Guest Post + Giveaway: The Great Genre Rebellion (Sex, Romance, and the Paranormal) By Victoria Danaan
First, thank you for having me, Lissette. Authors, particularly indie authors like myself, rely heavily on book enthusiasts and writer blogs to make connections with readers. Don’t know what we’d do without you.
If you’re interested in books with supernatural flavoring, you may have noticed the confusion surrounding genre titling. When My Familiar Stranger was published, I started out calling it Paranormal Romance. It seemed like a good description, simple and to the point. It’s a romance with paranormal elements. Right? The answer to that question seems to be: well… maybe.
My first clue that the current labels weren’t working for me was when I began getting reviews saying, “I don’t really know what genre to put this book in…” Confidentially, those comments make me want to jump up and do a victory dance and here’s why.
Once I had decided I wanted to write, I set out to perform due diligence. I spent two years reading everything in the PNR category that had enjoyed any success at all. At the end of that time I felt like I had a good overview of what had already been written and I set out to do something different.
The end result has been called a paranormal romance with a dash of scifi and a dollop of fantasy. Okay, if it doesn’t conform to formula, then I met one of my goals.
About that time I began to notice that confusion was creeping into the labeling process. So, undertaking my own examination, I was surprised by the results. In the ebook department of Amazon.com, the navigation drill down goes: Fiction – Genre Fiction – Romance – Fantasy, Futuristic, and Ghost. At first this struck me as strange because I think most readers of PNR would be searching under Paranormal Romance.
On the other hand, Fantasy, Futuristic, and Ghost may be both more descriptive and more accurate. Breaking it down I began to understand the logic behind this departure from the norm. For me, time travel romance doesn’t fall under PNR. It’s Sci-Fi Romance. But it fits beautifully under a “Futuristic” label.
Starting at the beginning, the first question is and should be, “Is it a Romance?”
In general fiction, a typical novel will feature a romance as a subplot of interest. Just as a Romance needs situational distress to vary the speed and intensity of delivery, the thriller needs romance to do the same. That does not make the book a Romance. To qualify as a Romance with a capital “R”, the romantic interest must be the main plot. It is the driving force, the book’s reason for existing. We don’t have to have character growth or a mystery solved or a quest undertaken. The question we must have answered is simply, “Do ‘blank’ and ‘blank’ end up together or not?
If the love interest is a sub plot, it doesn’t legitimately belong under the large heading of Romance, much less a subgenre of Romance.
The works of two of my favorite authors, Kim Harrison and Patricia Briggs, are often mislabeled PNR. This confusion is why I may occasionally be reviewed by a blogger who says there wasn’t a lot of “action”. That’s because it’s a true Paranormal Romance. The series mentioned are paranormal mysteries that are exciting, fun, and often thrilling. In fact some could be called Paranormal Thrillers. But they are definitely not Paranormal Romances any more than John Grisham’s books could be called “Legal Romances”. Again, the fact that there is mention of a romantic relationship doesn’t make a book a Romance.
The other labeling issue that seems to be in perpetual blur is the question of, “What is erotica?”
Sometimes people assume my books will venture into fringe eroticism and are disappointed with the perception of intimacy between two consenting adults: one male, one female as too tame.
I don’t know how the rise in eroticism is affecting Romance in general because it’s all I can do to keep up with PNR, but I can say with certainty that our understanding of what erotic means is rapidly changing. Again, I went back to Merriam Webster. When I looked up “erotica”, I was referred to “erotic” which says: “1.) of, devoted to, or tending to arouse sexual love or desire 2.) strongly marked or affected by sexual desire.” Okay. That’s my understanding, too, albeit practically Victorian in scope.
Since my goal is to please readers, I have tried to be sure they know what they’re getting by adding as much detail as I can to descriptions while trying to preserve the fun of plot and character discovery. I even put a note at the end of my synopsis about what sort of sexual content to expect.
I hope that, at some point in the future, publishers and booksellers will develop a standardized grid with a combination of tags and ratings that could be check marked.
As an author, I wouldn’t mind it. As a reader, I would love it.
And now for the giveaway. For a chance to win, you must answer the question below. Don’t forget to include your name and email address so that we can contact you should you win.
“Since the ancient Greeks, and probably since we became sentient, men have been asking the question, ‘What do women want?’ I think I know what the answer is – at least for a lot of us – and it’s related to why Paranormal Romance is so popular with women and so satisfying to the core in a way no other genre can be. Before I began writing for this audience, I read about two hundred PNR books and realized that there is one element common to almost all and that it can only be expressed in a fantasy world. Can you guess what it is?”
(NOTE: You don’t have to match my answer to win. I’m always interested to hear what other PNR fans think.)
The prize is a free download of M.F.S. with Smashwords coupon. Anyone who gives a thoughtful answer wins.
Minutes ahead of inevitable assassination, Elora Laiken is forcibly transported to an alternate dimension similar, but not identical, to her own. She is stranded. Alone. Far from home. A stranger in a “strangish” land.
Of course a girl could suffer worse problems than having gorgeous suitors. Perhaps more importantly, in the midst of an epidemic of vampire related abductions, can she stay alive long enough to choose between an honor debt, true love, or the breathlessness of single-minded passion?
My Familiar Stranger is a full length, stand alone, Paranormal Romance novel that also sets up the foundation for the Black Swan series. It is loved by fans of paranormal romance, fantasy romance, and urban fantasy.
Erotica quotient: A few steamy scenes. No menage. No BDSM.
About The Author:
For the past thirteen years, Victoria has illustrated and authored Seasons of the Witch calendars and planners.
Though works of fiction are a departure for her, she has had this series simmering on the back burner of her mind for years. In addition to authoring and illustrating Seasons of the Witch, she plays rock music and manages one of Houston’s premier R&B/Variety/Pop bands.
This series will include some of my actual experience in the paranormal with fictionalized anecdotes from my journals during the years when I was a practicing “metaphysician”, but most of the material is fantasy.
Connect With Her Online: