Clare Willis is back in the guest spot today, and we're happy to see her again! Her first vampire romance, ONCE BITTEN, was out last year around this time, and now she's got another release just in time for Christmas. And doesn't looking at that cover make you feel like you just got a really good gift? Love the I-dare-you look on that sexy man's face.
Clare is giving away a copy of BITING THE BRIDE to two lucky winners who leave a comment either today or tomorrow, so show her some love in the comments!
Making Him Wait: Anticipation and Urban Fantasy
What’s the difference between paranormal romance and urban fantasy?
This is a question that I’ve been asking myself a lot, as my first book, Once Bitten, was classified (by my publisher and my readers) as paranormal romance, while my second book, Biting the Bride, has been labeled urban fantasy by some reviewers on the web. I would certainly cop to that label, although it wasn’t intentional.
But now, for the book that I’m currently working on, I am calling it urban fantasy, so once again I’m back to that question—what’s the difference? This is what I’ve come up with, but it’s only my opinion, and I’d love to hear what other readers think.
The first answer, I think, would be world building. Certainly in any novel we create a world for the reader, but in urban fantasy there is often a parallel universe—big, complex and full of strange, supernatural characters—where the adventure takes place. This universe might be underground, or it might be entered by magic, or the heroine might just live in this parallel universe all the time. There is often a very large conflict brewing, a good versus evil war for the fate of all creatures, our heroine included, that takes place in a series of smaller battles, often over the course of several books. When the word “urban” is used, there is often a certain grittiness to the setting that sets it apart from straight fantasy, such as the Lord of the Rings saga.
So that’s the first answer, but certainly not the last, because the other difference I’ve noticed between paranormal romance and many urban fantasy novels is this:
The hero and heroine don’t have sex.
There is sexual tension to beat the band, for sure. Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series and Caitlin Kittredge’s Black London series come to mind, and I’m sure there are many other examples, where the hero and heroine are doing the Moonlighting dance. Some of you may remember this television show from the 1980’s where Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd spent several seasons trading witty banter and verbal fisticuffs and steeping in sexual tension before they had their first kiss. Many said that smooch was the kiss of death for the series, but for years afterwards Bruce and Cybil were considered the perfect example of this kind of couple.
So is this the mark that distinguishes paranormal romance from urban fantasy? In paranormal romance the couple battles the forces of evil while sneaking away to make love whenever there is a break in the action, and in urban fantasy the couple break the tension of their mutual sexual attraction by verbal jousting, but even though they might be thrown together during a fight and take a moment to breathe in the seductive scent of the other, they would never throw down their weapons and do the deed? If they end up “happily ever after,” does that make it paranormal romance? If they don’t, does that make it urban fantasy?
Readers, please let me know what you think the differences are! I would love to hear about other books where the hero and heroine either follow these rules or break them, and which type of relationship do you prefer?
Please visit Claire at her website.