Why Paranormals Are Awesome, Pt 5: Ten Reasons Paranormal Heroes Rock

It isn’t fair to look at paranormal fiction and what’s awesome about it without considering the heroes. Yes, the butt-kicking heroines are awesome – and I’m all for girl-power.Scotland2007 544

But the guys? Come on. Paranormal heroes put their non-supernatural counterparts to shame.

Here are my ten reasons paranormal fiction heroes rock:

  1. Power. Nothing says power like the ability to throw pianos across the room, or move faster than light. Paranormal heroes are usually the ultimate alphas. And these guys need to be strong if they’re going to be an equal partner to the butt-kicking heroines.
  2. Magical / supernatural abilities. This is what sets them apart from “normal” heroes. Perhaps it’s their species (vampire, demon, werewolf, etc). Or perhaps it’s an ability they’ve been born with (wizards, psychics, etc). These abilities both form and trap the hero, can be something they embrace or despise – but definitely not something they can ignore.
  3. Supernatural Sexual Abilities. Not all paranormal heroes possess these magical abilities to be the best lovers, but many do. Like vampires who’s bites bring erotic pleasure. Or extremely flexible spines and special, *ahem*, “appendages.” (Check out Cheryl Brooks’ “Cat Star Chronicles” if you don’t believe me. Very unique, lots of fun, very sexy.)
  4. Knight in Dented / Rusted Armor Tendencies. Many paranormal heroes also have a bit of the protector in them, whether they bond together to form societies and protect humanity (like J.R. Ward’s “Black Dagger Brotherhood”) or play the lone-wolf. These are the heroes who do the right thing even when no one is watching, and no one ever gives them credit. There’s something admirable and lovable in that.
  5. Ultimate Bad-Boy Fantasy. These heroes are bad-boys (i.e.: vampires DO bite and sometimes kill people, even if it was ‘just a phase’). They’re sexy with an edge of danger. The heroine risks her safety and her world stepping out with these guys, and often, there’s no going back.
  6. A Chance at Forever. Life is riddled with risk and danger, with death and aging. But some of these paranormal heroes offer a way out. Immortality. A way to escape daily life and see everything from a bigger perspective. They’re stronger, heal-faster, and aren’t as vulnerable to simple dangers as most of us – and our loves – are.
  7. Myth and Connection to History. So many of us live our lives barely knowing 6+ generations of family history. But these heroes are often connected to long, complicated, and well-remembered histories, myth, and legend. They’re a living, breathing piece of history – and so much sexier than a textbook.
  8. Dare to Fight Harder, Be More. These heroes are rarely satisfied with the mundane, or standing back from a fight. They dare those around them, and readers, to fight for what we believe in as strongly as they do. They force others to face the truth, even if it’s ugly, and use what power you have for good.
  9. Proof There’s Someone For Everyone. Sometimes it’s the “destined soul-mates” trope, sometimes it’s that these heroes – scarred, wounded inside and out, hidden in plain sight – these heroes could be out there, and who knows, maybe they’ll show up on your doorstep one day. Or the reason you haven’t met “the one” is because he’s actually a 500 year old vampire, and he’s in Italy this year. These heroes and their love stories suggest that no matter what you’ve done, where you’ve been, what you must overcome, you will find love, sometimes when you least expect it.
  10. Vulnerability and Humanity. It seems like a contradiction, but it’s actually the weakness, the flaws of these heroes, which form the cherry-on-top. While paranormal fiction heroes can be ultra-powerful, possibly immortal, deep down they have very human, and normal needs. They need love, hope, a sense of safety and home, gentleness to balance their power. Sometimes they find these things in their heroines, sometimes within themselves – and the ability to be strong enough to admit they aren’t all-powerful.

So, that’s why I love a good paranormal fiction hero. What about you?

What is unique and special about a paranormal fiction hero? Is there something “more” about them than other heroes? What are they capable of that non-paranormal heroes aren’t? Have I missed anything on my list?

Thanks for stopping by and reading, and I hope you have a great week! Oh, and if you liked this post, why not sign up for the blog? Come on, you know you want to … 😉

The Undead Are Calling

March2013 007I love writing paranormal romance because “dead” isn’t as simple a term. There are “shades” of death, and just because you kill-off a character doesn’t mean they’re dead and gone. They can be “slightly” dead, or “temporarily dead,” or even “life and physical-form deficient.”

I suppose I’ve been thinking about the idea of “undead” because I have a WIP that seems to be that way, which makes me think about the terms living, dead, undead, and non-living.

We’re taught that an inanimate object can’t die because it’s non-living. There is no life that can be lost. Dead is the absence or eradication in a formerly living entity; deprived of life, inanimate, inert. Living is defined as having life, the condition of being alive, full of life or vigour. And then there’s undead. Not living, not dead, and yet too animate to fall into the category of non-living. Well, for my purposes at least. Because my dictionary refuses to provide a definition, merely examples: vampires and zombies.

But don’t vampires and zombies possess vigour? There’s all that running around and biting people – certainly that takes a fair amount of vigour. What then of ghosts and ghouls? They were formerly alive (perhaps human before they died), and if they still possess essence, what are they? Simply dead? Certainly they must be “undead” for they too refuse to remain still and silent – haunting takes effort.

And thus we arrive at “undead” for all the creatures in between that refuse to fit into a neat, tidy box (or grave – your pick.) And that’s where the fun begins. Because if a creature / entity isn’t alive, but possesses the definition of life, and isn’t dead, but is more than non-living, we must have the undead. The essence of something more, something we can’t quite understand. Perhaps it reaches to define the boundary between life and death, the mystery we humans so often ponder. Is there some incorporeal essence that is “us” – a soul, if you will? Is there more than just a physical form and mechanical operations of life?

The undead suggest there is. For the undead means that death doesn’t have to be the end. Even if ending up a mouldering zombie isn’t your thing, it’s still more alive than the rotting corpse, still and silent in the grave, isn’t it?

What do you think? What is “undead” to you?

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Paranormals are the Best (Pt 4): Magic and 5 Ways Paranormals Rock It

Magic - like what I'd have needed to have ever fit into these gorgeous vintage boots.
Magic – like what I’d have needed to have ever fit into these gorgeous vintage boots.

 

I love magic.

Not the pull-a-rabbit-out-of-your-hat tricks, but the idea of REAL magic. Like Tinkerbell making the Disney castle sparkle and glow. Or Cinderella being transformed by the fairy godmother. Or the idea that a human could shift into an animal or another form. Or that stories, legends, whispers in the night really could be true … and we have a chance to share in them.

Magic is the possibility that anything is possible, that rules – ALL rules – can be broken, and things can still turn out okay. And paranormal fiction is rife with magic of all kinds.

  1. Magic as rule breaker. Now, while I say that magic can break the rules, good paranormal fiction also establishes new rules. And I think magic shows up in almost all paranormal fiction even if there aren’t fairies, beasties, or fairy dust per se. Consider time travel, where the rules of time and space as we understand them are broken, allowing characters to travel through time either on a one-way journey, or potentially a round-trip. The author then establishes for us 1) how this happened, 2) the repercussions, and 3) how this establishes a new pattern for their fictional world and the future. Poof! Magic.
  2. Magic in the traditional sense. Here be fairies, beasts of legend, fairy godmothers, wishes coming true. Magic is usually possessed in the traditional sense by magical creatures (ie: witches, wizards, fairies.)
  3. Magical for everyone! Here perhaps the entire world is so rife with magic, even non-magical beings can encounter and use it. (As a non-magical myself, I find this particularly appealing – the idea that perhaps I, too, could somehow “become” magical.)
  4. Love as magic, or the magic of the Happily Ever After. I think that the magic of the happily ever after and love against odds deserves to count as part of the magic I love in paranormal fiction. Because magically, even different species can find ways to co-exist and love each other while in the real world, humans have problems co-existing with their own species, let alone others. Besides which, there is something magical in two strangers somehow coming together and finding a greater intimacy and depth of connection they may never experience again – whether they’re the same species or not.
  5. Magic as embodiment of “what if.” Paranormal fiction allows readers to delve into the ultimate what-if scenarios, and prove everything is true. Loch Ness monster? Sure, I have tea with him on Friday. Vampires? Some of my best friends are vampires. Whatever the “real” world has decided is “fiction” can become a slippery, sliding puddle in paranormal fiction. Best of all? If the [insert supposed myth / untruth / legend here] is true, why couldn’t this story be true? Why can’t I achieve / discover / become my own greatest dreams, too?

Okay, so that’s why I love magic in paranormal fiction.

What about you? What do you love about magic? And for that matter, what are some of your favorite elements of paranormal fiction? Share, and who knows? Your idea could become the next post. 🙂

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Why Paranormals Are Awesome: Part 3: Big Button Issues

Big button issues deserve big buttons. (Photo by me.)
Big button issues deserve big buttons. (Photo by me.)

I love paranormal fiction because it dares to do more than just write a terrific story, with rich, unusual characters, and unusual hooks. They also usually have a message for the reader, delivered in such a fashion that while the author could be standing on a soapbox, it’s an invisible one.

That’s why I call this Awesome Element #3 “Big Button Issues” rather then just deeper issues. Because the things paranormal authors dare to address (intentionally or not), can be the kind of issues that cause heated debate (like segregation and issues of race), or could be a little easier to approach (and potentially printed on a big button), like saving the environment and protecting the children.

Issues of xenophobia, racism, segregation, so-called “racial purity” – these are all issues we’ve probably had to at least consider in our lives, and they’re common themes that show up in paranormal fiction. In fact, they’re often one of the more obvious issues. While we all seek to belong, it is – good or ill – that as humans, we’re more comfortable with “what’s like us” and “what’s familiar.” This can quickly lead to grouping of people as “us” or “them.” Which can become examples of, at worst, xenophobia, racism, prejudice, and the results that come of it.

Paranormal characters frequently deal with these issues, whether they’re magical creatures trying to conceal their true natures amidst a human world, or dealing with other species different than their own. You see some pretty clear examples of this in:

  • Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan. Here, while the world is the author’s fantasy, when the heroine faces capture and becomes the Warprize, she encounters another culture she’s unfamiliar with and has been taught to fear.
  • Awaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter. An alien huntress in a world perhaps Earth’s future interacts with other alien and mythical species, and many of the misunderstandings and complications relate back to cultural misunderstandings, and fear of new and different species who all have to share the same world.
  • Kelley Armstrong’s magical species who live in our human world encounter fear, envy, attack, and even scientific dissection by humans and other magical creatures because they’re “different.”
  • The same is true for many other werewolf, vampire, and magical creature protagonists.

The “unnatural” nature of the paranormal world allows the writer to explore some of the issues we may have to deal with on a daily basis. What’s so awesome about paranormal fiction is how much the extreme fantasy / disconnect with reality says about the world around us when we finally close the book and “go home”  (ie: finally close the book and go to bed like we should have hours ago.)

My experience with paranormal fiction is that while it may be populated by beasties, magic, all the creatures time, space, and the beyond can offer, it’s how very human these creatures can be – particularly the journey / character arch of protagonists – which help to remind and teach “us humans” what it is to be human. By creating a so-called magical and unreal universe, the author can help us deal with some of the horrible, darker things we hear about on the news, or perhaps experience in our lives. As characters – human or otherwise – explore their world’s and issues, they help us explore and understand our own.

Of course, xenophobia and issues of race aren’t the only “big” issues and questions paranormal fiction deals with. Now I’d love to hear from you.

What “Big Button Issues” have you seen / interpreted at the heart of paranormal fiction? Why do you think paranormal fiction can and will do this? Is it intentional, or an accidental bi-product?

Thanks for reading, I love to hear from you.

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