Making a Case for Paranormal Romance: Why It’s Hot

[I’m cross-posting from the Happily Ever After blog today! Scroll down–still time to comment for a chance to win new books from P.C. Cast and Rachel Caine!]

Writing is an odd occupation in my family of salt-of-the-earth Southerners. My people work hard for an honest wage, watch Southeastern Conference football on Saturdays in the fall (Roll Tide―or is that War Eagle?), and take casseroles to church fellowships. My people don’t do weird.

Then there’s me. I spend my days writing and editing at a university―a vague concept among my family members, but respectable enough as long as there’s SEC football involved―and my nights writing novels. About wizards. And mermen. And vampires. Some of it’s considered urban fantasy; some of it is paranormal romance. And paranormal romance, if you haven’t heard, is hot.

Here are my highly unscientific theories as to why:

―It lets us look at the human condition from a different angle. What if our jaw-droppingly sexy hunk of manhood hero never aged? What if he needed our heroine (literally) to survive? What if he struggled at the loss of his humanity as he fought to contain the beast within him―a real beast? What if our all-too-human heroine had to give up everything normal in her life to be with him? Every decision in our paranormal romantic relationship becomes amplified and has  implications that usually extend far beyond the scope of our couple and their families. Any dilemma or challenge or emotion  human couples might feel in a romance, our paranormal couples feel more intensely, on a larger stage.

―It lets us increase our taste for bad boys. There’s a good argument to be made that the most dangerous creature to walk the earth is man. But setting that aside, we all love a guy with a touch of danger, right? Well, give that bad boy fangs, or make him a tortured soul who changes form every full moon and struggles to keep from putting your heroine on his dinner menu. Or what if he’s a nice, solid guy―real hero material―but our heroine has a paranormal flaw that could kill him if she doesn’t give him up? Big stakes, big emotion. The chance to change or save a really, REALLY bad boy.

―It lets us test the mettle of the human spirit. Okay, that sounds really lofty. But most paranormal romance takes a hero or heroine and thrusts him or her into a situation where only a noble spirit (and maybe a bottle of Jack Daniels) will see things through to the end. There are worlds to save, evil beings to conquer, the ultimate face-off of good and evil. In other words, the conflict is serious, and the stakes are big. (No vampire pun intended.) Yet at the heart of all the drama is the love between two people who, despite their vast differences, complete each other not only physically and emotionally, but on some metaphysical level. And since there’s often immortality at stake, it can literally mean love eternal.

Those are a few of the reasons I like to read paranormal romance. The reasons I like to write it are similar except I’ll add this:

―In addition to building deep, heroic characters, paranormal fiction gives me the opportunity to let my imagination soar. To create worlds, and whole systems of behavior that don’t have to conform to the laws of physics or reason. It lets me be weird and romantic, all at the same time, and find new ways of putting the idea out there that, at the end of the day, love is worth the struggle.

Do you like paranormal romance? Why do you read it–or if you don’t, why not?

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate’s Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man’s Curse; Black Diamond).

5 thoughts on “Making a Case for Paranormal Romance: Why It’s Hot

  1. Wow, I agree with everything you said. I love PNR. I never sat down to figure out exactly what it was that drew me in, but as I read through each idea, they all resonated with me. Great post.

  2. Angie–if I hadn’t been forced to think about it, I wouldn’t have either!

    Thereadinggate and brouhaha (love that name!) — The escapism is huge, you’re right. Especially these days. Our paranormals never seem to have money issues!

  3. I had never thought of it before, but you are exactly right… reading books is the one way that I can escape reality and just relax. Reading paranormal books such as my latest read, “Stronger Than Sin” by Caridad Piñeiro, also gives me a great rush- it is so nice to break away from my boring every day life!