Today on the blog, we’ve got a couple of lovely authors (see what I did there?) sharing some romantic details on their new releases. Arrows author Melissa Gorzelanczyk and Emerge author Tobie Easton band together to talk romance, mythology, inspiration, and, of course, overcoming the impossible.
What makes your love story so impossible?
Melissa: The arrows! Also the fact that Aaryn is only temporarily human. He wants to fix things and get back to being a god on Mount Olympus, pronto. When Aaryn starts to fall for Karma, he knows they can never be together—she’s under the arrow’s spell and “an arrow’s forever.”
Tobie: 200 years ago, the Little Mermaid unleashed a curse in the oceans. So, 17-year-old mermaid Lia (the main character of Emerge) has grown up on land in a hidden community of merpeople. Getting too close to a human could expose her secret and put everyone she loves at risk, so dating one is out of the question. And even if it weren’t, Clay—the human guy Lia has feelings for—is completely wrapped up in his new girlfriend. But Lia doesn’t trust her…
Melissa: Arrows is loosely based on the myth of Eros and Psyche, which is pretty racy with its nighttime “love” trysts between the couple, not to mention a psychopathic future mother-in-law (Aphrodite). Arrows is grounded in the modern world with plenty of real-life drama due to the teen mom element, but threads from that myth are woven into the plotline. In one scene, Aaryn mentions the myth of Daphne and Apollo in conversation, another fated love story in mythology.
Tobie: Mermaids, in one form or another, appear in so many cultures, so I read mermaid myths and legends from all over the world and incorporated various elements that sparked my imagination. Emerge also includes new twists on siren mythology from ancient Greece and, of course, on the original version of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen.
What fantasy worlds drew you in as a teen?
Tobie: Harry Potter, Harry Potter, Harry Potter! I’m fortunate enough to be part of the generation that grew up as the books were coming out, so that series was a huge part of my middle school and high school experience. I also really loved The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce and The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley when I was a teen.
Okay, time for secrets. What was your love life like when you were a teen?
Melissa: Since I wasn’t allowed to date (thanks, Dad), my love life was pretty pathetic. It was a few secret phone calls, long glances, and songs like “Wouldn’t it be Nice” that I could swear were made for us. I think that’s why I wrote love stories as a teenager with lots of kissing and grand gestures. I didn’t get my first kiss until eighteen.
Tobie: I can answer this in one word: nonexistent. I went to an all-girl school, so I didn’t know many guys—and I was really focused on academics. Some of my friends still managed to magically have boyfriends from other schools, so I was definitely less experienced than they were, which sometimes made me feel like I was on the outside looking in. Having a boyfriend felt like something that would never happen for me. Then, when I was 17, I started college and fell—madly!—in love. I don’t know if there’s a hallway anywhere on campus we didn’t make out in. So hang in there!
Give us the mood of your love story in a song.
Melissa: Oh man, this is a hard one. I recently started plotting my books to a playlist—each chapter gets a song. (Shoutout to Hour of the Bees author Lindsay Eager for that tip.) I’ll pick a few for Arrows: “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey and “Clean Getaway” by Maria Taylor. “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes? Oh! “White Blank Page” by Mumford & Sons. They all work.
Tobie: Melissa’s right—this is hard! “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer incorporates all the sparkle and magic of first love. I’m also going to throw in “Close Your Eyes,” the Buffy/Angel theme from Buffy the Vampire Slayer; I’m a Spike girl myself, but this song gets me in just the right mindset to write heart-wrenching, forbidden romance.
Can you share an “impossible love” quote from your book?
Melissa: This one’s from Aaryn’s POV right after he sees Karma dance for the first time. She’s a dance prodigy and is trying to get her life back on track after having a baby by winning a life-changing scholarship. Meanwhile he’s starting to realize his mission is a lot more complicated than he planned.
“The music cut just in time to hear her gasp for the last move, a deep backbend that finished the song, and with that sound in my ears—her breathing—I felt the trouble I was in.”
Tobie: This is so hard to do without spoilers! Here’s one from a scene where Lia and Clay are studying together in Clay’s backyard, and Lia is fighting the temptation to let Clay kiss her. He sits behind her in the grass as she reads her textbook, and he wraps his arms around her, reading over her shoulder.
“We sit like that, bodies fitted together, in a sun-drenched moment of bliss. The scent of fresh-mowed grass and of azaleas and of Clay’s skin creates a heady combination that has me closing my eyes so I can take it all in. So I can capture this living daydream in my memory. After—when all this ends—I want this moment crystallized for keeps.”