Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday Guest Post: Deirdre O'Dare

Why Romance, Why Paranormal and Why GLBT?
Deirdre O’Dare

From my earliest memories I knew I wanted to be a writer. By early teens I was rewriting Nancy Drew and Zane Grey to tell the stories I wanted to tell. Later on as everything I wrote contained a love story, I turned to romance which was just becoming a recognized genre rapidly gaining popularity at the time.

Meanwhile I continued a life long reading addiction and discovered two other emerging genres, science fiction and fantasy. That’s not to say all three had not been around for some time but they were all coming into their own and emerging as public passions with distinct fandoms about that time. Wouldn’t you know it—I loved them all and of course wanted to mix them up and combine them in various ways. Or at least the story-people in my head seemed to draw on all three as they gave me their tales to transcribe. But to my sorrow I found out the New York publishers were so not ready for mixed genre fiction! They had to know where to shelve a book in the brick and mortar stores and exactly what segment of the reading public to target with their ads.

About this same time, the brand new idea of “e-books” began to emerge and new small publishers sprang up to pursue this manner of getting literature into reader’s hands. Like almost anything new, niche marketing is the best way to ‘break in’ and gain popularity. Guess what, there were some other odd folks like me who wanted more romance in their fantasy and even to mix aspects of science fiction, fantasy and maybe even mystery with romance! Hog heaven!!

In 2001 I finally contracted the first of my novels with a couple of new electronic publishers. Although they were all billed as romance, each one had a subtle element of otherness—be it what one might call paranormal or some other little taboo that kept it out of the Silhouette and Harlequin lines.

Not too much later, the idea of slipping around the long-existing flowery euphemisms and sly hints instead of explicit portrayals of physical love scenes began to emerge. Those of us writing the out-of-the-box romance slipped into this slowly, a toe in the water and then up to the knee and finally we all dove in head first. Readers loved it! Now there was yet another subset to blend into my fiction and I wasn’t shy about it.

I’ve been a questioner, an explorer, and a dreamer who marched to my own drummer all my life. By early teens I was sure reincarnation existed, and despite having learned the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny were all fictitious, I knew there were otherly beings some kind and some where. I mean would J.R.R. Tolkein lie to us? Anne McCaffery? Marion Zimmer Bradley? Even older writers like William Morris and Lord Dunsany? Of course not! Somewhere there are elves and trolls, orcs and hobbits and people with a vast range of ‘magical’ and paranormal powers. We all dream of and wish for and fantasize about them!

Then came Harry Potter and Twilight and suddenly the whole phenom burst free with a supernova explosion and the pop culture devoured it all. Now vampires are everywhere. The “Goth” teens grew up a bit more and took in this notion. The tweenage Harry Potter fans were soon ready to add sex and rock n roll to their fantasies and the possibilities are now almost endless.

Yet another twist emerged. The idea that straight women who had gone about as far with romance and erotica on the heterosexual side as possible since there were still a few taboos no one felt they should break would suddenly develop a fascination with the love lives of gay men does not seem to have been anticipated by anyone. It just suddenly was. I had not planned or expected to be part of that but one morning I woke up with a story so urgent to get out of my head that I wrote several pages on a mini-steno pad while I ate breakfast!

I had once hand scribed things and then did my initial edit at I transcribed them through the keyboard but that was long ago. By now I was a professional writer and wrote daily, just sitting down at the computer and putting words on that clean white screen! So that gives you a clue as to how demanding the story was. It became Treading Dangerous Ground, my first real futuristic or sci-fi story and also my first gay romance!

Now most writers will admit there is some odd twisted portion of our brain that we call the “what if” lobe. It’s that dark closet where ideas lurk and where we twist the things we see, hear and experience around and they emerge in new shapes as fiction. By now I’d written a slew of Canine Cupids stories which had been very popular, all where a dog or dogs played a role in getting their masters hooked up with the right guy. I was running out of breeds and plots so I went back to the “what if” drawer.

Okay, so how can I pull something akin to law enforcement and current issues and some paranormal twists together to make a new and slightly different series of tales emerge? Hmmm. Living most of my life in Arizona and New Mexico the border issues are very familiar. I also know those folks in the dark green fatigue style uniforms who strive to hold the border and keep the escalating problems under control. Two things covered. Now for the what if? What if some of them had some paranormal abilities and what if not only regular human beings from other lands but some decidedly way-out-there type aliens were seeking to enter and wreak havoc?

The result is a continuing group of stories I call The Thin Green Line—because it is a very stretched band of men and women in green who are holding the line in the border areas. The first of these came out in April and featured a pair of guys of Celtic ancestry who’d been best friends since they were small boys. As rookie border patrol officers, they were working along the New Mexico border with Old Mexico and ran into a really wicked and certainly non-human foe. To beat it, they had to go back and draw on uncertain memories of a long-ago life they had shared in Great Britain a couple of millennia ago! In that time they were friends and became lovers. Could their friendship in this life survive such a shift? And so Beyond the Shadows came to be.

The next one took a different turn. For some reason I don’t do vampires and I don’t do werewolves. Not sure why, I just don’t but I got a picture of a man who could shape-shift into a bird of prey. Now that would be a handy skill to have for patrolling remote trackless wilderness along the border, no? Then lo and behold, it turned out there were two of them! Their backgrounds and cultures were totally different –one was Scots American and the other Native American from an old tribe in the borderlands of Arizona. That premise became Wings of Love, which was released in July.

The third one will be out in November and in this one I drew upon my old inspiration from The Lord of the Rings but gave it my own unique southwestern twist as an elf and a half human-half elf team up to fight some orc/troll type monsters in the Big Bend area of Texas. Runes of Revelation forces the halfling to come out both about his mixed blood and the fact he is gay. I visualize at least a couple yet to be written and perhaps more. Druid in Drag is in the idea stage right now and Runes of Redemption will finish the tale of Clay and Aron halted at the happy-for-now point in Runes of Revelation.

The whole shape shifter idea intrigues me. I have my horse-shifter stories, two currently available and others in the works. How about a rock-country band where all the musicians are were-horses? A were horse may even find a way to the Border Patrol, who knows. And in progress is the tale of how this long line began when a young woman in the ancient central European steppe region saves a mare and her new foal from wolves and wins the regard of the goddess Epona.

So back to my title question. Why romance? Because I believe in love, in real, wonderful, uplifting and eternal love to the bottom of my heart and I seek to glorify it and hold out its hope in everything I write! Why paranormal? Because as Robert Louis Stevenson put it: “The world is full of such wond’rous things that we should all be as happy as kings.” I’m not sure all kings are happy but the wonders are indisputable and to quote from Lord Dunsany, another old hero of mine, they do exist out there just “beyond the fields we know.” Last, why GLBT? Because love does not discriminate and cupid’s arrows can transfix anyone with no regard at all for gender or orientation and the wonder of two people finding in each other the missing part of their heart and spirit is one of the greatest wonders and blessings of all! I try to show the total universality and impartiality of love and my belief that no one is undeserving of it whenever or however it comes.

I still write hetero romance and some of it is paranormal and some is not—although there is at least a thin bright thread of something not-quite-worldly in nearly everything I write just as there is that blazing flame of love to draw couples together and make them greater than the sum of their parts. If one picks up anything written by Deirdre O’Dare or Gwynn Morgan, my two pseudonyms, both of those are guaranteed! That’s why I write what I write and actually just a reflection of who I am.

Closing Note: I do not twitter yet and Gwynn has a very dull Facebook page. My websites are www.deirdreodare.com and www.gwynnmorgan.com. My backlists can be found at www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/bio_ODare.html (GLBT) and www.amberquill.com/AmberHeat/bio_ODare.html (Hetero) and Gwynn’s titles are at Amber Quill in the non-erotica side and with Mundania Press in their Awe-Struck division. Gwynn and Deirdre both have semi-inactive newsgroups and Deirdre is working on a blog, with more details to emerge soon!


Unknown said...

Awesome post, my friend. I know what an talented writer you are...and I'm thrilled I can enjoy your editing skills too. I've stayed in the shallow end of the pool because my writing is limited to "create your own image" love scenes. I hint really well, but...I guess you have to have either an outstanding love life or a great imagination and when it comes to sex...I... well, let's just leave it at that. :)

L. K. Below/Lindsay Below said...

A fascinating post!

Carolina Valdez said...

Great post, Dierdre! Enjoyed getting to know you better through this.

Carolina Valdez

PamelaTurner said...

Thank you to Deirdre O'Dare for guest blogging today.