Anna Katherine, has kindly agreed to share a guest post with us today. She’s also offered to give away a signed copy of Salt and Silver to one lucky reader who comments on this post (see below for details).
One of the most fun parts of writing a paranormal romance is figuring out just where the “paranormal” is going to come in. Traditional vampire mythology? Trip to Faerie? Zombie hordes? I want to work out what the world is like, find all the bad bits, and then make my characters deal with 'em.
To a certain extent, I'd already be doing that if I was worldbuilding any novel -- if my story's a historical set in Georgian England, I need to know what's going on with the time period and the area in order to figure out what sort of issues my characters are going to have (Answer: gambling and a lot of scatological humor. Really). Then the siren call of research would beckon me, and I’d fall headfirst into glorious first-person accounts of business transactions and gossip-filled biographies as far as the eye can see.
(Um. This may not apply to everyone.)
But with paranormals, I have a lot of choices -- make it up, or go with something established? Follow the dominant trends within the romance field, or go a different way entirely? It's a tough set of choices to make, even if I don't realize I'm making them right away -- instead, I find out around chapter 6 or so, when I suddenly need to know whether my vampires can or can't enter homes (or beds) without permission.
For my book SALT AND SILVER, I decided to mix my two loves -- solid historical research and urban fantasy. So, modern setting, a Brooklyn diner, a spoiled ex-rich kid, et cetera. All stuff I can pull from my personal mental warehouse of data. And then, from the 1890s:
If we analyse the principles of thought on which magic is based, they will probably be found to resolve themselves into two: first, that like produces like, or that an effect resembles its cause; and, second, that things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed. The former principle may be called the Law of Similarity, the latter the Law of Contact or Contagion.
That there's Sir James Frazer, in his book The Golden Bough: A Study of Magic and Religion, which is considered by many to be the be-all-end-all of magic research. Based on the "magic" and folklore of several cultures, he came up with the basic principles that every little bit of magic could fall under. This isn't saying a made-up word in Latin and suddenly your rabbit's a teacup -- this is how people, in this world, really think about magic.
So I sez to myself, Self, I'm setting the book in the real world anyway -- why not go all the way with it? And that's how a snippet of scene like this could come up:
“Names are . . . magic.” Ryan puts his other hand over mine. It's warm and dry and anchors me. "It's a part of you, like your blood. If a demon or a witch gets a part of you--"
I frown. "Is it contagion magic again? Like with salt?"
He nods. "It's related. Doing something to a part of you can be made the same as doing it to you. So names, true names . . . those are something you want to protect."
Awesome magic, awesomely real magic, and a nifty way to bring a little twist to what readers are used to.
On the other hand, none of this goes to explain why my vampires have wings and my werewolves have faceted eyes... but writing can't be just research, can it?
To learn more about Salt and Silver, please visit the author’s website:
You can also read a review of Salt and Silver:
Thanks so much for that behind the scenes look at writing a paranormal romance!
Now for the giveaway! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a signed copy of Salt and Silver from Anna Katherine. The contest is open worldwide and the winner will be announced on May 12, 2009. Good luck!
Kimberly Swan, DarqueReviews.com