Sunday, April 12, 2009

Why can't a paranormal author write a stand-alone book?

This is a lament I've heard a few times around Romanceland. People who are happy to read one or two books don't want to be tied down in perpetuity to a never-ending series and cast of characters that have more and more obscure powers and bizarre needs and complicated relationships to the original cast of characters.

Why can't a paranormal author write a stand-alone novel?

Because we won't let them.

We're romance readers. We're used to the set up. If there's a hot, nice, unattached guy who gets more than a mention or two, we're primed for a series. Sometimes, it's even better if the single person is surly, or wounded, or selfish, because then we're jonsing for that redemption. Oh yes we are. Sometimes it's the hella cool best friend, or ultra-wonderful sister, regardless, as romance readers, we are not happy with a poor singleton left without their Happily Ever After.

The paranormal author has a different job than the contemporary author. She has to build her world. She needs to people it with interesting characters. She has to make it feel real, but with strange situations--and there is nothing weirder in a novel than strange situations filled with weak, forgettable characters. Can you imagine? Can you even calculate how quickly we'd stop reading?

The contemporary author doesn't need as large a cast of characters to build her world. "At the mall." "In an insurance office." "At the race track." The mind doesn't need more than a few cues to put that world in place. The paranormal author though has to create a more insular world - after all, most of what makes these books paranormal has to take place away from the general public. Their secret world is not built out in the open. And a brand new world, where everyone is happily mated with the life-affirming person of their choice is a boring damn world.

So we demand it. We ask for new, interesting worlds, peopled with strong, interesting characters and then have a hissy fit when these people are left single at the end of the book (or complain there was too much going on and we didn't get to know the other couple when they find love in parallel with the primary hero and heroine.)

I'm not going to join the chorus of people decrying a paranormal author's "inability" to write a stand alone novel. Instead I'm going to vote with my dollars, just like I do with every other author. If the series bores me, I'm going to stop buying it. If I enjoy an author's writing, I'm going to be glad I get to enjoy more of it.

C'est la guerre, folks. We live in the world we create.

Currently reading: Things I've Learned From Women Who've Dumped Me
Currently reading: The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide
Currently Reading: Anyone But you

Just Finished: Bachelor Number Four
Just Finished: To Trust a Wolf

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