With all the fabulous work going on with AAR’s Special Titles Listings, it has brought up some interesting questions about genre classifications. When the Special Titles Listings were first created over 10 years ago, Alternate Reality was a catchall for any book that didn’t fit into Historical or Contemporary settings. Since then, however, the world of Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, etc. has grown significantly and we thought that some of the questions that came up were a call for some definitive classifications of these areas both for our readers and our reviewers.
If we were to take anything that wasn’t Historical or Contemporary Romance, there are a bunch of terms out there that tend to be used interchangeably and not necessarily consistently. Readers and reviewers all around the web have classified everything from witches and vamps to psi and Time Travel series as Paranormal. And I am not saying that any of them are wrong. In a sense, they are all correct. But that classification is becoming too general for everything that is out there and we are hoping that by making more distinct classifications – with examples – we can make it more “user friendly” going forward. With the examples after each, I have included the series that fits this classification since an author may have multiple series/books with each fitting into different genres After all, most good authors do not write the same thing all the time! Continue reading →
I love going to RWA nationals for a variety of reasons. However, one of the major thrills for me comes from getting to hear about upcoming books and forecasts for various subgenres of romance. This year, hearing about the various trends in publishing really struck me because many of the types of books listed seemed to hit at opposite ends of the spectrum.
On the one hand, we seem to be inhabiting a period of sweetness and light in book choices. Small-town romances with home and family themes seem to sell quite well. Indeed, some authors with small-town series such as Robyn Carr and Debbie Macomber have almost a cult following among readers. Similarly, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen stories about the astounding popularity of Amish/Mennonite romances. Their focus on the simple life and strong family ties again seem to speak to a lot of readers. And in historicals, the light, wallpaper Regency/Victorian is not exactly hard to find either.
Where to draw the line between paranormal romance and urban fantasy is hardly a new question. A number of articles and blog pieces have been written on the subject, including this one and also this piece . Given the manner in which books are marketed, it seems that many titles blur the lines and I seem to find books many consider urban fantasy shelved in the romance section or vice versa. So, where does one draw the line? For me, a paranormal romance focuses primarily on the primary hero/heroine relationship, and there needs to be an HEA. In urban fantasy, however, there may be some romantic elements, but the primary focus is on the fantasy plot(often the main character’s quest) itself – and the ending of any romantic subplot might not necessarily be happy. For example, I would consider Vicki Pettersson’s Signs of the Zodiac series urban fantasy but J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood paranormal romance.