Thursday, August 28, 2008

Guest Blogger: Jennifer Ashley

The winner of Jennifer's book is: Sarah R! Congratulations, Sarah. Send me your snail mail info and I'll pass it along to Jennifer. Thanks so much for participating!

Why I Write Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance

When I was thinking about what to write for this blog, to promo my new release (Immortals: The Redeeming) I had a small panic attack.

I am the most skeptical person on earth -- what can I find to say about the paranormal outside of stories? I can find practical explanations for any seemingly strange phenomenon, including my own “sensitivity” to the vibrations of locations (I’m responding to ordinary cues without realizing it, I tell myself). When ghosts try to haunt me, I ignore them and go back to sleep (or think it’s my cats).

But if I’m such a mundane, why on earth do I loooove paranormal romance, fantasy and science fiction? I love to read it, watch it, and especially to write it. And so many other people do, too.

I grew up reading fantasy, cutting my teeth on Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. In junior high, I wrote notes to my friends in Elvin runes. Star Wars came out when I was twelve, and I was in the theatre at least 30 times that year to watch it.

Things didn’t change when I reached adulthood. I love all Joss Whedon’s offerings: Buffy, Firefly, and the zany Dr. Horrible. My favorite current shows are Dr. Who, Eureka, and Heroes. I just added HBO to my cable so I won’t miss the first episode of True Blood. My favorite “for me” reads are the urban fantasies of Charlaine Harris and Patricia Briggs and Naomi Novik’s dragon series.

If I’m such a skeptic, why do I glom this stuff?

The answer is: I have no idea. Something in the stories of faraway lands, where magic works or ships fly at incredible speeds, speaks to me, fulfills something deep within my psyche. Maybe I’m reaching out to what I don’t believe I can have, enjoying it for a while before I come back to earth and have to take out the trash.

I’ve always written fantasy as well as read it. From the moment I finished The Return of the King many years ago, I started spinning my own fantasy tales. Most of them were unreadable, scribbled in longhand in spiral notebooks. I progressed to a typewriter (manual), and typed stories single-spaced, both sides of the page. I wrote about magic, wizards, elves, magical creatures, spaceships, laser pistols, space chases, good guys, bad guys, and romance. Eventually I learned to type double-spaced on one side of the page, and I got better at plotting, characterization, and word choice. The first story I ever sold was a short to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine.

Every story I wrote had romance. No matter what else I came up with, I thought of a heroine and paired her with a hero, then I plotted for them to get together in the end.

Imagine my delight when paranormal romance started to take off. Yes, please!

To this day, I still don’t understand why I love fantasy, and maybe I don’t want to know. I don’t want to analyze and philosophize the magic away. The same reason, perhaps, I don’t like to look too closely “behind the scenes” of my favorite scifi shows. I want to believe in the story’s reality -- please don’t show me that the spaceship is really a piece of cardboard propped up with a few two-by-fours.

I know other people do have an answer to the question -- why are paranormal stories so popular? Why do you love them? I’ve heard answers, agreed with some, disagreed with others.

Readers, what do you think? Why do you -- or why do you think others -- respond so strongly to all the vampire, shapeshifter, paranormal, and urban fantasy stories that currently fill bookshelves and television screens?

I will be giving away a copy of my new release: Immortals: The Redeeming. For more information about the book: http://www.jennifersromances.com/

Thanks for having me blog, and enjoy the magic!

**********

To enter Jennifer's giveaway, just answer her question here. A winner will be selected Friday night.

39 Comments:

Blogger Katie said...

I can't speak for anyone else, but I read paranormal to escape the normalness of life. My life is generally pretty average and I have always wanted to have some extraordinary power to make me different, special...maybe even a super hero. Since I don't have an ability in this world, I escape to a world where anything is possible.

Thanks for the interview!
Katie

7:57 AM  
Blogger Raonaid Luckwell said...

I'm certain many peoples' answers will vary to this question. The reason I like paranormal so much is the difference it is from the life I lead now.

How a heroine or hero's life is defined by magic or a race (don't wanna call weres or vampires creatures). How their life differs from the typical day for me really captures my attention.

I've always been attracted to magic, liked the appeal that someone can do things with their minds that I can't.

By the way, I just wanted to say that I love your Immortal books. I have the current being shipped to me right as we speak because I could not wait to read it.

Thank you, Nash and Pop for bringing them back!

8:56 AM  
Blogger Pamk said...

Because they allow me to live out scenerios that I wouldn't get to in real life and in some cases wouldn't want too. lol coming face to face with a vamp or werekitty would scare the crap out of me. I would love to meet a sexy space alien that beams me up to his ship but in real life I'd be trying to kick is A$$ since I have two kiddos that I wouldn't leave for anything. So I live vicariously through the books.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Danielle said...

I love paranormal because it's really the ultimate happy ending. If an immortal vampire can fall in love with a mortal human (despite the obvious difference), then love conquers all. Also I am amazed at the depth of the writer's imagination. I thought I had seen a lot, growing up reading fairy tales, and myths, but the way an author takes those seeds and grows a garden is a wonderful thing to take in. And lastly, I love paranormal because I'm a bit like Fox Mulder in that I want to believe (and do believe in the spiritual component of existence).

11:36 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

It's total fantasy world, populated by strong characters, both good and evil, with powers and abilities that make them larger than life. Love these stories, and can always find something to suit my mood.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Thanks for the responses. I think in my case writing fantasy lets me write *whatever I want*. I don't have to worry about the rules of the real world. How does a dragon shift into a man. Who cares? I'll just have fun with it.

But I agree with ya'll that reading it does help escape the same old, same old of life. Having adventures that you'd never have (or really want to have), plus the happy ending, makes a wonderful read.

Thanks roanaid about The Immortals! We were so excited to do more stories.

12:12 PM  
Blogger silverhartgirl said...

I love to read paranormal books to take me away from the everyday. Dishes and laundry and give me some excitement from the unexpected.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Patti P said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Patti P said...

Hi,
I read paranormal because the people are much more exciting than the "characters" in suburban USA. I would like to meet someone who has a life even half that interesting.
Even with the day to day chaos of my life those situations don't really exist, if they do I would love to have one find me.
Patti Paonessa

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Amber Mullett said...

I love paranormal romances because such strange and out of this world tales can take me to a place of dreams. I can be anyone in those stories and often enough I imagine myself being the main character going on some grand adventure.
Life can be so boring at times and well-written, well-described stories can add spice to the humdrum of everyday existence.
Not that life is always boring. We as individuals need to make our own lives worth something, and not rely solely on books to escape our existence. Now and then is fine, don't get me wrong, but only for a few hours. I sometimes find myself thinking about a really awesome book I just finished hours later and I have to shake myself back to reality. That's when I know the author did a great job; when I can't focus elsewhere because the books are so believable, like that magical world could actually exist.
Reading books about other people can affect someone two ways. They either make you feel bad about yourself because you don't live such an adventurous life or they encourage us normal people to live more fully and not to shy away from happiness and a chance for an adventure. Feeling bad about oneself is something I rarely experience because the books, to me, are supposed to be uplifting. To others, it may bring up bad and distant memories but now is the present and there's always time to live. That's what books are for, to encourage people.
That's what I like most all. Paranormals take you to another place and time, all in the author's imagination of course, but that doesn't mean self-confidence is imagination. It can be achieved and experienced fully!

1:42 PM  
Blogger Brooke said...

I've been reading paranormal/horror since I was very young. I'd get Christopher Pike or R.L. Stein books and stay up reading with a flashlight scaring myself nutty! Then I grew into the Anne Rice and loved it, and it was all downhill from there!

2:05 PM  
Blogger tetewa said...

auetmzlParanormal is my favorite genre to read, (I'm all about the vamps). I had gotten away from reading until about 4 years ago when a friend of mine introduced me to Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series. I've read them all and I'm always looking for new author and series to read. I also enjoyed and now miss Buffy and Angel. My newest guilty pleasure is Supernatural (love me those Winchester boys). I also can't wait for True Blood to air, love the books and looking forward to the series.

2:05 PM  
Blogger nel said...

I have always loved to read and watch shows of paranormal it just seems to dazzle me that there is the chance that somewhere in some distant world that this all does exist and that amazes me and well it just makes me feel like i can escape from my home reality when i read a paranormal book or watch a paranormal i really do love the sheer thought of that fantasy world and thinking in the back of my mind that just maybe that life does exist somewhere distant and I have always had a thing for stuff that has to do with magic or immortality or vampires or werewolves it always leaves me at the edge of my seat and a chance to let my imagination go away with itself.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I have to say that I love to read these stories because I want to enjoy some escapism. I think that within this genre authors have more freedom and creative-ism to write about the characters and stories they want. They can create their own characters from popular stereotypes and take them one step further. Vampires, immortals, shape shifters, elves… the sky is the limit.

I remember some of the first paranormal romances I ever read. Back then only a few authors were treading the unknown waters of this genre... then it seemed like all of a sudden BOOM!! The genre took off, grew and expanded.

I believe the true reason why I enjoy this genre so much is because I can suspend my beliefs for the moments I hold that book in my hand and allow my mind to travel into the world the author has created for me. I would like to say THANK YOU for being one of those writers to throw your hat into the ring and bring forth such wonderful and creative writing :-)

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Kimberly said...

I love your books all of them. I can't wait for the new one to come out.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I have a question - When writing paranormal romances how do you create your characters? Do you base them off people you know or create them to be people you would find interesting?

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we grew up in the same household..lol. I grew up watching Stra Trek, reading The Hobbit, loving old Christopher Lee Vampire movies...I think it's a lovely escape to read paranormal stories. We all wish we were special and we can read about "special people" with "special powers"..it's a lot of fun! One can dream....
Semet Torres

3:33 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Heather asked: "I have a question - When writing paranormal romances how do you create your characters? Do you base them off people you know or create them to be people you would find interesting?"

I rarely base any characters on people I know. I'm sure I get different quirks from different people that end up in a character somewhere, but no on purpose. Mostly I imagine a person in a particular situation, then I watch what they do. It sounds weird, but it's like I'm observing a real person. I watch them, get to know them, figure out who there are and what their past is. They start with a tiny seed in my head and grow until I turn the book in. I probably make them into people I'd find interesting, though again, I don't do it on purpose. They just take over my brain! Moo ha ha ha

4:15 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I personally think this current movement is about mythology. In day of old people explained the eclipse, the earthquake, the lightning, anything they didn't understand (but knew occured) by assigning a diety to it's cause. Thunder? Oh, Thor must be mad. Crops not growing? Didn't appease the Mother Earth. Unexplained pregnancy? Well, that darn Zeus can't keep it in his clouds.

Nowdays, we know scientifically why natural wonders occur, but have yet to prove other things we know are there. Namely, spirits, demons, innately evil beings, beings of magic and mayhem we hear stories of but choose to believe are fiction, must to our ancestors assumed horror. Some Scots still believe in Fairies, some Native Americans in spirit guides, etc.

Paranormal romance gives us an outlet for this knowlege of the 'otherworld', but gives it a control in that the good guys USUALLY win, the hero gets the girl, and we can all feel safer and more entertained knowing we can shut the pages or turn off the screen knowing it can all go away.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Dani said...

I read paranormal because it's exciting and it takes me away from all my worries. You don't see vampires, werewolves, or any kind of shifter for that matter out in the real world. In a paranormal book it's like getting to see a whole new world in each book that you get to visit. If you're lucky enough you'll get to go there again in a new book and see some of your favorite people and be introduced to new ones.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Dina said...

I've always had an interest in vampires, werewolves and paranormal things. So, when I started reading again and found alot of these in books, I started to enjoy reading again. It's the you know it might be real, but can't confirm it. :_

4:54 PM  
OpenID scorpkitty1121 said...

I think it's because people enjoy things that bring them out of their world. I do to, but not always in the paranormal sense. It's like playing in an rpg :) you get to go somewhere else.

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Sarah R. said...

I haven't heard the title The Return of the King since High School! It was required reading for one of my literature classes, and I think that is the book that set the paranormal reading fire in my mind. What a classic book, and I'm smiling just remembering it. I moved from there to Dragonlance novels, and one day I accidentally stumbled upon a Sherrilyn Kenyon novel - and nothing has been the same since then. The Immortal series has a special place on my bookshelf now, and I drop your dates into my calendar because I have the memory of a goldfish (this is what happens when women have kids, I hear). Thank you for toiling with the written word for us, and giving your readers a brief reprieve from reality, even the skeptics.


Now questions for the author: With the floodgates on paranormal writing officially "open", do you intend to stand in this genre and fight it out as more authors turn this way, or will you branch out into other genres? If you plan on staying in paranormal romance, is there an end in sight for the Immortals series? Do you have plans for other paranormal work?

5:46 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Lol...I don't know about anyone else..but along with books I think some of my first loves of Vampires came from movies such as: Innocent Blood, The Lost Boys, and Interview with a Vampire.

I remember wishing a hot, studly, and troubled vampire would come and "make me his". Sigh...those troubled bad boys will keep you wishing *wink wink*

6:34 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I think the paranormal, shifter, vampire, etc. offers an escape from our daily lives and all the stress we are under.

6:57 PM  
Blogger shartsfield said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:58 PM  
Blogger shartsfield said...

I read paranormal because they are always different. It's my break from reality. My fantasy for a while. I got started on paranormal with the vampire movies like Dracula and Lost Boys, and werewolf stories like Wolf. I love stories and movies with ghosts and witches. For a time these stories let me be someone entirely different, even though I'm just an average person with an average mundane life.

I love your books. Thank you for such wonderful stories.

7:01 PM  
Blogger lunababy said...

your right no one can really answer that and its probly diffreant for every one else same story can be looked at many diffreant ways but what i can say what i love abut peranormal is its an escape into a diffrent reality away from every thing around me a magical world that u can only dream about but it dosnt ignore the dark side the pain inside. u know life isnt only about love its a struggle but what i love about the books is it always works out at the end well the ones ive read anyways unlike real life idk story life jsut seems alot better if that makes anysense

7:05 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Sarah r said: "Now questions for the author: With the floodgates on paranormal writing officially "open", do you intend to stand in this genre and fight it out as more authors turn this way, or will you branch out into other genres? If you plan on staying in paranormal romance, is there an end in sight for the Immortals series? Do you have plans for other paranormal work?"

I love paranormal and urban fantasy, so I hope I can do much more in the genre. What isn't always known is that publishers have power over an author's career as well--if they stop buying paranormals (or whatever subgenre), said author needs to figure out what else she can do.

I have another paranormal series planned with Dorchester, which is scheduled for January 2010 (don't get that tattooed, dates can change this far out). As for Immortals, as far as I know, The Reckoning (anthology, March 2009) will be the last. You never know, my editor might come back and ask for more. I don't have plans to take the series to another publisher at this point. I also have another historical romance series coming up, starting in April 2009.

I also write for Berkley as Allyson James. I currently have a Dragon series (third book comes out in November), and I will likely do more paranormal or urban fantasy over there. (see http://www.allysonjames.com for more info).

That's the long answer.

The short answer is, yes, I plan to do more paranormals. :-)

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Sarah R. said...

Holy cow! I didn't realize you were also Allyson James! I guess I'm a poor fan, in that sense. I just followed the Immortals series because of my devotion to paranormal romance. Yes! I have your dragon books as well, and I can't wait for the next one! You occupy more of my bookshelf than previously stated!

7:36 PM  
Blogger devonrhunt said...

It's the last strand of childhood. I can't sit on the carpet and play with she-ra dolls for hours and become enveloped in a fantasy of wildness and magic. Instead I read. My imagination can't take me the places it used to. YOURS can. So I read and let your words take me places that my own mind used to when I was just a kid. The fantasy novels take me places I used to be able to get to when I was a kid but just can't go to anymore. Thanks for providing me a doorway. :)

8:11 PM  
Blogger orelukjp0 said...

I've loved paranormal since the first time I saw Dracula. I read it because it takes me away from everyday life. Yes, heroes are nice to read about but a tortured soul who the heroine can possible save takes everything to a higher level. Give me a shape shifter, vampire or werewolf any day of the week. They can do supernatural things and always will triumph over evil in the end.

9:39 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Adding to what has previously been said...the longer I think about the more I was thinking that part of the reason I like Paranormal fantasy is that little bit of darkness that always comes with these types of stories. I haven't yet found a paranormal story where there isn't a little bit of darkness (trying to find the light).

I think it is that darkness...that otherness that draws us in...

Question - What is your all time favorite paranormal movie? One that you remember being your favorite or one that might have inspired you into writing Paranormal and Urban fantasy?

9:49 PM  
Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Thanks so much for guest blogging, Jennifer! And what wonderful comments -- so insightful and interesting.

I love writing and reading paranormals. I'm with everyone who said they love vampires. There's just something about those extraordinary nightwalkers. I can't seem to get enough!

Thanks to everyone for the awesome participation.

Hugs, Lynda

10:26 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

"Question - What is your all time favorite paranormal movie? One that you remember being your favorite or one that might have inspired you into writing Paranormal and Urban fantasy?"

It isn't dark, but probably The Princess Bride is my favorite. I loved it (still do).

But I also immediately think of Buffy (the tv-show). It had humor and darkness, horror and love. And Spike.

If you like tortured souls, you'll like Tain in The Redeeming. :-) He's my most tortured hero to date, although there will be more...

10:26 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Lynda: Thanks for inviting me! This has been fun.

Jennifer

10:29 PM  
Blogger Ruth Schaller said...

I read all the paranormal stuff because it has always fascinated me. The very first horror movie I saw was Night of the Living Dead and I was four!

So ever since I have always loved vampires, werewolves, witches and the like. Now I actually have gotten into the romance factor of such paranormal beings. I love them all!

6:09 AM  
Blogger CrystalGB said...

I read paranormals because the characters are fascinating and the world building is excellent. You can escape into a world that is so different than your own.

7:15 AM  
Anonymous Karen in TN said...

Partly as escape, true, but also because that's where the publisher's have pushed their more literate writers (which, of course, they did because that's where the readers went).

6:28 PM  

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