Monday, May 25, 2009

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The History of the Science Fiction Romance Newsletter, Part II

Welcome back as we continue exploring the history of the Science Fiction Romance Newsletter. Below is the second part of the Galaxy Express interview with author Jennifer Dunne, who helmed the newsletter from 1995-2001.

To read part one of the interview, click here.

And now, on with the show...!

TGE: Please share your perspective on the science fiction romance genre, from the time you became involved to the present. Has the market changed in any way? Do you think epublishing has had any impact on the genre, and if so, to what extent?

Unwed And UndeadThere have been three major shifts in science fiction romance while I've been involved in the subgenre. First was the rise of epublishers. Most epublishers quickly learned that they couldn't compete head-to-head with the big print publishers, and had to make a market by selling the books print publishers wouldn't, but that had devoted and eager readers willing to struggle with the new format to get their fiction fix. This allowed the books to build "buzz" and get picked up by major publishers—MaryJanice Davidson's NY Times bestselling "Queen Betsy" series and Rosemary Laurey's USA Today bestselling English Vampire series are two examples that helped reinvigorate mass market vampire romances.

The second has been the acceptance of romance by the fantasy and science fiction houses. They'd originally feared that being associated with romance would cause their books to lose sales from their core (12-year old boy) audience. Once they realized that being associated with romance actually caused a jump in sales, they embraced cross-genre books wholeheartedly.

Phoenix CodeAnd finally, the nature of science fiction is a moving target. For example, Chris Moriarty and Catherine Asaro both wrote excellent books about artificial intelligence that were science fiction at the time—but a recent NY Times science article detailed the ability to comprehensively model a rodent brain in software, and the projected date of when modeling a human brain would be possible. Thirty years from now, books about AIs will be mainstream, not science fiction. Similarly, psychic powers have moved from fantasy to mainstream, as the wider culture accepted and embraced what had been fringe elements.

SF Romances balance on the thin line between when enough is known about a subject to provide sufficient detail for research, and when material has been accepted by the culture at large, and that line is always advancing.

TGE: What advice would you like to share for aspiring science fiction romance authors?

My advice to new writers? Read widely. Read in multiple genres. One of the best time-travel romances I ever read was by someone who'd grown up reading science fiction time-travel stories, and so incorporated those elements into her romance, complete with all of the time-travel paradoxes, rather than the watered-down view of time-travel common in the romances being published at that time.

Find something that truly inspires your writing, rather than trying to write to a trend or market sheet. Figure out what you do better than anyone else, and do it. Try things you aren't familiar with, whether that's subject, format, or style. And for Heaven's sake, do your research!!! That's where some of your best story inspiration will come from, and the details that elevate your book from mediocre to memorable. Not to mention, it lessens the chances of it being flung against a wall with great force by a reader who knows the material you guessed at.

TGE: Is there any news or information about your current project(s) that you’d like to share?

Summon The MastersMy current project is an urban fantasy novella for the latest anthology (not yet titled) from the "Bondage Babes" (Madeleine Oh, Dominique Adair and me). Entitled "Walk-ins Welcome", it involves the paranormal belief that a soul can abandon a body, and another soul can step in to finish the body's lifetime. A magic-broker in the middle of divorcing her husband returns to his side when he's in a critical car accident, and as he recovers, discovers he's literally not the man she married. There's also magicians running amok, rich and well-connected people cheating death, and why insurance companies hate magic. Oh, and a threat to the very fabric of the universe. As well as really hot, steamy sex.

Ms. Dunne, thanks so much for a terrific interview.

Wasn’t that amazing? I am in awe of what the SFR Newsletter team accomplished. If you’re hungry for more, as well as for information about Jennifer Dunne, here are a few related links.

From Speculative Romance Online:

* History of the Sapphire Award

* Jennifer Dunne bids adieu to the newsletter

From around the Web:

* Article about the Sapphire Awards (January 2000)

* PNR interview with Jennifer Dune

* A review of Jennifer Dunne’s science fiction romance RAVEN’S HEART

Joyfully yours,

Heather