Saturday, October 13, 2012

Looking for That Happily-Ever-After the Apocalypse


A big thank you to Romancing the Genres for inviting me to the blog today.

Post-Apocalypse Romance.

Sounds like a contradiction in terms, doesn't it? How in the world does a writer take a setting that seems so inherently grim (Post-Apocalypse) and create something ultimately positive (Romance), and why would she want to?

A little background is probably in order. I've had a love affair with apocalypse and post-apocalypse fiction from the time I first discovered Pat Frank's ALAS, BABYLON in elementary school. Reading ALAS, BABYLON had a profound impact on me, as it has on other writers, and I've loved the genre ever since. The book I'd place second on my all time list has to be David Brin's THE POSTMAN. If you've only seen the crap movie, do yourself a favor -- read the book. There's a reason why it was nominated for multiple awards and won the John W. Campbell Award in 1986.

Man against nature, man against man, morality tales and survival stories. They're all fair game, so long as the stakes are enormous. Buffy the Vampire Slayer could have been written just for me. Not because of the supernatural aspects (I'm not much into vampires), but because the stakes were so high -- "The world is doomed."  "Again??" (Hey, no one said the apocalypse had to be humorless.) I don't care how mediocre or absurd the story (I'm looking at you, The Day After Tomorrow), if it's got an Apocalypse theme, I'll at least try to read it or watch it.

What is it about this genre that makes me love it so? I don't actually have a simple answer for you. Partly, it's because I enjoy reading about people striving against incredible odds. I'm fascinated by trying to figure out what it is that can bring out the hero in some, while simultaneously instilling the opposite (however you define it) in others, and I wonder where I'd fall on the spectrum if it were me.

Partly, I suppose, it's also the lure of the huge what if? What if the conveniences and securities of modern civilization were stripped away? Would humanity survive? How? Would we try to rebuild what we had, or would we try to create something different? I'll also admit to a sneaking fascination for wiping the slate clean, though I truly do realize nothing is that simple.

But what about the Romance? Well, I prefer there to be at least some hope in the stories I read and write, and what better way to show that than with romance? Survival without empathy, affection and love would be no survival at all, don't you think?

I'm currently working on a post-apocalyptic fantasy, tentatively titled THE SUNDERED EARTH, in which romance is an integral and important sub-plot. The protagonists are motivated, to a great degree, to take the actions they take and to change into the people they ultimately become because of their romance and the love which grows between them. Without that romance--that love--they would make different choices and be different people.

The same might be said of any romance. I just happen to like writing stories where nothing comes easily and the stakes are enormous. You have to admit, a post-apocalypse setting fits that bill!  ~Deb

Visit Deb on the web at:
Facebook: Deborah.Wright.Author


Judith Ashley said...

Welcome, Deb!
Fascinating post with much to think about. I've never been into apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic movies or books because I look at the struggle of the people around me (and sometimes my own) in this world and am humbled and amazed at how they overcome and often thrive. I've never had the need to look beyond what's around me ... Thanks for showing me what you find compelling in post-apocalyptic stories.

Sarah Raplee said...

Hi Deb! Thanks for Guesting with us!

I like your take on Post-Apocalyptic Romances and why people like them. They do give answers to The Great 'What if?'

And, because they are romances, they offer hope: the world-as-we-know-it may end, but the world - and humanity - will go on.

Tam Linsey said...

Well said! I think post-apocalyptic fiction is a way to gain insight into potential directions our future might take - a warning of sorts. I love fiction that makes me think about real life. But novels like "The Road," which in my opinion did not end with any sort of hope, are depressing. Throw in a romance, and there is a light at the end of that long dark tunnel - something to root for!

Deborah Wright said...

Hi Judith! Thanks for having me!

Post-Apocalypse fiction is definitely a niche genre, no matter how it may seem in the last couple of years with all the 2012 hype, and even I shy away from the really grim stories. The best, though, look at the human condition during the worst of times and find hope for the future. I guess, when it comes down to it, that's what I prefer from any work of fiction.

Deborah Wright said...

Hi Sarah! It's great to be here!

I definitely prefer my post-apocalypse fiction to have a healthy dose of hope.

Hope. Such a small word for such a powerful emotion. :-)

Deborah Wright said...

Hi Tam!
I'm right there with you. I couldn't deal with The Road. I'm not looking for "apocalypse-lite" stories by any means, but there needs to be some sort of hope for the future in a story, or it's too grim for me.

Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

Definitely a thought-provoking post for me, Deb. I've not really been drawn to post-apocolypse stories--perhaps because I'm too spoiled by hot and cold running water and heated seats in my vehicle. But you definitely have me intrigued by your latest work in progress. If there's romance and hope, I think I could grow to like this niche genre!

Diana McCollum said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I haven't read many post-apocalypse stories. In fact, maybe only one. That's what I'd need is a definite sense of Hope to get me to read the genre again. I'll check out your web site and books. :))

Paty Jager said...

Hi Deb! I see you finally settled on a genre! Yay! Your story sounds like it has lots of conflict and with your curiosity about the post apocalypse I'm sure it's going to be a great read!