Paranormal is the New Normal
By Betsy Bradford
The paranormal romance subgenre has exploded since Twilight. Authors are struggling desperately to find new angles, particularly new creatures to write about. Vampires are played, but with a vast world of mythology, surely we can find something new to write about.
But the further you dig, the more you realize how tapped out this subgenre is. And it isn't just paranormal romance. Many writers seem to have a weakness for human-inhuman romantic entanglements, even outside of the romance genre. I mean, we've even seen prehistoric sea monsters (The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove) and dullahans (Durarara!!). What is a writer to do?
Well, never fear! I have compiled a list of monsters under-represented in paranormal romance.
Nuckelavee hails from Scottish mythology. He is part-human, part-horse, part-fish, and completely skinless. His breath is so horrible that can destroy crops with a single exhale. Really, what's to love?
Well, you tell me, romance writers! Maybe beneath his carnivorous exterior, Nuckelavee actually possesses a heart of gold, and he's just waiting for the right maiden to bring it out. Picture a rosy-cheeked lass and Nuckelavee, frolicking in the heather. They can roam the moors, pining for each other. There could even be a final, Gothic showdown in a ruined castle. The possibilities are endless, and completely untapped!
Erlking, or Erlkönig, is perhaps most well-known from a poem by Goethe, which tells the tale of a father riding in the night with his young son. The Erlking pursues them, trying to seduce the child. The boy resists, and so Erlking grabs him. The child dies, although he presumably crosses into the Erlking's realm, where... well, you probably don't need me to explain that one.
Now, this one's a challenge. People tend to find pedophilic faeries repugnant, so why would a woman be interested in him? I suppose a woman lured by his riches and golden robes could hope to change him, but that's more the set-up for a Lifetime original movie than a romance novel.
Personally, I think a better bet is to portray Erlking as simply misunderstood. Maybe his child killing was accidental, or just a phase, and now he wants to forge a relationship with a lovely human woman. Sound improbable? Well, it worked for Edward Cullen.
Before you call shenanigans, I did not invent ghombies! I just invented the name. The ghombie concept comes from the ghost-zombie characters in the videogame Deadly Premonition (see 'em here). I haven't yet finished Deadly Premonition, but to the best of my knowledge, the ghombies are never adequately explained. Who are they? Where did they come from? Why are they all dressed like farmers, and why are they so eager to both kill and be killed?
Now, on the surface, there's nothing appealing about a ghombie. They just want to reach down your throat and kill you. But there are so many questions! As a writer, I want to sit down and give them a plausible backstory. Perhaps a plucky heroine can work on getting below the surface, learning the secret horror of the ghombie, and forge a love under unlikely circumstances.
"I just want to die!"
"No! We'll live on! Together!"
Okay, this one I made up. You hear "zompire" or "zampire" more often, but personally, I find "zombacula" (zombie + Dracula) a lot more enticing. For one, the name kind of sounds like Scott Bakula. For another thing, this isn't some generic vampire we're talking about. This is undead Dracula! Dracula was a count. He was a leader of men and a lover of ladies. And man, does he have a boatload of revenge to enact!
But this is paranormal romance we're talking about. It's got to be romantic. Personally, I favor Mina Harker as the object of his desires. He failed to win her heart last time. Maybe this time it will work. (I know we're not supposed to root for Dracula, but come on, didn't you kind of want him to win?)
In a market flooded by vampires and werewolves, I think my suggestions are perfectly plausible. They're unique, and lend themselves to all sorts of creative flair. Picture going to a pitch session, and selling an editor a steamy romance about a murderous child abductor!
So paranormal romance writers, get writing! I want to read these!