Mindee Arnett is the author of the young adult paranormal mystery, The Nightmare Affair and its sequel, The Nightmare Dilemma, due out March 4, as well as a YA sci-fi thriller, Avalon. For our love and literature series, she stopped by to discuss star-crossed love:
Star-crossed Love: The In and Outs
When it comes to romance in fiction, give me my lovers star-crossed and despairing. I’m not sure why, but this is by far my favorite set-up: two people who desperately love each other but who are unable to be together, at least not until the very end. This is the sweetest kind of torment, and I will consume said stories with ferocious enthusiasm every time—if done right.
So what do I mean by right? Well for me, the true secret to a successful star-crossed love story is one in which the lovers are kept apart both by outer forces and inner ones. By outer, I’m talking about those external forces that are beyond the characters’ control—societal norms, government, environment, deities, and so on. The set-up of lovers being kept apart by external forces is most famously captured in Romeo and Juliet. Sadly, though Romeo and Juliet is short on the inner conflicts. Mostly, I think this is because their love isn’t genuine but merely rampant teenaged infatuation.
By inner conflict, I’m talking about when either one or both of the lovers choose to deny their love as result of some internal struggle. For example, after seeing the violence caused by their love affair, Juliet could have rejected Romeo instead of marrying. Despite her feelings for him, she might have witnessed the violence and then taken the higher ground, denying herself for the greater good. There’s nothing quite as emotionally powerful for me as the rejection of love, especially when it’s made for all the right reasons or when it’s an act of self-sacrifice.
By far my favorite current example of star-crossed lovers is Karou and Akiva in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. These two characters are so star-crossed it makes my heart bleed for them. I can’t say much without spoilers, but just trust me I say (1) you want to read these books and (2) the love story here is both tortuous and completely believable. This is a grown up Romeo and Juliet, one where the love between the star-crossed lovers is both adult and multi-layered. It’s beautiful and heart wrenching in the best possible way.
Now, you might be wondering if, given my love of star-crossed lovers, will such a storyline appear in my own writing? The answer to that is definitely yes. In fact, in the upcoming sequel to The Nightmare Affair, my main character, Dusty, will be embarking on her own star-crossed lovers saga. Who will her lover be? What are the external forces keeping them apart? Well, you’ll have to wait until The Nightmare Dilemma is out to see.
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