Bad romance

I have a longer post in the works about what kind of writer I am, as defined by what kinds of stories I’m known for writing, which is really a deep dive into what the various genres like science-fiction and fantasy and horror really mean, man. But a couple of recent developments prompted me to briefly come at the question from another angle: what kind of writer am I not? For example, am I a romance writer? No.

Or am I? An argument could be made that the negative answer is correct insomuch as the question seems to imply an all-or-nothing binary: either everything you write is concerned with falling in and out of love, or not. And clearly I have written plenty of stories with zero romantic elements whatsoever. Even my stalwart recurring character, Kellan Oakes, doesn’t have a noteworthy love interest (as of yet). Still, there are a few tales amongst my assorted works that do bring affairs of the heart into play. The Trap is about a supernatural manifestation of unrequited love. Red Screamy is about a marriage on the rocks and My Name Is Melise is about a dangerous romantic obsession. Not that unhappily ever afters are the only take I have on human mating customs , though. The Lengths That He Would Go To is a sweet how-we-got-together story , and it appeared in a romantically oriented anthology titled Eldritch Embraces which was all about, as its infamous tagline claims, “putting the love back in Lovecraft”.

Which leads me to the most recent story of mine to be published, Bottom Feeder, appearing in the February 2017 issue of Trysts of Fate magazine.

Trysts of Fate is a journal of paranormal romance, which seems to be a fairly specific niche to proclaim, and I will forevermore be able to count it as one of my publishing credits. Granted, the romantic connection in this case was on the oblique side; to quote directly from the message from the editor in which Bottom Feeder was accepted: “It had the genre aspect (horror, in this case) and the romance – albeit a romance gone wrong.” I really can’t argue with that. Occasional exception notwithstanding, when I write about love it tends to be dark and focused on how love brings out the worst in people.

Maybe the running thread is that the subjects of my writing tend to be as far from my lived experience as possible. I have a very satisfying, arguably very boring life with a good day job, a good home and a wonderful family. I write about magic and monsters and mad scientists and the like despite, or maybe because of, their complete absence from my personal reality. In the same vein, I am an unbelievably lucky guy in love and marriage; it’s my poor protagonists who suffer in counterpoint.

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