I’ve been having a bit of a genre–well I was going to say crisis, but it’s not that severe–thing lately. Now here’s the thing–as an adult writer, everything I’ve done has in some way, shape, or form, fit into the romance genre. Mostly romantic suspense. But it’s always about a relationship. A hero and heroine who come together and have to overcome stuff to make that relationship work. So when I made this jump back to the paranormal last fall, it seemed natural that what I was writing was paranormal romance, or what I consider more properly to be paranormal romantic suspense. When I described my concept to a few other writer friends, they said “Oh, that sounds like a really cool urban fantasy.” To which I replied, no, it’s paranormal romance. Because there is nothing remotely urban about this book. It takes place in a tiny town with a population of around 600 people.
Now I’m not so sure.
No matter what, I will continue to write about relationships and those heroes and heroines who come together. That will always be a central part of my stories because that’s what I love to read. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s equally important to the paranormal and suspense parts of the equation. That often doesn’t seem to be the case with urban fantasy. There may be no specific hero. The relationship is not resolved at the end of one book. There may not even ever be a happily ever after. Those are all important things to me in the series I’m creating. Each book will be about a different pair. Their story (or at least the relationship part) will be resolved by the end of the book, though we will likely see them as secondary characters in other books. And there will absolutely be a happily ever after for them (even if they still face other hardships in future books, they are together). This would all seem to put me fairly solidly in the romance camp, right?
But there seems to be a trend lately that paranormal romance is getting hotter, sexier, darker. The dark part I don’t have a problem with. I just spent 5 years crawling around in the minds of serial killers for the romantic suspense I used to write. But the hotter and sexier part…while I enjoy reading it, I absolutely SUCK at writing it. I don’t like writing it. It’s a massive struggle to write and never ever comes off how I want it to. And while certainly practice would enable me to get better at this sort of thing, it’s just not me. There are usually one or two love scenes in my books, but they’re far briefer than is often the case in romance these days–at least what I’ve been reading.
So does that mean romance is leaving me behind? Should I hop over to the urban fantasy camp?
Part of the confusion for me is the name of the genre of urban fantasy. Really it’s a misnomer because there is NOT an urban element in all of it. I don’t know why they didn’t call it contemporary fantasy when they named it. That seems to encompass a broader range of stuff. I guess the early examples of the genre were urban settings and it stuck. But is that actually important?
Also of note among some urban fantasy fans, I have heard that they get annoyed if you focus too much on the relationship in a “if we wanted to read romance, we would” kind of way. Just check out some of the raging debates that occurred after J.R. Ward announced a shift into urban fantasy from the romance that got her started.
Where does this leave me?
Is there some hybrid of the two where I can focus on the relationship and the paranormal/fantasy? This inquiring mind wants to know.
And those of you more knowledgable in urban fantasy as a genre, can you point me in the right direction with some book recommendations? I’d like to read more widely to make a better decision on this front.