Genre Talk

The genre of ultra-fantasy


Welcome to Paranormal Unbound! Wednesday will typically be ‘new release show-and-tell day’ on PU. But, y’know, to hell with it. I’d rather talk about paranormal romance that stretches the boundaries and introduces us to cool new things. That’s what we’re here for!

This blog is called Paranormal Unbound for a few reasons. One, because we’re not that  much interested in rules when it comes to writing our books. We laugh in the face of danger! We drop ice cubes down the vest of fear! etc..

Sure, we believe in grammar and punctuation and all that important, necessary stuff. But start saying ‘that plot is too over-the-top’ or ‘your heroine can’t say that!’ or ‘you can’t have {insert strange creature here} as a romance hero!’ and we’ll just smile politely and wander off before your cray-cray rubs off on us and we start writing safe little cosy mysteries where the butler did it with a toasting fork.

Or, more likely, we’ll grin maniacally and accept your pronouncement as a challenge. “Were-snake hero? Who says I can’t?” [twitter-retweet-16x16 retweet]

But we’ve also chosen Paranormal Unbound because the nature of our genre is to defy the rules of the ‘real world’. The very word ‘paranormal’ opens up a whole new universe of possibility. And not just because we can include brooding vampire warlords (or sparkling ones! Hell, there’s no accounting for taste…) or bloodthirsty fairy assassins or rampant hordes of rabbit-shifter warriors hunting through time and space for the lost Carrot of Eternal Life.

Paranormal stories are ‘larger than life’. By their very nature, they contain things that aren’t real. In that atmosphere, your ultra-alpha hero, gymnastically talented kick-butt heroine or sexy warrior priestess-with-an-attitude can be believable in ways that other genres struggle with.

In fact, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the romance genre, in particular, would not be where it is today — that is, at the forefront of innovative fiction, in case you were wondering — without the explosion in paranormals that happened a few decades ago. Sure, there are alpha males and kick-ass chicks in historicals, romantic suspense and other sub-genres. But can you imagine those big tough Black Dagger Brotherhood guys in the ‘real’ world, with no magic or vampire lore or destined mates to make their behaviour explicable? How about Anita Blake?

In the real world, those characters are impossible and ridiculous. In a paranormal world, they are desirable. We believe in them because their strange world allows us to.

The paranormal genre emboldens both writers and readers to try new things. How many of you got your introduction to erotic romance via steamy paranormals like BDB, Psy-Changeling, Merry Gentry, or Immortals After Dark? Mega-seller 50 Shades would not exist without these books, Twilight notwithstanding. Christian Grey is just an alpha vampire without the fangs. Sexually dangerous and dominant hero, lives in a shadowy and heretofore-hidden subculture, draws the innocent heroine in, sex vs. danger, on the edge of death, yadda yadda. How is this not every vampire romance you’ve ever read?

My point is not that 50 Shades is (or isn’t) a copy. My point is that its success didn’t happen in a vacuum. It arrived on the crest of a wave of hot alpha hero romances, that over twenty years or more have slowly opened readers’ minds to the possibilities of ultra-fantasy. 50 Shades just takes the vampires out. And it’s opened the way for other non-paranormal erotics. I say, bring it on.

Similarly, how many people will go hunting for more m/m romance after devouring Lover at Last? J.R. Ward has drawn millions of readers into the world of her characters, to the point where I believe she could release an algebra textbook featuring one of her guys and it would hit the NYT. People simply love her characters that much. They’ll read LAL for Qhuay, but some will come out thinking, ‘phwoar, those dudes were hot! I wonder what else…?’

Until recently, we authors in the rarefied air of NY publishing have had to skirt around the edges of same-sex romance, the way they used to have to skirt around kinky sex. I’ve done it. I have queer secondary characters, and a couple of bisexual heroes, but the main romance has always been m/f. But even when it’s supposedly ‘dead’, paranormal continues to push the boundaries in an non-threatening way. So here’s hoping Lover at Last will be the catalyst for more mainstream original GLBT romances!

Anyhoo. Enough with the serious stuff. Let’s give away some books and stuff! There are several ways to increase your chances…

Here’s how to enter. You can do just the one entry, but read on, and you’ll see that you can earn additional one as well!

Answer this (or some of it… or none of it… hell, say whatever you like!) in the comments for your first entry:

Are you solely a reader of paranormal, or do you branch out into other genres?

If you’re a fan of the BDB, what did you think of Lover at Last — do you love m/m romance, or did you only read because it’s Qhuay?

For additional entries…

… do any or all of the following, and leave a comment for each thing, to count as the entry.

  1. Tweet this: Today on @ParaUnbound, @EricaHayes talks about Ultra Fantasy! Stop by and win some great swag & books! <– Click to tweet
  2. Follow us on Twitter leave your twitter handle in the comment
  3. Like us on Facebook

And here’s what you can win if we draw your name!

a print copy of Suzanne Johnson’s Royal Street
print copies of Erica Hayes’ Revelation and Redemption
an ebook copy (Kindle only) of AJ Larrieu’s Anchored
an ebook copy of Amber Belldene’s Blood Vine
A set of Kastel Estate Winery glasses from Amber Belldene
a swag pack from Elisabeth Staab

This contest will run until tonight (12 AM Pacific) – Winner will be drawn and announced tomorrow!

Disclaimer: Winners can be US or International. Prize must be claimed within one week of the winning announcement.

The Gods of Random Algorithm have spoken… and the winner of our Wednesday prize pack is… @donnas1! Yay! Thanks to everyone for visiting.

89 thoughts on “The genre of ultra-fantasy

  1. ^^ I do read other genre than paranormal but so far paranormal has stayed my favourite. I don’t read m/m and i don’t think lovers at last will change that because i don’t think i will take the book ( i’m not a fan of bdb series either^^,, i just read some of them )

      • I’m right there with you. Paranormal romance and urban fantasy top my genre list for sure. I will read other genres, though, especially if it’s an author I adore, such as Laura Kaye. Love her contemporary novella, Hearts In Darkness, for example.

  2. Congrats on the new blog. I’ve clicked all the buttons…looking forward to future posts.

    Paranormal is my favourite genre but I do tend to wander over into other genres. (I’m just a wanderer) Reading Lover at Last at the moment and I’m one of those that is reading it because it’s Qhuay…oh heck it’s J.R.WARD how can we not read her books 🙂


  3. I used to read nothing but paranormal/fantasy BUT my Besties and I have long distance reading nights, where we each take turns picking what we are going to read, so they have suckered me into reading *cough* romance! All the books on my bookshelf are Paranormals though! I am a HUGE BDB fan! And honestly, male/male doesn’t bother me! I have never come across a book with it until LAL! I am 216 pages in and would like to say OMG about their first time! Unfortunately, I don’t Twit, yet, but I am a fan on facebook 🙂 it upsets me dearly to hear that paranormal is losing its “bite” I could NOT go on reading without it! A romance here or there is fine, but a bookstore or library without witches, vampires, were shifters, demons, pixies fairies, Angels, etc would totally SUCK!

  4. I also read non-paranormal books. Mostly mysteries, but I’ll read an occassional best selling author like Stuart Woods or Janet Evanovich. And an occassional western or SCi-Fi book. I haven’t read BDB.

  5. Well, if I am reading books for my own pleasure they are always paranormal romance as you say and have been that way every since I read the Shadowfae Chronicles. I pretty much always read her books however i read a few others when at one point I had read all the books she had out at that moment. 🙂

    For the second question, I’m not sure what BDB is therefore I can’t answer it. However Thanks for the awesome books!
    At the moment I am rereading the Shadowfae Chronicles(simply because they are that awesome)! Then starting the new series.

  6. I read other genres like mystery and science fiction, but PNR and UF are my first loves. I have read m/m fiction by Jet Mykles and others before Lover at Last was released and enjoyed those stories very much. I just got my book about Qhuay, so I’m looking forward to reading it soon. Thanks for the contest!

  7. Urban Fantasy is my favorite genre. Kim Harrison and the Hollows introduced me to UF a few years ago. Susannah Sandlin introduced me to Paranormal Romance with her Penton Legacy series. Before these I read all of Stephen King’s releases, he covers a lot of genres. Mysteries have been a favorite since the late 50’s.

  8. Paranormal is my fav genre to read… but I do read other genres including romances, mysteries, sci-fi, and more… But… I always come back to paranormals… and I need a paranormal fix after reading out of the paranormal genre. :-)))

    • I confess I’m not much of a BDB fan either… I know, wash my mouth out with soap… but I do enjoy her Fallen Angels series. I love the heroes in those ones.

      • *gasp* blasphemy! LOL. seriously, big BIG fan of BDB right here. Of course, vampires are my absolute favorite paranormal creature, so how could I not love JR Ward’s badass alpha vamps? I’m particularly attached to Zsadist and the Blind King. And if Amber wanders over here, I’m sure she’ll remind us that Vishous is all hers. 😉

      • Here I am to stake my claim on V :-). It’s funny how some people like the Angels and some the vampires. I do love her characterization in both series, its dark and rich with TONS of believable angst (as opposed to artificial angst).

  9. When it comes to m/f I read paranormal stuff (this can be urban fantasy, romance, horror, sci-fi) 90% of the time. I love m/m, but will read contemporary more than PN. I read Lover at Last, JR Ward isn’t a m/m author and it shows, but I was just so happy to see a Qhuay HEA I was willing to over look her faults mainly her lack of romantic sex for them.
    I like the fact that PNR is bringing back the alpha male/ bad boy but he isn’t the rape you cause I love you and you will love me ass from the old school romances of the 70’s and 80’s. You can be an alpha male and still respect women 🙂

    • That is so true! I think as a genre we’ve moved past the horrid alpha hero, and good riddance. And that’s interesting what you say about LAL — you didn’t find the sex romantic? More of the ‘gotta do it NOW’ kind? We can always hope there will be other books where they are allowed to get their romance on… and I really hope the success of that book leads to more opportunities for m/m authors.

    • Sharon, Erica, and Celia, this is SUCH a great point. I think the reason those heroes were popular back in the old days is that we all know sex is usually on some level about power and surrender, and the best writers are playing with that, and its various formations. Even feminists are interested in the way power is exchanged during sex scenes!

      It might be when the alpha gives his up to help a wounded rape victim heroine heal (just read a lovely version of this in Courtney Milan’s Duchess Affair), it might be a carefully negotiated BDSM scene. I am thankful the romance genre has gotten so much more sophisticated about this, so that we can explore the way CONSENTING human beings play with sexual power, especially because for so many of us, getting conflicted characters to the consent is itself VERY HOT!

  10. I read a lot of different genres, but I haven’t read LaL, mainly because I’ve grown disenchanted with the BDB. I do read other m/m, though, and enjoy it. I learned about several of the m/m books I’ve read through reviews from readers I trusted, and that’s what led me to try what was for me something new.

    • It’s always good to have reviews that you trust, isn’t it? There are so many dodgy ones out there these days. And you’re over the BDB? I think a few people have lost interest during the last couple of books. Was there a particular book that was the last straw for you?

  11. I’ve never read much paranormal fantasy but I do read fantasy, sf, mysteries and romance. I read a copy of Suzanne Johnson’s River Road last year and really enjoyed it. I read a lot and am open to lots of genres. Were-rabbits and other crazy shifters sound intriguing.

  12. Thank you for this nice post! I confess I love paranormal books, I’m never tired of them, I could read them everydays, but I have other genres I like. Mainly Chick-lit books, but I’m more difficult and it’s some specific authors I really love.

    I’m ashamed to say that but I have the 5 fist books of the BDB series and haven’t started them. I’m anxious about this series but one day I’ll definitely try it. I hope I’ll like it as I have so many books but it’s a good start.

    • Hi Melliane! Thanks for stopping by and helping us spread the word. 🙂

      It took me ages to read the BDB books. A friend of mine finally gave me the first one and said, “You have to read this.” I finished it in two days. Her world is so unique (and sexy!) I was hooked.

      Hope to see you back here often. A bientot!

    • Melliane, welcome to our site! I think its awesome that so many Europeans are now reading and blogging about romance! What chick-lit authors do you like?

      One of the things about my favorite PNR books is that they have a sense of humor that lightens up the darkness of the world and characters. I think the balance between humor and meaningful conflict is a challenge for writers, and its one the things I like best about the writers I love most!

      • Than you! We have many English books translated but it’s so easier to read everything in English. Hmm I love Janet Evanovich, or Lisa Lutz. They’re bith really good in this genre.
        Yes some authors manage perfectly to mix a lot of genre in the same book and it’s always a wonderful surprise.

  13. I’ve been an avid reader for decades, but I think the one book that really got me hooked was the Merlin story depicted in “The Crystal Cave”. I still read crime stories (I have a literary crush on agent Pendergast), historical romances, horror stories, love a good ghost story. If it’s well written and I can loose myself in it I’ll give it a go. Paranormal romance and urban fantasy are definitely my favorites though.

      • Thank you for the suggestion. As you said earlier, ghost stories do seem to be a bit dated. Maybe that’s why ghosts seem to be secondary characters. I found some e-published books by Beth Dolgner about a ghost hunting group in Savannah, Georgia that were priced low enough for me to try out. Being from Charleston I had to try those out. Not bad. But even in this series the main focus is a demon, not the ghosts. As much as I love actual books, I really love being able to scope out new writers and series on my e-reader.

    • I like Dark Needs too, Celia. It opened my eyes to the way ghosts can be sexy, even without bodies. Marsha, like you, I read a lot of mysteries too. I think ALMOST EVERY good book is a little bit a mystery and a little bit a romance, because the mystery keeps you reading for whatever you don’t yet know–that secret backstory that makes the characters who they are, and the romance makes you care about what will happen to them next!

  14. I’ll read just about anything. I love paranormal & UF. I was hooked on vampires by Dracula, then I discovered the Saint Germain Chronicles by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro & I haven’t looked back. I also read mysteries, science fiction & some horror. I’ve also started reading steampunk. I like the twist on history.

    I love BDB. I just finished Lover at Last. I really liked it. I wasn’t sure about it since some of the recent books haven’t been that satisfying. JR Ward is still an autobuy for me. I have read some m/m fiction & I’ll probably read more in the future.

    • Hi Cathy! I confess I’d never heard of Yarbro, so I just went and looked up her books. They look incredible. A blend of serious historical fiction, mystery and horror? Thanks for the rec. 🙂

      • Hi AJ, she does have quite a few series out there. There are 2 series that are related to Saint Germain.The Atta Olivia Clemens series has 3 books & the Madelaine de Montalia has 2 books so far. Happy reading.

    • I’m behind too. One thing I really like about Ward’s books is the way she keeps all those characters on stage–so we see Beth and Wrath struggling in their relationship several books later. That is an appreciated touch of realism for me, in a fairytale genre. But, sometimes I also think, “Really Xhex and John Matthew, can you stop being idiots yet?”

  15. Of course paranormal will never die out, there are still so many great series I need to read. I do like to switch genres, as not to burn out. My first love is paranormal romance/urban fantasy though, followed by historical romance, cozy mysteries, some romantic suspense and contemporary romance. If everything else fails, I pick up Nora Roberts. But … a paranormal one preferably. Then there is pure fantasy, and alien romance like Gini Koch, and some steampunk like Gail Carriger. Lol, I read a lot of different genres, but not everything.

    I do follow on Twitter and Facebook.

    • The first romances I read were Nora Roberts contemporaries. Montana Sky and Born In Fire are still on my keeper shelf, and when I feeling burned out, I go back and re-read them.

      Thanks for stopping by and helping us spread the word!

  16. I also love historical romance because it has the same world-building fantastical aspects as paranormal romance. Contemporary romance is often too generic for me. 🙂

    • Jami, historical is my go-to genre while I’m deep in a writing project. I love it, and it doesn’t bleed into my voice the way paranormal sometimes can. Who are your favorite historical authors??

      • Yes! That’s exactly why I read more historical romance than paranormal romance. LOL! It doesn’t interfere with my voice.

        I’ve been a Courtney Milan fangirl since before her debut novel, and I love Tessa Dare as well. Honestly, I enjoy most historical romance I read. I’m an easy audience in that genre. Much less picky. 🙂

      • I feel the same way! Maybe because I don’t feel like I could ever write a historical, I stand more in awe of those who can? I love Tessa Dare, but I have yet to pick up a Courtney Milan (I know, I know…) At the moment I blowing through every Grace Burrowes and Cecilia Grant I can get my hands on.

  17. For me it’s paranormal & sci-fi all the way. The world is just cooler & sometimes more bearable with those stories in them.

    I am still reading LAL and LOVE J.R. Ward and all BDB books, but I am disappointed with LAL. One commenter articulated it perfectly earlier: There was almost no romance. I just never felt any real emotion other than anger and depression and frustration. This being my first ever m/m book, I am now a bit… shall we say… put off?

    Oh, and my inner feminist is wondering something. With all this talk everywhere about m/m books, are there any good f/f books out there? Cause I haven’t heard anything about it anywhere. 😉

    • Hi Marlene! You know, that’s an excellent question. I think Yasmine Galenorn has some f/f relationships in her Otherworld series (anybody know for sure?), but there have to be more. Sensing a good future blog post topic here…

    • Your email made me wonder Marlene. Why aren’t there any f/f books? I’ve seen plenty of fan fic, but haven’t seen very many books. I did a Google search and found one site, Bold Stroke Books that seems to specialize them, but the prices are too steep for me.

  18. The paranormal/UF genre is probably what I read the most but sometimes a Sci-fi/dystopian novel sneak its way into my reading. The only exception to the P/UF genre is The Spellman series by Lisa Lutz (mystery) which I read long ago before I starting reading mainly paranormal/UF books. I love it so much, that I still continue reading the series to date.

    + twitter follower: @vanpham88
    + Liked fb page: Van Pham

  19. Are you solely a reader of paranormal, or do you branch out into other genres?
    I read a lot of romance genres as well as Science Fiction and Fantasy. My top favs besides paranormal are historical romance and steampunk.

    • Barbara–historical and steampunk are my favorites to, although I’ve been reading a few contemporaries lately by the smart ladies over at the blog Wonkomance. Ruthie Knox is a must read!

  20. I’m up for all kinds of speculative fiction: sf, paranormal, urban fantasy, steampunk, epic fantasy. I haven’t read BDB. The character names make my eyes twitchy.

    • Ha! They are a little eye-twitch-inducing.

      I must admit, I was never into steampunk until I read Meljean Brook. Two chapters into The Iron Duke, I was sold.

  21. I read kind of all over – whatever strikes my fancy (historical romance, non-fiction, memoir), and that’s what I find interesting from talking with other paranormal readers, too. Maybe it’s because we’re ready to go wherever the author takes us? Love the comment about how innovative paranormal is; I never even thought that my first experiences with erotic romance were picking up otherwise paranormal books. Wonder where it can take us next. 🙂

    • Hi, SC, nice to see you here again! My tastes are broad, too, though I don’t pick up much non-fiction or memoir. Every time I do, I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I like it. I’m looking forward to what comes next, too! It’s exciting to think about where the genre will go (and which rules will get broken!) in the future.

    • Great question about what’s next, SC! And I think you’re right about PNR fans being so open minded to any kind of world building–like Steampunk–it’s “Historical, Paranormal, Science-Fiction-Fantasy!” It sure is freeing as an author to write in a genre where, as long as you build it well, readers will go there with you 🙂

  22. Pingback: Blog Goodness: Paranormal Unbound | celiabreslin

  23. I’m reading almost all genres, but mostly reading Fantasy, PNR and UF because I like the variety, diversity and world building. Other is Romantic Suspense, because who doesn’t love the thrill and action, also I always love to read when the characters solve the case. I admit I’m a little bit disappointed when reading historical romance, because it plot usually just about scandal, so little historical fact that I get. As for contemporary, usually I need it sprinkle with humor, otherwise I will likely bored

    No, I’m not reading Lover at Last yet. I’m very conservative even I do read erotic romance, but same sex romance still make me uneasy. I stop reading BDB after Lover Revenge (Rehv), but when I hear about Warden will back to Wrath and Beth, I think I will continue this again. This series once was my crack

    I’m tweeted :

    And also like as Ren Russell 🙂

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