When I set out to write my fantasy romance novel, WICKED PARADISE, I wanted to write a time-travel with a heroine from medieval times and a hero from the present-day. However, I didn’t want a contemporary or a historical setting like so many other time-travel novels. Somewhere unknown, exotic, and unique tugged at me.
For many authors, the setting of a story is a convenience. We set our stories in our hometown or a place we’ve visited because it’s familiar. Or we place our story in Hollywood because it’s about murder on a movie set. You can relate to these settings or you’ve read about them. These locales bring many expectations because they have history, a certain population, social and political values. However, I wanted my readers’ escape from reality to be absolute.
During the conception stage of WICKED PARADISE, I took a queue from a classic Eagles song, “Hotel California.” The lyrics: “this could be heaven or this could be hell” and “you can check-out anytime you like, but you can never leave” resonated with me. Instantly, the idea about an unchartered, inescapable island and the lost and desperate people who were destined to colonize it took flight. Most of all, I wanted my world to be the heaven they never wished to leave. First, I had to make it hell. What fun would heaven be without a trip through danger or hardship to reach that paradise?
Due to my small cast of characters, my unique setting had to become an empathetic character itself and cause havoc and mayhem on my heroine and hero as they searched for their happily ever after. Just like my human characters, my world had to be friendly, to create mood and influence behaviors. Weather, treacherous terrain and non-human inhabitants needed to test the mettle of both my island and characters, and also create opportunities for my heroine and hero to come together and explore their relationship naturally as they traveled toward a common goal. As my characters evolved and changed, so did my world. My island showed fear and relief. It sought comfort as well as gave it. It worked with my heroine and fought my villain. It endured and overcame external conflict and peril. My island became real to me as if I had walked upon it a million times.
There’s no lack of conflict, romance, suspense, adventure and mystery in mainstream fiction. Yet fantasy offers one distinctive element that is lacking in mainstream fiction: an imaginary setting. Many of you choose fantasy or science fiction because you want to escape everyday reality and be transported to a unique world. Are you ready to set sail to the complete unknown? Or do you prefer real urban, suburban or historical settings of our world?
Take a chance on a total escape for a couple of hours. Walk through my jungle, breathe its air, taste its food, experience a slice of heaven. Come to my wicked paradise, and you just may find you never want to leave.