As many of you know, as Patricia Rice, I’ve been published in historical romance since 1984. I’ve written westerns, Americana, Victoriana, Regencies, and paranormal historical romance well before any of those genres became popular. Historical romance has cycled through variations of these sub-genres over the last three decades (three decades—oh my! Obviously, I wrote my first book as a teenager.), and to speak frankly, the lords and ladies required of today’s historical romance need a lot of creativity to keep fresh. (Working with a younger sons’ theme rather than dukes and earls, I published my last Regency novel, Notorious Atherton, in July 2013. Formidable Lord Quentin will be out 3/31/15.) I’ve always interspersed my historical romance writing with other genres to prevent becoming too jaded, but now I have to go further and further afield to keep my imagination entertained.
I wrote quite a few contemporary romances before that genre fell into the billionaire/sports figure/small town trope.(Small Town Girl ) Then I added paranormal/psychics to my contemporaries to keep my fingers flying over the keyboard. (Risk of Love and Magic is the latest) I still enjoy those genres… but lately, I’ve needed something other than pure romance. This applies to my reading as well as my writing, which is how I fell under the dangerous spell of urban fantasy.
The definition of urban fantasy according to wikipedia is: a sub-genre of fantasy defined by place. … the stories can take place in historical, modern, or futuristic periods, and the settings may include fictional elements. The prerequisite is that they must be primarily set in a city.
I would change “fictional” to “paranormal, but doesn’t that sound just up my alley?!
The page goes on to list various authors who write urban fantasy with a nice addition about urban fantasy having a strong background of romance, but if the romantic relationship was removed from the book, the story would still hold up. That’s what I wanted to do—write the man/woman relationship where the main plot is the woman’s growth under difficult circumstances. And I don’t mean she’s thrown out of her ducal home into a position as a governess.
I wrote my first urban fantasy under the pseudonym of Jamie Quaid, called Boyfriend From Hell. It starts out with the protagonist, Tina Clancy, blowing up her boyfriend. How could I possibly go wrong with a premise like that? From that point on, Tina learns she’s Saturn’s Daughter (although she wonders if that’s a typo for Satan’s Daughter), she is just coming into her powers in her twenty-seventh year—and there is no rule book. For a lawyer who wants books and judges and juries before making any decisions, learning to try and execute villains based on her own abilities and knowledge is an enormous hurdle to take.
The fun part of writing fantasy is that I can create a snarky heroine, set her in a fantasy version of Baltimore—in this case, I’ve invented an environmental disaster zone on the harbor—and give her a complete cast of entertaining characters to help her out—or get in her way, which happens frequently. And then I can give her more boyfriends than one—and they’re not much more normal than Tina. No werewolves or vampires, just real people with real problems—and maybe a few abnormal challenges. And the best part is that I can deal with real world situations in fantastical ways. In Giving Him Hell, I even get to create a paranormal Christmas with blue Pillsbury dough boys and elves made from nasty gunmen.
Have you read any urban fantasy? Which books or authors do you prefer? And if you don’t like fantasy, please tell us why!