One of the challenges of writing paranormal romance is finding a way to build a
really different fantasy, yet get the readers to buy into it. After all,
everybody's doing handsome leather-clad vampires and cheeky monster-slaying
tough girls. Readers love that kind of thing, but they've also seen it before.
It's a lot more fun if you can find a way to turn the concept on its head,
surprising readers and creating a whole new world for them to play in.
Besides, I've got ADD, and I'm easily bored. I love leather clad vampires, but I
have no interest in doing the same thing everybody else is doing. That's no fun
Here's one of the secrets of writing you don't hear about: it's fun. Shocking, I
know. Everybody always talks about how much work it is being a writer, and how
we get paid peanuts, and how the publishing industry is imploding.
All of that is true, but it's also true that creating a universe and moving into
it for 400 pages is the best fun you can have with your clothes on.
I love coming up with weird ideas and playing with them, like:
What if a werewolf girl rescued a gorgeous Sidhe warrior -- who was naked at the
time, naturally -- only to find out he didn't remember why he was being hunted
or how to control his fabulous powers?
What if they were making love and he turned into a house cat? Ooo! A romance
between a cat and a dog!
And they pay me for this stuff, y'all. Is that great, or what?
I also get to talk about stuff that ticks me off. Like the abuse of women by
homicidal husbands and boyfriends.
This is a subject I really feel strongly about, because when I was a reporter, I
did an interview with a woman whose ex-boyfriend broke in and slit her throat
with a box cutter. She had to try to stop the bleeding with her hands until the
ambulance arrived. He'd been beating her for years, but in South Carolina, abuse
like that is often ignored by the legal system.
Now, I could rant about that stuff all day, but that's not really a good way to
get people to think about problems. It's a lot more cool if you can dress the
problem up in a costume and show why it really is a problem.
For example, maybe my werewolf aristocrats think women are inferior. They beat
and abuse their werewolf females and say it's tradition, and anyway, it doesn't
count because the women heal when they change forms. So there's never any
bruises or broken bones to show to the police.
I can show that this is a terribly destructive cycle, but I can also show my
werewolf heroine finding the courage to fight back. And by fighting back, she
frees herself from her abuser.
My hope is that women in abusive relationships will read this and start thinking
that maybe they can change their lives too. Maybe they can find the courage to
get away from their abuser before it's too late.
Note that there's nowhere in the story where I say as the writer, "This is
wrong." I just show what it's like for these women to live in fear and to feel
they have nowhere to go, and yet to find the courage to leave anyway.
Meanwhile I've got my sexy cat guy romancing my heroine and killing evil
werewolves. So I lead my reader on a fun little romp that has some serious
things going on in the background.
I love playing with the implications of ideas. Like, my secondary heroine can
heal the injuries she suffers at the hands of her abuser, but how does she prove
she's being abused before he kills her? Her ability to heal is a good thing, but
it's also a problem.
That's one of the tricks of writing superhuman characters. You have to remember
to give your Superman his kryptonite.
Think about it. Superman is faster than a speeding bullet, invulnerable, can
leap tall yada yada yada.
But you only have tension in a story when your hero is in danger. If he's
invulnerable, he's never really in danger. That's why Superman's villains always
have an inexhaustible supply of this supposedly rare meteor. Because otherwise,
Superman would put us right to sleep.
So every time I come up with a cool superhuman character, I think about how his
abilities could screw up his life. My hero can turn into giant cats, but what
happens when he can't control it? What happens if his heroine turns into her
werewolf form, and his cat form doesn't recognize her and tries to kill her? How
can she defend herself without hurting the man she loves?
Did I mention I'm also a little sadistic?
Every good writer has a hidden mean streak, because you've got to torment your
hero and heroine. Yes, I love my people, but I have to put them through hell.
You only discover how strong you are when things get really, really bad.
Funny thing about that, though. When you see your character struggling through a
tough situation and winning out, it makes you feel you can get through the bad
stuff that happens in your own life.
The thing about life is that nobody gets out of it alive. Sooner or later, no
matter how much money you have or how famous you are, something bad is going to
happen to you. That's when you've got to dig down and find your own courage to
deal with life.
Heroes provide us with models of grace and strength under pressure. Even if
those heroes have fur and fangs and the ability to tear the doors off a Buick,
it's the emotional strength that really counts.
That's true for everybody, even if you don't have fur and fangs.
Angela Knight is the
New York Times bestselling author of the Mageverse series. The seventh
book in the series, MASTER
OF SMOKE, will be out Jan. 4. For more information, visit her website.
10 comments posted.
Your book are always great reads and I'm sure I'll enjoy this one also. The idea of taking a paranormal story and sending the message to women to find help is just wonderful.
Thank you for the greats books and keep them coming.
I'm a BIG fan of your work.
(Vickie Hightower 9:19am January 4, 2011)
Reading this I felt like a yoyo. Add this, add this, add this. Sound very interesting. I'll look for this the next time I'm out buying books.
(Maude Allen 10:41am January 4, 2011)
Love your stories with a message; and you are right: goody-goody people in saccharine stories are s-o-o-o-o dull,I'd probably sleep through surgery on them. Since time is limited, I have decided to read only things I enjoy; no mental diabetic comas for me! Can't wait for your next book, so please, go have some fun and write!!
(Susan Driskill 11:56am January 4, 2011)
I enjoyed your blog so much!! Having ADD has to make it tough to be an author, yet you do it with such flair!! Kudos go out to you!! I am anxiously awaiting to read your new book, and although this normally isn't my cup of tea, so to speak, I'm sure that I'll thoroughly enjoy it. You have a special way with words, and I'm sure this won't be that everyday run of the mill paranormal romance book. Thank you for digging a little deeper and setting your books apart from the others!! Have a great New Year!!
(Peggy Roberson 1:14pm January 4, 2011)
I loved your blog so much. I always wondered how you came up with stories. I always love reading your books. When I get one I can not put it down until it is done. You take me to a world that intrigues and facinates. I can not wait to see what you have next in the works.
(Cindy Olp 5:58pm January 4, 2011)
Fun reading about your wildness in thinking and the results that are mind-breaking for the reader. I love when the psche enters into the equation for characters and how they're suppposed to react and then go right ahead and do something different. You keep us on our toes.
(Alyson Widen 4:43pm January 5, 2011)
Just finished Master of Smoke. Loved it. Now I have to wait for Master of Shadows.
(Donna Antonio 8:41pm January 5, 2011)