Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Is it paranormal? Fantasy?

What makes a story paranormal? How do you define the line between paranormal and fantasy? Do I really write paranormal? Or has it gone beyond the other and into the realms? And if I do write paranormal, how do I know I have enough to make the grade? All very good questions.

All my stories have at least some magical element in them. Maybe a hereditary witch or just a magical occurence. Vampires, all sorts of shifters and ghosts all fall into the category Paranormal. Don't they? But have you ever seen a fanged vampire of the legendary variety, or seen a man shift into a wolf or panther? (Not me, but that would be too cool.) So, then aren't they Fantasy? Or do we reserve that slot for dragons, wizards and other worlds.

If I set a story on earth in either this universe or an alternate reality and the main character/s have a super ability than overshadows their everyday lives I consider it paranormal. If I choose to plunk the same characters in a world three galaxies away where dragons bow down to frogs and they all talk, that's fantasy. Is it paranormal enought? Or should I be targeted places like Tor? Depends on the reader, writer and scores of others. When it comes down to it, write what you love. That's what you know best and your heart will tell you when its found the right home.

*Have a piece of Virtual strawberry cake with cream cheese icing. It's my b'day!"



Jack Barrow said...


I've struggled with this same problem. My novel, The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil is about magicians who have to save the world in an English seaside resort. That means it's not fantasy because it's not in some fantasy land, also there are no elves or dragons or fantasy creatures. The most fantastic entity is, perhaps, a taxi whisperer. It's comedy by the way.

There is magic in the story but it's the magic of coincidence, not people riding on broomsticks or pointing wands with sparks spewing out. There is one major supernatural or paranormal event, I won't say what it is because I don't want to spoil the plot, but it is clearly impossible. I've tried to make all the rest of the magic just like normal events but prompted my the magic of ther heroes, which is just like magic performed by members of the modern pagan community. Pagans are my core readership but I get excellent responses from non pagans too.

So does that make my work paranormal? I've been using the term Urban Fantasy but I'm beginning to realise that is more about vampires and the like in the modern world. (Why does it always have to be vampires?) So now I'm wondering if I should use the term Paranormal Fantasy?

Perhaps I should describe it as a new genre of Comic Pagan Fiction but publishers hate anything they can't put into an existing category.

Author Brynna Curry said...

Hi, Jack.

Sorry. I'm just now seeing your comment. Personally, I'd call it paranormal fiction, since it is missing the elf/dragon element and let the publisher and agents decide for themselves which sub-genre to include it with.