Monday, February 23, 2009

Where's the love?

Is the book you’re reading Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy? Truthfully, I’m an author in the genre and I still don’t know what the difference is. Some say Urban Fantasy is Paranormal Romance with a lot less emphasis on the romance. Others will tell you Urban Fantasy is just the new name for Paranormal Romance. But either way you go, you’re inevitably dealing with a world darker than what you’d find in most traditional romance novels.

I’ve been asked a number of times why I chose to bill my series as Dark Paranormal Romance instead of Urban Fantasy, and for me, the answer is always the same: I don’t want to lose the romance. Part of the appeal of setting my stories in a darker world is because when the romance happens, it means far more. When you’re thrust into a situation that threatens everything you know – a single look or touch can change everything.

Take Logan Ellis and Kerestyan Nelek from my debut novel Eternal Seduction. Logan is everything a heroine shouldn’t be. She’s homeless, addicted to drugs, detached from the world around her, and is nearly as jaded as some of the ancient vampires she finds herself involved with. So in the moments when she accepts Kerestyan’s offered hand or actually reaches for his, the simple gesture means so much more.

Here’s an example:

Logan squeezed Kerestyan’s hand when he laced his fingers between hers and gently pulled her around to face him. He gazed down at her, his blue eyes burning with emotions she couldn’t place. “Are you ready?”

She did her best to offer him a confident smile, but ended up shaking her head. “Honestly, no.” She reached up and smoothed the cascade of black hair spilling over his shoulder. “I was just starting to come to terms with being your prisoner, Lord Vampire.”

She shivered as he brushed the backs of his warm fingers down her cheeks before curling them behind her neck. He pressed his forehead to hers then closed his eyes and inhaled the steam her breath created as it mingled with the cold air.

He didn’t say anything. He didn’t move. He just stood there, his soft lips barely touching hers, breathing in her breath as though he needed it as much as she did.

That particular scene happens about halfway through the book. It’s one of my personal favorites, and I honestly don’t think it would have the same meaning if Logan wasn’t a darker character. Her nature allows some of the most overlooked gestures to become romantic: a shared look from across the room, Kerestyan’s strong hand at the small of her back, his warm lips against her cheek. For a heroine like Logan, who’s lost her faith in the world around her and cares about very little, a single look or gentle touch means more than flowers or candy ever could.

Personally, I thrive on writing a dark and dangerous world. I love finding characters who bend and break the traditional molds and give me a chance to paint love and romance in new ways. After all, you probably have a different idea of what love is than the person sitting next to you, and the characters you read about are no different. One person’s vision of a happily ever after may include a ring and a declaration of undying love, while another’s might be the realization that the person standing across from them makes them believe that love really is possible. I think romance, and the perception thereof, works the same way.

So that’s why I resist the Urban Fantasy moniker for my Dark Paranormal Romance series. If you take out the romance, what are you left with? Earth shattering battle sequences where the male and female leads just “like” each other? If that’s your thing, by all means – read what you like. :) But I’ll always be a fan of the story where a man and woman fight to overcome the odds together and find a way to pull each other from the darkness.

Jen Turner


Kaye Manro said...

Spoken like a true romance author, Jen. I totally agree with you. You've made some really good points. And frankly, I like the phrase, dark paranormal romance much better than urban fantasy, any day.

Bekki Lynn said...

Hi Jennifer.

I've often wondered the same thing. There should be some clear cut definitions so people are confused.

I love stories that break the molds.

But you're right about being able to use features in your story that isn't the norm. They stand out and bring a dimension to the story that causes you to shift emotions and deal with both sides of the characters.

I love stories which have me feeling a range of emotion.

Savanna Kougar said...

Thanks for clarifying. I've been in sort of a fog over what is urban fantasy and what is not.
The term, Dark Paranormal Romance, is far more evocative and true to your story.
And, personally, I'm not into it's just a buddy thing. I want romance.
Lovely powerful scene, btw.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thanks, Jen, for a fascinating post. I like your idea of dark romance and what drives it very much. A thoughtful and thought-provoking piece. Best wishes, Lindsay

Linda Banche said...

I'd wondered what urban fantasy was. Thanks for the definitions, even if they are somewhat confusing. Now I have a better idea, even if no one has a clear idea.

Francesca Prescott said...

Jen, I loved reading your post. I'm not at all familiar with these genres, so I was very interested by what you had to say. And wow, your excerpt is really beautiful...