Monday, May 11, 2009

Why Paranormal Romance?

The topic for this week is going to be "How I got started writing paranormal." I don’t think it’s so much the ‘how’ as to the ‘why.’ When I first started reading romance, it was always historicals. I gobbled up books by Amanda Quick, Johanna Lindsey, and Laura Kinsale. I figured, hey, if I was going to lose myself in a fictional word, I didn’t want it to be like the one I currently live in (apologies to all the contemporary writers out there). I wanted to be swept away to a time long ago, when honor meant everything and a hero would lay down his life to protect those he loved. A time when the world was as rugged as the men who lived in it and things were not so PC. I wanted my knight in shining armor to come riding in on his white horse and rescue me in the nick of time, darn it. But after a while, the books all started sounding the same. I was getting bored. I knew something was missing. So one day, as I stood in my local book store staring aimlessly at the multitude of books before me, the sales lady came up to me and asked if she could help. I told her my dilemma – that I loved historicals but I wanted something different. Something more. Something with magic. She smiled and pointed me to Jill Barnett’s BEWITCHING. Not only did this introduce me to paranormal romance, but it opened up the world of humorous historical paranormal romance to me. A major milestone. I had found the type of book that I loved.

So years later, when I decided to try my hand at writing, did I write what I loved? Nope. I sat down and tried to write one of those epic historical romances. It had a Highland laird, a warrior heroine, an evil father, revenge, coerced sex, illegitimate pregnancy, angst, deception, drama, and even a case of amnesia thrown in. Everything but the kitchen sink. Did it sell? Nope. And now that I know what I know, I’m not surprised. But at the time I was heartbroken. Why didn’t anyone love my great masterpiece? Then I heard those prolific words that gave me that ‘ah ha’ moment every author has. Not ‘write what you know,’ because unless you’re a history scholar or time traveler, no one really ‘knows’ what it was truly like to live in a time not our own. No, the prolific words that got me started writing in the paranormal genre were ‘write what you love to read.’ And so I did. And you know what? That book practically wrote itself. It flew from my fingertips with all the pieces falling magically into place. It was a book with bumbling guardian angels and reincarnated soul mates set in WWII Pompeii. By the time I finished it, I had what I thought was a pretty darn good book. Someone else thought so too, because it landed me an agent. Did it sell? Nope – mainly because of the WWII thing -- but it came very close. Was I heartbroken? Yes. Did I give up on the genre I love? No. I’m still writing humorous historical paranormal romance, but I’ve moved on to a more marketable time period. Will my latest and greatest medieval time travel with a dragon-knight sell? Who knows? But judging by the contest wins and the editor interest I’ve been receiving lately, it just might. And now that I’m a better writer and know what type of book fits my voice, I might dig that first book out from under the bed and blow off the dust bunnies. Maybe with some paranormal elements thrown in (and at least one or two kitchen sinks thrown out), it could turn into something special. All it takes is a little magic. *G*


  1. It's always interesting to find out what got people started writing. I still love Amanda Quick's stories.

  2. I remember that book! I did use to read a lot of sf/f but that was one of my first paranormal romances -- that and JD's A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR.