Musings

Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy

So Devil’s Eye is finally available at Barnes and Noble, though it isn’t showing up in searches (no idea why–but their servers crashed for 2 days over Christmas, so…maybe it will sort itself out).  It’s been selling very decently at Amazon, definitely outselling FBS on its release.  But there’s an issue with it that may come back to bite me in the ass.

See, when I started all of this, I said I was writing paranormal romance.  It’s what I constantly read and love, so it seemed natural enough.  When FBS was so often called urban fantasy I sort of shrugged like, hey, two groups to draw from as a fanbase.  Yay.

Well Devil’s Eye doesn’t so neatly fit in the middle on that particular continuum.  See, it is an episode.  One of those sort of in-between stories that have become kind of a thing for authors writing series to do.  A shorter episode between bigger books.  The entire story takes place in 6-8 hours, and as such, due to my personal bent on relationships, there’s NOT a lot of relationship development in the novella.  It is an introduction to Mick and Sophie.  It is their BEGINNING.  And that’s going to leave some PNR fans kind of pissed and feeling like I cheated them somehow.

That certainly wasn’t my intent when I wrote it.  I just wrote the story as it came to me.  But I’ve already had one reader who, I think, picked it up before the description actually populated to Amazon, and was very disappointed in what she got.  Hopefully that won’t be the majority of readers because I absolutely did not set out to bamboozle or disappoint y’all in any way.  I had a rough year and I was trying to get a little something out to give to you to tide you over until my next full length release.

But it’s got me thinking, and I was talking to Pot about this last week.  The romance is always the hardest part for me to write well.  For me a lot of it is in my head and I see it when I look at the story the same way your brain often fills in missing letters or words in sentences.  I don’t always translate that on to the page well.  My true strength is in action and world-building.  And it’s made me think, maybe I need to focus on writing urban fantasy with romantic elements and market myself that way.

I’m still likely to have dual hero/heroine protags.  I’m still not going to violate the romance rules.  I’m still probably going to just write one full book per couple.  But maybe what I’m writing is really more urban fantasy.

I need to read a lot more urban fantasy and analyze them.  Pot is the Pink Hammer for a reason.  She KNOWS HOW ROMANCE WORKS WHEN IT’S DONE WELL.  Urban fantasy is not her area and not what she prefers to read, so I’ll have to either locate another good CP in that area or work more to educate myself (or more likely both), before I make the decision.

What do you think?  Those of you who’ve read any of my work.  Did you think I was writing paranormal romance or urban fantasy?

28 thoughts on “Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy

  1. I read “Forsaken By Shadow,” and I thought it was both. That doesn’t help you at all, I know. But as someone else who is caught between genres, I can sympathize with your dilemma. My books are basically epic/high fantasy, but there are strong romantic elements and themes that might not interest some fans of the genre.

    I think you have to write what comes to you… If you turn off a few readers, so be it. Maybe that sounds harsh. I don’t mean it that way. I just think you have to be true to yourself, to your story, and realize that you can’t please everyone.

    I guess I’ll vote “Urban Fantasy,” but really, I think FBS was both….. 🙂

  2. It would be interesting to see more of what people consider UF so I could know what I’m reading. For me, UF with romantic elements is a bit of a tease. In the beginning, I enjoy the tease. I don’t care that the boy/girl stuff isn’t the center of the story, but it’s the thing in the background that’s pulling me through. And if the promise of that is fulfilled, even in a small way, I’m usually happy. BUT, I can’t read a lot of it because I get tired of the tease and get to feeling like it’s not going anywhere.

    Ex. Lori Foster’s Servant series. ***Very slight spoiler alert***
    I really enjoyed the characters in the first book, Gaby’s innocence and how that played so sweetly into the way Luthor responded to her. And of course that relationship couldn’t go very far in that book, but it did move at a good pace for that book and I enjoyed it. In the second book, though, it didn’t progress the way I wanted. Because I AM a romance reader, I picked it up to find out what was going on with my couple. And probably because that wasn’t really what the story was about, it just left me cold. Even though the first book, especially, sticks in my head, I may never get and read the third one. /Spoilery stuff

    I don’t think this is really what I was supposed to be talking about in the comments. I can’t focus. Gumby is on Netflix instant play. Did you know that? Ask me how I know.

  3. The reason I have a hard time distinguishing between the two, I guess, it because I don’t have a strong inclination toward either. I read so many different genres that sometimes the lines are blurred for me. I have another friend with the same dilemma, hers being whether her books are paranormal romance or horror. I feel like if it’s paranormal and there is actually romance in it, it could probably be categorized as PR. I’ve never quite understood what urban fantasy is anyway. Paranormal without the romance? But yours has romance, just maybe not as the main focus. I know, I’m not much help.

    I think if you make it clear in the description what the book is about, without spoilers, of course, then the readers should be okay either way. And they can always read a sample and see if it’s something they would enjoy.

  4. Okay, this has been bugging me all morning, partly because I have a similar issue, I think. But maybe this will help:

    Can you take out the romance and still have a similar story?

    If yes, then I think you can consider it UF with a romantic element, theme, subplot, storyline, whatever. If no, then I think it’s a romance, paranormal or otherwise.

    Romance, love, and sex are all a huge part of life, so I find it hard to write anything without some element of at least one of those. But I could take out the romantic storyline in my book and still write a similar story.

    I would say that you could take out the romantic theme of FBS and still have a similar story. Cade/Gage and Embry could have been very close friends or even relatives and you could have written the same basic plot. So I would say UF.

    There, I feel better. I don’t know if it helped you, but it helped me.

    @Susan, LOL. 🙂

  5. To me, FBS wouldn’t carry the same weight without the Gage/Embry relationship the way it was. That’s what kept me reading. I would’ve been fine if they didn’t get their HEA because, news to me, that means their story is over. Bummer.

    I looked up Kelley Armstrong who I think you’re similar to and she gets billed as contemporary fantasy. This is wikipedia’s definition:

    Contemporary fantasies often concern places dear to their authors, are full of local color and atmosphere, and attempt to lend a sense of magic to those places, particularly when the subgenre overlaps with mythic fiction.

    When the story takes place in a city, the work is often called urban fantasy.

    So really you’re a fantasy author, but since it’s popular, you may want to call yourself contemporary or urban rather than romance. I think FBS is way more than romance and some readers may not have wanted to give you a try because of the romance tag. Also losing the romance tag frees you up to write whatever you want without obeying some set of rules as long as there’s still the paranormal element.

    So that was an extra long way of saying I don’t know what the heck you are. You’re just good.

  6. I think FBS would have been a slightly different story, and the characters would have needed revision, but the same basic plot could have been there and a really good story could have been crafted without the romance aspect. BUT–the romance was good, realistic, and gave the story some added weight. I’m just saying that instead of a romance, it could have theoretically been a relationship more like a police partnership and still accomplished the same function within the plot.

    But, I see what you mean, Andrew, and at one point, I thought about trying to take out any hint of romance in my own novel. I would have had to completely rewrite the whole thing. The characters would have been totally different. If they weren’t motivated on some level by affection for each other, they would have had to have some equally weight motivation, and that was tough for me to find when I’d already so thoroughly developed them. Having said that, it is possible that I *could* have done it–I could have rewritten the characters and taken the romance out and still accomplished all the same plot points. It just seemed like a huge pain in the ass to mess with and I didn’t want to. 🙂

    And I agree–she is good. 🙂

    1. Oh I wasn’t directing my comment at you Amy, just my general opinion of FBS.

      I’ll direct this comment at you. 🙂 I’m glad you left the romance in. Without reading it, you’re story is better with it. This is based on MY expectation for a story because I’m character driven guy. Even if the characters start out as strangers, I want them to develop a connection. That’s what brings everything together for me.

      1. 🙂

        Thank you for the guy’s perspective. My husband has read “Ravenmarked” and he liked it, and he’s the sort who will say to me “That’s not what a guy would do. That’s what a girl wants a guy to do.” LOL.

        It really is all about characters for me. Even though it’s fantasy and supposed to be plot-driven and heavy on the world-building, it’s still about characters. My favorite fantasy works are heavy on character development. Romance, love, affection, connection, sex–those are all part of developing character.

        Okay, I’ll stop hijacking Kait’s post now… 🙂

  7. Y’all are good for my ego! 🙂 It’s been kinda bruised this week.

    I’m with Amy in the sense that I think romance and relationships and love and sex and whatnot are all part of life, and therefore are a part of stories in ALL genres to some degree or other. It’s a humanizing element that SHOULD be in every book dealing with people. And yeah, I do think if you can take the romance out and have the story mostly stand, it’s not PNR. By that token Devil’s Eye is definitely UF because their relationship doesn’t have a huge lot to do with the story. The relationship comes in the story AFTER, which I’ll pursue later in the series.

    I think one of the big reasons that I never defined myself as UF is that first, MOST of my settings (DE excluded) are not urban, and second, a lot of UF fans believe that UF doesn’t deal with creatures like vamps, werewolves, shapeshifters and the like. They draw the line with the more traditional fantasy creatures in a contemporary setting.

    It seems that there are two different schools of thought about UF–those that see UF as having grown out of more traditional fantasy, and those that see it as having grown out of paranormal romance but being more focused on the world than the romance side of things. It’s a huge debate that has no real answer. I’m one of those fans that likes both, but like Susan, it’s often the relationship stuff that pulls me through a story. There will always be love and relationships in my stories. That’s just so much of why I read, that I can’t possibly write a story without them (and why would I want to?). I wish there were an in between category like contemporary paranormal romantic fantasy or something.

  8. I think you just made up a new subgenre, Kait. 🙂

    Seriously, genre lines are never as clear-cut as we’d like them to be. One of my beta readers for “Silver Thaw” said it had a literary feel, even though it is clearly in an epic fantasy world and was inspired by an ancient myth. But it’s very character-driven, and most of it focuses on the characters and their choices even though there’s an external antagonist. I decided maybe it should be a literary mythic epic fantasy novella.

    I say we just write good stories and let them land where they want. 🙂

    1. This is a good point, and really, it’s one of the benefits of being indie. We are not restricted by genre lines in the same way as traditional authors. I guess it’s been just a bit of an identity crisis for me. I can’t say that my style is going to change much, regardless of the answer, so I suppose it is more of a marketing question.

      This particular review has just been sort of echoing in my head the last couple of days, and even though I think some of the reader’s problems were probably because she didn’t get the benefit of the description (evidently she’d read FBS and bought DE because she liked the first one), some of it is definitely in the marketing since I’ve sold myself as PNR and don’t deliver on the relationship in DE because it’s just the beginning. Without falling back on fated tropes, I really can’t see how I can establish a believable HEA between total strangers in SIX HOURS. Some people could do it, but I’m not one of them. That’s not a set up I would buy on a personal level, so it’s not something I can sell.

      1. Focus on the good news in that: She bought DE because she liked FBS. That means you did something right in FBS, right? I hope I get readers who buy “Ravenmarked” because they like “Silver Thaw.”

        And, your marketing worked. You just have to perhaps focus it a little more, but part of me says why bother? You’re setting the stage for a relationship that will blossom later on, so the romance will be there.

        I listed “Silver Thaw” as epic fantasy, high fantasy, fantasy, myth, and even horror. I would hope someone who likes an eerie tale but doesn’t need the full Stephen King treatment might pick it up and enjoy it.

        And I agree with you — any HEA after six hours would make me very suspicious as a reader.

  9. You know, that is a really good point. I hadn’t thought of it that way.

    I think part of it is that I’ve lost ALL objectivity with Devil’s Eye. We had a big upset to routine and such this year and really impacted my writing, so I’ve been REALLY concerned that DE would not at least live up to what I established with FBS, and it was like this particular review just stabbed right at the heart of that particular fear. There are still things that could be improved with DE. Things I could have done to deepen what relationship stuff their was. But it had totally reached the Beating A Dead Horse phase and I was ready to let it go.

    And now there’s Red, and I’m so flipping excited about it and have been holding off on it since AUGUST. It is TIME to dive in.

    1. I am all about spin, baby… 😉 It’s my marketing history. I always try to pick the good messages out of what’s perceived as bad. There are always a few. 🙂

      Can TOTALLY sympathize with Beating A Dead Horse. I am there with “Ravenmarked.” And when someone told me recently about something I “should” change, I just sort of threw up my hands and said “screw it! It’s staying the way it is because *I* like it that way.” Maybe that’s part of what your post tapped into today.

      I’m so glad you’re excited about your new project. I feel that way about my line up in 2011 in general. And really, when writers are passionate about their projects, it shines in the work and makes it sparkle.

      And now I’m heading off to download “Devil’s Eye”…. 🙂

      1. Hey, marketing is a great background to have as an indie! That’s a step up for you where the rest of us are still in that “but I just wanna write the books and let somebody ELSE do that marketing and promo thing….” mindset! 😀

  10. Okay, I had to get in on this conversation because I’ve been confused about genres and sub-genres with my story. Kait, I haven’t read FBS or DE yet (thought I plan to, ASAP) so forgive me for intruding on this conversation, but as a writer, I understand your frustrations. and I wanted to give you my support. I did read a comment that was left on Amazon. I guess as a writer, you can’t please everyone.

    I know with my story, I’ve always considered it a romance novel. The story is built around the romance. Once I started networking, and I joined the IBC, I started thinking about my sub-genre. I always thought paranormal romances (which are my favorite books to read) were about vamps, wolves, shape shifters and such. But once I started researching paranormal romance, I found different information. On Wikipedia’s website, it said (and this is not a direct quote) that PNRs go beyond the vamps, etc; it also includes psychic abilities, which some of the characters in my story have. Would this be considered light paranormal? I’ve even wondered if it was Romantic Fantasy/Fantasy Romance. It’s all confusing to me. A few weeks ago, I sent a DM on Twitter to IBC and ParaYourNormal, just to ask what was considered paranormal romance. I don’t want to mislead future readers of my story, either.

    From what I’ve read on your book details, I got them impression of a PNR. I guess I would know more if I read it, right? 😉 But like I said, I’m not familiar with UF so I really don’t know. Wish I could be of more help.

  11. Ok, Kait, they can call it whatever genre they want to but I think they should just have a genre for AWESOME! because that’s where this book belongs. I just now finished reading Devil’s Eye and I can’t wait until you write Sophie and Mick’s story completely. It’s going to be a very interesting story. Especially with their “friend.” 🙂

    I think you did their relationship perfectly in this and left me wanting more of their story. And “Red” sounds like it’s going to be just as good. Have fun writing it!

    1. And THANK you for that lovely review (you too Susan!). I really think that will help people recognize what it IS (assuming they read reviews) before they buy.

  12. It’s been a while since I read FBS, but I seem to remember it qualifying for both.

    I totally get the part about the brain filling in details of the romance… I’ve had more than one editor tell me that they’d like to see the characters fall in love more. And I think, but they are… oh, right, I cut that scene short. Fade to black. Mushy mushy, love, blah blah. LOL

    1. Pot says I am often way too cerebral about it. Which is kind of something I fight with on EVERY book because that’s just kind of how I am to begin with, and I have this clinical psych training on top of it. It’s how I look at the world!

  13. Hi Kait!
    I read Forsaken By Shadow thinking it was urban fantasy, but haven’t voted because I just realised both why I enjoyed it so much and why I wasn’t confused or put off by the fantasy elements (since it’s not my usual genre): because it was a romance! Love romance [g]
    Ask me again after I’ve read Devil’s Eye – just got my copy yesterday!

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