Today we have urban fantasy author J.N. Duncan here to talk a little about his newest release The Vengeful Dead. Take it away J.N.!
The Slow Burn
I’d like to thank MinnChica for having me here today in support of my book, The Vengeful Dead, book two in my Deadworld series, a dark, urban fantasy story. Now one might wonder why I’d be asking to post up at a romance review blog, where the norm for this genre likely tends toward paranormal romance, but the fact is, the Deadworld story has romantic thread woven through it. Unlike many UF stories though (and I’m generalizing a bit here), the romance develops at a comparatively slow pace. Very slow by the usual standards. For lack of a better term, I’ll refer to this as the Slow Burn Romance.
Basically, the progression of the relationship between hero and heroine does not culminate, i.e. become a love/sex relationship before the end of the first book. Actually, it won’t be until book three, The Lingering Dead, that we see anything approaching this. So, why would I choose to do this? It would be easy to approach an element in this manner as a way to tantalize the reader, to get them wanting to find out what happens, and read further books. The converse could be said as well, in that by not reaching that level of relationship, it might turn readers off who were expecting more to happen. There are a fair number of UF series out there where we get a romance built up through book one, and then we follow the couple’s trials and tribulations over the course of the series, going through their ups and downs until we reach some kind of resolution at the end. The reason my story progresses in the way that it does however, is simple. It makes no sense for the characters to do so.
My heroine in Deadworld, FBI agent, Jackie Rutledge, is a pretty rough character at the beginning. She could likely make the career of any therapist. She’s kind of tough to like at the start, as a number of readers have attested too, and is in no position to be involved in a romantic relationship. Her abrasive exterior covers up a fragile, broken personality that has yet to come to grips with itself. At her core, Jackie just does not like who she is. Deadworld takes place over the course of a week, and things happen that not only make a romance unlikely, but actually make it harder. It’s kind of that, “you have to hit bottom in order to climb back up,” mentality. Even if my story had the super-charged dynamo of a hero who might have the capacity for making any woman fall in love with him (which I don’t, the hero, Nick, has his own problems), Jackie is not capable of having one, with anyone. It would be far too convenient and go well beyond the bounds of reason for a relationship to develop. By the end of Deadworld, a first kiss is as far as we get. Personally, I take issue with any kind of relationship developing for the sake making it happen by the end of the book. If it’s not right, then it just isn’t right. I wanted very much for things to progress at a pace that felt legitimate and real given the character’s situation and issues.
Series have that particular advantage of playing out elements over the long haul. Often this is plot driven, but we also wish to see characters grow and change over time as well. Even when the romance is front and center in this genre, there are still problems to resolve. There are still issues that get in the way of there being an HEA. Often, this comes down to the question of, “will they stay together?” In my case, it’s one of, “will they get together in the first place.” I like love stories that take their time to develop, when it doesn’t feel like circumstances are being contrived to make things happen, and it doesn’t come down to the unavoidable, “animal” attraction. I like it when the hero and heroine aren’t in bed together within the first twenty-four hours of meeting. I like it when you have to wonder if they will get together at all. There’s a certain level of tension developed there that makes for fun reading, I think. If they sleep together immediately, however fun and sexy it might be, I believe it deflates a certain element of anticipation and satisfaction in the story.
Of course, I might be in the minority here. Hot, sexy, paranormal romances are pretty damn popular these days. Readers obviously like them, and when it comes down to it, the reader rules all. But, I have to write the story I would want to read, and that involves the Slow Burn, the gradual build-up over time, and struggle to make things even get started in the first place. I think the payoff in the end is more worthwhile. This is my own personal preference as a reader of course, but my hope is that readers who decide to pick up my books, will want to go along for the ride and endure the character’s struggles to get their lives situated to the point that an HEA is even possible.
I’d like to thank you for stopping by today, and for taking that time, and bothering to comment on my post here about the Slow Burn Romance (got any examples of good ones that you’ve read?), I’ll be handing out a signed copy of Deadworld, The Vengeful Dead, and the cover flat for the upcoming, The Lingering Dead to one randomly chosen winner. For those of you who decide to pick up my series, I hope you enjoy the read. Happy reading/writing everyone!
Thanks J.N. for being here today! The contest is open to US/Canada only and ends on November 10th. Good Luck!