05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Monday, May 30, 2011

You know you're a paranormal romance writer when...

…your heroine’s new house is haunted. Or every man she kisses passes out. Or she’s a twin telepath.

...your hero literally lives a charmed life.  Or he can find anything or anyone, anywhere.  No, really.  Or maybe he’s invisible.

…your characters defeat your villains by abnormal means. Or they defeat villains with super-human abilities. Or your characters aren’t technically human.

I love writing paranormal romance because I can explore important questions while my imagination runs wild and give my readers a rollicking good ride along the way.

What if a very good girl does one really bad thing?  How does she reclaim her life? Find love?

 Do we discover who we really are, or choose who we become? How does love define us?
I’m a quintessential optimist who’s all about having fun. Writing quirky characters with unusual abilities or out-of-this-world problems is more fun than a barrel of cranky gnomes! 

In SamMarie Ashe’s May post, she says her A.N.G.E.L. stories could be classified as Romantic Suspense if it weren’t for the paranormal aspect. Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a Paranormal Romance with a Suspense plot and a Romantic Suspense story with Paranormal Elements?  

In my experience (and in SamMarie's), not much—at least when the story has a large dose of both genres. The main difference lies in who you want to buy your story.  Ask two different editors, and you’ll probably get two different answers for the same manuscript. 

I did!

Remember that some agents, editors, houses and lines don’t handle both genres. Do your research and aim your query or pitch at what they call these stories. You’ll avoid a knee-jerk rejection from someone who might have adored your story if they’d gotten past your query letter.

Have you had a similar experience with a story that blends genres? 


Judith Ashley said...

Recently I decided to follow the advice of editors and agents - read what you write (I love historicals but I don't write them). So I dug through my TBR (to be read) pile and found buried at the bottom two definite Women's Fiction and five definite Romances.

Now that I've read them I really can see that I don't write Women's Fiction and I don't write Romance. I've said I write Romantic Women's Fiction and while that does capture a general flavor of what I write it doesn't encompass it all because my stories have a strong Spiritual component.

It would be easy to be discouraged, finding out I don't fit into any genre description but I'm hanging on to the other piece of advice I've heard over and over again.

Write what you know and love!

Now, back to writing!

Anonymous said...

I haven't had a similar experience with a story that blends, but I did have an editor tell me my story didn't fit either light or dark paranormal. Maybe a new sub-genre--the gray paranormal?

Anonymous said...

Sorry--don't know why my name showed as anonymous above-- Robin Weaver.

Sarah Raplee said...

Hi Judith and Robin! The good news is that more opportunities are opening up for authors who write 'between the genres." I know you've struggled with genre identification for a while, Judith.

Robin, you and I should talk about your 'gray paranormal' idea! My books also have elements of both light and dark PN stories. One writing teacher told me I write black comedy. *G*

We need a more attractive name for our new subgenre, something less-ambiguous than 'gray.' Unfortunately, 'Fun, spooky books with disturbing paranormal elements' sounds awkward and Stephen King-ish. Ideas, people?

Katt said...

ah yes.
I once pitched to a Mira editor and was told that I'd have to either ditch the "light paranormal elements" in my Romantic Suspense, or write a Paranormal.

oh dear. I went for door number three, stuffed it in a bottom drawer to be dragged out and dusted off "when" it will no longer be a misfit.

Judith Ashley said...

I rather like the idea of a 'grey-type' genre. It would be a place we'd all fit!

I liked your link to SamMarie's post, Sarah.

And, I do think that there is a grey area in paranormal in that I've read some stories where the paranormal element is so 'light' (at least I think that is the correct definition) that some people don't even see it as paranormal. There is a lot coming out right now about the Russians experiments on extra-sensory work such as tele-kinesis, etc.

Vonnie Alto said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vonnie Alto said...

Well said, Sarah! I love your post. This really speaks to my soul. However, I have a slightly different problem. I've come to believe that I'm a historical writer who is writing a paranormal contemporary romance. Some of my characters have lived for hundreds of years so the historical element is definitely there.

The voice tends to be mix of contemporary and historical. That can be a wee bit of a problem because then I have to justify or explain the rationale behind the historical sound to make it work for a contemporary.

I also blend paranormal elements (i.e witches, ghosties, invisibility, genies, vampires, etc) but my story remains a light paranormal romance.

I never pitch it as light because dark paranormal is the trend. I let the editor determine the category or subgenre for herself. Instead, I concentrate on the premise, the hook, the paranormal elements and let the story work its magic.

Paty Jager said...

Great info, Sarah!

Helen said...

You amaze me with all you do and still you get to your writing.

So here's my shot at the answer to your question.
If the Paranormal happens in the plot then it's a Romantic Suspense Story with Paranormal elements. If the Paranormal happens in the romantic scenes then I'd say it would be called a Para Normal Romance Suspense plot. Why I think that is, the word following Para Normal tells the reader where it will show up. Just guessing?

A big thanks for ALL your fabulous work.
And, thanks for sharing your inspiration with me.

Tam Linsey said...

Blending genres is a wonderful way to appeal to a wide array for readers - but a difficult way to get your foot in the door. I hope the new swing toward self-publishing will allow the market to open up even wider to genre blends that may not fit precisely into a slot on the shelf. Good post, Sarah!

Sarah Raplee said...

Katt, sounds like you've written the kind of book many of us would like to read!

And Judith, you're right in that many readers don't view genre divisions the way editors do.

Sarah Raplee said...

Vonnie, your story sounds fascinating! Blending contemporary and historical elements, along with paranormal elements, must be a huge challenge.

"I've come to believe that I'm a historical writer who is writing a paranormal contemporary romance." Sometimes it takes us a few books to figure out our own strengths and decide where to concentrate our efforts.

Good luck with your unique story.

Sarah Raplee said...

Paty, I hope you found the information useful.

Helen, the problem with the method you suggest is there's often no paranormal line-of-demarcation between the suspense plot and the romance plot. In one of my stories, the hero is a psychic government agent and the villain kidnaps and enslaves psychics for a drug cartel. The heroine is an untrained psychic whose wild talent knocks out every man she kisses. In the story, her talent throws a monkey wrench into everyone's plans. Both the romance plot and the suspense plot hinge on the paranormal elements. Hence the editorial difference of opinion. LOL I'm so glad you're enjoying being a Genre-ista!

I believe you're right, Tam. Genre blends are a hard sell, but new opportunities are opening up. The future is shiny and sparkly, if nebulous!

SamMarie Ashe said...

Great post Sarah!

Sarah Raplee said...

Thanks for stopping by, Sami!