On a stop along her blog tour, author Nancy Gideon joins SciFiChick.com today with a guest post and giveaway of her latest novel, Betrayed by Shadows!
WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT WRITING ROMANCE FROM SCI-FI
by Nancy Gideon
Long, long ago in a library far away, before paranormal romance became a blip on my radar screen, I discovered the building blocks of storytelling in another galaxy where I crewed for Bradbury, Heilein, Asimov and L’Engle. I relished those voyages with the Starship Enterprise (mostly to ogle Ensign Chekov) as a training ground for future adventures with Moya, the Maltese Falcon, and Serenity. I discovered the Hero’s Journey on the dusty planet of Tatooine with a whiny kid in baggy leggings. And once cable became a part of my life, there was only one true channel – SyFy.
My mother got lost in the plots of Star Trek (which she called Star Track). My ex couldn’t wrap is attention around tall blue women and a royal toad who floated on cushions. But I was a firm convert to the Outer Limits of the imagination. The universal truths I learned going through those worm holes are the ones I use today in shaping my “By Moonlight” dark paranormal world of Shape-shifters. Here are just a few of the celestial wisdoms I gathered from my science fiction friends:
My world – My rules. You can do anything you want if you can make it believable. Royal toads can fly on cushions. Huge slimy slugs can imprison sexy princesses. A clan of shape changers can live undetected in New Orleans struggling for survival. The one rule you can’t break is if you break it, you have to explain it satisfactorily.
Talk the Talk: An important part of building that otherworldly place is tone. I created my own species: Shifter, Chosen, and Ancient, my own glossary of terms: Glimmer, Upright, Reader, Controller, and Lesser to give the “By Moonlight” world a distinctive feel. But a little jargon goes a long way. Never sprinkle that spice on so heavy that it smothers the taste of the meal. “Frell,” “Frack,” “the Vulcan Mind Meld,” Banthas and Jawas, “Shiny” – these terms became part of our vernacular. The trick is to make the new terms relatable and not to lose the observer under the weight of distancing technical details.
A hero isn’t always heroic: When smuggler Han Solo declares it’s not his problem and walks out on the Rebels in their time of need, that’s in character. It’s what he is. But when he swoops in at the last minute to save the day, that’s WHO he is. A hero in rogue’s clothing. I love reluctant heroes, those who through circumstance or choice disregard the moral highroad to do things their own way. Captain Malcolm Reynolds, anyone? Where they come from, the dark paths they’ve walked are what make their ultimate heroic gestures all the more powerful. My heroes (and heroines) have been assassins (Nica Fraser), mob hitmen (Max Savoie and Giles St. Clair), thugs (Cale Terriot), manipulators (Brigit MacCreedy) which in the end make their sacrifices and redemption all the sweeter.
Courage Comes in Small Packages: Remember that whiny kid in the baggy leggings? Like Luke Skywalker, the children in A Wrinkle in Time and Something Wicked This Way Comes were forced by tragic situations to shoulder the mantle of courage way too young. This push into early adulthood is something many of my characters have in common to prepare them for the difficult actions they’ll confront before that happily-ever-after.
Danger Makes Strange Bedfellows: The goal of over-arcing hero Max Savoie in my “By Moonlight” series is to convince warring Shifter clans that the only way they all can survive is to stop fighting each other and band together against the sinister forces of the Chosen in the North. Nothing like a greater mutual threat to unite enemies. The Shadows in Babylon Five, the Peacekeepers in Farscape, the Alliance in Firefly are powerful galactic bullies who are trying to crush independent friend and foe alike. Throw a group of wildly different outsiders together to common defend a cause and let the chaos and conflict begin.
Evil isn’t Always Ugly: Like the elegant Alliance and my intellectual Chosen, or the Stone Angels of Dr. Who, benevolent-appearing entities don’t always have your best interests at heart. The most frightening enemy is one who comes to you in the guise of a friend. “V” (both the alien series and the Hugo Weaving movie) are all about one hand extending in unity while the other holds a knife. Betrayal is a common theme in Sci-Fi and in the next book of my series PRINCE OF SHADOWS (5-27-13) because by its very nature it cuts to the heart and soul and has characters questioning their beliefs and integrity. The greater good usually gets that way by crushing individual will.
Dreams are Born of Disaster: Nothing’s more poignant than a character struggling to hold onto a dream in the face of adversity. To return to home (astronaut John Crichton/ Giles St. Clair). To find out who they are (Total Recall/SEEKER OF SHADOWS). To establish peace for their people (John Sheridan/Max Savoie). To gain freedom (the Serenity crew/the MacCreedy family). To avenge their loved ones (Luke Skywalker/Cale Terriot). And to have that happily-ever-after. A hero and heroine with a dream hold the shield that protects them from all odds . . . once they are confronted with the pain of loss. The power of that dream is what sustains them, even if the dream proves an illusion.
Have you found these universal truths in your favorite Sci-Fi / paranormal books, TV shows and movies?
Along with the blog tour, we have a copy of Betrayed by Shadows by Nancy Gideon for one (1) lucky winner!
Balancing a criminal empire and a preternatural clan war, reluctant front man Giles St. Clair doesn’t need a problem like Brigit MacCreedy . . . How much trouble can the head-strong and manipulative Shifter beauty get into in two weeks? Plenty when her schemes range from kidnapping to fleeing the retribution of her dead lover’s clan.
With her family’s lives on the line, Brigit is willing to do whatever it takes to save them. The only thing standing in her way is an immovable stone wall of a man she can’t bully or beguile . . . a human, no less, who has promised to protect her from the secrets and dangers she conceals.
Risking her own safety gets complicated when an honorable and annoyingly desirable man puts himself between her and her powerful enemies in a battle he can’t win in this Taming of the Shrew meets Shifter Goodfellas on the Bayou tale of consequences, redemption and finding love in all the wrong places.
Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends February 1. I’ll draw a name on February 2, and notify winner via email.
An author of over fifty novels since 1987, Nancy Gideon thrives on variety. Under her own name and several pseudonyms, she’s written award-winning series suspense, historical and paranormal bestsellers, earned a “Career Achievement for Historical Adventure”, and has had two original horror screenplays optioned for film. A Michigan native, she works full time as a legal administrative assistant and feeds a NetFlix addiction.