I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the categories within the fantasy and paranormal romance genres. I told my husband that and he gave me a blank stare. He did ask. So okay, maybe I’m a dork but I do think a lot about things like this.
As a writer I want to get my book into the hands of the people who are out there looking for a book just like the one I’m writing, who will take it to a good home and snuggle with it under the covers. So I do think that labels are important and necessary. I just want to get it right. And so I thought - what better place to explore this than here with a group of authors who write from one end of the spectrum to the other? Especially since Carina is publishing both straight fantasy and romantic ones.
So here’s my understanding of the breakdown. (I intended this as a basic list but even here I find myself combining terms.)
- High/Epic Fantasy. Alternate world. (Lord of the Rings)
- Contemporary/Urban fantasy. Real World. Contemporary times. Jim Butcher (Dresden Files) or Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson series)
- Historical Fantasy/Alternate History. Real world. Historical Time Period. Emma Bull (Territory), Naomi Novik (Temeraire series)
- Dark Fantasy – Horror + Fantasy. Stephen King (Dark Tower series)
- Paranormal romance. – Contemporary fantasy + Romance
- Fantasy romance. Usually High fantasy + Romance
- Geesh I almost forgot Steampunk which so far as I can tell is one part Historical Fantasy and two parts SciFi with a twist of zombie.
I think that the difficulty is that when PNR (paranormal romance) was at its frenzied peak of popularity, everything was slapped with a PNR label. Now that people are saying they’re starting to burn out on PNR, maybe some refinement is in order so that the shifter and vamp stories still get into the hands of the people who love them. (Like me. Because I always will.) And people who are looking for something maybe a little bit different can find that too.
Now for a specific question and a large part of the reason I’ve been thinking about this lately…
I’ve been working on a story that without the romantic element would be firmly in the contemporary fantasy category. It draws heavily on Norse mythology and is about a quiet Midwestern town called Ragnarok populated by descendants of the AEsir (tribe of pagan gods). The town stands on a fault line between worlds. The townspeople are the grandchildren of refugees who escaped from Asgard when their world was overrun by fire demons. They guard the portal between worlds and over the course of the story the main characters do cross between dimensions.
This is a romance.
I’m getting this ready for submission right now and trying to figure out how to query it. So my fantastical readers and writers…how would you label this one?
Is it a Paranormal romance?
A Fantasy romance?
And while you’re thinking about that, feel free to argue my categories because really, where would be the fun in all this if you didn’t?
Thanks for stopping by and helping me out!