Love and Dystopia

TheAshesOfWindsorGuest blog by Liz Newman, author of The Ashes of Windsor

The world didn’t end on the twelfth, but those preaching gloom and doom say we are now at the beginning of the end.  It is no wonder that readers have a fascination with love and dystopia.  Some of the most popular books today, such as The Hunger Games series or even Water for Elephants, have strong romantic elements centered upon the fringes of a dystopian setting.  The Hunger Games takes place in the post-war United States, dubbed the civilization of Panem, and Water for Elephants is set against the backdrop of a failing circus on the fringe of bankruptcy during the Depression.  Both of these stories would not be as outstanding as they were if either the dystopian element or the romantic element was taken away.  Both of these stories would not have the romantic element if the dystopian element was not added to the plot’s formula.  The idea of dystopia existed in these two stories on both the macrocosmic level, as in The Hunger Games where a society lived it, and on a microcosmic level, as in Water for Elephants, where a small circus struggled to survive in a society where almost every other factor worked against it, even the owners themselves.

Thus can the same with life, or romance as we know it in life.  Our greatest romance is found in our greatest time of need, where we are emotionally downtrodden and in need of more than a good friend or casual lover.  We become in need of something to make our lives meaningful; something which takes away the befuddlement we feel when faced with the human condition of loneliness.  The realization of this human condition is dystopia on a microcosmic level.  In fiction, the human condition of loneliness is the essence of conflict itself.  The demons or angels that accompany this realization are manifested in our supporting characters, our antagonists, and our hero or heroine’s actions.  Love and dystopia are two sides of the same coin.  Some may argue that Utopia should make up the flip side of that coin, but I beg to disagree.  Utopia and Dystopia can both be regarded as the soil upon which love can grow.  That makes love an absolutely wonderful and divine aspect of human life, a beacon of hope we can all count on, no matter where we live or what environment we are surrounded with.  We can always count on the proliferation of love.

My newest work, The Ashes of Windsor, is the story of two teens who are in love and struggling to survive in the dystopian environment of New York after nuclear war. Thrust into the world of the fallout, Inari Giles grasps for the strength to survive. Peter Huntford, her beloved boyfriend, vows to bring Inari to Arcadia, a haven that will only accept young women of childbearing age through its gates. Will he find a way to bring her to safety, even at the cost of his own life?

Here is an excerpt:

I tilted my face up to his and gazed into his hazel eyes. Reaching out, my hand caressed the side of his face. He leaned forward and kissed me as he gripped my upper arm. The softness of his lips, coupled with the moist, cool wetness of the water on his face, stirred my body so intensely I quivered despite the unseasonable heat. The feel of his heartbeat through his muscular chest made me short of breath, and I reflexively curved my body into his. The firmness of his body contrasted with my softness, and the feel of his fingertips dancing from my shoulder to the curve of my waist incited such a feeling of contentment the nearness of him made me feel complete, as if there were nothing more to want in the world than this moment.

Rising from the ground with his glorious body gleaming in the golden sun, he climbed up the Ouaquaga Bridge. Spreading his arms out into a wide V, he vaulted himself into the air, bringing his hands together and tilting himself into the perfect dive. The maple trees and lush green brush provided the perfect backdrop to the picturesque spectacle he made. He disappeared under the crystalline surface of the water.

I walked towards him, undulating my hips as his eyes popped up from the surface of the river. “You look like a crocodile,” I called as my body became submerged under the water. We swam towards each other. He circled his arms around me, and we went under, twirling deep into the water, intertwined in a place where we held our breath. For a few fleeting moments, we needed no air to sustain ourselves. We needed nothing but the love we had for each other to survive the depths. My lips met his again and again as he held me close, and when we couldn’t hold our breath any longer, we kicked for the surface. Emerging upon the banks until the water covered us only from the waist down, we breathed in deeply to fill our lungs with air again. He took me into his arms and kissed me, and I held tight to his embrace. The feel of his skin coupled with the heat of the sun made me gasp with desire.

Thank you for reading this post, and please do leave a comment.  You may win a free eBook of The Ashes of Windsor, an Amazon gift card, or a box of delicious chocolates from the Helen Grace confectionary.  I will also be online chatting with other Devine Destinies authors at our annual holiday party and giveaway at 7pm on Saturday, December 15th at http://www.extasychat.com.  Stop by and win free eBooks and other prizes.

Wishing you a holiday season filled with blessings.

Warmly,

Liz Newman

View the book trailer for The Ashes of Windsor at http://www.lizrnewman.net/book-trailers.html

Buy: The Ashes of Windsor

Dirty Laundry and the Movie Star’s Wife

movie star's wifeGuest Blog by Liz Newman, author of The Movie Star’s Wife

Thank you so much, Keira, for having me as a guest at Love Romance Passion. Gentle Readers, thank you for stopping by. I’m really excited about this new romantic novella. It has been described by Amazon Vine Reviewer Geri Ahearn as “Sizzling, Compelling, Intriguing!” I am also hosting a giveaway. Simply leave a comment below and you will be eligible to win a $10 Amazon gift card, a free copy of The Movie Star’s Wife, or a box of delicious Helen Grace Mint Chocolate Truffles.

Juliet James, aka Julie Streets, is a former starlet married to one of the biggest action stars in history. He’s handsome, sexy, and her best friend. There’s only one thing keeping them from falling in love. Enter a world of glamour and riches where all of the indulgences of heaven are there for the taking, but the trappings of a marriage of convenience have made life a living hell. A chance meeting prompts Juliet to change her situation when she comes across a romantic interest she just can’t stay away from.

The genesis of this story was a discussion with girlfriends on how difficult it is to keep our private lives from the public sector, even when that public sector is only made up of acquaintances we must see every day, such as business associates, clients, even the parents of our children’s friends at elementary school. Every family and circle of friends has their secrets, and every family has traditions and values that encompass loyalty, secrecy, and simply the need to not air out a family’s “dirty laundry.” Really, these secrets are terribly minimal but mean something to the person or people who are keeping them. It is highly likely that, when exposed, one would have to deal with some semblance of ridicule from bigots, for secrets of activities that don’t hurt anyone should be perfectly fine out in the open but unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. Imagine that angst of the public eye magnified hundreds of times over in the psyche of a major movie star. That is where this story begins.

Here is an excerpt:

“This doc covers everything, from maid service to housekeepers to even just close friends. He can’t imagine exactly what this can cover as well,” I lied. “I mean, what transpires between you and I.” Tiny droplets of sweat formed at my hairline. “You and I work together. We’ve formed a friendship. He’ll think it pertains to whatever happens or is said on set. The entire crew will have to sign one as well if the pilot becomes a series.”

Gavin placed the document on a teak side table. Lifting up my chin gently, he caressed my cheek with his hand. “This doesn’t work for me, Juliet.”

I stared off into the moonlit seascape, watching the waves lap upon the shore. The ocean held as many tears as were prepared to fall from my eyes. I closed them as I breathed deeply, listening to the sound of the waves pounding, and the crickets chirping at the sight of the moon. The nearness of him, combined with the romantic setting, seemed to be a stage set for a joke, a parody of forever unrequited love. I felt the weight of his body upon mine, as his lips pressed against mine, opening them in a passionate kiss that ignited my very soul from where his lips touched me in a secret place that had been treated as an affliction for far too long.

“I have a suggestion of my own, that I want to run by you.” Slipping off the hammock, he disappeared down the stairs, coming back up with one hand behind his back. “Juliet. I know you are another man’s wife, and under any other circumstances I would have nothing to do with you. I can’t stay away. I won’t. Unless you ask me to.” He waited as he searched my eyes. He bent down on one knee and brought a box from behind his back. “Perhaps this is not as extraordinary as the one you already own. If you don’t like it, I can find you a different one more suited to your taste. Juliet James, will you marry me?”

“Yes!” I blurted. Then just as quickly, “No! I mean… I have to ask Steven.”

“Why?”

“I can’t explain. I’ll try. When you live with someone for so long, you owe them an explanation.”

“Do you want to marry me, Juliet?”

liz newman

Please view the book trailer on my website at www.lizrnewman.net.

The book is available at Amazon, as well as All Romance, Books On Board, and Bookstrand.

Buy: The Movie Star’s Wife

Why The World Needs Romance

Guest Post by Liz Newman, author of An Affinity for Shadows

What the world needs is more romance!  The thing that bothers me about genre romance is the same thing that makes genre romance so appealing.  Somehow everything in my life compares to food, but indulge me, please.  You’ve got your standard genre romance which comes in different flavors: historical, contemporary, fantasy, apocalyptic or dystopian, steampunk, chick lit, etc., which are kind of like different flavors of popcorn.  And who doesn’t love popcorn, whether it’s kettle corn or buttered or toffee or caramel.  It’s all good, and any time’s a nice time for popcorn.  I certainly feel more intellectually full after reading a good romance than articles about celebrities.  Articles about celebs tend to give me a headache.  They are these ongoing stories with no climax, no resolution, just one ongoing beginning with no end.

I’ve got to admit I’m one of those people who are suckered into buying the books that titan publishers push at you so hard you can’t get away from them.  I went to an elementary school book fair and bought a bunch of mainstream literary fiction to support the school.  Problem is, with a lot of literary books which fancy themselves “high art”, there are these engaging characters that I can really get into, and then something really awful happens to them, things involving female circumcision, graphic foot binding, starvation, or even worse.  Then the character and reader are completely traumatized from there, but as a reader I must find out what happens at the end because I’m curious and I also plunked down twenty-five dollars or more to purchase the book. I hope there some sort of change in the end but really someone just ends up dying or having a baby without a father around, or I close the book wishing I was dead because the main character is so very unhappy.  Then I have a gut bomb and wish that instead of eating that fatty laden stuff I had had some popcorn instead.

I love a great romance novel with a happily ever after ending and one of the greatest challenges being the romantic tension between the characters and where and when they are going to consummate their relationship.   Romance is a bestselling genre, but I want to make my romances a little more meaty without making it scary like literary fiction.  In other words, I want to eat the steak without checking out the slaughterhouse  I like to think that’s my job now.  Meaty, filling romance that makes you feel like you’ve learned something after you’ve closed the book, besides that your husband wants you to shop more in the lingerie department and the logistics of how to make a baby.

So why does the world really need more romance?  I went to a Halloween party in Vegas last fall.  Somehow, ladies underwear has now become a very hip and now costume.  Some people were just wearing a corset bra, panties, and some garters.  Undies.  Yep, underwear.  That was a costume.  I mean, at least spray on some body paint or something so I don’t feel like an old school marm in my Mad Hattress costume with the mini skirts and fishnets.  For men, it seemed the popular costumes were emasculated cartoon characters such as Sponge Bob, Mario and Luigi, Harry Potter, and whatever other pansy you can imagine.

I eavesdropped on a conversation between Mario and Luigi as they checked out a couple of undie clad gals and they sounded eerily like an episode from the 90’s show.

Mario: How are we gonna get in there? I got two words for you: Im-possible.
Luigi: Nothing is impossible, Mario. Improbable, Unlikely, but never impossible. Anything is possible, Mario, you just gotta believe in it.

I imagined what my fellow party goers woke up to the next morning, as they slipped on their Luigi costume and said, “Remember, trust the fungus” as they waved their big white gloved hand goodbye.  Or as they put on their underwear costume,  and did that walk of shame down a hotel room hallway.  Where’s the romance in that?

The world needs romance not just so we can indulge our fantasies of characters named Kate, Sal, Striker, Edward, Ash, Katniss, (if these names sound familiar you’re reading the right books, wink wink) but so we can put our reality of what love should consist of into check.

Life really should imitate art now, don’t you think?

Liz R. Newman writes mainstream romance with a literary edge.  Connect with Liz on Facebook at LizRNewmanAuthor or visit her website at www.lizrnewman.net

Buy: An Affinity for Shadows