I suppose it should come as no surprise that I enjoy reading romance/horror books. After all, I did write one! But so rarely do I find a story that achieves a beautiful balance between the two. It’s not an easy thing to do–wooing romance lovers while, at the same time, gearing up for the next horror scene. You’re constantly running hot and cold, and its easy to break tension when shifting from one mood to the next. For example, when writing a love scene, the romantic in me wants to enchant the reader with poetry and rainbows and butterflies, but go too far and risk losing the readers who roll their eyes at the gooey mushiness of it all and jump ship right then and there.
Likewise, when writing a horror scene, excessive morbidness will send romance lovers screaming back to contemporary works. So, how do you make it work? How do you interweave romance and horror without breaking tension or losing tone? Tone is everything. Tone is what sets the overall mood for your story. It’s what keeps you up at night. What keeps the pages turning. Without tone, your story has no soul. So, when tone is lost, even if just for a moment, which could equate to a sentence, page or chapter, the reader senses it. Feels it like an intruder. Like the movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where the pod people scream and point at the outsider.
If the reader can draw clear, straight lines between your romance scenes and your horror scenes, then the tone is either inconsistent or lacking altogether. The two should happen seamlessly. How many horror movies have you watched where a guy and a girl are running for their lives, and yet have time to stop and make out in the middle of it all? As a viewer, you’re plucked out of the moment and left sitting on the couch, rolling your eyes at the screen. Why? Because no one in their right mind would think to bother with a kiss when their head is about to be chopped off.
The same goes for fiction. Finding the right balance between romance and horror takes a great deal of craft. Which brings me to my latest obsession: The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin and The Nevermore Series by Kelly Creagh. Both were compelling reads with swoon worthy romance and dark, edgy thrills–a rare find in the young adult category.
The third installment of the Mara Dyer Trilogy will be released on November 4, 2014:
The third installment of the Nevermore Series will be released in July of 2015:
If you’re into this genre, and need your fill of romance and horror, I highly recommend these series! Enjoy!