James Ganiere (Chief Editor, Fallen Angel Press; CEO-Rio Vista Universal) moderated the Saturday afternoon WonderCon panel, “Romance in Sci-Fi and Fantasy,” which assembled actress Gigi Edgley (Farscape, Star Trek Continues), writer Rebekah R. Ganiere (Fairelle series, President of Fantasy Futuristic & Paranormal RWA chapter), writer Mark O’Bannon (The Dream Crystal, Star Raiders), and actor James Kyson (Heroes, Nobility). Unfortunately, actress Mira Furlan was unable to attend due to being on a shoot. Why a romance panel? Romance sells well; at least 50% of the books sold are romance, and romance is a critical component of any story told.
After introductions, Edgley explained that romance reveals the soft side of characters and builds an investment by the audience for those characters. In particular, it is important to show heart before going into battle, for instance. Building on common ground is crucial for creating interspecies relationships according to Rebehak Ganiere. James Ganiere said she brought up a good point: keeping romance alive when there’s distance between the two characters. Edgley explained it is not necessary to show everything; in other words, don’t need to be gratuitous. Rebekah Ganiere agreed. She doesn’t write graphic detail, so her kids can read her books. Kyson said he couldn’t have a long-distance relationship; he explained he recently got married, but he did research about living in space for an extended period of time. He joked that the long-distance phone charges would be outrageous.
James Ganiere asked the panelists how they create authentic romance. Rebehak Ganiere did research on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and artificial limbs and then, after writing her story, she engaged beta readers. James Ganiere said that, as a producer, he has to gauge how honest he can be with writers. Part of the authenticity includes break-ups and broken relationships. Per Rebehak Ganiere, romance can and should have bumps along the way, but all romances have to have a happy ending or a happy ending for a time.
Role reversal was the next topic. Kyson indicated that traditional love doesn’t really exist today; love needs to reflect real life. Rebehak Ganiere writes strong female characters; however, she says she runs the risk of having a weak male as a result, which could be very bad for the story. Edgley said strong relationships of love include mother/daughter ones too, such as in Nexus.
Rebehak Ganiere shared insight into her writing process. She constantly writes because she gets inspiration from everywhere. As a result, she writes down ideas all of the time and typically has 65 ideas brewing. For her, she explained, that she has to develop good outlines.
In closing, James Ganiere advised that to write with authenticity, don’t write you what you think will sell, write what you know.
*Panel Photo by Michele Brittany