Valentine’s Day had me thinking about love and romance and all those other fluffy, happy things (which as a mostly dark fantasy and horror writer, I’m not normally prone to do.) It also brought up the idea that one of the great things about writing fantasy is that it allows you to explore unusual relationships and all their quirks and questions that you could never explore in mundane literature. I went through my list of works and actually counted the number of instances where love affairs stepped well outside the boundaries of the norm. Here’s what I came up with:
My Fervor Series – relationships between telepaths. Imagine being romantically involved and having sex with someone who can read your mind. That would complicate things, wouldn’t it?
Magic University – The story includes a sexual encounter between a human and a reptilian woman which lends to a bit of a love triangle with a half-satyr.
Casualties of War – A love-hate relationship involving an elf and a half-elf complicated by each of them belonging to a different magic faction
Prisoners of Fate (Coming soon!) – An apprentice develops a crush on her mentor who is magically trapped between two dimensions
Victims of Circumstance – The love triangle from Magic University returns, this time with the addition of a bizarre hybrid offspring and blood magic.
Lines of Opposition – A relationship that faces interference from precognition and that forces a woman to considering switching her alliances because of the effects of a potent poison, magic and assassins.
The Enemy of my Enemy – Laws forbidding certain types of magic both bring a couple together and keep them apart.
Pieces of Magic Part 1 & 2 – One member of a romantic couple is enslaved by a magical artifact and a group of religious anti-magic zealots, and the other must go to great lengths to save him.
Elements of Genocide – This contains oodles of unusual couplings, including members of an underwater-dwelling race and the two female foundations of a pair of spider colonies.
Sleep Escapes Us – A man is summoned to mate with a seer of Hecate because the encounter has been foreseen. She uses a magic potion on him to make him believe he is making love with his wife, who has been dead for over a year.
The Trading of Skin – A man falls in love with a reindeer trader of skin, only to find out he is not fully human himself.
When you Whisper – The story focuses on a romantic dalliance between a woman and her guardian angel.
Intangible – A psychic and a young man are brought together by his ability to astral project.
And those are just the novels. My short stories delve into some strange romantic territory as well, including relationships with zombies, human/dragon mixes (check out The Last), the fear of karma keeping someone from commitment, and love in a post-apocalyptic world.
Fantasy presents such unusual fare as couples of different races where they age at different rates (what then?), concepts like magical contraception, interference by the gods or their minions and everything from curses to unexpected societal conventions.
The genre is free from limitations other than the ones the writer has placed on his or her created world. The challenge, then, is how to offer these unusual romantic encounters and still maintain a sense of realism. If done well, it can make for a pretty amazing love story.