Thanks for having me back, Roni! It’s been quite a while since I last did a guest post on this blog, talking about love scenes in fantasy. I’m back as part of my Locked Within Blog Tour, celebrating the release of my first novel. Again, I’m talking about love and romance, but with a particular spin.
In Locked Within, Nathan Shepherd learns that he is the reincarnation of a warrior who has fought evil for millennia. He discovers (or rediscovers) a supernatural society that exists alongside our own, and encounters people and creatures he has known in previous lifetimes. His past-life memories allow him to learn to fight or investigate murders faster and more effectively than he should ordinarily be able. But they also carry with them the emotions, good and bad, of whole lives he once lived.
As well as forcing Nathan to face the ghosts of the things he has experienced before, the fact of reincarnation presents a number of writing challenges. How to keep a sense of mystery. How to keep Nathan under enough threat that the reader’s interest is held. And how to handle romantic plotlines.
The story opens with Nathan in a committed, though struggling, relationship. His dreams and obsession with unsolved murders put a strain on his love life, and put his hopes for starting a family at risk. While it doesn’t come up in Locked Within, the idea that someone can be born again, having had whole lifetimes’ worth of friends, enemies and romantic partners buried away in a secret past does cast any relationships Nathan has in an interesting light.
If you were to meet a lover from a previous life, what does that mean for an existing relationship? Does it count as cheating on them, that you were with someone before you were reunited? Should you be expected to leave your current partner for your old lover? If you’re the one whose partner has found a past-life lover, how do you cope? Would there be jealousy? Would you feel like you would always be only second best? Or should reincarnated lovers do their best to forget their past lives and live in the present, ignoring old feelings and setting aside that relationship as being gone for good?
This potential storyline fits well with the model of the existing relationship, whether happy or ailing, which is interrupted by the arrival of the alluring love rival. A common trope, how this situation is portrayed generally depends on the gender of the person who is tempted to leave their current partner. If male, it is most often considered wrong and the spurned girlfriend or wife is the victim. If female, it is usually justified, and the husband or boyfriend is unforgivably boorish and insensitive, sometimes even abusive.
The important point where the storyline differs is that the attraction here would not be based on the temptation of something new or the smouldering charms of a mysterious stranger. Rather, the attraction would be based on an existing mutual love and connection. This is potentially more difficult to ignore than a new infatuation.
Whether or not the reincarnated lovers are already in other relationships, any romance which now happens has to be treated differently to the standard format. Instead of nervous introductions, there is unexpected recognition. Where before there would have been the electricity of touching someone for the first time, here there is the comfort of familiarity. Nostalgic reminders in place of flirtatious banter. Sure, they have a new face, new smell. Their skin might be rough when before it was smooth. There may be jealousy to deal with over someone they were with before the characters found each other again. They may even be a different gender, which could open up all sorts of complications.
But at the heart of it, I think the story remains the same. Two characters, perhaps incomplete, Perhaps hurting or lost. They find each other, for the first, second, or hundredth time. The spark is still there. The bond they share. And as they face their challenges together, coming together again, they learn that even after a whole lifetime has passed, they make each other whole.
The supernatural realm and the mundane world have existed side by side since the dawn of time. Predators walk the streets, hidden by our own ignorance. Once, the city of New York was protected, but that was another age.
Now a creature emerges from the city's past to kill again, with no one to hear the screams of its victims. The lost and the weak, crushed under the heels of the city's supernatural masters, have given up hope.
But one man finds himself drawn to these deaths. Plagued by dreams of past lives, his obsession may cost him friends, loved ones, even his life. To stop this monster, he must unlock the strength he once had. He must remember the warrior he was, to become the hero he was born to be.
His name is Nathan Shepherd, and he remembers.
Growing up surrounded by music, film and theatre gave him a deep love of all forms of storytelling, each teaching him something new he could use. When not playing with the people in his head, he enjoys cooking and regular meet-ups with his gaming group.
He lives in Ireland with his wife Jen and their dogs, Pepper and Jasper. Their first child, Conor William Henry Shortt, was born on July 11th, 2011. He passed away three days later, but brought love and joy into their lives and those of their friends. Jen is pregnant again and is expecting twins.
Thanks, Paul! So, what do you think of stories where the couple already has history What challenges have you faced in your own story because of a unique world or plot twist?
And did I mention Locked Within is FREE on Kindle right now?