A Post by Alys Murray
With all the talk on the internet lately about “published fanfiction,” and with The Almost Queen’s admitted link to my disappointment with the end of Game of Thrones, I have to assume it’s high time I clarify that while I love fanfiction and don’t mind folks publishing theirs if it’s creatively distinct from the original work, The Almost Queen is not inspired by or drawn from any of my works of fanfiction.
However! That doesn’t mean I don’t have fandom influences. Every author has their own process of creating characters and relationships, and romance authors are no exception. Sometimes, they pick actors to “play” the characters in their heads. Sometimes, they let a particular trope or central conflict guide that relationship – enemies-to-lovers or captives and captors, to name just two.
When I sit down to write a book, I usually construct a list of “influences,” which I write down in a notebook and almost immediately misplace. (This, too, is part of my writing process…losing all of my notes and just going by what my silly brain remembers from my notes.) When I began The Almost Queen, I did this, too, but soon found myself struggling for mainstream pairings that really embodied the “vibe” I was going for.
What was I looking for? Well, I wanted to write a story about a vulnerable man who falls for a completely impenetrable woman. Big “wife guy” stuff, you know? I also love stories that include elements of “I hate/will fight everyone in the world, except for you,” and wanted ships that highlighted that quality.
Because we live in a society where “wife guys,” are mostly found in fanfiction and not necessarily in real storytelling (because media is frequently sexist and doesn’t want to see strong women with vulnerable men, a discussion for another time), I would like to introduce you to what I’m calling “rarepair central.” In fanfic, a rarepair is a coupling that may not appear at all in canon, but does pop up occasionally in fandom space. And, while not all of my listed pairings are rarepairs, boy, did rarepairs come in handy when building the foundation for this book!
Neville Longbottom/Pansy Parkinson (“Panville”) from Harry Potter
Though I no longer meaningfully engage with the Harry Potter universe, when the pairing of Pansy Parkinson – badass Slytherin and former girlfriend of Draco Malfoy –and certified Tall Guy Neville Longbottom crossed my twitter feed, I was instantly smitten. An emotionally closed off woman with a Very Tall man who loves plants and believes in bravery and goodness? Uh, yes please. Sign me up!
Kat and Patrick from 10 Things I Hate About You
While this pairing doesn’t necessarily satisfy all of my requirements (Patrick Verona is way more of a terrifying man than Terran is in The Almost Queen), what I do love about their relationship is that, like in The Almost Queen, It is one that is based on a lie, but becomes about true, real love. Also…who can resist the banter?
Klaus and Caroline from The Vampire Diaries
Full disclosure: I have never seen a single episode of The Vampire Diaries, but after someone recommended a whole bunch of Klaus and Caroline fanfiction to me once, I read their wiki page and dove right into the enemies-to-lovers goodness. Klaus definitely has that “I hate everyone in the world except for you,” thing going on, and he definitely influenced The Almost Queen!
Rose and Hux from the Star Wars Sequels
Rarepair alert! These two characters only share a scene or two in The Last Jedi, but given their sidelining in The Rise of Skywalker, some in the fandom began speculating that Rose was Hux’s spy handler during the events of the film. What I love about this pairing is that Rose is literally always right. Hux is a big loser who has to grow and change and atone for his past while Rose gets to be the awesome heroine who guides him on that journey. We love to see it!
Sansa and the Prince of Dorne from Game of Thrones
Okay, the rarest of rare pairs. These two characters technically shared a scene, but didn’t ever have any lines or interactions with each other. They were basically two attractive people who folks just smooshed together based entirely on fan ideas and inventions, but those fan ideas and inventions definitely inspired the dynamic between Terran and Ellara in The Almost Queen. Who doesn’t love two people torn between their aspirations to power and their feelings for each other?
While The Almost Queen isn’t a Hades and Persephone story, there are elements to the modern interpretations of their relationship that influenced Terran and Ellara. Hades is a Wife Guy, and Persephone is often portrayed as a spitfire who Hades believes in 100%, and that’s the energy I wanted to give to the romance at the heart of The Almost Queen!