May 2 2014 12:45pm

The Final Frontier: The Quest for Cosplay and SF Conventions in Romance Novels

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:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & Noble



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.

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Deb Kinnard
1. Deb Kinnard
My 2009 release, Angel With a Ray Gun, has a lengthy scene at a con. Couldn't resist putting it in!
Deb Kinnard
2. Susanne 2
Good to know. I'll have to check it out.
Deb Kinnard
3. Maisey Yates
Taking Him and Having Her by Jackie Ashenden have a con and cosplay!
Teddy Pierson
4. TeddyP
That might be the most wholesome book cover I have seen.
Deb Kinnard
5. cleo
The Seduction Hypothosis by Delphine Dryden takes place at a con. It's a contemporary erotic/bdsm romance - it's the second in a series but works as a stand alone. It's a lot more fun than a lot of bdsm romances.
Barbara Wilmot
6. miadevlin
Not strictly romance but "We'll Always Have Parrots" by Donna Andrews is set at a con for her fictional sci-fi/fantasy show "Porfiria, Queen of the Jungle". I love the Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews and this is one of my favourites.
Rachel Powell
7. JMercy
Sherrilyn Kenyon's short story "WinterBorn" found in the Stroke of Midnight book takes place at a con.
Angela Korra'ti
8. annathepiper
Couple more recs:

Sarah Kuhn's One Con Glory, which features a heroine who must duke it out with the hero over a coveted action figure at a convention. Quite charming. :)

Also, I'll put in a plug for Gaming for Keeps, by Seleste deLaney!
Jean Marie Ward
9. jmward14
Can't wait to read your book. It takes me back to about a dozen proposals, all in costume, at Dragon Con. :-)
But SQUEE! When I clicked the link to check out your list, I never expected to find my novel on it. Like Sherrilyn's "Winterborn", VANYR was based on Dragon Con, though I changed the names to protect the guilty. Sorry about the lack of completed romances, but it was supposed to be a series. Unfortunately, co-author Teri Smith died two weeks before publication.
On a much happier note, Diane Whiteside's CAPTIVE DESIRES is set at a fictionalized version of a certain Atlanta con. Her heroine is a fan fiction writer. It's the follow-up to the double novel about sister fan fiction writers she wrote with Angela Knight, CAPTIVE DREAMS.
SF/fantasy novels and collections tend to use the con setting a lot more often, though the romance content varies. Diana Wynne Jones's DEEP SECRET springs to mind, as does the anthology HERE BE DRAGONS: TALES OF DRAGONCON. (Yeah, I have an ulterior motive for mentioning that anthology, though my story in it isn't a romance.)
On the mystery front, several of the Midnight Louie mysteries by Carole Nelson Douglas take place in conventions, most notably CAT IN A KIWI CON. Like your story, this one is also set in a fictionalized Vegas con, with at least one character dressed up in a costume from ST:DS9.
Cheers and best wishes!
Deb Kinnard
10. Mandy B
I was reading Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare which is a regency romance novel. But they have their own verison of cosplay. I seriously was so loving the sci fi references and fun stuff
Janis Clark
11. maliamartin
You just made a sale! It's on my phone ready to read. I'm obsessed with Big Bang Theory and am going to Comic Con this year. I'm new to geek but come on, take a look at Leonard. He's cute, kind, smart and sensitive but still a totally typical guy. What's not to love. What a GREAT idea to romance geeks, sci-fi and dressing in costume. Looking forward to reading your novel!
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