Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Religion in Paranormal Romance

So can I ask a favor before we get going here?

The cover of my book Summer’s Wolf is up for Best Cover at Emrbace the Shadows. Could you stop by and vote for it? Pretty Please? Here is the URL: http://embracetheshadows.wordpress.com/

Anne Cain who has done the covers for my Wolf series does a great job. I’d love to see her get recognized.

So today’s topic is about the concept of religion in the Paranormal Romance world. I always find it really interesting to see how various Paranormal authors treat the subject of God and Religion in their writing.

I am going to be very careful here and not discuss my own religious views or my opinions on the subject or my opinions on the ways various authors handle it in their books. I am nothing if not completely open minded.

I guess I have this on the brain, so to speak, because I have just gotten finished reading Lora Leigh’s Breed books again. Ms. Leigh, who I admire immensely not just because of her TREMENDOUS talent but also because she personally answers her e-mails and has written me back twice (WOOT!), never hides her characters feelings on God.

The Breeds struggle with this tremendously. In Dawn’s awakening most of the characters issues come from feeling she has been abandoned by God while all of the Breeds struggle internally with the idea that they were created by Man and not God and the question as to whether they have a soul. I would say Ms. Leigh is absolutely convinced her characters have a soul and it is a question as to whether or not the some of the humans in her books have one…

On the other hand, I also just finished reading the Darkyn series by Lynn Viehl. (My husband is now cringing as he is imagining the Amazon.com bill he is about to get. Love you honey.) In Viehl’s world, one of her characters laughs regularly at the idea of god, the characters think the have been cursed by God, and a defrocked Catholic priest struggles with the idea of good versus bad. Its heavy hitting for a Romance and I LOVED it. Ultimately, I don’t know where the characters come down on the subject. I think she leaves it deliberately confusing as it would be in real life given the same circumstances.

Finally, it has been brought to my attention that the only book out there that is a Hanukah romance is a m/m erotica. Now there is nothing wrong with this at all. Why do you think that is?

Do you think religion has a place in Paranormal Romance? Can you think of other books that deal with it?


J Hali Steele said...

I'll just say: HOPE IN LOVE!

Rebecca Royce said...

J, I thought of you, of course, when I wrote this. Did you worry about it?

Sandra Sookoo said...

I think that just like there is love in everything, there is also religion in behind everything. You can't escape either of these points.

I'm working on your last point.

Catherine Gayle said...

Ooh, very interesting topic today, Rebecca. I think that writers of paranormal (romance or otherwise) actually encounter the dilemma of religion much more frequently than writers of other secular genres. Part of the reason for this is that most religions reject those paranormal tropes and ideas out of hand. Then the writers have to decide how their characters would handle this, or if it is even an issue for them to consider or not. It creates an interesting paradox.

I do think religion has a place in paranormal romance--if it is something that the characters, themselves, would be concerned with. However, as with any romance, if it isn't integral to either the characters or the plot, I would think its inclusion would be superfluous.

LM Spangler said...

Excellent post, Rebecca.

I have to agree with Catherine. If the author decides it's integral to their work then by all means it should be there.

Religion affects everyday life so it would be natural for it to affect a paranormal romance novel. At least in my opinion.


Amanda said...

I think it is up to the author, if you think about it, some have the phrases, Thank the Gods, or Thank God. If I said it was subconcious I think that would make a better fit. LOL!!!

I'm not a big religious person(God and I have a deal!) LOL!!! But I mean it doesn't detract from the story and I guess it makes the characters more real for the reader and easier to relate too.

See now you got my little brain all working and grinding away LOL!!

Thanks Rebecca!


Annie Nicholas said...

Great post Rebecca. Very thought provoking.

I have to agree with what Catherine says.

I am a spiritual person and have to admit some stories make me uncomfortable enough to have to walk away. Not that they insult me but it is something I'm tender about.

Another series of books which deals with the stuggle of souls is Anne Rice's vampire ones. Many of them feel abandoned by God and have an old world view that they belong to the deveil. Especially poor Armand and Louis.

Katherine Kerr's books which are more fantasy than paranormal has a beautiful concept of reincarnation and the soul having to deal with past life issues. I highly recommend this series. *pats latest one on her table*

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Hey Rebecca

Thought-provoking post. As a deeply spiritual person, I have to agree that just as religion has a specific place and weight in every person's life (it's their own deal), the same applies to characters. It's part of the characterization, and if it fits, it fits.

I don't have books that come to my mind right now except The Cain Letters by Pierre Roustan (which is coming out in December through Eirelander) where the author uses religion as a backdrop and as a plot driver, but a movie that blinks in the brain right now is Constantine, where religion was used as the backdrop and an integral part of the story. I cannot think of books or movies that just use the idea of God in characters' lives, but religion, just like in real life, is a tricky and subjective issue that has to be taken on carefully.

Very good pot, great fodder for the mind!



PS I voted for the cover, btw!

J Hali Steele said...

Did I worry, Rebecca - not at all. I'm pretty tough skinned about religion. I have my beliefs and they are just that MINE. When whoever blows the horn - I have to explain my actions (see, I do believe there's more.) If I have to explain what I did with the angels here *grins* so be it. I think religion makes for fascinating stories of all kinds. Doesn't bother me one bit what another person feels - it's their right. I enjoy reading the good, the bad and the ugly of it. Because it's all real and in some way meaningful to someone.

Did chuckle at comment left by reader of HOPE IN LOVE at the EC site. She took offense at the fact that I called an archangel Heaven's biggest whore. She said this was her only reason for marking it lower than she would have otherwise. The fact that that was all she found offensive in the book surprised me!