Shivers and Sighs Week: Romancing the Other

By R. F. Long

Our guest author for today is Irish Paranormal Romance author R. F. Long. Her latest book is Songs of the Wolf. She is here to give readers a brief Paranormal Romance primer.

Picking up a book means stepping into another world. One the author has crafted, with characters to love and hate, with paths to follow and plot twists to excite us. Most rely on the existence of a paranormal world within our own, like Urban Fantasy. But where Paranormal Romance differs from Urban Fantasy is its focus on the romance in the story.

Paranormal Romance brings us a blend of romance and fantasy that opens up new worlds and new experiences. And very, very old ones.

So many of our traditional tales are romances which feature an otherworldly, enchanted or monstrous lover. Alternatively, magic takes a hand in providing the solution which allows the lovers to overcome the obstacles between them. It is only through accepting their differences, or embracing that magic, that happily-ever-after can be reached.

While Urban Fantasy deals with attempts to defeat, conquer or simply control the Other, Paranormal Romance has another agenda: to understand and ultimately embrace it. To work with it. Sometimes, this is necessary to defeat a villain, to beat a curse or simply to assimilate into a new life. Whatever the reason, the romance grows from the differences between them. The human in the equation needs to overcome all those years of mistrust, of scary stories, or even personal attacks, to find happiness with their love. In other stories, the humans may have become the Others and need to, in a sense, come to love themselves. It’s all about coming to terms with the alien in our world.

The more conflict, the more the two characters mistrust each other, the bigger thrill for the reader. Conflict is the life’s blood of stories. The bigger a writer can make that conflict, the better. Take, for example, a heroine whose brother was killed by a werewolf, perhaps turning her into a werewolf at the same time. She struggles to come to terms with his death, her transformation and the associated guilt that he died and she survived. Add to that potent cocktail of emotions a handsome alpha male with control issues, who believes he has to teach her to be part of a pack. And then, reintroduce the werewolf, another alpha, who changed her. Perhaps make him our hero’s best friend. It’s much more fun when the conflict works in every direction.

Vampires and werewolves are still very popular, but it’s always exciting to look at other options as well, other, less-used paranormal entities – the fae, shapeshifters, dreamwalkers, demons, monsters created by magic gone awry, or by curses. The options are endless. Pick up a book on mythology or folklore, browse through some fairy tales and rework them, revisit King Arthur in a modern-day setting.

One of the real pleasures of writing Paranormal Romance is seeing how you can blend old and new, embed mythology and folklore into your story. Weaving well-known stories with the archetypes that inhabit them can lend weight and resonance to your story.

Paranormal Romance is a thriving genre, full of possibilities. It’s worthwhile exploring the waters and then diving in.

Bio: R. F. Long is a writer of Paranormal Romance and Fantasy fiction. Her Holtlands novella, The Wolf’s Sister: a Tale of the Holtlands; its sequel, The Wolf’s Mate; andher novels, The Scroll Thief: a Tale of Ithian and the Paranormal Romance novel, Soul Fire, are now available from Samhain Publishing. Her contemporary YA fantasy, May Queen, is coming soon from Dial Books for Young Readers. Learn more about her by visiting her website.