadline is February 28, 2018.