Recently, my husband told me that my new series is paranormal science fiction romance. Had I a fireball handy, I would have singed his darling wavy locks in a fit of pique. I haughtily conceded I perhaps wrote paranormal science fiction and fantasy. He said (in his charmingly calm tone with his genial smile, which got my inner pyrokinetic desperate to flick my inner Bic) that it was not fantasy. It was paranormal; it was science fiction; and it was definitely romance.
He’s right. The Cryptid Series is covered by the paranormal romance genre umbrella, but I am learning this is good–not bad.
I have read paranormal romance novels. They fell into a pattern pretty quickly: Take one sexy, perfect-bodied man-monster and one well-dressed, perky-nose-and-breasted woman. He lusts and rescues her; she lusts and frets over him. Only their names and the names of their designer cars and designer clothes and designer cocktails ever seemed to change. After a disappointing run of cloned paranormal romance novels, I dropped the genre and planned never to look back.
The first book in the Elemental Shifter series, A Shift in the Water is a rich story filled with action, danger, friendship, and compassion. The romance and its tension are central to the story, but this is not a novel about a brooding man-monster with a mansion and a sports car rescuing and lusting after a gal with a glittery hoo-hah and fabulous taste in purses and shoes. This is an action-adventure entrée served with saucy romance and a side ramekin of erotica.
Patricia Eddy loves her characters; it shows in the core characters’ individuality and wonderful balance of flaws and strengths. Yes, the werewolves are lupine scrappers who fight a lot, and the elementalists range from quirky to batshit nuts. The sidekick best gal-pal is, well, a sidekick best gal-pal. The eccentric aunt is eccentric. The core characters, however, are really fleshed out; I cared about them. I cared so much that I’m anxiously awaiting A Shift in the Air: the second book in Patricia D. Eddy’s Elemental Shifter series.
Settling ‘Til Undeath Do Us Part and Man and Brother near a book like Patricia’s under the paranormal genre umbrella is pretty darned groovy to me, now. Paranormal romance can be done well. However, I’m only part-way under that umbrella. Patricia’s series is paranormal fantasy romance; mine, paranormal science fiction romance. So . . . what’s the difference?
Fantasy, once it introduces the mythic and magic, accepts it without question: Magic exists? Oh, okay. Explanations may be given as to why these things are as they are, and we are to accept it as truth for that fantasy world. The hidden world of the paranormal still successfully skirts the regular world despite being immersed in it.
Science fiction (in my opinion, anyway) is supposed to question everything. Its foundation is the scientific method: Question, research, hypothesize, experiment, analyze, conclude, and disseminate. Facts and reproducible results are more important than truths and possibly-flawed explanations. Myths need to be confirmed or busted, so more questions can be asked, and the scientific method dance can begin again with that new, fact-based knowledge. Culture is impacted by this new knowledge, and and the world reacts.
Adding paranormal creatures to science fiction means that characters have the potential to stand not only on the shoulders of giants of science but giants of myth. Bringing beings of magic and legend into a world of science and technology is normally fantasy fiction. How can I carry those beings and their associated mythologies back across that line and into science fiction?
Core to the Cryptid Series are Carl Sagan’s wonderful words–also known as the Sagan Standard: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
Romance, I think, is the genre which has the greatest potential to touch on all of the emotions which evolve us as people and create rich and believable characters. Love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, laughter and sorrow are all part of life’s journey. Romance is not embarrassed to jump into the morass of emotional conflict in order to pull out the diamond hidden within the muck. Yes, the genre can produce headache-inducing, cotton-candy fluff. It also can produce intense character development as characters become vulnerable to other characters. To be fully human is a high-stakes gamble–even if one is a vampire or a werewolf or another mystery cryptid. That, I have come to believe, is the real magic inherent in paranormal romance.
Even if it’s paranormal science fiction romance.