Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Is this thing on?

Hi. *taps the mic*

This is my first post on Something Wicked. If you don't know me, my name is Ann Aguirre, and I have genre ADD.

Yes, you read that right. I am congenitally unable to stick to one genre. That used to be a bad thing. You can't write this or that if you're going to write this other thing. Readers apparently will become confused if they find your books in different sections of the store. You need a hundred different pen names to keep them from being shocked to see that you've deviated. Deviation! Everyone run in circles and scream for a moment.

Done now? 'kay, moving on.

I don't personally think readers are so easily overset as all that, which is good because I love writing romance... and urban fantasy... and science fiction (with sexxoring). That seems to be a common element in my work, mind you. I never write novels without a romantic subplot. For me, the beauty of a book is in the relationships, how and why people come together.

For instance, in the Jax books, I explore the idea of whether second love can be as powerful as the first...when the first was happy and fulfilling. Have you ever noticed the way a heroine's prior love interests are typically demonized in romance novels? Once she meets the hero, she's supposed to forget she ever loved anyone else. She's supposed to realize that the sex with the new man is better than anything she's ever known before. The new man must be, in all ways, superior to the old.

But what if he's not? Is the heroine allowed to miss the love she lost? Can that occur without destroying her current relationship? That's the sort of thing I explore in the Jax series. It's intense and heartbreaking sometimes, but nothing worth having ever comes easy, I think.

In the Corine Solomon books, I explore the idea of two people loving each other desperately, but apart from their shared history, they probably don't belong together. What happens when you want something that's not good for you? What happens when two people aren't soul-mates, destined to be together? What happens when a relationship between them is difficult and raw and every inch gained is a struggle? Is it worth fighting for? Is it worth battling to make the pieces fit? Well, you'll have to read the series to get my take.

At this point, I'm opening the floor to your thoughts on non-traditional romance subplots. Mind you, both these relationships I've mentioned take place outside the romance genre. The Jax series is SF and the Corine series is urban fantasy, so I can get away with more. What are some of your favorite books that push the boundaries? I'm interested in your favorite unique heroes and heroines. Maybe I'll get some new reading material out of this!


azteclady said...

*jumping in* I'm first, I'm first, I'm first!


Hi, there, people. I came here following Ann's breadcrumbs. Cool place you have here!

Ann Aguirre said...

Hi Az!

But... you were supposed to mention some of your favorite non-traditional heroes and heroines...

Heather said...

Congratulations on the new pad, Ann!

I read CENTURY RAIN (hard SF space opera) by Alastair Reynolds last year and I really really loved the hero Floyd. He's overweight and kind of shlubby, but in my mind he's a star.

The romance was bittersweet and the HEA was debatable, but I loved the subtlety with which it was handled. So that's my vote.

azteclady said...

*blink* By Jove, Ann, you are right!

Would you believe I was dazzled by the new digs?


Okay, would you believe instead that I'm an airhead?

Well, okay, I confess--I'm drawing a blank.

Yes, that's right, I am drawing a blank. The few characters that immediately came to mind are not--apparently--from romance novels.

Mind, I think they are romantic, but I dunno... apparently other people don't think so. So the only ones I can name would be Jamie and Claire from the Outlander series (yup, I drank the koolaid and love it, thanks), and Eve and Roarke, from the In Death series.

(See? it was better when I didn't speak out and confirm everyone's opinion of me :wink:)

Angie Fox said...

Hey, Az! I, for one, am choosing to believe you are dazzled by our new digs.

And, Ann, I really like it when we don't know what to expect from our heros and heroines. That's one of the reasons I like your books so much - I never know what you're going to do. I know you're more than willing to break the rules and so the tension is that much more real.

Slipping into TV, that's also why I love the show Lost. And why I think it's found such a loyal audience. They're not afraid to twist things, throw you a curve, kill a character. You never know what is coming next. Therefore it has that kind of edge-of-your-seat excitement that is missing from a lot of other programs.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hey, nice lineup here. Thanks for joining, Ann. I wouldn't have found you guys otherwise (I don't think).

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Oops. Favorite heroes and heroines... Yipes. That's hard. They have to be real, regardless of genre. Not TSTL. Not wimpy and whiny. Kinda basic stuff, there.

One thing I've noticed about myself lately is that I prefer strong, smart, cool women to the trendy, shallow, giggly types. I'm thinking more movies and TV shows than books, but given how I reacted to my first exposure to Shopaholic, that probably carries through to books, too.

How's that for me with a headache and only a few hours until I go root my Penguins on?

Caffey said...

Hi Anne!! So glad to be here with you!!! I must have genre ADD too, I read just about anything with romance, urban fantasy, fantasy/SF and historical! I love a variety! Oh I agree, the couple's past has to come into the conversations and tooo their life as they continue to grow in love. I love seeing more of that in the books. Gives me a bigger picture of both the hero and heroine.

I've been reading Jeannie Frost NIGHT HUNTRESS books and this is an urban fantasy series with a strong romance in it, and even the first book, HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE took me by surprise in different ways that I couldn't wait to get my hands on ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE. I loved Bones, the hero (gosh, his name just so fitting) and a strong heroine, Catherine (Cat) and you get a great feel for the relationship and the growing they go through. If you know of these, I'll think of more!!! I love chatting books!

Caffey said...

Can you believe I never read THE OUTLANDER books (and I so love Time Travel!) I've read bigger books than hers before but I still put off til I can devote a week to just reading. Got to be soon! That shall be my summer goal!!

Ann Aguirre said...

Heather, I've never read that, but it sounds like something I'd like. I'll check it out.

Jamie and Claire... a great mention. It broke my heart when they were separated for so many years, though.

Hmm, Lost isn't one I watch either, but I hear it's great.

Eve and Roarke are a great mention too. It amazes me how Nora can keep the relationship so fresh. I would think it's harder to write about a couple after they have their wedding bells.

JaimeK said...

Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series characters - both Phedra and her "son" are interestng people. Imriel is one character that has been through relationship hell, being in a relationship with a person he should not have been with because of promises made, etc.

And just my two cents - I love Jamie and Claire.

Ann Aguirre said...

Jaime, do you recommend the Kushiel series? I haven't read it, but I hear it's fantastic.

Bev(QB) said...

Oh, lookie... BREADCRUMBS!

Non-traditional heroes and heroines?

Hmmm... tough one because those words don't seem to fit many of the most interesting characters. They may be the male and female leads in a story, but hero and heroine? Not if they are really well written! (Trust me, that makes a lot more sense inside my head)

Although an erotic historical probably wouldn't be the focus of this blog, the top of my non-traditional character list would have to include Vaughan, Marquis of Pennerly from Madelynne Ellis' A Gentleman's Wager. Probably the most delicious, complex character I've ever read.

A couple of other non-traditionals: the reluctant heroine, Mac, from Karen Marie Moning's Fever series. And in the same series, Barron's is a sort of anti-hero.

In Elizabeth Amber's Raine: Lords of Satyr, book 2, Jordan, with her extra "cooter mints", is about as far from a traditional romance heroine as you can get!

I like Shelley Laurenston's paranormals because, instead of alpha male blowhards, we get playfulness and genuinely likeable guys.

Crap, I KNOW there's more but I'm drawing a blank.

azteclady said...

Ann, I have the Kushiel books in my tottering TBR mountain range--the S.O. sent them ages ago with stern orders: READ THEM!

So I'd say he, at least, thinks they are good... :grin:

(and yet I still haven't even cracked them open... bad az, baaaad!)

Lori T said...

Hi Ann,

I followed you over too.

I am having a hard time with non-traditional heros and heriones...

I have read Adrian Phoenix's A Rush of Wings and her main guy Dante does not seem to fit the "traditional" category as he does not necessarily believe in only one right person...although Heather might change his mind. This book is absolutely amazing!

Midas said...

I'm more into romance books that allows a woman to have true love...either the past one...but dead already or the new one. It's possible to be so lucky both times you know.

Ann Aguirre said...

I totally agree with you, Midas. I don't like the convention that says the heroine isn't allowed to have ever been happy with a man before. Sometimes love isn't better or worse, just different than what you had before.

Maura Anderson said...

I think there are places for more than one love in a life. Even more than one all-encompassing love.

Dunno that I can think of a lot of non-traditional heros and heroines right off the cuff but I'm very character-oriented so I love to get inside the head of characters and get to know them. And I really like variety.

Alexandra said...

One of my favorite is the Stardoc series from SL Viehl. Where they have to fight in every book (especialy Reever) for them to be together. In the first book Cherijo (the heroine) loose her lover and Reever try desperatly to attract her (all the time clumsily). Very Heart wrenching.

Pam P said...

Hi Ann, came over just to make you happy. I still have to start in on most of Karen Moning's books, but have now read the latest series and finding the secretive Barron an interesting dark anti-hero, more so after the second book.

JaimeK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JaimeK said...

Ann: sorry, I posted my first comment and then realized I had not read fully what Azteclady had written. Thank goodness for delete buttons. =]

I do recommend the Kushiel series (both of them). I know a book is ultimately supposed to transport you to another place - with these books I feel the author takes it a step further..meaning I feel transported, but I also feel like I am "really" there. Hope that makes sense - the words are just not coming this morning. I love Jacqueline Carey's characters as well. They stick with you and the complexity of their story settles in your chest.

The only negative I have is that the author is very heavy on the history and sometimes I just want the characters to speak to move the story along.

I think they would be right up your alley...and Azteclady..dust those books off and get reading!! =]

Kimberly B. said...

Hello everyone! I'm another one who followed Ann over from her blog. I was going to mention Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel books before a bunch of people beat me to it! Not only is the heroine unique, but her uniqueness provides some interesting challenges for her romantically.
Another couple whose unique qualities provide for some interesting romantic challenges are Weetzie Bat and My Secret Angel Lover Man in Francesca Lia Block's Weetzie Bat books. They love each other, but their different world views get in the way. These books aren't romances, but they are about love, and the first book, Weetzie Bat has one of the best descriptions of a kiss I've ever read!

Brad Gallaway said...

Another one from Ann's blog here... Am I the only guy?!?

::looks around::

Anyway, I'm going to go with something from another genre and say Harry Keogh from Brian Lumley's Necroscope series.

The covers are pretty cheesy and the series goes a little off-track in the later books, but the idea of talking to the dead and getting help from anyone who's ever died in the history of the world always rang bells with me.

Good stuff.

Ann Aguirre said...

You've made me curious, Kim.

And Brad, I believe my husband really likes Brian Lumley. I seem to remember seeing him read the series you mentioned. I might be able to find a copy around here. Thanks for tip.

And yes, I think you are the only guy. But don't let that stop you. I love having a male POV.

I was just thinking that I like a role reversal, too. Where the woman is the tough, closed-off one and the man is sensitive and in touch with his emotions. Nora Roberts occasionally writes that type of flip.

Brad Gallaway said...

Heh, forget Nora Roberts... I *live* that flip every day.

My wife's the best. ; )

Ann Aguirre said...

Oooh, Brad's a non-traditional romance hero! ;)

Brad Gallaway said...

Hey, that's a great idea for a t-shirt... NICE!

; )

Jessica said...

I for one am seconding the notion that a person can have more than one love, and that life doesn't necessarily have to have been bad before that love comes into their life. Does that make sense?

It seems like lately I'm reading lots of books where it seems like the heroine or hero has never been in a good relationship before, that they had had bad lives, etc. etc., and then this person comes into their life and then things get interesting. I can't relate to that, I don't think it works like that in life.

I second the Halfway to the Grave and One Foot in the Grave books, I recently read those and I keep going back to reread them. I think one of the things that's so intriguing is that the more Cat gets to know Bones, the more she realizes she doesn't know.

Another thing I liked in particular about your book, Ann, was that Jax had to come to peace with her past in order to realize she had a future with someone else, and you gave her time to do that. When she was working in the daycare center, she was doing what she wanted for herself and no one else. I've never really seen it done quite the way you did it, and I think it was pivotal in the story.

Another book I fell in love with, and I'm not entirely sure it's non-traditional, but I still think it's worth mentioning, is All the Time in the World. In a nutshell, the heroine finds out she's dying, decides to go on a cruise, and her lover dumps her. She still goes with her friends, and winds up meeting another guy. She doesn't want to get involved because she knows there's no real future in it, but eventually she caves in, realizing this is all the time she gets and she wants to feel alive every moment of it.

Those are the only ones that really jump to my mind at the moment, and my two cents worth.

Ann Aguirre said...

"Another thing I liked in particular about your book, Ann, was that Jax had to come to peace with her past in order to realize she had a future with someone else, and you gave her time to do that. When she was working in the daycare center, she was doing what she wanted for herself and no one else. I've never really seen it done quite the way you did it, and I think it was pivotal in the story."

You know, Jessica, I don't think anyone has commented on that -- or interpreted it as you did. I read a couple of reviews where the reader thought it slowed down the action and another thought it was just a manifestation of Jax being selfish. I won't say they're wrong because an opinion can't be wrong, but...

The way you interpreted it? That was how I intended it when I wrote it. It was about her doing what she wanted, as well, but she needed that interlude to accept that the past was gone and to stop hating herself for the crash when it wasn't really her fault.

Jessica said...

I can understand why it would come across to someone as selfish, truly. But isn't that the point? Everyone is selfish at least to some degree, and I think at times when one has experienced trauma to the degree Jax has, then a sort of emotional shut-down occurs in order to process the events. It's mentioned a few times in the book that she compartmentalizes things when they get to be too much, so her brief respite makes sense in the story. The great part about reading books is reading between the lines and understanding what makes the characters tick, not having everything laid out for you. Unless that's the kind of book you picked up, that is.

slider1701 said...

Hi, Ann,
I followed you here (ok, that sounds stalker-like) to let you know I just read your book GRIMSPACE a little while ago. Today I'm updating the list of my favorite authors and you are definitely now on the list. I read across a lot of boundaries: SF, fantasy, murder mysteries, etc. So let me say it is not often that someone comes along and just knocks me off my feet with their first SF book. I've picked out a lot of new writers with just their first SF or fantasy book, like Larry Niven, Stephen Baxter, Tad Williams, Robert Jordan, David Weber, Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, and many others, and foretold that they would be greats after reading their first book. I haven't missed so far and - trust me - you belong on that list. I'm looking forward to everything you write from now on. By the way, I am also a Brad doesn't have to feel embarassed any more.

slider1701 said...

Oh, by the way,
Eve and Roarke from IN DEATH series,
Richard and Kahlan from SWORD OF TRUTH series,
Rissa and Tregare from RISSA KERGUELEN series,
Elena and Clay from OTHERWORLD.
There are others, but I'll take a moment to mention Annja Creed from the ROGUE ANGEL series and Honor Harrington from the HONOR series - strong female characters who haven't quite gotten it right just yet.

Ann Aguirre said...

Slider, I totally agree about Elena and Clay. That's a really interesting dynamic that Ms. Armstrong has created.

And thank you SO much for your kind words. I really hope you enjoy the Jax series (and the Corine series).