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Rekindling My Love Affair with Fantasy

I’ve been a speculative fiction writer all my life — since my first story in grade school, about a little girl who shrank and went on an adventure in her grandmother’s garden. Up until about five years ago I considered myself a fantasy writer, and primarily a fantasy reader, though often my favorite stories were flavored with sci-fi.

But fantasy and I fell out. It was 2008. I’d taken a decade-long hiatus from writing, but shortly after the birth of my daughter, I realized my publishing dream was never going to happen if I kept putting it off. I wrote a handful of fantasy stories for the Writers of the Future Contest, and each received an honorable mention. It occurred to me I might have a better chance at making the finals with a science fiction story. I was finding it tough to come up with fantasy plots that felt original.

The switch to sci-fi was the best decision I’ve made in my writing career. My first story, GHOST PLANET, received yet another honorable mention from WOTF, but I expanded it into a novel and it went on to be named a finalist in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart competition. It was also picked up by literary agent Robin Rue (Writers House), and then sold to Tor Books (the first of three sci-fi romances sold to Tor).

In a way I think it was fate, since my favorite book in childhood was A WRINKLE IN TIME, which I read a dozen times.

I’m thrilled to be writing (and researching!) sci-fi, but I’ve missed my old love. From time to time my thoughts have turned toward fantasy, and I’ve wondered if maybe it was time to try again. But as soon as I’d start plotting my next story, sci-fi elements would wiggle their way in. They bring a freshness to storytelling that I find it hard to give up.

Early this year I decided to try another experiment: erotica. As a sci-fi romance author, I’ve written my share of steamy scenes, but erotica was alien terrain for me. I wrote my first novelette, THE GARDEN RULES, in the spring, and I realized I’d found what I’d been looking for: a way to rekindle my creative passion for fantasy. I decided I’d write a whole series of stories and call it Fantasies in Color. Each story is based on a color — green for THE GARDEN RULES, black for RAVEN TAKES A PEARL, and I’m pretty sure the next one will be vermilion.

Once I opened this door, suddenly I had a dozen ideas. And it felt so good to stroll back through all those rich, magical settings from childhood. It’s not exactly the same as it was back then — I’m writing erotica after all, and you’ll still find sci-fi nuggets in most of my stories. The heroine in THE GARDEN RULES swallows a recreational narcotic that incorporates nanorobotics. RAVEN TAKES A PEARL reads and feels like fantasy, but as a steampunk story, it’s really a subgenre of sci-fi.

I suspect it will always be so, because I’ve become polyamorous as an author. But it’s delicious to welcome fantasy back in my life.

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