I got fed up.
My favorite fiction to curl up with has usually been a variation of urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Yet now after bingeing on the genre for a while, I find myself diversifying.
Yes, I grew bored with the standard tropes associated with, let’s call it “paranormal fantasy” to keep things simple. You know the tropes I’m talking about: good vampires in love or bad vampires on the rampage; guilt-ridden yet heroic shape-shifters; witches who serve more as sex objects than as empowered women.
Aside from that, however, what really had me stepping back from “paranormal fantasy” was the absence of relatable, realistic heroines. Invariably, the typical heroine is between the ages of 18 and 22, yet they always seem to show the situational maturity of a thirty or forty-something. Granted, we’re talking speculative fiction here, so some willingness on the part of the reader to step outside reality is required. But c’mon. An adolescent heroine just hasn’t lived long enough to earn the right to be a truly multi-dimensional character in the face of calamity.
When I wrote, CURSE ME NOT, my “anti-paranormal fantasy," I first created a subtle, far more believable paranormal aspect to the story: my heroine (Elzetta Swan) can see people’s auras. Then I placed Elzetta in her early 40s so the story could examine age-appropriate insecurities, hard-won skepticism and adult sensibilities. The story also shows Elzetta to have outgrown that “first love” phase of life. Instead, she would—and does—look upon idealized emotion with a certain level of fear and mistrust.
Victoria Lane of TheRomanceReviews.com wrote this in her review of my novel: What I liked…was that it focused on the case, the drama of what was happening. The romance is realistic and totally believable, and I seriously appreciate that the main characters are older than 40. Ali Barnard of Bargain Book Reviews was even more effusive. She wrote: I loved this book. Most [in the genre] are about teens, so reading from Elzetta’s perspective as a woman who’s already lived a good bit of life was refreshing. Elzetta’s voice came in loud and clear, and her charming turn of phrase had me laughing out loud.
Developing such a non-stereotypic heroine probably wasn’t the smartest idea marketing-wise, considering what’s typical of the urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres. Nonetheless, it was a move that I felt held more integrity for me as an author. Basically, it allowed me to write a novel that I—a woman of a certain age with a more sophisticated reading palette—would want to read myself.