Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Paranormal Romance: Celebrating the Beauty of the Common

I like the different. I like the weird. I like things that don’t quite fit, that look a bit too large or taste a smidge too bitter. I celebrate ugly and find inspiration in dissonance. If I wanted to be like everyone else, I would have become an accountant. Instead, I write paranormal romance.

Like many readers of paranormal romance, I like characters who don’t fit the archetypes. My heroes aren’t all alpha males, my sheroes are sometimes fat and happy about it, my female villains (gasp) don’t always sexually smolder to prove they’re powerful.

I wrote my very first published piece of paranormal fiction, Hunted, after pondering, “What would a world look like if women were the warriors and men the healers and thinkers?” My second novel, Hunted Past, grapples with definitions of beauty: Can people with scars – inside and out – be beautiful? Is beauty a noun, an adjective, or a verb? In my third, not-yet-published, novel, Hunted Dreams, my main couple is interracial, interspecies, and intersize.

Paranormal fiction, romance and not, seems the perfect place for wrestling with reality: its multiple pasts, its infinite present, and our hopes and fears for its futures. What an opportunity we have to explore the borders between beautiful and plain, ideal and corrupt, real and fantastic. As for me, I want more discordance, more ambivalence, more category-defying prose and more characters whose commonness and plainness charm us with reminders of our own complexity. 

We Westerners are bombarded every day with representations of unachievable ideals. I think we’re right to expect more from paranormal fiction. In mixing reality with fantasy, we have a unique opportunity to reexamine our relationship with our worlds.

How exciting to begin to explore the beauty of the mundane and the weird. 

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