In Publisher’s Weekly, as I linked yesterday, there’s an article about paranormal romance, and how, to quote the title, the love affair with the supernatural continues. Trouble is, it doesn’t so much continue with me. I’m vampire exhausted. Were’d out. Utterly overwhelmed by the number of books released in a given month and not willing to invest time and mental energy embarking on yet another series with no visible end in sight. So, since Heather Osborn of Tor both (a) sounded smart as crap in the interview and (b) is a friend of mine, I asked her: can you bring me back to the paranormal?
Sarah: Convince me, oh paranormal editor, to give paranormal another chance.
Heather: Listen, the thing is, a well written book is well written despite the sub-genre and even if the heroine is a unicorn shifter from the land of Sparklasia she should have problems, emotions, concerns, etc, that we all can relate to or else, why bother, you know?
Unrealistic and disappointing resolutions happen in all sub genres of romance and fiction—it’s just in paranormals they are a little more crack-riddled aka soulmated were-fins!
Sarah: I’m tired of perfect warrior heroes who know everything, and all the emotional tension between the couple being based on who is or who isn’t paranormal and how to resolve the divide between the species.
Heather: I hear ya honestly, whenever I am burned out on paranormal romance soulmated-itis, I grab a really good fantasy novel and remember why I like the hybrid stuff.
It can be urban fantasy, trad fantasy, science fiction, etc—it shows me what is capable within the genre, and that I shouldn’t settle for less in paranormal romance. Lois McMaster Bujold and Sharon Shinn have saved my sanity on more than one occasion!
Sarah: To continue my whining, I’m finding the glut of material daunting and find many have the internal conflict of old lettuce from a fridge with no crisper. Limp and wrinkly, and holds no interest.
Heather: Yeah, or else they set up tons of juicy conflict and resolve it with a magical wang or hoohaw. DO NOT WANT.
Sarah: There has to be a way to create paranormal characters who have internal conflict that isn’t based on their otherworldly-ness and how they aren’t human and are doomed to immortality woe woe woe, or who don’t instantly adjust to their new toothsome life and feel the need to depilate more frequently due to were-dom.
Heather: The whole “I woke up in a coffin…how AWESOME!” syndrome. It’s often the equivalent of the barren heroine magically getting pregnant due to the hero Duke’s powerful sperminating. Only he’s a werewolf.
I think you would really like Robin D. Owens. She is a master at using real life issues in paranormals and making them legitimate problems. I am honestly baffled that she isn’t more popular.
Sarah: So what other books would you put in the “bring her back to the paranormal awesome” care package? What books speak louder than argument?
Heather: Off the top of my head—authors who write intelligent, interesting, and readable paranormal romances that deal with real issues in real ways—aka no Deus ex Monstera are Nalini Singh, Patricia Briggs (Alpha & Omega series), Meljean Brook, C.L. Wilson, although hers are distinctly fairy tale-esque. There are plenty of other authors I enjoy in paranormal romance, but in this case, I am trying to stay with the ones who are not purely escapist, but also bring strong elements of realism to their novels.
Sarah: Dude. What about Tor authors? Spread the love, fool.
Thank you, Heather.
So, am I the only one who is para-worn? Do you have books that you absolutely adore in the paranormal genre that you wish more people would read? And if I were to embark upon the Robin D. Owens series (*eep!*) which one should I start with?