Monday, November 9, 2009

How Paranormal Is It?

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

Last month, I got to participate in not one, but TWO fun group booksignings with other local authors. I'm still celebrating the release of my second book, The Treasures of Venice, and the fact that I'm now a MULTI-PUBLISHED AUTHOR! This mind-blowing fact finally hit home for me at those recent booksignings. Having copies of both my books there in front of me, it felt real for the first time!

The Treasures of Venice is a very special book for me because it was actually the first one I wrote after quitting my Dreaded Day Job. It was also a Golden Heart finalist in 2006 in the Romantic Suspense category. Like my first book, The Wild Sight, the story has an Irish hunk hero and an exotic setting.

As anyone who hangs around in the Lair knows, yer olde Aunty likes to write stories that include things that go boom. If I can mix a little murder and mayhem in with the romance, I'm a happy camper. Throw in a dash of 'woo woo' and I'm in hog-heaven, so I try to add that little extra 'woo woo' in all my stories.

But is it really paranormal? My first reaction is to say no. However, The Treasures of Venice does have a theme of past lives and reincarnation that runs through it. Surely that's paranormal, isn't it? I've been assured by other paranormal writers that anything 'not normal' is paranormal. Hmmm, that sounds logical. Or am I just kidding myself?

I do think my first book, The Wild Sight falls a little more heavily on the paranormal side than The Treasures of Venice because the hero Donovan has "the second sight" and has visions of the past. In fact, he can actually go to a place he calls "between" where the events in the visions are real. But in a recent note, a reader told me her favorite thing about The Wild Sight is how "realistic" it all felt, even with the paranormal events. And several reviewers also praised the gritty realism in the story. So I'm left wondering if either book really qualifies as paranormal romance.

Now my third book, The Wild Irish Sea (scheduled to be released next July) is probably more paranormal than either of the first two because the heroine has mental telepathy, as does her brother. But my editor recently told me telepathy is "soft" paranormal, so I'm confused! The paranormal sub-genre is so popular that I certainly don't want to miss out on reaching that group of readers. But when I look at the other books designated as paranormal romance, mine do not seem to fit in.

Who better to turn to for advice than the Banditas and Bandita Buddies? So tell me please, in a subgenre filled with vampires, shape-shifters, and all manner of fantastic and magical beings and situations, do I really write paranormal? If booksellers and reviewers categorize my books as paranormal romance, will readers be disappointed that they do not contain the aforementioned things? I'd love to know your opinion! What do you think makes a story a paranormal romance?

58 comments:

mariska said...

me ?

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Yes, Mariska!
My #1 Fan in Indonesia gets the GR for today. CONGRATS!

AC

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Mariska.

Hi Aunty Cindy,
I enjoy reading stories with paranormal elements which characters who are psychics, telepaths and clairvoyants. I do also like paranormal with ghost, vampires and shifters.

Helen said...

Congrats Mariska is this the first time the GR has visited you, have fun with him

Hi Aunty Cindy
This is a really good question and I am not sure what the answer is I gotta agree with the writers that told you anything not normal is paranormal. As you know I loved both of these books and loved the suspense and woo hoo in both of them, I too felt pulled into the stories because they very well could have a lot of truth in them there are lots of people who have "the sight" and lots of people who feel conected with past lives.
Congrats on being a multi published author I am so looking forward to The Wild Irish Sea and also reading everyones answers.

Have Fun
Helen

BTW I am so excited Brooke is having a girl this time so Corey is going to have a little sister around 22nd march 2010.

Susan Sey said...

Good morning, AC!

I find myself in a similar dilemma as an unexpected bit of the paranormal crept into my latest manuscript as well. I don't classify it as paranormal because the paranormal elements aren't the core of the story. It's more a flavoring. I didn't world build at all. There's nothing there to appeal to sci-fi/fan or vampire/werewolf lovers.

But in terms of my reading habits, I'm omnivorous. I'll read anything if the story's good. As yours are. :-)

So you keep writing and I'll keep reading.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Congrats on the new grandbaby on the way Helen! Congrats to Mariska for getting the Golden one as well.

I like your editor's term of "soft" paranormal. As far as the realism of your writing, I agree totally with Helen, there are gifted people in this world so your characters are in the realm of possibility. To me, the "hard" paranormal has to have entire worlds built to support it, your characters function in the world as we know it.
I don't think readers will be disappointed in your books Aunty Cindy, the blurbs on the book never mention shape-shifters or vampires so I don't think that is what anyone would be expecting.

Barbara Monajem said...

Aunty Cindy -- Of course they're paranormals! Actually, I really enjoy paranormals where the woo-woo stuff is close enough to normal reality that it's easy to believe in it. Not that I don't like the more way-out stuff -- I do -- but in some ways the feeling that the person walking down the street behind me might have hereditary fangs or be able to read my thoughts makes me shiver even more... because it just might be true.

Helen -- Congrats on the good news!

Christie Kelley said...

What an interesting post, AC. And one I have a similiar dilemma with. The last story in my Spinster Club series is about the woman who has been using her medium skills as a matchmaker. (She's psychic). While she was in all the other books as a secondary character, in her story she does show more of her skills. So like you, does this make it paranormal? I don't believe it's going to be marketed that way.

I like the idea of the soft paranormal and the hard paranormal. I certainly don't think it hurts to let people know there are paranormal elements in your story. You might gain some new readers that way!

PJ said...

Congrats, Mariska!

Hi Cindy! I love your books! Paranormal really has grown to encompass a broad spectrum of stories - everything from vampires and shapeshifters to magic and "woo- woo." I tend to think of your books as having paranormal elements rather than being full-fledged paranormal books. I like that "soft para" tag.

jo robertson said...

Yay, Mariska! Have fun with the chook today.

Great question, Aunty Cindy. What defines paranormal. Obviously, it means different things to different people.

I'd call your books primarily romantic suspense because they're heavy on both the romance and the suspense (there's always a mystery to be solved!) and have varying degrees of paranormal.

When I look for a paranormal book to read, I look for vampires, werewolves, and shafeshifters. They're my favorites.

But the study of the paranormal involves such things as ghosts, poltergists, and such, doesn't it?

jo robertson said...

Congratulations on having a new grandchild soon, Helen!

Cassondra said...

Wow, Aunty, this is a tough question. I've thought a lot about this because mine sometimes have elements of the paranormal. A medicine woman, for instance. I guess I don't think that makes the whole BOOK what I'd consider paranormal just for the reasons you've mentioned. My characters are human (at least, thus far) and sometimes have some unusual gifts, but they're the more subtle ones--I love the term "soft paranormal." I'd never heard that before and I think it fits perfectly.

catslady said...

I'm fairly new to paranormal and enjoying it. I don't think it has to be over the top to be considered in that genre. Sometimes a little bit is just enough :)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Morning Jane!

You were up very late or awake very early. :-) Nice to hear that you like to read all across the spectrum of paranormal. I'm sure other readers do too.

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Helen,
Another granddaughter?!?! SUPER SUPER CONGRATS! As you know, I have a new grandniece expected in the middle of Feb. Oh, and my son's bday is March 21st, he was born on the vernal equinox which I'm sure means something in the paranormal universe. ;-)

I hope you enjoy The Wild Irish Sea as much as my previous two books. It has plenty of suspense along with the 'woo woo' and of course, another Irish Hunk. LOL!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Smoov,
Your latest has some paranormal elements?!?! KEWL! And welcome to the club. :-P I think you make a very good distinction about the paranormal elements being the 'flavoring' but not the 'core' of the story. Like that little hint of tart in all the sweet... YUM! Love me some tart!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Dianna,
Thank you for pointing out that my back covers don't mention the elements found in so many paranormal romances, so readers should know from that. And I really LOVE your designation of "soft" paranormal versus "hard" paranormal. I'm sure my editor meant the same thing but YOU actually explained it better! Leave it to you BBs! YOU ARE THE BEST!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

YAY Barbara!

Score another reader who likes the full spectrum of paranormal! I agree with you about having those paranormal 'elements' happen in the 'real' world being scary. That's what I like to read (and I do LURVE world-building too) so that's also what I write!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Christie,
Your Regency matchmaker is psychic? HOW KEWL IS THAT?!?!

But it is all in the marketing, isn't it? As Smoov said, the paranormal element is only the 'flavoring' not the main dish. ;-) And as long as the paranormal readers aren't expecting angels, demons, vampires, or shape-shifters then I KNOW they'll enjoy all our books!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

AWWWW! Thanx a BUNCH, PJ for the compliments about my books. (Aunty blushes daintily) And you are soooo right about paranormal expanding all the time.

This was the first time I'd heard the "soft paranormal" designation (from my editor). Now if I can just stop the association with "soft porn" I think I'll like it too! :-P

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

HUGS Jo-Mama! Can never thank you enough for being my intrepid CP!!

I've always thought I wrote romantic suspense, but as we've discussed in the past, there's ROMANTIC suspense, and romantic SUSPENSE. Kinda like the 'soft paranormal' versus 'hard paranormal.' Luckily for all of us that readers like so many different elements in the stories they read!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Morning Cassondra!

Come on over here in the "soft paranormal" corner with Smoov, Christie, and me! I LOVE the idea of the 'medicine woman' character! Get busy writing so I can READ this story.

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Morning Catslady!

Thanks for popping by! Glad to hear that sometimes just a little bit of paranormal makes the story that much more enjoyable. I know that's what *I* like, and I'm happy I'm not the only one! ;-)

AC

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Mariska! You got the bird! Congrats!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey AC!! Back from your recent travels, refreshed and ready to rock, I presume? Grins.

I love both these books so much. I would probably rate Wild Sight as MORE a paranormal, but hey, I'm good with Treasures being called that too. Ha!

Whatever you call them, they are fabulous books.

How was your trip?

Joan said...

You write Irish romance purrrrr.

I think it is more "paranormal" if it plays a main role in the plot. I'd say The Wild Sight was more along that line but TTOV less so...more a paranormal elements.

A couple of my Roman mss. have that "element" one stronger than the other.

For example, Mariska has gotten the GR a couple of times recently and then "disappeared" with the chook. Paranormal? I think SO!

Lady_Graeye said...

Hello!
I would like to see something different. Maybe like Jane said about the psychic or telepaths. I getting tired of vampire, werewolves and shapeshifters. Those areas have been hit so hard. I was told by a bookstore employee it's became its on genre. But how many ways can you love a vampire??

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Lady Graeye! I'm so with you on that one. I've always had a challenge w/ Vamps/Weres as a hero or heroine. Grins.

p226 said...

As anyone who hangs around in the Lair knows, yer olde Aunty likes to write stories that include things that go boom...

Wait, what? What kind of things that go boom? See... I like things that go boom. A lot. Back in the day, I used to get paid to blow stuff up. Bridges. Walls. Trees. One very unfortunate desert lizard. I once sent a tank obstacle called a "log crib" into low earth orbit. I think NASA is still tracking a seven foot chunk of pine.

Tell me more of things that go boom!

As for your query, I have no idea. I can tell you though that my wife RAVED about your book. And she said it was definitely "paranormal." But I have no clue what made it that way.

Nancy said...

Mariska, congrats on the rooster!

Cindy, just my .02, but a book doesn't count as "paranormal" to me unless the extraordinary elements are substantial, important to the plot and the characters in a way that runs through the book.

I know it when I see it. Which is hardly the objective criterion you seem to be seeking.

Anna Campbell said...

Mariska, again? You're going to start giving Fedora and Lime a run for their Rooster money soon!

Cindy, great post! Given how hugely popular paranormals are, I think you should milk that baby for all it's worth ;-) Love the fact that your multipubbed status is feeling real. Yay, you!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Good Afternoon Duchesse!

Thanx bunches for the compliments on my books.

The cruise was FUN, up until the last day when the DH caught some kind of respiratory 'crud' and left me with the great DISpleasure of driving the entire 9 hours home. :-(

And yes, I'm ready to ROCK as long as I don't also develop the crud.

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Ah yes, Joanie!
Nothing like an Irish hunk, or a Roman one, to make me purrrrr. ;-)

Which of your Roman boys has those paranormal elements? Happy to have you (and him) join us over in the 'soft paranormal' corner!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Lady Graeye said: "But how many ways can you love a vampire??

Apparently MORE than I can count! ;-)

Vampires are NOT one of my personal character favorites either, so I agree with you and Jeanne. NOT gonna be very high on my TBR mountain. (ducks flying fruit)

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Gee P226, I'm surprised NASA is only tracking ONE of your BOOM experiments! LOL!

As a reader and writer of romantic suspense, of course I like BOOM! However, I don't write heavily on the BOOM scale as some other Banditas (KOFF*CassondraJeanneNancy*KOFF) but there is always a fair share of murder and mayhem involving guns, cars, boats, various other weapons, and the resulting aftermath. (Aunty only cringes slightly at the sight of blood)

So glad to hear that TWS was a big HIT with Mrs. P226! I'd love to hear her opinion of TToV, and whether or not it too qualifies as paranormal.

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Ah yes, Nancy, that illusive "I know it when I see it." Since the DH is an artist, I am well acquainted with that particular criterion. :-P

I do consider my books as first and foremost romantic suspense, but I really can't ignore those 'paranormal elements' either.

AC
ever confused

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I'm with you, Fo!

Paranormal ANYTHING seems to sell like the proverbial hot cakes, so I definitely want to entice those readers into trying my books. It really IS all about the readers after all!

AC

Nancy said...

Cindy--RS/SPE? Romantic Suspense with Strong Paranormal Elements?

And I forgot to congratulate you on being multi-pubbed. You escaped the "sophomore slump" trap!

I think that makes you eligible for NInc., should you choose to take that route.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Thanx for the congrats Nancy and Everyone!

Well, I think I escaped the "sophomore slump" because I already had both TWS and TToV finished before I sold them. ;-) Here's hoping my 3rd book will be "the charm."

AC

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Aunty Cindy,

I'm not greatly taken with dark
paranormals, so your books have
just the right "touch" of para for
me. (Mother always said "touch"
equals a "dash" or a "tad,"
especially in recipes!) I equate
writing to a recipe: using just
so much of various ingredients
to bring a superb dish to the
table!

Pat Cochran

Tawny said...

Wow, Cindy. What a thought provoking question. I read it earlier, couldn't answer so left to think about it and now that I'm back I still can't answer LOL.

I'd have to go with the 'paranormal elements' angle, I think. And as a reader, I'm a huge fan of paranormal elements as well as the softer para stories. I'm not as much into the alternate worlds, or dark as I am the witches and woo woo.

Your new book sounds fascinating, though. How fun -and out next summer??? Woooot!!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Pat,
Thanx for the GREAT analogy! Writing a novel is a LOT like using a recipe -- a dash of this and just a tad of that, mixed together in just the right way...

I'm so glad you enjoyed both my books!

AC

Louisa Cornell said...

Mariska! Enjoy your day with the GR and keep him out of trouble!

Helen, congrats on the new grandbaby!

Now this IS an interesting post, Aunty! I like the idea of soft-paranormal. The Raven's Heart had what was considered a "soft-paranormal" element in it - a governess who could "see" the memories of animals if she touched them. I did a revised version where I took all of the paranormal out and had to rework how she discovers the clues to the mystery. Now it is more of a heavily Gothic Regency romance with no paranormal and the poor governess thinks she is going nuts. We'll see if it works.

I think because paranormal is so popular and sells we are going to see a lot of variations on the paranormal scale. As long as they are well done and the story and characters are fabulous (as yours are!) then it will definitely sell.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

LOL, Tawny!

I asked the question because I didn't know the answer myself. Lucky me that the Banditas and BBs have come through with some great comments today! And it's very gratifying for me to hear that not everyone is into the 'dark' paranormal stories. Or if they are, they are also willing to give the softer paranormal elements a try!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Louisa!
GREAT to see you today! And I LOVE the idea of your character 'seeing' animals' memories. What a unique paranormal element! Why did you take it out?

I hope you are correct about the 'soft paranormal' showing up more and more all across the sub-genres. I'm afraid editors and agents will looks at stories like mine and scratch their heads about how they are going to market it. I'm really grateful my editor was willing to take the chance with my books!

AC

Becke Davis said...

Your writing is what I call romantic suspense with woo-woo -- my favorite kind!

Lynz Pickles said...

Congrats, mariska!

I think your stories sound wonderfully refreshing, Aunty Cindy. Don't get me wrong, I do love the really really really out there paranormals, but I love the idea of "soft" paranormals. There's so little distinction between many paranormal romances and urban fantasies - the former often seem to cross over to the latter. Yours sounds like they're paranormals with no urban fantasy involved, which is a nice change.

I agree with Louisa - I think we're going to start seeing paranormals crossed with other genres. I've seen some paranormal historicals of late, you've got paranormal romantic suspense... I love it all, so I'm happy about this!

Caren Crane said...

Mariska! Congrats on nabbing the GR. Be careful, though, he's wily! *g*

Aunty Cindy, I definitely thought The Wild Sight had a strong paranormal element. Unlike some readers, I prefer the paranormal element to be something like, say, second sight or telepathy.

I don't want vampires and shape-shifters and werewolves. I want ghosts and mediums and things that go bump in the night. I think your books are a great blend of romance, adventure and just enough paranormal to keep it extra-interesting.

I'm not sure how hardcore paranormal readers would consider it, but I love your mix!

Caren Crane said...

Helen, congratulations on the pending granddaughter! I'm sure Corey will make a fabulous big brother. You know, once he gets used to having to share all the attention. *g*

Caren Crane said...

p226, you do seem to come out when people mention explosions. We may start tucking them in all our blog posts just to lure you into the Lair! Kind of like "Where's Waldo", but with firearms.

I'm glad Mrs. p226 liked Aunty Cindy's book. It shows she has great taste!

Kris Kennedy said...

AC~
I can't answer your question, as I don't think I read enough to say what qualifies a novel as 'paranormal', but I have to send a mega "Woot' on your realization that you're a MULTI-PUBLISHED author!!!

Having a book for each hand is kinda cool. :-) And next summer, you'll have MORE books than hands. How cool is that?? (I only hope it doesn't get as crazy as having more KIDS than hands does . . . )

Joan said...

Ah Aunty....my woo woo is in the first and third which would make sense since the hero of The Barbarian's Soul is the brother of the seer/heroine in The Patrician....


But they..um,wante me to clarify that there is NOTHING soft about them :-)

mariska said...

it's me again :)
Hi AC ! Glad to have you back here. we Missed you. how's the holiday ?
and MEGA Congrats for the Multi Published Author..YAyS !
as for your question, for me TWS is a paranormal book, since Donovan has 'sight'. something that normal people that don't have (am i correct ?)
paranormal books don't always have to have shapeshifters, warewolves, or vampires for me.
as long as the story has something about Ghosts, mysteries, haunted,some 'powers' that normal people don't have, it's considered as a paranormal book for me.

and AC, I LOVE your BOOKS !
what Can i say more. They are brilliant!

Joan, do you think I'm paranormal ?
well i guess i like the idea :D

Kirsten said...

Hi AC! Welcome back! The Lair isn't complete without you (and that nasty crop of yours). :-)

I don't know myself about what makes something paranormal, but I suspect it has to do with whether the paranormal stuff is an integral and necessary part of the conflict, or just a side detail. Sort of like the romance v. women's fiction issue. Is the romance the central conflict? Then it's a romance, if you ask me.

Of course, it doesn't really matter. Your books are fabulous and I love the woo woo, personally. I don't care what you call it. :-)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

OOPS!
Some of you sneaked in while Aunty's back was turned! Naughty, naughty! (Aunty shakes her crop)

LOL Becke! I love your designation: Romantic Suspense with Woo-Woo. Think we can get a Golden Heart and Rita category for that?!?!

And no worries, Lynz! I definitely don't write urban fantasy. But I do hope you and Louisa are right about the sub-genre blending. Include all the good stuff and mix it up, I say!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

"Where's Waldo" with firearms?!?! I LURVE it, Posh!

More books than hands... OMG, Kris! I hadn't thought about that! Luckily I have large hands so I can easily hold more than one book in each. :-)

LOL JT on the nothing 'soft' about them! I was thinking the same thing when my editor called my books 'soft paranormal'... My heroes and heroines would definitely beg to differ with her! ;-)

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Mariska and Kirsten, how sweet that you missed me! And thank you for the kudos.

Mariska, I hope you kept the GR busy and out of trouble today. As someone else said, he's a wily lil chook! And HUGE THANX for loving my books. It means so much to have readers enjoy my stories. :-)

Kirsten, whatever my publisher wants to call 'em is okay by me, as long as they keep publishing my books!

THANX AGAIN to everyone for your input on 'soft' and 'hard' paranormal, and what you like to read. You are all THE BEST!

AC

flchen1 said...

Just a belated hello, AC! Haven't "seen" you around recently! :)