For Valentines’ Day, here’s a look at a character absolutely motivated by love.
The Unexpected Pairing
On Ad Astra, I swear I was only joking when I suggested a Star Trek fanfiction love story about a shy Gorn reciting poetry to a lovely, blushing Cardassian maiden. And then the gauntlet was thrown down – write it!
My first venture into the Bron-Sophra pairing was The Reptile Speaks. What I wanted to get across was the idea of a very unexpected lover. Currently, for us humans, an unexpectedly romantic person or partner might be someone who is of a different race or religion from us, or someone who we might not see as romantic (the stereotypical jock or soldier, perhaps).
Analogous Mixed Pairings Here on Earth
Back when I was a kid, a mixed marriage was considered, generally, as being between two people of different religions. And, a good hundred-plus years before that, technically, it was an issue for Jews if the one of the two parties to a marriage was Sephardic, and the other Ashkenazi. In that case, even a marriage of two Jews could be seen as “mixed”. And of course now you see a lot of mixed race marriages. A major, landmark case, Loving vs. Virginia (Supreme Court, 1967) declared any legislation outlawing marriage between differing races was unconstitutional.
As a Massachusetts resident, I have seen my share of same-sex marriages as well. I recognize that this is not the norm everwhere, but it is becoming so here. These examples are as close as we can get to the concept of interspecies romance and, perhaps, marriage.
For alien characters requiring a lot of makeup and/or prosthetics, it can be difficult to visualize them. But for me, Bron is a classic romantic lead in a difficult body. I think of Leonardo DiCaprio, who has made himself somewhat less than attractive in a lot of roles, but has also been a romantic lead. Forget the hair. Forget the skin. Concentrate on the eyes, on the voice, on the body shape and size, on the posture, on the mannerisms, and let your imagination wander. Think of what it was like to be a teenager, or shy, or not fitting in. Think of longing, and of missed opportunities, and of insecurity.
Is there not a soul in the sentient reptile? Hath not the Gorn eyes?
“Um, I just, I don’t know if you would want to be, to be seen with, with a guy like me.”
A Gentle Dragon?
My hope with creating Bron was and is to put forth someone who is out of left field when it comes to romance and gallantry. Bron’s gentle nature is not readily apparent. You have to look past frightening teeth, claws and scales. You need to see what’s inside the person, and uncover the sensitivity within.
When a weekly free write prompt came up about crying, I decided to continue the Bron-Sophra story with Insecurity. I often have trouble writing characters weeping (and for the life of me, I have no idea why), but Bron’s crying, to me, rang true. He is a teenaged character, with a lot of the insecurities and highs and lows that come from being about fifteen or sixteen or so. And like a lot of less than good-looking guys out there, he worries about his chances with girls and is shy because he doesn’t want to be hurt.
You may not want to hug him, still, but I hope you can see beyond the teeth, the claws and the cold-bloodedness. We may very well find that some of our best and closest alien friends look nothing like us. Why, when you next hear a Shakespearean sonnet, it might just be recited by a guy who looks like this.