I recently decided that my next project would be a romantic suspense. It’s a bit outside my norm. I usually write epic fantasy. But I wanted to give this idea a go. I had the entire plot down already, because I was working with an old novella of mine that I wanted to rewrite, and I was happy with the story, just not the words I’d used to tell it originally.
Since I’d written a few romantic suspense novellas in the past, I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult for me to find my footing in the genre, even though it had been quite a while since I’d dabbled in it.
I wrote the first chapter; so far, so good. I was liking the new incarnations of these characters, the new setting I’d chosen, and the new history I’d given them. The voice was coming pretty easily, and the pace was moving along.
And then…something happened. I started getting ideas. My hero wanted to be something other than human. I tried to tell him to shut up. You’re a romantic suspense hero. You’re a perfectly normal, if damaged, human being. Just stop it. But as my characters often do, he got stubborn.
I started noticing that the conflict and the tension increased by magnitudes if I went in this direction. The idea I’d started with was a perfectly good one, but the original incarnation of the hero was a bit of a bastard, which was one of the reasons I’d wanted to do the rewrite. As a paranormal creature, suddenly he had all kinds of excuses to be a bastard—or to appear to be one to someone unaware of his history.
I finally gave in. I was writing a paranormal romantic suspense.
What is it about paranormal heroes that makes their flaws seem more justifiable? When I’m reading a paranormal romance, I’ll let a vampire get away with a hell of a lot more than I would a conventional hero. He’s a stalker? Well, yeah…he’s a vampire. A bit controlling? Duh. But he’s also deliciously angsty, fighting his own nature, and perhaps weary of the world after living in it for centuries watching people do bastardy things without being in the least bit paranormal themselves. A werewolf? Well, he has to be an alpha, that just goes without saying. A demon? He’s definitely going to have issues.
I suppose part of it goes back to my love of bad boys. A paranormal hero is the ultimate bad boy. When you start a paranormal romance, you know there’s going to be trouble, and he’s going to be in the midst of it. He’s the guy you bring home to shock your parents when you’re a teenager, and like Lestat in Queen of the Damned, he’s a natural rock star. Nothing’s more “bad boy” than a rock star.
He’s also a little bit wild, beyond society’s rules. With a paranormal hero, you can expect to give up some control, and as with a submissive in a BDSM relationship, it’s control you give up voluntarily in exchange for being taken to a place no one else can take you.
So I’m giving up. My paranormal hero is taking the wheel and I’m going along for the ride. Because I know it’s going to be a wild one full of unexpected thrills.