I’m going to be honest with you. When I went to bed last night, I had no idea what I’d write about. My brain had literally been killed by the heat and the work week. Yeah, it was one of those weeks. Don’t ask. Neither of us needs a rehash of all that. Really, we don’t.
This morning, a totally different story.
I don’t know if it was divine inspiration, or HBO shoving ‘Pitch Perfect’ down my throat 8 times on three different channels last night, but an idea greeted me when I finally crawled out of bed. Mash Up!
Okay, how does a ‘Gleeism’ apply to a Blog by a guy who writes romance? Simple! Romance is the ‘Mash Up’ master. It takes everything readers love and meshes them into a damn fine story time after time. Huh? What yo talking about Jmo?
Romance, especially modern Romance, is all about presenting a story that appeals to any reader. Seriously, it doesn’t matter what you love to read, Romance can give you a story that you’ll love. Let me give you a few examples.
Westerns. My good friend Paisley Kirkpatrick mashes the Old West with Romance in such a way that readers who normally would only read the Western genre could easily slip into the old west and feel right at home. I say that with confidence because she exhaustively researches her books before writing it. The historical details are right on the money. You read about a mining town, you better believe it’ll be historically accurate. Same with wagon trains. Trust me when I say, she goes beyond the norm to make sure her readers walk away feeling like they just stepped out of the Old West. Before I scamper off onto my next tangent, she adds a level of Suspense and Mystery to her books. That’s a Mash Up hat trick of goodness.
Suspense. Again, I’m going to touch on one of my fellow authors. Melanie Atkins goes to the same extremes crafting her stories by researching police techniques and everything else that it takes to create a story steeped in police lore. When you enter one of her books, you feel like you’ve just spent the night riding along with a detective. What about the Romance? Trust me, she has that covered. Not only are her facts top notch, she works some magic that keeps you breathless from her thrilling plots, but her characters make you fall in love right along with them.
For my last example, I’m going to a true master of the Mash Up! Jennifer Hartz in her Future Savior series doesn’t stop with combining Science Fiction with Romance. Oh no! She combines elements of SciFi, Fantasy, Inspirational, and Romance. Oh my! Out of all my fanatical reads, Future Savior is my all time fan boy pleasures. Jennifer has taken world building to a whole new level. If that wasn’t enough to knock your socks off, she gives you multiple timelines all at the same time! Past, present, future, she rips you across time and makes you like it. Like C.S. Lewis in the Chronicles of Narnia, Jennifer presents the perfect spiritual allegory in such a way that the message is subtle and gives you a warm toasty feeling that makes you dig deeper for understanding. And, the Romance? She doesn’t give you a slam bam thank you ma’am. No, her characters’ romance is a continuing story toldover five books with all the twists and turns that real life gives you. So, when you get right down to it, she mashes SciFi, Fantasy, Inspirational, Romance and real life, and you can toss in a little Contemporary. Now, you see why she’s my idol.
So, what about me? What do I mash together like a big bowl of cheesy bacon mashed potatoes? You knew it was going to be about me eventually. Wink.
I mash together whatever I can. Like Jennifer, I started off building a world. I make that world so real in my head that I live there much of the time. It’s the world we know, but slightly left of normal. My Love Bites world is a mash up of our world, ancient mythology, ancient aliens, the usual paranormal elements, but all swirled together into something new, yet old at the same time. That’s my first Mash Up.
With Love Bites and Bite Marks, I wanted to craft stories embodying all the things I love. Romance, the Paranormal, Fantasy, Comedy, a little SciFi and High Adventure, with some Tom Clancy type espionage elements thrown in to keep me hopping. Hopefully readers hopping too. Why all that? Because, when I read books, those are the things that hold my interest. So do I write Paranormal Romance? No, I write a Frankenstein version encompassing all of the above.
The Vampire stories are more story driven with plots that cross over all the books in the series to give you a broader view of the world I’ve created. My heroines and heroes main job aside from falling in love is to keep the world safe. Hey! That makes them superheroes. My Vampire Avengers! Guess I better add another genre to my Mash Up. If you’ve read my books or this blog before, you probably already knew that, but it slipped up on me. Funny how that happens.
The Southern Werewolf Chronicles is an extension of the Love Bites Universe, but it deals more with a single relationship. It is the continuing love story between Maddy and Nicholi. It begins with their unlikely reunion after a European Vacation gone furry and continues from there. So, with it I’ve mashed up Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Comedy, and Romance with a Southern Flavor. Each book tells a snapshot of their lives growing to love each other and understanding what that love means to two people used to depending on only themselves. Something anyone in a lasting relationship has to come to grips with.
My Amor Immorati series, I’ve gone to the other side of Paranormal. For one thing, Comedy isn’t the main story element. In each book, two so far, I’ve mashed up specific genres to tell my stories. Immortally Yours combined my love of Ancient History, Fairy Tales, Detective Novels and Fantasy in the form of bigger than life heroes. Set in the modern world, it falls under the ultimate mash up genre, Urban Fantasy. Book two, Immortally Damned examines Religious themes and redemption. Immortally Yours dealt with the same theme but approached it from a different angle. That’s what’s so great about these mash ups. You can literally tell a thousand stories and be original about with each one because of the tools you use.
Mash ups are more than a musical term. It’s a tool. A tool any artist can use. I can say artist, because authors paint pictures like a painter uses brushes or pencils, or like a singer, D.J. or musician uses their individualized instruments. The creative process does not limit what you can do with the tools you’re taught to use. It’s limited to what your mind can conceive. Romance authors are the quintessential artists. We love so many genres as readers, that when it comes time for us to become writers, it’s natural for us to gravitate to those things we endeavor to paint portraits of love in the minds of our readers. We can do it in the present, the past, the far flung future, or worlds you’ve never seen before.
That’s why when someone asks me what I write, I’m proud to say that I write romance. It’s not only the language of love. It’s the language of imagination gone wild.
Before I go, a couple other Mash Up Authors you should check out.
Gail Delaney: Her Phoenix series is just amazing. If you love Science Fiction, it is not to be missed.
Gloria Clover: ‘Children of the King’ is quite simply the most wonderful adventure I’ve been on all year. A Mash Up of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Inspirational, this series is a true delight.
Jordan Bollinger: Duty with Honor mashes together suspense, spy thrillers and romance. If you love James Bond with a Scarecrow and Mrs. King mentality you’ll love this tender tale of love and espionage.
Now, go forth and mash up your reading!