Writing Fantasy Romance
by Isabelle Adler
Hi, I’m Isabelle! I write LGBTQ romance in a variety of genres, including sci-fi, paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary. My newest release, The Wolf and the Sparrow, is what you may call a classic fantasy story, complete with its own unique world and magic system. Set in a pseudo-medieval world, it focuses on two heirs of noble families that enter an arranged marriage for political reasons and are initially less than impressed with each other. But as the plot progresses and the political situation around them threatens to escalate into a full-blown war, they team up, driven by the duty to protect their subjects. Together, they must face sea-raiders, hostile magic-wielders, and old enemies, but the hardest trial of all are the dark secrets from their past that might yet tear them apart.
Today I would like to talk about the inspiration and the challenges behind writing a fantasy romance novel. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by story of whimsy and imagination—from fairy tales to hard sci-fi and high fantasy. The Lord of the Rings was one of my favorite books growing up, and had had a huge influence on me, both as a person and as a writer. However, it wasn’t until much later that I discovered the combination of fantasy and the romance genre, and, specifically, queer romance in fantasy. These stories (such as Lynn Flewelling’s amazing Nightrunner series) had opened a world of new and exciting possibilities of representing characters that don’t often feature in mainstream fantasy and speculative fiction.
For me, the most challenging thing is definitely finding the right balance between interesting worldbuilding, an engaging plot, and a romance that would satisfy the reader looking for that exciting emotional rollercoaster that culminates in a sweet Happy-Ever-After. I tend to focus on the plot when I’m planning the story, but ultimately, it’s all about the characters and their journey. In a fantasy setting, the stakes can be quite high (in The Wolf and the Sparrow, the fates of entire realms hang in the balance), but the emotional obstacles the main characters have to overcome must feel just as important. The external conflict must intertwine with the transformation each character undergoes inside—and just as the case is with perils and adventures, the heroes have to look for each other for help and support. It’s not enough to rescue each other and save each other’s lives—it’s all about opening up to each other to let love take root and blossom amidst the adversity.
Hopefully, I’ve managed to hit just the right level of excitement and romance in The Wolf and the Sparrow and create characters that the readers could relate to. This book had been a labor of love, and I hope people will have as much fun reading the story as I had writing it! Continue reading