Well, folks, it’s a brand new year, and I’m thrilled that Terra invited me to guest blog today! And since it is a new year, bear with me as I reminisce a little.
Here’s the thing: I love paranormal stories. My favorites, which tend to be reflected in my books, revolve around what I like to think of as “our world, but changed.” That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good fantasy set on the planet Twork, but for the most part, I’m the kind of girl who looks for the magic in the world we live in, whether it’s demon-hunting soccer moms, superheroes, vampires, or anything else outside the realm of the ordinary.
Considering the explosive popularity of paranormal romance and the upswing of romance readers who’ve discovered urban fantasy, I think it’s safe to say I’m not the only one.
But all of that leads me back to this new year’s thing, because as I look at a new year coming in, I can’t help but think back to the past. Like, for example, the year 1999, during which I sold my very first paranormal novel (and my second book sale) – The Cat’s Fancy.
A lot of things have changed in a decade (and for the record, it doesn’t feel like I’ve been in this business that long – time really does fly!), but I think the most dramatic change, at least from my perspective as an author, is what’s happened to paranormal romance. Nowadays, when someone says they’ve sold a book, the odds are good that the book has a paranormal component. Just check the reports in Publishers’ Lunch. But back in 1999, I was told – and repeatedly – that there was no way, absolutely no way, that I’d be able to sell a novel about a cat who was in love with her master, and so rigged a deal to become human, her continued humanity tied to her ability to get him to say “I love you.” That’s not to say there weren’t paranormal romances out there (I recall one that I adored, Finding Mr. Right by Emily Carmichael, about a woman trapped in a Corgi’s body and forced to matchmake) but they were rare. And though The Cat’s Fancy did find a publisher at Dorchester, the book was one of a then-rare breed.
That was an oddity, I thought, especially when so many of my favorite childhood stories were solidly paranormal. A Wrinkle in Time ... and the later books (Calvin and Meg ... sigh), Half Magic, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and the list goes on.
Still, paranormal romance was rare, with the then-existing exception of time travel (which, oddly, seems to have dropped in popularity even as the overall popularity of paranormal has risen).
So rare in fact that the theme of a speech I delivered to a paranormal/fantasy group in 2001 (I think) was “finding the magic,” and in my speech, I repeatedly asked the question of why paranormal romance wasn’t more popular. I’d forgotten about this speech, actually, until recently when I was transferring files from one computer to another, and I have to confess that I feel a little smug, seeing as the genre has moved exactly in the direction I thought it should, i.e., up, up, up in popularity.
At the time, I found statistics showing that in 1999, 2,218 romances were published. Of that, only 3.6% were paranormal. And while I don’t have current numbers, I think it’s safe to say that percentage has increased drastically over the last decade, and shows no sign of dropping off.
So why this upsurge over the past few years?
Personally, I think it was inevitable. Because I think that “paranormal” is the heart of story-telling. It exists in all stories, even a straight contemporary romance set in rural Idaho. I say that paranormal is and always has been the heart of genre fiction, if not all of fiction. Heck, of writing itself.
Why? Because that’s the point of fiction: creating a world out of thin air.
Building people. Putting characters together bit by bit, just like Frankenstein. That’s magic. That's paranormal.
No matter what the story, there's a little bit of magic in every book you pick up. And as I sit here at the dawn of 2009, I have to say that I think that that, folks, is a very cool thing.
Julie Kenner writes in a variety of genres, but has a special fondness for paranormal. Visit her on-line at http://www.juliekenner.com/
Make sure and leave Julie a comment about her blog article and your email addy as she will be doing a book giveaway where one lucky winner will receive one of her delicious treats. Hmm.....I hear possibly Deja Demon so cross your fingers.
The Days and Nights of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom
It's easy to feel like Hell when your life is overrun by teenagers, toddlers, and terror. Just ask housewife and demon hunter Kate Connor...
Between gala fundraisers for her husband's political campaign, chaperoning her daughter's first date, and performing arcane magical rituals, Kate hardly has time to prepare for the impending chaos: a party for her toddler son.
Keeping a house full of kiddies in line will take all of Kate's skills as a mother and demon hunter, just when she'll need them the most. The High Demon Goramesh has returned to San Diablo—this time with a full-blown army of the undead and a plan to get rid of Kate before she can get rid of him. And once again, it's up to Kate to save the world. Good thing she can multitask...