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.
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?
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.
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.