Can Austen cross over with sci-fi and fantasy?
As someone who writes Regencies, someone who enjoys a dive down the historical research rabbit hole, why would I write a story like Nine Ladies that has rocks with druid time travel powers? How can anything Austen-related possibly relate to fantasy or science fiction genres?
Growing up, we had weekly library visits, spent Saturdays at Barnes and Noble, and put books in every suitcase when we went on vacation. My mother gave me mysteries and British classics to read—but not any Austen—and my father read science fiction and fantasy. Wheel of Time, Star Wars expanded universe, Michael Crichton, Ender’s Game, Tad Williams…I was all over the place. From my mother’s influence I read classics with those same elements: Verne, Wells, Bradbury, Orwell. Dune, LOTR, The Handmaid’s Tale.
What’s the appeal of these stories to a Regency-loving nerd? Is it the simple escapism of aliens or elves? Escapism is a valid reason, but I think it’s also because sci fi and fantasy have incredible world building and are an opportunity to create a new universe with its own mythology and rules.
Hmm, a relatable place but with unique rules? That doesn’t sound too different from bringing a reader into regency England with all of its social customs and culture that are recognizable to us in 2022, but still feels a bit like we landed on another planet.
The technology or the magic—or, in Nine Ladies, the time travel—is the element that brings us to that unique realm. It only sets the stage for a science fiction or fantasy story; it should never overshadow it.
In A Christmas Carol, spirits take Scrooge back and forth through time, but the book isn’t about time travel. It’s about seeing the error of your ways and changing for the better before it’s too late. Nine Ladies is a Pride and Prejudice variation that employs time travel to get our characters from different centuries together, but it’s really a romance that touches on societal views of women and how we find our own happiness in life.
Do we watch Star Wars for the lightsabers or because we enjoy a well-told hero’s tale? Do we read Pride and Prejudice and its variations for the setting with different mores or because of the characters’ personal growth and love story? It doesn’t have to be either/or, but a story set in a disparate world to ours won’t be appealing if the main characters and their journey don’t capture us our hearts and imaginations as they navigate that unique world.
To help you decide if an Austen/fantasy crossover can work, Nine Ladies is on sale in the US and the UK Amazon store for $2.99/£2.99 through Friday January 7, 2022.
Nine Ladies is firmly in the genre fiction category—a time travel romance. It has a fantasy element, a heavier romance element, and with a few mysteries thrown in. But don’t get hung up on the labels. At the end of the day, it’s a page-turning Darcy and Elizabeth story with a happy ever after.