November 11, 2008

Guest Post by Lisa Hendrix

As part of her blog tour Lisa graciously sent me a copy of her new book, Immortal Warrior, to review.

In addition I asked her the question "Why do you think the paranormal genre has become so huge in the past couple of years?" and her answer is below.







Shifters, vampires, cursed guardians, demons, witches light and dark: no matter where you look right now, paranormal romances seem to be the hot ticket. The question is, why?

Actually, the first question is, are they really that hot? According to releases tracked by the Romance Writers of America, in 2007 only 11.8 percent of all romance novels published were paranormal romances, while 16 percent were historical romances (a supposedly "out" sub-genre). Some of the discrepancy between those figures and perception may lie in the huge popularity of paranormal settings among e-romance and e-erotica, which largely go untracked. Sometimes it seems like nearly every e-book I see promoted is paranormal. But whether paranormal romance is as huge as first impressions would indicate, there is no doubt at all that its popularity has grown in the past 7 or 8 years. So we're back to, why?

My theory -- though I will hurry to point out that I'm not the first to hold it or even write about it -- is that demon lovers are, strangely enough, safe. In the real world, anyone who's been sleeping around enough to qualify as a bad boy is dangerous to your health. It's become too hard to believe that a smart modern woman would actually chose to be with such a potential virus factory. Yet we don't really want to read about plain vanilla heroes, either. Enter the demon/vamp/shifter lover: as bad a bad-boy as ever a girl would want to meet, and yet without all those pesky health issues. Shoot, most of them have been waiting all those centuries for this one perfect heroine. We'd think Mr. Regular Guy was boring if he'd waited for marriage; give him a sharp set of teeth and an unquenchable craving and his wait becomes heroic and fascinating and the stuff of legends.

Another factor I see in the popularity of paranormal romance is the very fact that it deals with unreality. Face it, the real world has been pretty hard to deal with since, oh, 2001 or so. Real people want to kill us. Real soldiers are dying in Iraq. Real evil exists. Books about Navy SEALS fighting terrorists are no longer escapism--they're the morning news. Paranormal romance carries us into an alternate world, where good and evil are clearly defined and the battle lines are drawn. They give us a way to deal with the unspeakable by making it both concrete and fantastic. And isn't it interesting how it is most often the least magical character--the human or the halfling or the reluctant outcast without power--who beats the evil back and saves the day?

All things being cyclical in publishing as in life, I would expect that paranormal romance will die back a little over the next few years (though hopefully not before I complete the nine books of The Immortal Brotherhood). What will replace it, I have no idea. Maybe its time for the all-American hero of westerns again. Maybe the world will settle down into innocence once more so we can enjoy the lighter side of love and romantic comedies will make a resurgence. Maybe it's time for doctor/nurse romances again -- with female doctors and male nurses, this time. Maybe someone will invent something entirely new. All I know for sure is that I'll be there, reading and writing with the rest of you--and loving it all.

Lisa Hendrix is the author of IMMORTAL WARRIOR, the first book in an all-new paranormal historical romance series, The Immortal Brotherhood. Please visit her website, for excerpts, contests, and more information about Lisa and her books. Lisa can also be found on MySpace, Facebook and Goodreads.

21 comments :

aliadam from FR said...

Interesting perspective on why paranormal romances are bit hits. I'd never thought of the idea of "safe" bad boys. And your comment about how real life bad boys are a "potential virus factory" made me laugh out loud. Thanks for sharing your ideas!!!

Color Online said...

Enjoyed the response. I don't read this genre, but this article piques my interest. And I suspect it just might appeal to the young women I encourage to read. Thanks for the post. ~zawadi

Julie (JDobs from FR) said...

I also enjoyed reading Lisa's post. And it makes sense to me -- we do need to escape the real world, whenever possible!

Valerie from fr said...

Interesting post. I'm not real familiar with this genre. My college roommate wrote a book in this same genre but I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

dcw888 from FR said...

I found Lisa's theories to be quite compelling. I've only recently (within the past 2 years or so) become a huge fan of the paranormal genre, and I have to agree with Lisa. The "safe bad boy" theory is on target as I think the "always good guy" has become tiresome and I believe many readers have taken to the paranormal to try something new.
I've often laughed to myself when I read a review which says "this fiction is so unbelievable - such a bad story". I say, "that's why it's called fiction". Why do I read this fiction? To escape, as Lisa indicated, and I don't want to escape to something real, I want to escape to something different and fun and will hold my attention. Absolutely on target, Lisa, I wholeheartedly agree!

vikkestrunk@msn.com said...

I always find paranormal, vampire, sci-fi very entertaining to read. If I want to be "educated" I know where to go for material however in my older age I am more inclined to reading for fun. That is why Lisa's books are the kind that you will find on my sofa, by the bed, in the car...I am looking forward to the new one, maybe I'll win it or get it for Hanukkah. Lisa, thank you for the visit and your comments. You have some very interesting thoughts about the reading habits of people and particularly of us women.

Marge said...

Hi Lisa & Monie,
I agree with most of your statements about the paranormal genre. All I can say is keep them coming, because I love 'em!

I look forward to reading your new book. Thanks for blogging.

Marge from FrugalReader

Jennifer said...

I read to escape and I definitely agree with the things Lisa said. I'd never quite thought of it that way before, but it makes sense.

kairilily (FR)

hugbandit7 said...

I'm normally not into paranormal but this sounds like a good one that I'd like to check out!

ChristyJan said...

Paranormal historical romance ~ three of my favorite genres all in one? Sounds fascinating. I'll be adding this series to my Christmas list.

susan said...

I really enjoyed reading this informative and honest article. Gave me a few things to think about!

Neala (FR)

Kristipye (FR) said...

I have just been reading Paranormal romances the last year or so---if someone had told me before I read the first one that I would actually like it---I would'nt have believed it! They are just so much fun to read--they sure have more sexventures (just my name for all of the sexual adventures) than most of us!!!

Lisa Hendrix said...

Hello to all of you. Sorry I didn't pop in earlier, but deadline beckoned.

I had a great time writing this post for Monie, because even though we talke about this in writing circles, I'd never put the ideas together in any cogent form. It's good to see they made sense to all of you, and that it really is about the escape.

Hope to make new friends and fans of all of you.

Nora said...

I have to agree with you Lisa on the "reality" issue. We need an escape from the "real world" and this type of book/series sounds like a great read. Thank you Monie and Lisa.

the pearson c.a.s.t. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Susan (Harley from FR) said...

I have just started reading the paranormal in the last couple of years and I must say I have enjoyed the ones that I have read.
I read for my own enjoyment and if I need the real world I can watch the news. I am looking forward to reading this one.
Thanks for sharing your views.

annapi said...

I've always enjoyed fantasy so to me the paranormal genre is just an extension of that. It's interesting to me that it seems to have become a separate genre. Many people read books to escape the real world, and how much more escapist can you get? As for the bad boys, I think every girl wants to believe she is "the one" who can reform the bad boy - and a paranormal bad boy takes that to the nth degree, which makes it more fun! ~annapi from FR

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to respond. Have not yet read this genre, but have heard various positive comments. Looking forward to fun reading.

Yolie

flared0ne said...

I have to suggest that an even deeper underlying factor in "paranormal" ANYthing is the fact that once you say "Para", all bets are off -- there are no "tried-and-true" constraints, no tired "been there, done THAT" associated with the real world and the bell-curve of predictable behaviors.

Which frees up the mind, allowing for a willing suspension of disbelief, and allows unfettered plot development when "of COURSE he is attracted to the most mundane of women, on THIS plane, since where HE comes from is totally chaotic, life-threatening, and relationships in general just SUCK!!"

I.e. "paranormal" allows you-the-author to select aspects of life and interrelationships which ordinarily don't ALLOW for much variation, and vary them wildly, to manipulate some set of responses that allow you to make whatever point you'd LIKE to make.

And when done well, that point may well be to illuminate "the ordinary" from such an angle that it once more becomes romantic and intriguing.

Go for it. It's worth doing.

blueviolet said...

That was really an interesting post. It will be interesting to see if this recent explosion in the genre will continue down the road.

lilyk said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I didn't realize that romance sub-genres went through cycles. It sure is fun to fantasize about bad boys and escape from the real world sometimes, isn't it? ;0P