ROMANTIC WOMEN'S FICTION . . . WITH A PARANORMAL TWIST . . .

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Vampire’s Intergalactic Fae-Child--or Can Paranormal Elements Go Too Far?

Introducing Leslie Witwer!  


Leslie is an award winning writer living in the Pacific Northwest with her real life romantic lead, children who teach her daily that love has no limits . . . and thousands of characters clamoring for attention in her imagination.

Leslie and I share the same fabulous rockstar agent, Jessica Faust of BookEnds, and I've asked her to come play at my house today.  :)

I’m delighted to be asked to guest on Sharla's blog and talk about a topic dear to both of us: the romance genre.   I write paranormal romance with a hint of mystery, but it wasn’t my original intention.

My first attempt at storytelling came in the form of an urban fantasy about a hardened heroine with a wicked set of stiletto heels.

I knew everything about this character except why she kept trying to pursue the hunky guy—the supernatural, hunky guy—instead of focusing on saving the world. It took me six months and four painful chapters to realize the error in forcing myself to conform to the wrong genre. What I feel in my gut, in that hidden place that forms men and women and launches them on adventures, is of the paranormal persuasion. But what rules do I follow?

The Romance Writers of America gives broad guidelines for judging the paranormal category with the statement: “a futuristic, fantasy, or paranormal element is blended with the love story, which is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying and optimistic.”

Fantastical elements. Love story. Emotionally satisfying. Not very limiting, is it? And yet, I’ve discovered that while unconventional, the paranormal romance genre is curtailed by certain conventions.

The incomparable Catherine Asaro, in my opinion the mother of the paranormal romance, penned one of my first memorable reads with her Ruby Dynasty. With dashing empaths, physics based world-building, and a clash of futuristic cultures centered around an engaging family, Ms. Asaro’s writing defined my expectations for a story with paranormal elements.

Compare that with another favorite, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books. An impoverished yet noble Scotsman and a time-traveling Englishwoman are caught between upheavals during the Jacobite rebellion. Ms. Gabaldon missed few elements. I’ve heard her work described as a “historical sci-fi adventure-romance.” I simply call her bloody brilliant.

Does throwing archetypes in the stewpot assure success?

Certainly not.

Like the title example, an intergalactic vampire holds little interest by himself, but ahhhhh, what is he after? Why would a vampire leave the security of his own turf for the outer reaches and what or who would compel him? Now we are telling a paranormal tale acting on the principles of good storytelling: motivating a character towards a goal in spite of overwhelming odds to reach a satisfying, emotional conclusion.

Our limits.

Paranormal romance may be the most creative, seemingly boundless genre . . . but don’t go too far and ignore standards. As Catherine Asaro and Diana Gabaldon will tell you, if you tell it correctly even the most outlandish combinations will inspire.

Woot!!  Thank you, Leslie, for the awesome drop-by!!  Readers can find her at www.lesliewitwer.com, on Twitter as @lesliewitwer, and on Facebook as Leslie Witwer.

14 comments:

Vicki said...

This genre of literature sounds fascinating and intriguing! Enjoyed this!

Midge said...

Dear Friend! (with a capital "F") I still can't believe you can put aside all the mundane trials of life raising 2 beautiful daughters and loving a husband--to allow your "fantastical" mind to wander into another realm! Your description of your adventure into your dreams is wonderful and I enjoyed your blog!

Sarah said...

An intergalactic vampire??? Hmmm has my wheels turning.....Romance........... if well written this type of writing can always captivate an audience:)

Jim said...

It is very interesting the different twist that can be told in just a “Romance Book”. Having recently read a paranormal romance, I would have never thought that a romance novel could hold my attention as much as it did. It just goes to show what a well written book can do for any genre.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to read this book, it sounds like the author was really able to submerge herself into the novel!

Anonymous said...

Interesting information with a witty and fun delivery. I am left intrigued! LM

Jenny said...

Sharla, thanks so much for introducing all of us to Leslie! Her intergalactic vampire sounds so intriguing. I can't wait to read all about it!

Susanne said...

Enjoyed this!

Ginny said...

Interesting idea!

Beth said...

Always looking for something new and interesting

Mike said...

Very interesting topic. Far too many novels today seem to overdo the "genre" standard without sufficient attention to story/character development and good storytelling. Can't wait to read more!

marie said...

Found this very interesting

Pat said...

Really enjoyed this. Good luck Leslie.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this!