As I was sitting at Starbucks writing one morning, a man sitting next to me asked what I was writing. I answered Paranormal Romance. He responded, “Oh! You’re writing a ghost story.” I smiled and told him that paranormal these days didn’t necessarily mean a ghost story. I explained I was writing a vampire romance. We went on to discuss a bit more about my manuscript and then I went back to writing.
When I think about that short conversation, it makes me ponder all the ways people might construe the word paranormal; how paranormal romance often is categorized in the fantasy section of the bookstore, so I looked up the definition of paranormal. Dictionary.com defines the word.
Paranormal: of or pertaining to the claimed occurrence of an event or perception without scientific explanation, as psychokinesis, extrasensory perception, or other purportedly supernatural phenomena.
Ghost stories are definitely under the paranormal heading but so are many others. When you look at the second to last word of the definition, supernatural, the manifestation of a paranormal romance can move your imagination in many directions. There are vampire stories, which have saturated the industry (J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series, which was developed into HBO’s True Blood, just to name a couple), to zombies, gods, faeries, witches and werewolves. The list could go on and on.
In my blog, Normal Becomes Paranormal, on Feb. 10th, I chose things in everyday life like the tree and the knife and made them something more as I developed my paranormal idea. In Gina Lamm’s Geek Girls series, an antique bureau literally pulls the unsuspecting heroine–or suspecting, depending on which book you read—to another time. This is a prime example of ‘without scientific explanation’. The heroines in the series couldn’t possibly function in the past, losing all their creature comforts, right? They do though, with the help of very sexy alpha males. Voila! The paranormal aspect is a simple time machine but the complications that it causes for the heroes and heroines make for a more dynamic romance as conflicts surmount.
A fresh take on paranormal romance that I’ve enjoyed in recent years is the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones. In First Grave on the Right, first in print in 2011, you learn her main character, Charley Davidson, is the grim reaper and her love interest isn’t your typical bad boy. Ooowee! Talk about a complicated relationship (I’m fanning myself just thinking about him). I can’t go into detail because it would spoil the story arc, so if you’re new to the author make sure you find a copy so you can devour all the excitement Darynda Jones packs onto each page. The story is rich with coffee obsession, laced with the not so typical t-shirt quote along with lots of steamy-hot-guy-going-on whenever Charley and her bad boy meet. There are also those pesky complications I mention, making a well rounded story, in a contemporary setting.
When you as the writer think about developing a new paranormal romance your ideas can go any direction you want. I know, I know, how can you possibly write an original vampire novel, you ask? Well the only way to answer that question is to see what’s already in print. What I would recommend is to read as many books as you can with similar characters; vampires, witches, and werewolves, etc. Find out what you like and dislike about the books and make your idea better. It’s not going to be an easy task but you can bring your own unique writing style to your story. Just keep jotting down ideas until you find the one that unfolds into something special.