The Greatest Lesbian Love Story Ever Told (Spoiler alert!)
Updated: Feb 5
"Daughter of Fire: The Darkness Rising" has now been out for ten days. In honor of this milestone, I thought I'd share some background on the inspiration for Aeryn and Lyse's love story. But be warned! Here there be spoilers if you haven't read the book yet! So reader beware if you don't want to know book two's secrets.
There are two parts to Aeryn and Lyse's story. The first part is inspired by what I think is one of the two greatest lesbian love stories ever told on TV. In 2014, the Brazilian telenovela "Em Familia" aired a storyline of a happily married woman who finds herself unexpectedly losing her heart to a captivating, exhilarating...woman. Clara Fernandez loves her life and her husband Cadu. With her son, she has everything she ever dreamed of. But when exotic photographer Marina Meirelles enters her life, she finds her world slowly turning upside down. Her feelings for Marina are undeniable (nor a secret, as even Cadu can see), but can she give up almost everything she's worked for to embark on a new relationship?
What I love most about how the storyline was depicted is the emotional sympathy shown for all three characters in the love triangle. This isn't the usual TV storyline of a woman suddenly discovering she's been gay all along and the husband being tossed to the side like excess baggage. Instead, this is the story of a woman with genuine love for her male partner confronting the possibility of having slightly stronger feelings for a female suitor and what it means to follow her heart knowing what it will cost her. The overall message is that the decision to leave a spouse/significant other is hard, but sometimes you fall in love with someone else. It doesn't mean you stop loving your former partner, it just means that you found someone else with whom you're meant to be in an almost transcendent, fateful way. Two halves of one whole finding each other.
There's a tendency in fictional love triangles to give the ex-partner some kind of character flaw that allows the reader to dismiss them emotionally and root for the developing pairing instead. Maybe the ex was a secret cheater or physically abusive or emotionally distant, for example. I didn't want to do that here, just as it wasn't done on "Em Familia." So while we root for Aeryn and Lyse because we see the relationship developing between them, it's important to show sympathy and understanding both for the difficulty of Lyse's decision and for its effect on Timo. Timo's not a bad guy. Aeryn was just a better fit for Lyse. (Fun fact: I gave Timo gray hair because on the show, Cadu had prematurely gray hair.)
Now, about that spell.
This is part two of Aeryn and Lyse's love story. Have you ever seen the movie "Practical Magic"? In the movie, as a child, Sandra Bullock's character Sally casts a true love spell called Amas Veritas. The words of the spell go like this: "He will hear my call a mile away. He will whistle my favorite song. He can ride a pony backwards. He can flip pancakes in the air. He'll be marvelously kind. And his favorite shape will be a star. And he'll have one green eye and one blue." Sally thinks that because no such man could possibly exist, she'll never fall in love and have her heart broken. Until Gary Hallet shows up...
What if you summoned your soulmate so long ago you forgot you'd done it, as Sally did?
The idea of such a love spell (cast at a terrible cost) was the first inspiration for the Destiny and Darkness series. Although during writing I dropped the "terrible cost" aspect, I kept the spell in. Something I love seeing in YA fantasy is the role of fate and destiny. The real world is chaotic and anarchic. In fiction, the world is sometimes swayed by the influence of supernatural things like fate. In this series, Aeryn and Lyse are fated to end up together not just because they have natural chemistry, but because they are literally meant to be together. Lyse Called for her other half, and fate brought Aeryn right to her very doorstep. Luckily for me, the spell's effects also helped to explain some things that might otherwise have seemed like loose ends.
I hope that readers enjoy Aeryn and Lyse's story in the first two books. I mentioned at the beginning there are TWO great lesbian love stories. Stay tuned for book three to see how I was influence by the second one to tell another love story.