Monday, May 10, 2010

Guest Blogger: Elisabeth Naughton

The winner of Elisabeth's book is: flchen1. Congratulations, flchen1! Send me your contact information and I'll pass it along to Elisabeth. Thanks to everyone who participated.


The Soul Mate Cop-Out

Thanks so much to Lynda at Paranormality for inviting me to be with you today!

If you read any of my previous books you know that I’m a romantic suspense author.
With the launch of my new series, The Eternal Guardians, though (Book 1, MARKED, released 4.27.10), I’ve crossed that line from RS to paranormal, as so many authors do. I love writing in both genres and find many similarities between the two. But one thing I’ve discovered you don’t find in contemporary romantic suspense novels is the concept of soul mates.

I’ll be the first to admit that in some ways, I see the whole soul mate element as a cop out. I mean, when the soul mate concept is in play, it’s a foregone conclusion that the two lead characters will end up together, and the author doesn’t have to work so hard to show that burning attraction or challenging courtship. Granted, in a romance it’s always a foregone conclusion the two main characters will end up together, but it just seems like the soul mate element makes the happily-ever-after that much easier.

On the flip side, however, part of me loves the soul mate concept. The idea that there is one person you are destined to be with forever? That’s deep. The knowledge that when these two characters hook up, no matter what curve balls life may throw them down the line, they will never part? That’s even deeper. We live in a world where more than 50% of marriages end in divorce, and the reality of “love for a lifetime” is a dwindling prospect. So in a fantasy, in a romance novel, it kind of makes sense that there’s an element that guarantees these two characters, which the reader has invested 300+ pages in and has grown to love, will always be together. No matter what.

When I was writing
MARKED, I really struggled with the soul mate idea. I saw the benefit, and yet I couldn’t help viewing it as a cop out in some ways. Certain readers love the idea of a soul mate, others hate it. What’s a writer to do?

In the end, I decided to put my own spin on the soul mate concept, similar to the way I view it: A blessing, and yet at the same time, a curse. In my Eternal Guardians series, which is centered on seven guardians descended from the greatest heroes in all of Ancient Greece, I gave each guy a soul mate. But I didn’t make it easy. You see, Hercules is considered the greatest hero in Greek mythology, and yet, he was despised by the goddess Hera from the time he was born because he was an in-your-face reminder that her husband, Zeus, was never faithful. So in my books, Hera cursed Hercules, and all the Argonauts, by giving them a soul mate. One woman they are eternally drawn to. And she made sure that woman was the worst possible match for the hero in question. Someone they can’t live without, and yet someone they can’t live with.

In book one – MARKED – the hero, Theron—Hercules’s descendent—finds his soul mate in the human woman marked to complete a prophecy that will protect his world from a vengeful god and her band of seething demons. The catch, of course, is that his finding her and taking her to his world to complete the prophecy and save his world guarantees his soul mate’s death. And for a hero, whose whole life is centered on honor and duty, that puts Theron in a pretty tight conundrum.

I’ve actually had a lot of fun with this soul mate concept. Because it’s a curse and not a blessing, I’ve been able to play with it and mold it into a major headache for my guys. Does it preclude the romance and the attraction? No, but it is one-sided. My guys recognize the soul mate element, but the women in the equation don’t. They aren’t cursed. They’re free to choose who they want, when they want. And that adds in a whole extra layer of conflict my guys definitely don’t like. Imagine if you knew that this other person was yours—your one single soul mate for life—and that after finding them you were ruined for anyone else, forever. And now imagine if that other person didn’t give a rip?

Conflict. Struggle. Angst. Fuuuuuuuuun.

How do you feel about the whole soul mate element? Do you enjoy books that have soul mates? Or do you see them as a cop out? I’ve got a copy of MARKED to give away to one lucky commenter today, so be sure to tell me what you think!

***
A previous junior-high science teacher, Elisabeth Naughton now writes sexy romantic adventure and paranormal novels full time from her home in western Oregon where she lives with her husband and three children. Her debut release, Stolen Fury, heralded by Publisher’s Weekly as “A rock-solid debut,” was recently nominated for two prestigious RITA® awards by Romance Writers of America in the Best First Book category and the Best Romantic Suspense category. When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ball park or dreaming up new and exciting adventures. Learn more about Elisabeth and her books at http://www.elisabethnaughton.com/.
*******
Elisabeth's winner will be selected and posted on Tuesday evening. Stop back by to see if you won.

28 Comments:

Blogger Serena Shay said...

Elisabeth,
Congrats on the release!

I love the idea of a soul mate. :) That one person made just for you, ~sigh~

Marked was a wonderful read. I can't wait for Entwined. :)

10:46 AM  
Blogger jeanette8042 said...

I love the concept of soul mates because I sometimes want the assurance that the couple will end up together with a HEA.

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Bonnie H said...

This series sounds VERY cool and is definitely on my TBB list now! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts -
I like the concept of soul mate the way you've described it - how 1 of them is kind of "trapped" by it, but not the other - because to me it seems like it makes it even MORE likely that IF they get together - they'll stay that way. And even though I know it's fiction, I always think about the long-term potential for a relationship - maybe because I've been married for 23 years to the guy I met and fell in love with at 14 LOL
I mean, it's obvious that if the heroine chooses to be with the hero in your series, it's because she wants him THAT BAD. And the same way with him - because most people just don't like to be told, or to think, that they don't have a choice, so they're way more likely to fight something that may even be the best thing for them!
Sorry for rambling, I've just never really sat down and given this a lot of thought :D
Anyway, looking forward to reading this series!!!

12:17 PM  
Blogger flchen1 said...

Ooh, I love your spin on soul mates, Elisabeth! I have to admit that I'm not crazy about the soul-mate idea in general--I'm really not convinced that in reality, there's a single person who's our perfect other half. In the same way that in a story, it seems to let the storyteller off the hook, thinking that there's a soul mate out there sort of encourages people to forget that in any good long-term relationship, there's an element of work to it. I don't want to suck all the joy out of love or anything, but I think that real lasting love isn't all just the ease of falling in :)

Anyway, I do really like how you've give each of your heroes the insight into a soul mate but given the heroines the choice. Because soul mate or no soul mate, you want to know that the other person is with you because s/he WANTS to be, not because s/he HAS to be.

Looking forward to Marked and the whole series, Elisabeth!

12:54 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

Hi Elisabeth, thanks for stopping by. Your book sounds very interesting . . . I enjoy soul mate stories! Thanks for offering up a copy to us. :-)

1:41 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

As irrational the "soul mates" idea is, I love it. I love thinking that there's one individual out there that fits you perfectly: mind, body, and soul.

Of course, now you have to actually find him, and what are the odds of that? =/

1:42 PM  
Blogger Cherie J said...

Congrats on the release! I love the soul mate concept. I am thrilled about the idea of their being one true complete love for everyone, the person who is your other half, who completes your soul. Thanks for guestblogging.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Cathy M said...

Hi Elisabeth,

I love the idea of soul mates. In a romance story, it can really even the playing field for the alpha male who says he needs no one, to the woman who knows just what he needs and wants to give it all to him.

caity_mack(at)yahoo(dot)com

3:17 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Wow, that sounds great. I seriously have to make a stop by the bookstore now. :)

I like the soul-mate type stories if they are written well, sometimes they come off really good and other times...well I think it really depends on what the author does with the story.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Hi Serena! I'm so glad you enjoyed MARKED. I love hearing from readers. My editor thought ENTWINED was even better, so I hope you enjoy the second book as much as the first book!

Thanks for the comment!

4:32 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Jeanette - that assurance is especially important when a couple doesn't automatically get married at the end of the book or if a series is ongoing with the same two characters, isn't it?

4:35 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Thanks so much for the comment, Bonnie! Yes, this whole soul mate curse/blessing has added lots of extra conflict into my series. There's no easy happily ever after for my characters, but as a writer (and a reader) I enjoy that. I want my guys to have to work for it - nothing comes easy in life so it makes sense it wouldn't come easy in fiction either. That push/pull struggle is really what I like most about romance novels.

Congrats on 23 years. That's awesome!!

4:39 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Hi flchen!

Yes, yes, yes...you got it. I agree that love for a lifetime has to be a mental decision not just an emotional one. If you're with someone, you're with them because you want to be, not because some outside force says you "have" to be.

I'm not entirely sure I believe in a soul mate in real life, but in fiction it's fun to play with the idea and twist it to fit my world. I definitely don't want things to be easy for the romance aspect of my books, but I do want my readers to know these pairings are going to last.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Rosie - thanks so much for the comment and for stopping by. Good to know you enjoy soul mate stories!

Julie - LOL...so true! In a world of what, 6 billion people? The odds are slim to none. Thank goodness the odds in fiction are way better!

4:44 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Cherie J - thanks so much. I hope you enjoy MARKED!

Cathy M - so true! My guys tend to be a little on the dark side, loners who don't need anyone. In that respect, seeing how drawn they are to the one woman who is the worst possible match for them is kinda fun (in a twisted writerly way, of course. LOL)

4:47 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Mary - I'm glad you enjoyed the blog and I hope you like MARKED! Thanks for stopping by!

4:48 PM  
Blogger Linda Henderson said...

I really like the idea of a soul mate, but I like it to that it's something they have to work for and not an obvious choice. I love mythology so the series sounds like something I will really enjoy. I can't wait to start.

seriousreader at live dot com

5:03 PM  
Blogger Lil said...

You know, I had never thought of the soul mate concept in the terms of a cop out. It just never occured to me though your discussion of it makes sense. I have never minded whether a story used the soul mate idea or not, it only mattered to me how the story was presented and whether I could lose myself in it.

Congrats on the launch of your new series!

5:07 PM  
Blogger Linda Andrews said...

I like the idea of soul mates and your twist sounds like it would definitely add to the conflict. Marked has a great concept. Can't wait to read it.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Sarah Simas said...

Excellent post, Elisabeth! I enjoyed reading your take on soul mates and couldn't agree more. I want to see the H/H sweat it out to come together and appreciate what they've overcome. :)

LOL One of my favorite movies is Only You with Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei. The beginning scene starts with the heroine talking about the concept of soul mates and destiny. *sigh* I love, love it! Fantastic movie!

Congrats on the new release and best wishes for tons of success!

5:40 PM  
Blogger blackroze37yahoo.com said...

i guess that why i alwys like paranormal, cause it gives you the oppt to live and have the same guy forever

5:58 PM  
Blogger mariska said...

I've always enjoy books with soul mates concept. because i still BELIEVE in that, even in my real life !

I've been following you around the blogs, hoping that i will get my chance to read one of your books :)

uniquas at ymail dot com

6:17 PM  
Blogger Pamk said...

congrats on the new release. and yeah soul mates work for me if they make sense and they rules work.

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Michelle Pillow said...

Congrats on the new book! :)

I don't mind the soul mate element. Like you, I can see both sides and have written both sides, lol. There is something to be said about two supposed soul mates who don't get along, too, lol.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Spav said...

If I'm reading Paranormal Romance, I have no problem with soul mates; especially if there are shifters involved.

spav05(at)gmail(dot)com

7:30 PM  
Blogger skyla11377 said...

I Totally Believe In Soul Mates So When A Story Has One I Think It Is Pretty Kool. I AM Sure Everyone Would Like To Know/Think That There Is A Perfect Somebody Out There For Them. In MY Opinion You Can't Go Wrong With Having Soul Mates In A Story.

8:19 PM  
Blogger mbreakfield said...

I love the idea of a soulmate. It makes the HEA more intense.

8:59 PM  
Blogger jellybelly82158 said...

I believe in the idea of a soul mate. I believe I have found mine in my hubby of 25 yrs.

I love paranormal romance.

12:27 PM  

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