I always like reading posts by other writers. Cross-pollination of ideas and inspiration is always beneficial. And today I’ve secured a great article from writer Michelle Irwin. Readers of my work may have noticed there’s not a lot of romance in my stories. To get all stereotypical, as a guy I find it hard to write romance. But that doesn’t mean there’s no place for it in tales of the supernatural and the paranormal. Michelle presents her views, and it makes great reading.
The things that go bump in the night—werewolves, vampires, shape shifters, and a whole slew of other creepy characters—are often represented in movies, TV shows, and books as the stuff of nightmares. The reason for this is obvious. In these stories, these creatures are driven by bloodlust, hunger, or just plain evil natures to seek out and destroy humanity and sometimes even each other.
However, in recent years there’s been a trend toward romanticizing these beasts. Vampires and werewolves in particular have become the subject of romance novels. Why? Who knows, maybe it’s the fact that all that neck-sucking can be a little erotic, or that most women like the bad boy and what guy could be worse than one who turns into a wild animal. Perhaps it all started when the ever loveable Michael J Fox played a werewolf that the boys wanted to be and the girls want to be with (or wanted to be). Regardless of why it started, personally, I’m really glad it did. Why? Because I write paranormal romance/urban fantasy and I love it.
I guess the question people who haven’t read a lot of paranormal romance might ask after, “Why?”, is “How?” After all, these creatures often aren’t all that loveable in their horror form. With the fangs and claws, slobber and jaws, they should make us run screaming not swoon into their willing embrace. How do you turn something so inherently evil into something that is worthy of a romance? For me, the first step is finding the thing that makes them inherently human.
In every intelligent creature you can imagine, be it a mermaid or an alien from out of space, there is a spark of something which makes them relatable to us humans. It’s a matter of finding that something and then asking the same questions of the paranormal creatures which you would ask of any human character. What do they want deep in their heart? Do they want to kill, maim, destroy (some might) or is it simply to be accepted? To find someone willing to look beyond their flaws, or their fangs, and find out what is important to them? To be loved? Once you know that core of who they are as a person, it’s just a matter of finding out what they are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve that goal.
As I said, the questions to probe a paranormal creature with are similar to those a writer might ask any human character, especially in a romance, but they’re also different. You can’t just learn that a vampire needs to forgo human blood to be with his sweetheart, you also need to learn what will happen if he does, and whether it’s even possible. This can be the fun part. It offers a chance to learn about the lore of different paranormal creatures and develop new ways to torture the hero and heroine before their happily ever after (or not as the case may be). Honestly, the only real rule when it comes to any sort of paranormal or fantasy story, whether it has a romance theme or not, is to be consistent within the rules created for the world.
In my Son of Rain series, my main character, Clay Jacobs, isn’t a monster—he hunts them. His job is to wash the world clean of all paranormal creatures because the organization he works for believes that all others are inherently evil. That each one deserves to die long before it can be given a chance to take a life. When he meets Evie Meyers, one such creature, he finds himself forced to answer questions about her. Why is she regarded as a monster just because of the way she was born? Does her lineage determine her character or can she choose her own fate? Should he kill her as he’s been trained to do or should he look beyond what she is to see who she is? Being able to examine a unique paranormal creature through the eyes of someone who believes they are all inherently evil has given me a chance to review all the above questions and more. It’s a classic Romeo and Juliet style love, just with a paranormal twist.