The Black Magus

Real Love

I’m a hopeless romantic, through and through.

This was perhaps a bit silly of me, but after “The Scion Suit” gained a smidgen of attention on Reddit, I wondered if I should downplay the romance aspect of The Black Magus to make it sound more appealing to the sort of people who would actually read it — after all, I don’t think that I’d gain much traction with Twilight fans. But, I decided that would be rather disingenuous, considering that it’s right there in the very first chapter.

So there you have it: The Black Magus is the ultimate Mary-Sue fanfic, where the main character is a shy nobody who through sheer coincidence gains the attention of the most powerful magus on the planet. He competes against another magus to win her affection in a saucy love triangle, and ultimately pulls ahead by gifting her the most expensive car ever built. The girl, on the other hand, maintains an emotional affair with the other guy, just to prove how strong and independent she is after she’s married …


I’m totally not awesome enough to write that.

It’s not the sort of crap that’s always portrayed in popular romance novels. It’s also not the sort of “singles together” crap that we’re told to settle for because “romance doesn’t exist”. You won’t find any Taylor Swift songs that fit it.

It’s about devotion and compassion. It’s about two people joining together to become a family, and learning how to be there for each other. It’s about real love.

There’s also some stuff about magic and the world they live in, and a few other characters who have some dialogue and whatnot. You know, that necessary story-type stuff, to flesh it out into an actual novel and set up the sequel.

So, I have decided against downplaying the romance aspect of The Black Magus, because it is the entire foundation and structure of the novel. Please, don’t dismiss it because of a few bad stereotypes — I assure you that this story is different.

About Writing

Realistic romance

I read a couple of creative writing articles on “how to write realistic romance” that essentially boiled down to knocking “insta-romances.”

As a hopeless romantic myself, I’m a firm believer in love-at-first-sight. I knew that I had found forever the moment I met my husband (told him so, too), we eloped shortly afterward, and ten years later the passion is still going strong. So, don’t lecture me on what doesn’t count as realistic!

Love is like magic: it has to be believed in and practiced in order to have an effect.

My number one source of knowledge for the romance in my stories comes from my own experiences, and I can’t imagine getting any more realistic than real life. That includes love-at-first-sight, which just so happens to be my favorite.

Just because I’m outside of the majority doesn’t mean that my life and marriage are impossible or doomed to fail, and I don’t write stories to express the norms that I don’t belong to.

And given that the marriage rate is at a record low, I don’t believe that people know as much about romance as they think they do.

So I’m going to do what I’ve always done, and ignore what everyone else says about romance, even if I earn criticism for it.

About Writing

Writing Romance

My Venus is in Pisces, which is the astrological way of saying that I’m the quintessential hopeless romantic. This was not a personality trait of mine that was ever supported during my formative years, and as a teenager I was frequently warned that I was setting myself up for disappointment; I was also told that I shouldn’t expect to get married.

But I decided not to listen to anyone, so no harm done. I married my twin flame anyway.

When I talk about romance, I mean the earth-shattering, butterfly-inducing, dizzying, elevating, whirlwind of excitement sort. The kind that we’re constantly told doesn’t exist. That kind.

A major motivation behind reading is to enjoy stories that I can’t hear by simply talking to the neighbors (even if they are sordid and juicy). I like stories that are larger than life and inspirational; I just can’t find books like that.

Most romance novels are about an attractive, powerful, rich guy, and since I frequently indulge in that fantasy myself as a writer, I’m not going to knock it. It’s obvious why she would fall for him, but why does he fall for her? The heroines range from mediocre to psychotic harpies; with heavy heapings of selfishness on top.

That question, ‘Why does he fall for her?’ is often left unanswered, and that kills every chance of deeply capturing the spirit of romance. If I hate the heroine, I’m not going to empathize if she captures the attention of Mr. Mega Hunk. I usually declare, “This book is stupid!” and give it a bad review on Amazon. No vicarious butterflies, no point in reading.

When I write my female characters, I write them as someone that I could fall in love with myself, and I have zero interest in Anastasias or Bellas. Perhaps I relate to novels in the wrong sort of way, but I like to think that’s what differentiates me from the Mary-Sues.

My hope is that if I write a scene that gives me butterflies, others will experience that as well when they read it.

I am a hopeless romantic, after all.