By A.J. Menden
So why did I decide to submit to Shomi? The answer is simple: I was a fan. I’m not saying this because I write for the imprint now, I wondered where these books had been all my life back when I first stumbled upon them in the throes of submission hell. The Shomi line combines science fiction, action-adventure, even a bit of the paranormal or urban fantasy elements, with maybe the most unlikely bit of all, romance.
I think when talking about romance books, people may automatically think of a gorgeous man and an equally gorgeous woman meeting when their hands touch as they both reach for the same latte at the local coffee shop. Or perhaps a professional rivalry that turns to love over a chance meeting outside of work. Or maybe for the more magically or paranormal inclined, they think of a vampire struggling with his love for a human, or a werewolf trying to keep her secret from her human lover.
But they might not think of time traveling cops, post-apocalyptic soldiers, truck drivers in Arctic wastelands, deadly game show contestants, virtual reality warriors, or superheroes. They don’t think of scarred but attractive heroes, people with memory problems, possible saviors of the human race, or women with razors coming out of their fingers.
I thought that was just me. I thought it was just me who watched science-fiction and action movies and longed for the romantic moments, who hoped that the man and woman who survived the zombie apocalypse/killer aliens ended up together. I was wrong, thankfully, and there’s the Shomi line to prove it.
I actually wrote “Phenomenal Girl 5” way before there was a Shomi line. While I had been trying to shop around a vampire hunter romance novel, I wrote the book that would become “Phenomenal Girl 5” in an attempt to keep my mind occupied during the waiting game so I would hopefully not freak out every time I got a rejection. It was a fun book, written about things that interested me that I thought no one else would be interested in – superheroes, immortals, magic, and yes, romance. My friendly beta readers liked it, I liked it, my husband liked it, but I didn’t expect it to go anywhere. It was only after I had gotten requests from several agents (including the one who would go on to become MY agent one day) for a full for the other book and then rejected, that in a fit of pique, decided to ask if they’d be interested in something different – a superhero romance. And surprisingly to me at the time, there was interest. Around this same time, “Wired” and “Moongazer” came out. They were different, fun, and just the kind of thing I was interested in. Since I had agent interest in the project I had previously thought was written just for my own amusement and I knew Dorchester accepted non-agented submissions (they had also rejected the vampire novel) again on a whim I submitted a partial of the book that would become “Phenomenal Girl 5,” never expecting anything to come from it. It was the slush pile, after all. Yes, I am a slush pile success story. And many months later, I got an email from the man who would go on to become my editor, saying it was accepted.
The Shomi line is everything that is fun to me. They’re books for people who might not usually read a romance story. They’re books for people who might not usually pick up a science fiction novel. These are books for people that like unconventional stories with unconventional characters. These are books that can’t be contained by one specific genre.
So why Shomi? Where else could you find an immortal magician going around saving the world from an apocalypse with a less-than-perfect-looking superheroine?