Today I get to welcome author Aaron Michael Ritchey, who is celebrating the release of his debut novel, The Never Prayer.
The Fury of Heaven.
The Desires of Hell.
A Broken Girl: Shattered by the death of her parents, Lena knows she is not handling her sorrow well – keeping to herself, running drugs, risking her little brother. But she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her disintegrating family together.
Two Lost Souls: Lurking on the edges of the afterlife, Chael and Johnny Beels have spent centuries manipulating events, one pushing for good, the other sowing chaos. Now these two desperate souls have taken human form to play a dangerous game of hope and despair with Lena trapped in the middle.
The Ultimate Sacrifice: Lena must maneuver the shadowy realm between angel and demon, love and lust, good and evil, until she finds the courage to see the truth and make the ultimate sacrifice.
When do we struggle to change the world?
When do we let go and embrace life’s broken beauty?
Doubting Aaron – Did I Write a Heavy-Hearted Romance?
My first novel got published this past March, The Never Prayer. It’s a love story with demons, angels, drug addicts, and atheists. I queried it as a YA Paranormal Romance, but I have doubts about how well it fits into the genre.
I’ve read Twilight, which might very well be the quintessential YA Paranormal Romance. I mean, girl meets boy, girl is a young adult (YA, check), boy is a vampire (paranormal, check), and they fall deeply in love (romance, check).
I’ve read Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver and similar stuff, teenage girl meets werewolf and they fall in love. It’s all there. It all works. People adore these novels!
When I sat down to write a YA Paranormal Romance with angels, I followed the form, right? A teenage girl meets an angel and a demon, she falls in love, but she can’t tell which is the angel and which is the demon until it’s too late.
Sounds like it fits in perfectly, right? Maybe. I hope so. But I have my doubts.
The angel my heroine Lena meets is an atheist. Yeah, an angel who’s an atheist. How can there be a God watching over this tired, broken world? And Lena knows how hard the world is—her parents were killed and she’s alone taking care of her little brother and mentally ill aunt in a dying Colorado mountain town.
And the book gets heavy, and there are drug addicts and drug dealing, and things don’t work out the way you would think.
So the question is this: Can you have a book with heavy themes and still have it be a YA Paranormal Romance? Well, the YA part is easy. Ellen Hopkins makes a living by writing heavy-themed YA books. Check.
What about the paranormal part? Well, it seems to me, dystopian novels, while not strictly paranormal, delve into the darker parts of humanity, and so yeah, paranormal, that’s okay. A little dark paranormal is good for the soul.
Romance? This is where I just don’t know. Romances can get dark as long as the end has the required happy ending. My book has a bittersweet ending. But even if Lena and her love rode off into the sunset together, I’m not certain you can write a heavy, dark-hearted romance. But I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. Googling, I’m told that “dark romance” is a new genre. Maybe. Jane Eyre did well and the main love interest had his insane wife locked up in the attic.
One thing, however, that I do want to say. This is the kind of book I would have wanted to read when I was in high school. It has the high school stuff, but then it has very real conversations about God, the nature of the world, and how we deal with suffering. Reading Twilight and Shiver, I enjoyed the ride, but I wanted more. And so I wrote a book that had more of what I wanted.
In the end, did I write a romance? You’ll have to read it and let me know. My next book, though, total romance. With a happy ending and flowers and rainbows and girls in long dresses from Paris. As for The Never Prayer? From Stephen Crane’s poem, “The Heart”:
“I like it because it is bitter. And because it is my heart.”
For more about me and The Never Prayer, you can visit us both at www.aaronmritchey.com. And of course, I’m on Facebook. And I tweet. If you are at all curious about the novel, our friends at Amazon.com would love for you to visit them!
Meet Aaron Michael Ritchey!
For 20 years, Aaron Ritchey has braved the dangers of writing to churn out a dozen books. When he isn’t typing, he’s working on anesthesiology software, bicycling, or being swept away by the raw female power living in his house. His first novel, The Never Prayer, is available now from Crescent Moon Press!