07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Saturday, August 12, 2017


I couldn't be prouder of being in the romance industry, or being part of the romance community. Every time I sit down to write, I get to tell the story of someone's "happily ever after" - a story about hope, growth, and healing that reminds me how important, how personal those themes are to me. And while it might be easy to feel like an outsider, or an interloper, given how few men write romance, I'm reminded again and again that I'm welcome, and a valued member both locally and when I visit nationals. For obvious reasons, I tend to stick out when I enter a room, which is not easy when you're a bit of an introvert, so the kindness and acceptance really is wonderful.

My journey to romance was so tightly tied to my reading science fiction that I didn't think you could separate them. Relationships formed the core of everything I was consuming - Anne McCafferey, and CJ Cherryh filled my bookshelves, while Star Wars and Robotech filled the big and small screens. In every case, the story was being driven by an emotional arc – healing through love, and recognizing the capacity to be loved. And it still felt like I couldn't see the forest for the trees. A few years into my publishing career, I had only had minor success selling SF&F short fiction when a dear friend took me to coffee at World Fantasy Con. I still recall looking out at the square when she said to me "You know you're writing romance right?"

I won't lie - I balked at the observation for the first several minutes. Internalized genre shame can be hard to push past, especially when you add in the complicated gender politics of writing in a genre that the industry traditionally dismisses as 'for women.' Fortunately we kept talking about it, and I realized that she was right. At the core of my stories it had always been about the relationship, and while I had been actively trimming the HEA from my writing to make it more salable in other markets, I'd maintained in my head that a happily ever after was possible. When I returned home from the conference that year, I submitted my first story to Samhain Publishing and the rest is history.

This fall, I'll be releasing a new space opera novel as part of the Great Space Race shared series, which will also include stories from Teresa Noelle Roberts, Elsa Jade, Sabine Priestly, and CJ Cade. These have been great fun to write, trading my dark world for a brightly lit future and teams zipping across the galaxy in an interstellar version of the Amazing Race for a futuristic reality show. Suffice to say, wacky hijinks will ensue. And just last month, I released the third book in my cyberpunk romance series. Each book explores a near future Earth, where cybernetic mercenaries fight shadow wars for corporate giants, and find that sometimes redemption is the hardest fight of all. The first book in that series, Dubai Double-Cross, is on sale for 99 cents, and I've included an excerpt below.

Dubai Double Cross
Elise is looking for an exit. Too many years as a top-talent thief in the digital shadows have whittled away her patience and her humanity. She’s not looking for complications, but with one more job, she’ll finally have enough money to leave the life for good.

Na’im does what he must to survive. Whether it’s selling his body to the corporate glitterati, or going on the run when things get bad – but even a survivor can be caught off guard, and his boss’s murder has left him with no one to trust but a thief with her own agenda.

Together, they’re on the run trying to figure out who framed them both and stay one step ahead of the murderer who’s close behind. Trust is a rare commodity for accidental lovers, but in a dark future where everything can be upgraded and emotions can be programmed, sometimes all that can keep you human is your heart.

“Can do, Elise.” The name felt odd to use. An elegant, feminine name, it felt inadequate for describing the no-nonsense woman he’d seen take charge of the situation.

A situation she created, and controls, Na'im reminded himself. A situation that started with the murder of your employer. A sudden stab of pain and guilt wrenched through him at the thought of Jalila, dead in her suite of rooms. He knew the feelings weren’t all real. Her surgeons had implanted his love and loyalty as easily as they had put in the memory cortex. But there had been real emotion as well, he was certain.

She had pulled him up from the bottom of the spire, and installed him as the bishop to her all-powerful queen. Her death threw everything into chaos. In that, Elise’s declared innocence made sense. Elise’s job became twice as difficult with a murder investigation surrounding it.
Still. Someone had killed Jalila. And that someone was at large. They could even be watching them now. A cold tingle tightened the skin between his shoulders.

He glanced over his shoulder at the two guards. The one without the cup had a hand to his jaw, mouthing in the universal sign of someone using a bone-induction communicator. The guard nodded and elbowed his partner, before stepping out into the crowd, scanning faces.

Na’im risked a glance at Elise, but she hadn’t noticed the guard. She continued to move forward through the crowd, heading for a way out. He tugged her around a corner, hopefully out of sight of the patrol. She opened her mouth to protest and he covered it with his.

She froze, one hand still balled into a fist on his shoulder, then relaxed and melted up against him. She stood shorter than Jalila, and he had to bend slightly to keep their lips matched. Not that she seemed to mind. Her hand traced his shoulder and his skin came alive, accompanied by a familiar tightness in his core.

Despite his body’s response, or perhaps because of it, he broke the kiss. Her gray gaze went soft as she leaned against him, lips tantalizingly parted. His mods kicked in, pointing out the increased swell of her lips, the capillary flush to her cheeks, the slight dilation of her pupils. Her level of arousal was easy to read, declaring that she’d enjoyed the kiss as much as he had. 

He checked for the guards to distract himself from his body’s response. They’d moved, scanning the crowd actively, but they had started off in the opposite direction. He took a deep breath to recover his center. “Sorry. The guards were looking for someone. I figured we needed to hide, so I improvised.”

She blinked and her eyes went from clouds to iron. “Good thinking.”

JC Hay writes romantic science fiction and space opera, because the coolest gadgets in the world are useless without someone to share them.
In addition to Romance Writers of America, he is also a proud member of the SFR Brigade (for Science Fiction Romance), the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Romance chapter, and a proud member of RWA’s PAN (the published authors network).

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Diana McCollum said...

Great to meet you J.C. Hay! I really liked your blog post. I'm going to download "Dubai Double Cross" today. I've just recently started reading Sci-fi romance. Good luck on sales!

Sarah Raplee said...

Thank you for guesting with us, J.C. Loved your excerpt!

I'm glad you found your genre! Definitely romance. I'm a big Anne McCaffrey fan myself.:-)

Paty Jager said...

I think it's wonderful of your friend to help you see where your heart really was in your writing. I'm not usually a reader of sci-fi/futuristic stories, but your characters intrigued me. Congratulations and good luck with your writing.

Maggie Lynch said...

J.C., we could be twins from different mothers in terms of writing. I too started my career in SF. When you mentioned Anne McCafferey and CJ Cherryh I immediately loved you (don't tell my husband). I fell in love with SF through Butler, Asimov, Heinlein, Simak, Simmons, Bujold, Rusch and many others. But it was the stories with relationships like those in McCafferey and Cherryh that really stayed with me. I'm pretty sure I've read every McCafferey book ever written. :)

I'm so glad that you were able to see that too. I haven't quite made the connection in my own writing, save one book, between SF and Romance, but I suspect I will be drawn there again in the future.

I'm downloading your book now. I'm not sure when I'll get to read it, but it will be at the top of my pile. Keep writing and keep sharing that combination of great SF worlds and themes with relationships that hit the heart and don't let go.

Judith Ashley said...

Welcome to Romancing The Genres, J.C. So glad you had someone who was a true friend and talked truth to you about your writing. Although my experience is very different (I write contemporary romance), I also had someone I'd just met who sat down with me and pointed me to RWA and my local chapter.

JC Hay said...

Thanks Diana! Welcome to Sci Fi Romance! I hope you enjoy Dubai Double Cross.

JC Hay said...

Thanks Sarah! I love Anne McCaffery Her Pern books are wonderful, but I really fell in love with The Ship Who Sang.

JC Hay said...

Thanks, Paty. I agree - her timely conversation was a real turning point for me. I appreciate the well wishes!

JC Hay said...

Hi Maggie! I've always wanted a twin! I found Butler and Bujold later than I should have, but loved their work as well. I hope you enjoy the book!

JC Hay said...

Thanks, Judith! Those conversations really are the best ones - sometimes we need someone to point out what should be glaringly obvious. I'm glad you found the RWA, too. It's a fine family.

B. A. Binns said...

Wow, Dubai Double Cross sounds like something I need to read ASAP. I loved the blurb.

JC Hay said...

Thanks B.A.! I'm glad you liked the Blurb, and hope you enjoy it as much as I liked writing it!