Travel Back to the Future as Warner reissues two extraordinary novels by Jayne Ann Krentz
By Tara Gelsomino
It was your classic road trip romance. A plucky outcast heroine with a "safe" fiancé stashed away at home embarks on a journey with a mysterious stranger she eventually falls for. Except Jayne Ann Krentz's 1986 romance SWEET STARFIRE added a little twist—it was set in a whole other galaxy, filled with telepaths and magical artifacts. With its publication, the first futuristic romance was born, carving out an exciting though tiny new subgenre that would act as a bridge between science fiction/fantasy and romance for many readers.
"I think the appeal of these books is that they are, at heart, classic historical romances that just happen to be set on other worlds," says Krentz. Indeed, Cidra and Teague's passionate and emotional relationship made SWEET STARFIRE a keeper for many readers, thanks to great sexual tension, strong
emotions and the very accessible way the author blends the familiar and the unknown, creating a fresh and new spin on time-honored storytelling.
Krentz followed up her groundbreaking novel with another futuristic in 1987, CRYSTAL FLAME. Again a traditional romance plot unfolded in an extraordinary world, as the last survivor of a proud heritage, Kalena, sets out on a deadly mission to destroy her family's enemy, Quintel, at any cost, but somehow falls in love with Quintel's soldier in the bargain. Both SWEET STARFIRE and CRYSTAL FLAME will be brought back into print this month in a handy 2-in-1 omnibus edition, to the delight of old and new fans of Krentz.
Then an established and prolific category romance writer, Krentz found a whole new world—literally—opened up to her once she introduced the industry to futuristics. "My futuristics are special to me. The very first story I ever tried to write was a novel of futuristic romantic suspense. It never got published but, as you can see, the concept has remained an essential part of my writing. I grew up reading science fiction. Looking back,
I realize that my only complaint was that it never had enough romance in it.
"In fact, it was after I wrote those books that I realized I might be able to write a real historical. They were the inspiration for the start of my Amanda Quick career."
Of course, nowadays Krentz is practically a household name. The author of 31 New York Times bestsellers and 120-plus titles total, with historicals (as Amanda Quick), contemporary romantic suspense (as Krentz) and more futuristic titles (as Jayne Castle). "To me, the only real differences between my contemporaries, historicals and futuristics are the settings. The basic set-up is similar—two lovers facing the age-old problems of love
and danger together."
Despite the cult success of SWEET STARFIRE, CRYSTAL FLAME, Shield's Lady and her more recent ongoing Psynergy, Inc. futuristic series written as Jayne Castle—which features paranormal detectives and archaeologists in a future world—the author is still better known for her more traditional novels. The futuristic subgenre as a whole has only managed to interest a small niche of the reading population.
"I had assumed [back then] that the subgenre would take off more quickly but
in hindsight I guess that was very unrealistic. But I hope the subgenre continues to be published because it provides a wonderful place for writers to try out new ideas and develop other new subgenres. I have come to think of futuristics as a sort of experimental laboratory for romance. It may never be a huge genre but it is an important one."
The key to Krentz's success, no matter which name or subgenre she takes on, seems to be her surefire ability to deliver high adventure, compelling characters and emotional, moving love stories.
"Every writer has a story that feels right; a story that she needs to tell; a story that suits her style and her voice. Romantic suspense is mine, regardless of the setting."
Don't miss Jayne's next suspense for Bantam, LIGHT IN SHADOW, the first in a new series set in Whispering Creek, AZ, launching in January 2003. For more information on Jayne or her books, visit www.krentz-quick.com.
Other Futuristics by Jayne Ann Krentz
(written as Amanda Glass)
1989 (reissued in 1996)
PSYNERGY, INC. SERIES (written as Jayne Castle)
"Bridal Jitters" in CHARMED* 1999
AFTER DARK* 2000
*Reissued in a 2-in-1 volume titled HARMONY in July 2002