Live long and prosper! Today we're pleased to welcome author Susanne Matthews to Heroes and Heartbreakers to talk about science fiction conventions in romance novels—the lack of them, and why she decided to set her book Just for the Weekend at one. In addition to a kindergarten teacher heroine, and a millionaire hero, there's costuming, a quickie marriage, and a disappearing bride. Thanks, Susanne!
I’ve been a sci-fi fan all my life, and since my husband is also a fan, our home boasts a Star Trek room—not as elaborate as some, it’s true, but with enough movies, calendars, posters, tree ornaments, miniatures, games, dolls, magazine issues, paperback books, and porcelain plates to satisfy anyone who knows a tribble from a targ.
So it was natural to set my new novel, Just for the Weekend, in Vegas at a fictional version of the annual Star Trek convention that the city hosts. (Fellow trekkies, take note: It’s being held at the Rio Hotel and Casino in July.) My shy heroine Cleo James takes a risk and tackles cosplay for the first time, dressing as an Orion slave girl, and she quickly meets her Cardassian knight in chainmail armor, Sam Mason.
With the recently released movies based on Marvel and DC comic heroes, and the restructured Star Trek storyline, sci-fi and comic book conventions are more popular than ever. Toss in fantasy, anime, and video and role playing gamers, and the possibilities are endless. I naively assumed there had to be other romance authors out there, fellow diehard sci-fi fans, who’d thought a convention full of fancy costumes, high drama, and flowing liquor might be an epic setting for sparks to fly between fellow geeks. (I use “geeks” lovingly. If you’re picturing nerdy pale dudes with glasses, then you haven’t seen the totally buff guys in loincloths as the Spartan gladiators of the movie 300 or filling out a Marvel Universe superhero’s tights). After all, at the RT convention, fans dress as their favorite characters, and what historical reader doesn’t love a costume drama?
So I used my best Google-fu to seek out similar romances featuring cosplay or conventions but came up short until I found author Cat Carlisle’s blog. Cat had done the research on books based at sci-fi, fantasy, anime, and comic book conventions, but there weren’t many books on her list and very few that seemed to fit the romance genre I was searching for.
A few, however, did have strong romantic elements. In both of Sharyn McCrumb’s mysteries, Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool, Jay Omega and his sidekick, Doctor Marian Farley, must solve murders which occur at sci-fi conventions. Similarly, Kristine Kathryn Rusch does the same with her Spade/Paladin short stories Stomping Mad, The Case of the Vanishing Boy, The Karnikov Card and Pandora's Box. Rob Osterman’s Fantasti*Con also seemed promising, but while the stalker thriller had romantic elements, its ending isn’t the happy ever after romance readers seek.
Undaunted, I continued my search and thought I’d found the answer in Jean Marie Ward and Teri Smith’s With Nine You Get Vanyr. The book starts at a convention for a new television sci-fi show. Nine girls are transported to the planet Domain, not a sci-fi set at all but a real place, where the goddess Reyah has chosen them to control her nine immortal sons. The premise—boys misbehaving who need to be tamed by strong-willed girls seemed to be ripe for romance, but alas, there were no actual love scenes in this fantasy novel.
After four hours reading so many book blurbs that my eyes crossed, I realized I’d found a fresh backdrop for the age-old courtship dance. So, where are the romance novels set at sci-fi conventions? I don’t know, but I hope there will be more in the future. (I may even have to write another one myself.)
Publishers are seeing more romances coming across their desks involving gamers and comic conventions, so why not sci-fi and cosplay? Face it. Everyone likes to dress up once in a while. Imagine: Vegas, a fancy hotel, casinos, the Grand Canyon, and a sci-fi convention. What more can you ask for?
Learn more or order a copy of Just for the Weekend by Susanne Matthews, out now:
Susanne Matthews lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband, the inspiration for all her heroes. She enjoys camping, gardening, and romantic getaways, and is the author of six novels. For more info, please visit her at her website.