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The romance genre is dominated by women writers, but guys can write romance, too. 

Matt Forbeck is an author and game designer and happily married father of five, including a set of quadruplets. For more on his work, please visit Forbeck.com.

Writing Steampunk Romance–A Guy’s POV

by Matt Forbeck

Last fall, Jean Rabe — editor of Steampunk’d — asked me for a story for her next steampunk anthology, Hot & Steamy: Tales of Steampunk Romance. I’ve written in a lot of genres over the years and have fifteen published novels under my belt, with four more under contract. Despite that, I’d never veered toward writing romance as such. Sure, I had romantic relationships in my books, but when people read my stories they tend to plug them into categories like fantasy, science fiction, horror, or thriller and call them action-packed roller coasters of adventure and fun. The romance bits come far enough down the list that you might give up looking for them before you get there.

Still I’ve known Jean for years and respected her judgment. If she thought I could write a steampunk romance, who was I to argue? The steampunk part I knew I had down solid. Earlier in my creative career, I served as the president of Pinnacle Entertainment Group, a tabletop game publisher best known for the roleplaying game Deadlands, which hit shelves back in 1996. It’s billed as a western horror game, but it also features a massive dollop of 19th century weird science, the kind of thing we can all recognize as steampunk these days.

The romance I had to think about, but after a bit of reflection I relished the challenge. I came up with a fun premise that featured a good measure of my trademark action but centered around the romance between a couple of slaves living on a plantation owned by a Confederate mad scientist at the height of the American Civil War.

Honestly, I never would have thought of writing such a story if I hadn’t been asked, and I enjoyed stretching myself out into a new genre. It forced me to figure out what the tropes of romance stories are and then wrap my head around how I could use them in a tale that intrigued me. That’s the kind of thing that can affect your development as a writer for years to come. 

So, if I haven’t done it enough by now, I’d like to publicly thank Jean not only for coming up with the anthology and lining up so many other great writers for it, but also for daring me to break out of the kinds of stories I’ve already done and try something new. That turned out to be worth far more to me than any money the story might earn.

–Matt Forbeck

Hot & Steamy: Tales of Steampunk Romance, edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg, officially hit shelves and e-readers on June 7.

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