Friday, May 15, 2009

How frustrated am I?

I was deep into a discussion--um..no, I was writing alone so a monologue? Well, at least it wasn't a tirade on genre. See, I want to start reviewing urban fantasy (and close enough paranormal romance) series, and I'd decided to start by looking at "the old guard" of the genre. In the middle of it, my browser exploded, the autosave that looked like it was working hadn't been, and..well, there were a host of problems that my head is still spinning from.

While I recover, does anyone out there want to discuss urban fantasy and paranormal romance in general?

14 comments:

azteclady said...

*raising hand* I would, even though I'm nowhere near as widely read as a huge number of other readers.

An Again said...

Cool!

I'm a long time fan of urban fantasy. I've accepted the changes within the genre in a "well since I have no choice" sort of way, and I can enjoy some paranormal romance. Do you have any thoughts about the different genres and the changes in UF that make them sort of meet in the middle?

azteclady said...

ermmm...

uh...

Well, see, I'm coming from the other side of the divide. My exposure to UF came through romance.

As I said, I've read very little UF--a couple of Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels novels; Ann Aguirre's books (if you haven't you really should read Grimspace and Wanderlust, I think you'll enjoy them)... and now I can't even remember any more!

On the paranormal romance front...

I'm a romance reader, have been for *mumble* decades. Way back when, one could find the occasional paranormal element in an otherwise 'plain' romance novel, but it wasn't until the past decade or so that the paranormal has become so prevalent.

(Frankly, there are times when I wish there were more non-paranormal romances around)

Now it seems that more and more romance writers are stretching towards UF-y series; Nalini Singh comes to mind, with Angel/s Blood.

An Again said...

(Frankly, there are times when I wish there were more non-paranormal romances around)Those of us on this side of the devide feel the same way. We don't actually want to read the non-paranormal romances, but rather because it's hugely frustrating to spend money on what you think is going to be an interesting new uf, only to end up with a romance with a few paranormal features.

I wonder why the switch in the last decade...

Jessa Slade said...

JMO as a newbie author, but I think at least some of the genre assignment is a marketing ploy. As the variety of romance subgenres expanded, it lapped into the fantasy, SF and UF fields. And I think, since romance sells very well, those other genres were willing to take advantage of the crossover.

To be less cynical for a moment, I have to say that I like the idea people are reading outside of their normal boundaries.

As long as they aren't being deceived, of course. Nothing torques me worse than picking up a "love story" where everyone's dead at the end. And not dead like sexy vampires, either, but just plain ol' dead.

azteclady said...

"I like the idea people are reading outside of their normal boundaries."

Oh yes, I agree completely. But as you said later, there are times when I wonder at the labeling.

For example, I really enjoyed Jackie Kessler's Hell on Earth books, but those are UF with a strong romantic thread, if that (the third one's ending is excellent but nowhere near a happily ever after nor a happy for now, in fact).

Just recently I read a novel marketed as a historical romance that has much more of an UF set in Regency England flavor than that of romance.

And the thing is, if it's well written, I'll love it--on its own merits. But labelling a romance as UF, or a UF as romance? It only pisses people off.

An Again said...

JMO as a newbie author, but I think at least some of the genre assignment is a marketing ploy. As the variety of romance subgenres expanded, it lapped into the fantasy, SF and UF fields. And I think, since romance sells very well, those other genres were willing to take advantage of the crossover.Welcome, Jesse! I agree with two out of three of your statements. I do think it's a marketing ploy, though when I'm feeling more generous, I admit that it may have started as a marketing mistake. I mean all of these books came out with werewolves and vampires but were decidedly not horror. A lot of them were classified as 'fiction', and probably annoyed readers who thought they were buying mainstream adult fiction. Some of them then got classified as fantasy (if you've got some of the series that have been out for while, you can literally follow the changes by looking at the spines of the books) only they weren't what we usually mean by fantasy as a genre. Ah, but there was already a genre that wasn't horror but had ghosts, faeries, and shapeshifting creatures. A lot of these books got put into the UF catagory cuz they're close enough. I don't think the genre's welcomed the cross over: as a fan, I'm happy to read a "close enough" paranormal romance, but beyond that middle ground, there's a world of PR that I avoid like the plague. As a shopper, I keep hoping the local spec. fic. indy bookstore would accept there IS a middle ground and stock those books as well. There's a general feel within the genre (well, some parts; I can't speak or all) of "we won't be fooled again."

An Again said...

As a writer/would-be-author, I feel it's important to read outside of my genre. As a fangirl, I want to read what I like and the mislabelling really does piss me off.

I'd always been of the belief that individual tastes made reviews useless more often than not, but the mislabelling got me reading them. That, and I'll get a lot of first books from the library now before I commit to buying the series.

azteclady said...

"I'd always been of the belief that individual tastes made reviews useless more often than not"

I used to agree with that statement but I've realized that in order to get the most out of reviews I need to know the reviewer's tastes (and style) and how they compare to my own.

Of course, this also means not reaching for every book that catches my eye the moment it's on shelves, but since my budget is strained already, waiting would have been par de course anyway.

The labelling issue is an interesting one for me. Recently there's been noise about a particular epub using the word romance in their name, but publishing mostly stuff that doesn't fit the general online reader definition/image/idea of romance. There are other issues (poor editing, etc) but it would seem that there's a push by some publishing areas to take a bite of the healthy romance market.

Thing is, it backfires in a hurry. People who want romance won't be fooled twice again, and people who want 'pure' speculative fiction or fantasy will not go for the more 'girly/romancy' stuff either.

Julie said...

In general I like UF and Fantasy and Sci Fi. I get tired of paranormal romance fairly quickly. I'm just not a romance reader.

Now, don't get me wrong, a lot of epic fantasy, some sci fi and quite a bit of UF have romance in them, but it's part of the plot, not THE plot. But that's just me.

I think the cross over is good in a way because it does get romance readers to explore the other side of UF and vice verse, but at the same time I wish certain authors (I bet most of you can guess) had stuck to their original awesomeness and stayed UF. But that's just me.

An Again said...

Now, don't get me wrong, a lot of epic fantasy, some sci fi and quite a bit of UF have romance in them, but it's part of the plot, not THE plot. But that's just me.
(bolding at the risk of another formatting glitch)

It's not just you. I'd go so far as to say most fiction is about relationships. One of the differences between spec. fic. (sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and their subgenres) and romance is that the relationships don't have to be primarily romantic in the former.

Azteclady mentioned Grimspace, a damned fine sci-fi romance. Perhaps as a woman, but I think as a human, I was definitely interested in the relationship between the hero and heroine. What kept me reading, as someone who's brain is wired more for spec. fic., was the world building (which can be another difference between genres), the action, and the other platonic relationships.

azteclady said...

[aside: the glitch can be avoided by adding a couple of spaces before breaking the line, after using the italics code]

You mention world building, and that is one of the reasons I wish there were less paranormal romances/UF out there. In many cases, the world building is not consistent, there is violation of the rules of the universe in order to 'solve' whatever issues there are in the relationship, and that just short circuits my brain.

An Again said...

I'm with you, Azteclady! And even when there isn't the violation, there's sometimes the thin world building that leaves me thinking, "She did this really quickly during a trip to the bathroom."

I can't swear to it, but I think it comes from people cashing in on the trend rather than writing what they love. When I know I'm going to procrastinate (as opposed to 'I'll play one game of Solitaire then finish this chapter' only to have one game become 100) I surf through a lot of writing sites. One I read some time ago advised paranormal romance writers that they didn't have to be detailed in their world building because romance readers didn't care that much.

azteclady said...

I think that it is true that there are many romance readers for whom the setting--be it Regency England or Alpha Centaury--is really just stage dressing.

Just as there are readers for whom the world building is everything, and characterization is pretty much irrelevant to them.

But I do wish writers went the full distance, regardless.