I had a conversation with a fellow paranormal romance writer a couple of years ago at my first RT Booklovers Convention that has stuck with me, because she validated something I thought might be a weird quirk (one of many) of my own.
“For some reason,” she confessed, “I can suspend disbelief about a 500-year-old vampire falling in love with a mortal, no problem. But I just can’t believe a billionaire would fall for his secretary.” (I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist.) “Yes!” I cried. “That’s totally me!” (Because, you know, I get excited when I meet other weirdos.)
I don’t know why this is, but I just can’t get into contemporary romance (unless it’s between two guys, and then I don’t care what they’re doing or where they are, so long as they’re doing it—which is another quirk I happily share with many, and had no idea until a couple of years ago). I need that element of complete unreality (not the hot guys, the paranormal) in order to suspend my disbelief, and in order to be hooked on a good story.
Last year, after I finished up my fantasy trilogy, The House of Arkhangkel'sk, I wanted to write something different. I dragged out an old (embarrassingly old—like from-high-school-old) manuscript, from the days when I was writing strictly gothic romance, and wondered if I could make something of it, because it was a story I remembered fondly. I started sketching it out, using the original as a sort of wireframe for a new book, and at first, it seemed like a perfectly respectable romantic suspense. Then the hero started skulking about, doing things that could only be possible if he weren’t human. And suddenly, I was really into the story.
Once again, finishing up my m/m erotic fantasy series a few days ago, I started idly plotting what I’d like to do next. This time, I thought, I’m really going to write that gothic m/f romance I had in mind. Then I started jotting things down in my brainstorming document, and dammit, the heroine insists she has a paranormal gift. I'm not quite sure where this new story is going yet, but this heroine has very definite ideas.
Even Arkhangel'sk started out as a perfectly respectable alternate-world fantasy. And then demons and angels came prancing along, making the story captivate me completely. (Those demons still have me wound around their little fingers. Hence the related Demons of Elysium series.)
I’m not sure why I need this element of the fantastic in my fiction, but it seems there’s no pulling one over on my brain and trying to write something “normal.” Maybe it’s because I’m seeking escape from the mundane everyday world when I read and write. Or maybe paranormal heroes and heroines are just sexier. There’s certainly something undeniably sensuous and erotic about shape shifting into a wild, dangerous animal, or in being immortal—especially if that immortality can only be maintained by drinking human blood. Maybe it’s also the element of fear that comes with the idea of a supernatural lover.
Whatever it is, I’m not really complaining. Because who needs normal, anyway?
Are you incapable of normal or can you straddle both worlds? If you're a straddler, which do you prefer?
(And if you're like me, and you like hot guys gettin' it on with your paranormal, be sure to check out Prince of Tricks, the first book in my Demons of Elysium series, whose one-month book birthday is today.) :)