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Monday, July 12, 2010

What is paranormal?

At a writers conference this weekend, we were discussing the often blurred line between genres – specifically between a mystery with a strong romantic element vs. a suspense romance - and the fact that it might be a moot point. An author can pitch a story to an agent as one genre, it may be published as another, and the local bookstore may sell it as something else entirely.

But this discussion also touched on the topic of paranormal romance. How do you define paranormal? Vampires, ghosts, and anyone with magical powers, of course, but what about aliens? If one of your romantic leads happens to be a visitor (refugee, wayward traveler) from another planet, with or without special powers, is that paranormal? Or is it strictly sci fi, and never the twain shall meet? I tried researching this one on Google, moving from web site to blog until my mouse-hand cramped tight and I had to stop. The results? Everyone seems to have a different opinion.

So I’d like yours. Writers and readers, please weigh in on this question. If I have a sexy romantic lead with some very interesting special gifts who happens to be from another planet and who falls for a “normal” human…is that a paranormal romance? Why or why not?



Kimber Leszczuk said...

There are so many blurred lines and cross genres these days! I think that it could be either genre or both. ESPECIALLY if the non aliens don't know what the aliens are at first and weird things are occuring that could be considered paranormal.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Good question. I guess the answer would depend on the rest of the book.

Aliens involved with humans, might be paranormal. Especially if the alien was treated the same as a vampire or werewolf or ghost would be treated.

Add in scientists or people chasing the aliens, then you might move into SciFi.

I went to IMDB to check on "Starman". It's labeled SciFi. Where do you think it should fall?

Maria Zannini said...

Oh, you opened up a can of worms with this one.

I have a scifi romance coming out this fall. I label it 'science fantasy'.

Although there are paranormal elements, it has enough science in it to keep it in the realm of SF, and enough mythology to cross over into fantasy.

As far as marketing it, that will be the real challenge. If it's a paranormal group, I'll emphasize the paranormal elements. If it's a SF group, I'll talk about the tech stuff, but I prefer to talk about it as fantasy because the major race stems from biblical mythology and holds historical context.

It'll be interesting to see how well it's accepted.

Dru said...

It sounds like could be labeled as a sci-fi/paranormal book. It would also depend on what is more prevelant in the book.

S Albright said...

Over the past few years I've really become a fan of layered genres of music and it seems they're continually evolving. It is almost as if the Internet's "tagging" has influenced the rest of the world. One option becomes two; two, three; etc.

That all being said, there is a Sci-Fi Romance genre that does exist ( My personal preference is to separate alien stories from paranormal.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Kimber - this would fit in my case. But can we put my aliens in the same class with your zombies? :-)

Stacy - The sci fi element is pretty limited actually. One is being hunted but for his actions, not his origins. Very few in the story are aware they're dealing with aliens. So it's not the main focus.

Maria - I'll be eager to read your new one and see how you handled the various elements and the marketing. I'm happy with the way the pieces come together in my story but uncertain about the genre label for my initial queries.

Dru - It gets a bit more complicated. In my view, it's a mystery with a strong romantic element. But it's close enough to the line to be considered a romantic suspense. Now add the sci fi/paranormal and I've got a whole lot of genres going on. But I think the sci fi takes a back seat to the paranormal in importance.

S. - So if my alien has gifts that are special even on his planet, am I paranormal or sci fi?

And thanks to you all for your comments.

S Albright said...

I would say if you're an alien with gifts that are special, then you're just gifted.

I don't think ESP or telepathy, telekinetics as being paranormal.

If you're an alien seeing other aliens as spirits, then its paranormal. :-)