Sunday, June 28, 2009

Guest Blogger: Jody Wallace

Jody's winner is : Pamk! Congrats, PamK! Thanks to everyone for participating.

I've been reading a book called BLACK AND WHITE this week, by authors Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittridge. The book's a full blown "superworld" novel -- that is, speculative fiction in which superhero type characters take center stage. It's not like an urban fantasy or paranormal, but more like a classic "costumed crusaders" kind of plot. And I am seriously enjoying it.

In fact, I'm thinking, "Why aren't there more books like this?"

In the Wikipedia entry for Superhero, the definition is: "A superhero (also known as a super hero) is a fictional character of unprecedented physical prowess dedicated to acts of derring-do in the public interest." That's one kind of superhero. There are others, of course, in particular the grim, "Watchman" style of worldbuilding and storytelling, but the premise is roughly the same -- characters who (somewhat) openly fight crime in ways and with skills that are not exactly standard police procedure. Here is a 2008 column by Cat Rambo about Superhero fiction in which she is nominating a tv episode for the Nebulas and talking about books she enjoys:

Here on Lynda's Paranormality blog, obviously there's a lot of talk about vampires and werewolves and hot gargoyle heroes. These are enduring and popular subgenre staples. What began as a somewhat narrow subgenre (paranormal romance) has definitely been branching out in the past couple years, as readers demand variety and new storylines in addition to their beloved blood suckers and shifters. As many successful years as superheroes have captured our imaginations, in both comics and on the big/small screens, why do you think there haven't been more superworld style novels, particularly romances?

Yes, there have been some fun ones. The first I recall is the Aphrodite series by Julie Kenner. I also read and enjoyed the Jennifer Estep Bigtime series (KARMA GIRL, JINX, HOT MAMA) and INTRODUCING SONICA by Eilis Flynn. I have heard Gena Showalter's book PLAYING WITH FIRE described as a sort of superhero romance, and certainly there is the aforementioned BLACK AND WHITE.

It's quite possible there have been more superhero style romances (or chick lits) published, particularly from smaller, more flexible publishers, and I have missed them. I know my good friend Natalie Damschroder participated in an erotic superhero series called The Lusty League from Amber Quill, for example.

What gems am I missing?

I think there are some in YA series, but for the life of me I can't remember the names of them.

Do mainstream publishers feel this particular subgenre wouldn't interest the primarily female romance reading audience? Do they think only boys like superheroes? What do you think?

I will give away either an electronic or a paper copy of my paranormal romance from Samhain Publishing, SURVIVAL OF THE FAIREST (not a superhero romance but does feature some pint-sized supervillians!), to one lucky commenter. And I hope a lot of you comment -- I'd love to see a good discussion about the potential for great stories in the subgenre of superhero romances, as well as lots of suggestions for books I can track down!

Thanks to Lynda for giving me access to the brains of her blog visitors -- and you're safe, I'm not a zombie (today) :)

Jody Wallace *


Jody's winner will be posted on Tuesday evening. Stop by and see if you won!


Blogger Chris said...

Soon I Will Be Invincible isn't a romance per se, but it's a darn good superhero book.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Welcome to Paranormality, Jody! I always thought Superman (when I read the comics as a kid) was pretty exciting! Especially in my imagination.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Pamk said...

there was a couple of books from Loose-id about mutants that I thought were good. Not exactly superheros but the do have powers reminded me of x-men. They were written by Mary Janice Davidson

9:13 PM  
Blogger EilisFlynn said...

I've also wondered why there aren't more superhero romances, Jody (so of course I had to write one), and I assume it's because superheroes still have a "boys-only" stigma, even though -- also obviously -- girls have read and enjoyed them over the years. And boys won't touch romances, girls are indifferent to superheroes because of these circumstances, etc. Why can't we all just get along?! ;)

And thanks for mentioning INTRODUCING SONIKA. I did so love writing it!

6:48 AM  
Blogger Jody W. and Meankitty said...

I have "Soon I Will Be Invincible" as an audio book. My husband is a Marvel comics junkie and that just adds to my interest in the subgenre. He does get tired of answering all my romance-focused questions about his superhero stories, though!


8:27 AM  
Blogger Nightingale said...

I enjoy the superhero books as well but at the moment I'm reading a dark fantasy by Anne Bishop, Sebastian. The hero is a succubus.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Heather Long said...

What a great blog, I love superhero stories and I have enjoyed the comics genre for years. This week I kicked off my Passionate Love Story series at the Daily Dose - Fantasy and Romance, I invite you to swing by -- the first couple is a super hero couple.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wrote a super hero romance short story, "To Save the Day" as an Amazon Short up on Amazon.
Super Hero comics had romances for a long time. There's Spiderman and MJ, Superman with Lois Lane, Batman with his loves and lots more.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Cybercliper said...

Hi Jody & Lynda,

I can only speak for myself, but if the superhero subgenre had a strong romantic element to complement the plot line, I would be interested. I love the paranormal, urban, science, and fantasy subgenres of romance. And given the broad definition of a superhero, many characters can fit into that description without being a comic book type superhero. Cheyenne McCray’s Magic series comes to mind for a series with a superhero element – saving humans and the world from apocalyptic demise. Jessica Anderson’s Final Prophecy series – Mayan calendar end times - is also reminiscent of the superhero cast.

As for it being only for boys – I don’t think so. I know a lot of women who like the hardcore sci-fi stuff that used to be a boys only club. In the end, numbers are what catch mainstream publishers’ eyes. If the genre sells, they’re on board. If it doesn’t sell, then here is where the internet and independent houses, and self-publishing reign supreme.

Does anyone remember the Incredible Hulk series from the 70s? I always though there was an element of romantic tragedy in the series – he wants what he can’t have – now that would make a great superhero romance! GMHO

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Karen W. said...

PHENOMENAL GIRL 5 & TEKGRRL by A.J. Menden are both fun, good reads about a group of superheroes.

3:10 PM  
Blogger I ♥ Book Gossip said...

I rarely read superhero books. But this one sounds delightful. Count me in.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Sounds great!

8:04 PM  
Blogger Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I've read or at least heard of a lot of these, but some are new to me! *takes notes* Thanks! :)

I have a double-edged theory about why we don't see more superhero stories in romance (or narrative fiction--as opposed to illustrated--at all). First, because despite the emotion and angst inherent in the genre, it is very visual. The costumes, the action, all translate so well in drawing and film, those media tend to dominate.

The other theory comes from a rejection I got when my agent was pitching my full-length superhero book. This editor said there wasn't really anything new in the book. I actually am not that much of a comic book reader. I thought I had a pretty fresh take on superheroes. But the problem is, there may not BE a fresh take. An editor who loves superheroes probably has read tons of comics, and therefore HAS seen anything.

Though that theory could just be self-placation. LOL

10:39 PM  
Blogger Frances Pauli said...

Hi, I'm just now getting into this genre (or is it sub-genre) so thanks for all the great suggestions.
For me, I have to say girls like superheroes too! If they are well written and have a touch of romance as well, sign me up.
Lately I've had more than a few story ideas featuring "supers" descending from my muse, whatever the reason, I can't wait to try my hand at it.
thanks again,

8:37 AM  
Blogger Jody W. and Meankitty said...

Thanks, everybody! I forgot all about Tekgrrl and Phenomenal Girl. And your superhero book had all sorts of new stuff in it, Natalie, if it's the one I'm thinking about :).

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mary D
zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

I love the idea of paranormal superhero (Lestat comes to mind) ~ LOL

4:14 PM  

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