Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Survival Romance

I love a challenge. I won't say that I invariably take a dare,
but if someone tells me something can't be done...
I like to prove them wrong.

The impossible equation in Isaac Asimov's THE GODS THEMSELVES
was one of the premises that made that book so very
memorable for me.

Anyway, one beautiful spring Saturday in 2004,
I was sitting at a booksigning beside Kathleen Nance.
The booksigning was at a Library, and almost no members of
the public came. So Kathleen and I started talking about writing
and our then-current projects.

I was having trouble deciding whether my alien couple ought to
be marooned on Earth (for the fun of having an alien heroine
experience Earth) or on a planet in outer space that had been
mentioned in FORCED MATE.

Kathleen cautioned me how very hard it was to write about a
couple who were stranded on a desert/deserted/even jungle island.
This was before LOST (which I never did get around to seeing.)

That was a challenge. If it weren't a cliche--not to mention a gender switch--
I'd say it was a red flag to a bull.

Once I started research on Tracking, Wilderness survival, extreme camping
etc, I found plenty of physical and emotional challenges to keep my
hero and heroine busy, interesting, and at each others' throats.

(Not quite literally. My aliens aren't alien vampires.)

Best wishes,


Rowena Cherry
author of alien djinn romances
chess themed romances

Now... a survival themed romance


Jacqueline Lichtenberg said...


Thank you for inviting me to this very interesting blog.

The very essence of Adventure is the extraction of an individual who has come to depend on his/her local support-structure (culture, technology, friendships, family, safe-home) into an environment where all the rules are different.

When I was a child, my mother brought me (from the adult library) a book about a young man who got kidnapped and escaped only to find himself lost in the Sahara.

And since I've read and been affected by a number of similar books.

The key to survival, the lesson of the loner cast adrift in the wilderness, is always that you can't do it all by yourself.

You learn the very definition of "wealth" -- it is the knife it took you 3 days to make from some flint it took a month to find. It is the wooden bowl it took a week to carve. It is the bones and sinews of the animal it took 3 months to learn to trap.

Wealth is your capital investment in survival.

And the biggest, most irreplaceable capital investment of all is -- relationships.

There are friendships, alliances, adversaries, protectors, and so on -- but the biggest capital investment of all is the love you pour into your soul-mate.

Three weeks alone in the wilderness can equivalent to 30 years of living together in a suburban house -- you get that close, that far inside, and that dependent on another person just that quickly.

I've just read (and intend to review in my Monthly Aspectarian column) The King Imperiled by Deborah Chester (an ACE Fantasy).

It's not actually a "Survival Romance" -- but it has one plot thread that illustrates how activation of basic survival mechanisms in a human being can cause a lover's bond to form quicker than any other influence.

In "The King Imperiled" a Princess Royal (eldest child but not heir to the throne) has magical talent and is in training to use it. In the previous book, she had been kidnapped and magically molested so she is now obsessed with a magical quest.

She is dismissed from her school, and in defiance she reaches out for help from a legendary man of the distant past -- and instead gets a demon masquerading as the man she wanted.

Deborah Chester portrays the psychological state of a virgin being seduced by what she thinks is her one-true-love with chilling accuracy.

And she brings the young woman to her senses with an inevitable plausibility that I could only admire.

This sub-plot of this very complicated middle of a trilogy illustrates the psychological realities of how certain mental barriers go down under the twin assaults of an urgent inner need and an external threat -- coupled to being cut off from all human support.

I think you will find "Survival Romance" pervades many other sub-genres, and is almost always coupled to Intimate Adventure.

Have you read about Intimate Adventure at

That page needs an update this July -- for Jean Lorrah and I have discovered that Intimate Adventure actually is not a genre at all - but a plot archetype that has never before been identified.

That's exciting because I've been working on this theory for decades!


Rowena Cherry said...


Wow! Fascinating thoughts. You know, you ought to cut and paste this and post it on the blog as a Post.


Rowena Cherry said...

Trying out the new photo!