Monday, May 28, 2007

Crafting Challenging Relationships in SFR - David Speaks Out

An author is blessed not only when fans read her books, but when they actually become interested in--and excited by--the creation of a novel...the characters, the world building, the behind-the-scenes stuff. David Gray is such a fan. He's fascinated by the whys and wherefores, not only because he likes my books and the science fiction/science fiction romance genres in particular, but because he's crafting his owns worlds, his own characters. So I asked him to share some of his thoughts in this blog as to what he's doing with the emotional machinations and "intimate adventures" of his characters. I think you'll find it as thought provoking as I did (and yeah, writers do play with the strangest ideas!) ~Linnea

Hi, all! And thanks, Linnea, for inviting me over to guest-blog on Alien Romances!

Last monday, Linnea posted a blog -- Love Beyond Boundaries -- and continued on the topic of barriers that challenge the development of romantic relationships between individuals -- a ready source of the very conflict that makes a story work. I found this particularly relevant to my own fictional work-in-progress. Linnea cited several examples of society's traditional taboos, and in my story, set a century and a half into our future, these still hold stubbornly true in one form or another.

Take my main character and his love interest, for example. Daie Fahr is a commoner with ambiguous religious beliefs. He was born and raised on an agricultrual colony planet in another solar system. His accent, his idiomatic expressions and slang, all mark him as an outsider. Anya, the apple of his eye, comes from a well-to-do family on Earth. She's well educated, dresses in the current fashions, and adheres to a fairly rigid belief system. Anya has never left Earth. She's also never met an alien in person, while Daie spent a couple of years on a commercial hub space station -- he ran into them all the time. Daie's immediate environments have always been fairly remote as well. Anya lives on a planet teeming with people. Even aside from these obvious things, Daie's lack of inherent bias against those different from himself, particularly aliens, makes him a potential outcast even among his own kind.

At great odds with these two is the nearly symbiotic relationship between two of my alien species. The one is indigenous to their now-shared home-world while the other is a long-ago transplant -- in essence, an invader. If ever there was a barrier, that ought to be one. Moreover, the indigenous race is corporeal while the other, in its adult stage of life, is ethereal. Nevertheless, over time the two have crossed the boundaries that separated them and learned to coexist so well together that neither would now dream of an existence without the other. Moreover, this hybridization of their cultures has allowed them to advance their knowledge and expand their reach to the point that they have long since become the dominant species in this particular universe. Ironically, that in itself is enough to cause resentment on behalf of other species, humans included.

As you may have surmised, I like to tinker with things. I think Linnea calls it what-if-ing. It's like playing with a chemistry set made of characters and settings. Mix, stir, BOOM! Stuff happens. Whether reading or writing, this is the appeal for me of SFR as a sub-genre -- the maximum potential for situational diversity, by way of a science fictional universe, combined with the exploration of personal relationships, by way of romance. And, of course there's the HEA factor. Yes, guys like HEAs, too. Given such widely variable perspectives amongst the characters, is it any wonder why SFR/RSF is so exciting to read? Every one of these people is embarking on their own Intimate Adventure, about to be afforded an opportunity to walk a mile in another's shoes and maybe see if they should re-examine what they believe and why. They might just get a whole new slant on what unconditional love really is.

David Gray


  1. Very cool, Mr. Gray. I think the difference between good and great in Spec-Fic is when an author can totally turn our currant reality on its ear to examine it more fully in a way that's comprehensible to those of us who perceive reality in layers. To merely set a story in the future or in space is not enough. Sounds like you're really nailing this and I look forward to reading your books one day!

  2. Anonymous9:38 AM EDT

    Thanks, Kimber An. One of the most fascinating things I've been discovering in the process of writing is that reality is seldom black and white, but a thousand shades of gray (plus all the other colors). The good guys aren't all good, the bad guys aren't all bad, and so on. Further, no story happens in a vacuum. The actions of the characters radiate out in rings of cause and effect. If anything, the challenge is not to get swallowed up in the back story. But it's fun to take a dip in it now and then. ;-)

  3. Anonymous1:54 PM EDT

    Great blog, David!
    And how close are you to shopping the WIP? Enquiring minds want to know ...

  4. Anonymous8:26 AM EDT

    Thanks, Lynne! To answer your question, not nearly as close as I'd like. Not nearly as close as my friends would like either, God bless 'em -- the ones who keep pushing and poking me and asking, "So, is it done yet?" :-)

  5. David, you actually tell people??? Not me. I'm too embarressed. I figure one day I'll catch a cousin reading one of my novels, which will have my pen name on it of course. He'll lift it up and ask, "Read this?"

    And I'll say, "Uh...yeah." And walk away.

  6. I didn't tell anyone when I wrote my first novel. I didn't want the pressure. People who don't write don't realize how mentally and phsyically draining it is without having to answer a hundred questions about it.

    And yep, there are shades of gray for everyone. And Just remember, in his mind, the bad guy is the hero of his own story. Which can make things interesting for the good guy.

    Good Luck David. Keep on believing in yourself and your process.