Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Blog Tour & Guest Post: Melancholy: Book 2 of The Cure by Charlotte McConaghy

Melancholy: Episode Two (The Cure, #2)
Author: Charlotte McConaghy
Release Date: 23rd April, 2015
Genre:  Sci Fi & Fantasy

Here in the west they know a lot about hope. They know how to ration it just as they do with food and water.

Josephine is at last free of the blood moon. But in a desperate rush to find help for a comatose Luke, she discovers the strange and dangerous world of the resistance, and it is unlike any world Josi has known.

In the west they believe in fury – they cultivate and encourage it. The unruly people of the resistance know that to survive means to fight. But can they fight the inevitable cure for sadness that rushes steadily closer?

In the action-packed sequel to Fury, everything Josi believes about herself will be challenged. Haunted by atrocities and betrayals, she must find the strength to trust again, and decide how far she is willing to go to fight the inevitable. 

At times both brutal and sweet, Melancholy is the story of second chances and finding love in a ruined world.

Keeping Lovers Apart in Genre Fiction: Why and How?
By Charlotte McConaghy

Thanks for having me on the blog today! To celebrate the release of my new novel Melancholy – Book 2 of The Cure series, I thought I’d talk about an important aspect of romantic fiction: how and why books need to keep their lovers apart.

I adore a good love story. My novels Fury and Melancholy are both love stories within a dystopian world, and I had a lot of fun playing with Josi and Luke’s relationship throughout the two books. Romance is a huge part of genre fiction, particularly for the YA and NA markets – it does a simple and powerful thing, aside from making us feel: it raises the stakes.

But it can be really damn frustrating sometimes. All the ‘will they/won’t they’ stuff. The lies. The miscommunications. The love triangles, which I personally am not a big fan of. Sometimes the writer isn’t doing a very good job of with all of this, in which case you’re right to be frustrated, but the thing to remember is that there’s always a reason. For relationships to be satisfying – just like with any element of story – there has to be some measure of struggle. Anything worth having can’t be easy to get.

But keeping lovers apart is a tricky business. It’s usually in two ways. The first is by using external factors, like in most Jane Austin novels it’s circumstance, class, wealth etc. You can have other characters keeping the lovers apart, physical separation, a mission of some kind, or the allegiances of the lovers. Often in paranormal stories the lovers will be from two different worlds, age-old enemies or the predator/prey thing, and their emotional connection has to overcome this basic rule of their world in order for them to be together. A great example of this is in Red Rising between Darrow and Mustang – opposing allegiances is the main obstacle between them, not to mention a whopping great secret.

The second way to keep lovers apart is internal. It’s the complexity of a character – it’s their fears or wounds that keep them from being able to pursue a healthy relationship. This one is more difficult to pull off, because if there aren’t any physical obstacles, and there doesn’t seem to be any believable or understandable motivations for your lovers not to be together, then it gets really frustrating for a reader. The lovers just feel annoying, or worse – cowardly. But if a reader can empathise with a character’s fears or wounds, and really understand why they wouldn’t want to trust again, then you’ve got an agonizing push-pull scenario between fears and desires that’s bound to result in some very satisfying emotional catharsis.

The best stories use both the internal and external obstacles seamlessly together. Within both of these there’s often an element of betrayal – a character’s external situation or internal nature makes them betray their lover. I personally don’t think there’s such a thing as too far in this, I don’t believe anything is unforgivable – not in drama. It’s where the juicy stuff comes from – we want everything to be torn apart and rebuilt, or else it gets boring! If readers believe enough in the honest love and connection between the lovers, then we usually want forgiveness as much as they do. This happens in Fury and Melancholy – the cycle of betrayal to forgiveness to trusting again, and having gone through so much together, I think the main characters Josi and Luke come out a much stronger couple.

We also don’t want the lovers to always be apart. We want to experience them together, see how potentially great they could be if they just got their shit together, feel their chemistry, understand how they enrich each others’ lives… The romantic character is the one who knows the protagonist best, knows their real self, their inner essence. So it’s great when we get to enjoy this – and will eventually add to the satisfaction of a happy ending.

Essentially the idea of keeping lovers apart comes down to basics: the harder the struggle, the greater the reward. But the motivations need to be right, or it all feels forced.

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