When Rachel and I started writing M/M romance together, we talked a lot about how we wanted to do it and what kinds of stories we wanted to tell. At the end of the day, I’m a speculative fiction writer – I love playing with language and imagination. When given a story prompt, I go left of what I think the “obvious” answer would be, because that’s fun to me. For Rachel, tropes are exciting and fun to play with and twist. She’s got a great eye for character and plot. It was natural that when we started writing M/M romance, we’d talk about adding fantastical elements and turning tropes on their ear.
Take our series the Emerald City Shifters as an example. The stories are set in the American city of Seattle, Washington, and follow a clan of male lamiae. The interesting thing is, in mythology, there are no male lamiae, only female. This gave us a unique opportunity to create a plausible reason that men, particularly gay men, would be in a group together without many women and without a lot of het culture. Rachel suggested that since the species needed to survive, female lamiae needed to have some way to reproduce. What if the males were there, but the reason they’re not depicted is because they are either human or snake, not half-and-half the way the females are? We added the cultural bit that the females are insular and would kill any non-lamiae females that approached their men, and that the men lived together when not in mating season and were, therefore, mostly gay. Poof. Problem solved.
I find writing about long-lived characters a unique challenge. Take Ari, for instance; he’s one of the main characters in our second book in the series, Sealed by Magic. He’s eighty-four years old but looks to be in his late twenties. In what kinds of things would an eighty-four year old man be interested? What are his hobbies? What is his worldview? How does he feel about everyday details, like the price of coffee? If we, you and I, find that corporate coffee retailers’ coffee is expensive at $5 USD a cup, then what would someone who can remember what it cost for a pound of coffee in 1953 think? His attitudes would be casual, part of his daily round, which added an extra layer of challenge because we had to make it part of his thought process.
What about you, Dear Reader? If you were eighty-four,
what would you say to yourself of today?
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