Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Shop-Talk: Vampires, Werewolves, and Paranormal Fatigue


When authors finish books and are casting around for ideas for yet more books, we have to do these awful things called proposals. Which is kind of like writing an outline of a story when you have no idea where that story is going to go. Because even for someone like me who is a dedicated plotter—I outline my books before I start writing them—a lot of the magic happens in the writing itself. The outline changes as I go. The final book is usually similar to my beginning outline, but not quite.

So what does that have to do with paranormal fatigue? When my alter ego wrote a book about vampires, she/I/we learned that a lot of readers of paranormal fiction (urban fantasy and romance) are tired of vampires. I mean there was the whole Twilight business and the Sookie/True Blood phenomenon. A lot of readers are vamped out.

There's some who believe the whole urban fantasy/paranormal romance genre is on the decline, that people are tired of reading them. Authors are looking at other genres, ways to diversify their careers so that they have careers. Genres that publishers who are growing gun-shy about buying paranormals might be willing to publish.

The next on the fatigue list has to be werewolves. One can barely turn around in urban fantasyland without tripping over a shifter of some kind: weres who turn into wolves, big cats, sea creatures, dragons.

Angels? Demons? They were hot for a while but have cooled off.

What every writer is casting around for, including me, is a paranormal being that hasn’t been done to death, or a different spin on an old trope (which is what my alter ego tried to do with her vampires). It has to be different, and yet not so “out there” that it leaves plausibility behind.

What are your thoughts? Is the golden age of paranormals waning? Have you gotten tired of them yet and started reading contemporaries or historicals or nonfiction? Or are you Paranormal Forever? What are you tired of reading? What will you never get tired of?

One commenter will be chosen to win a choice of titles from my Book Horde list, which, of course, are predominantly paranormals. Let’s talk!

46 comments:

  1. A few years ago I thought I was over vampires...but then I found Jeaniene Frost, who has become my fave. So I've learned to give every book a chance. That said, I've always loved Karen Moning's take on the paranormal: the fae and time/dimensional travel!

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    1. Love Jeaniene Frost! I actually discovered the Cat and Bones books from readers on this blog. I haven't read KM's books but keep hearing great things about them.

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  2. Paranormal Forever! No contemporaries. No historicals. Some nonfiction. Will never get tired of Kim Harrison, Carrie Vaughn, Jennifer Estep, Faith Hunter, Suzanne Johnson, Susannah Sandlin, Jeaniene Frost, Adrien Phoenix, Jeri Smith-Ready & Jim Butcher.

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    1. Thanks, Roger! I also love paranormal. I'll read an occasional historical but just don't care for contemporaries...unless they aren't human :-)

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  3. I've grown weary of PNR lately and seem to be reading a lot more UF. But as long as the characters are well developed and the story is engaging, I'm all for vampires or werewolves.

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    1. The whole PNR and UF thing is an interesting topic--maybe for another day. I swing back and forth in which I'm reading at any given time, and lately have swung back to UF as well. I think urban fantasy has become a very broad genre encompassing urban and rural, futuristic, contemporary, historical. PNR doesn't seem to have made the leap fully but is heading that way (I'm beginning work on a paranormal-romantic-thriller that straddles the line.)

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  4. I love paranormal books. I just can't seem to stop reading that genre but when I read books about werewolves now, I can't stand it. And as for vampires, I think my last series that I'm following is Julie Kagawa's new vamp series. Its going to be a tough job for authors to continue with paranormal and I hope they do continue with it. I live to read paranormal books :D

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    1. It will always be my favorite too, Raihana. I'm kind of a geek for research, so I could see me trying my hand at historical fiction sometime but I'd probably still try to stick some kind of paranormal character in there :-)

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  5. My favorite genre stay UF and paranormal romance but it's true that sometimes i like a little twist for example in the ascension by caris roane the vampire have wings;;, in teh penton legacy series there was the problem with blood.
    I still love the genre in general, i still have a large part of my favorite in those genre but i'm perhaps becpming more critic too when i see too often the exact same pattern

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    1. I think those patterns are hard things for authors to avoid, especially in paranormal romance. So it takes a lot of thought and experimentation to find something that has a little twist, as you say, but that isn't SO twisted that it becomes unbelievable or bizarre. A fine line to walk as an author!

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  6. Perfect timing! I had just left a comment on another blog about this. I've noticed that as long as something new or different is added to an element or genre I don't mind. That said, given the sheer amount of werewolves/vampires/witches in novels these days, what original take could possibly be brought forth?

    Retellings seem to be the new thing and I'm a total sucker for them. I absolutely LOVE retellings and I'm thrilled to see they aren't going anywhere anytime soon. I think the reason why they seem so fresh and (ironically!) not 'done before' is because there's just so much to choose from, be it a fairy tale, a myth, classic literature, etc.

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    1. I find retellings really interesting--there have been quite a few where I thought, "Man, I wish I'd thought of that!" Then again, there are a few where I thought, not so much. Probably depends on how I felt about the original :-)

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  7. I used to read a lot of PNR.. now, not so much. But my reading goes in phases and cycles, and if there is something with a unique premise, or great word of mouth from trusted friends/bloggers, then I'll most likely read it. I have a strong love for UF, but I am getting errr, pickier, let's just say. I read all over the place. Historicals (though I'm getting a wee bit burned out on those at the moment), Contemps (I'm reading more of those right now), Fantasy, and I'll pick up a Sci-Fi book upon occasion. There are a TON of books out there, and I
    certainly don't envy authors trying to walk that line between unusual and just plain bizarre.

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    1. There's a lot of talk in the industry these days about "discoverability"--how can I, as an author, get readers to "discover" my work? The most effective factor in discoverability, we're always told, is word of mouth--so when you talk about getting a recommendation from a trusted friend or blogger, that's gold to an author. I'm not sure any of us have figured out how to manage that, though!

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  8. I don't think I'll ever get tired of paranormal books, although I do sometimes need a break and read something contemporary instead. I find that if I mix it up a bit, I like the books more! I think werewolves are probably my favourite, I'm not all that big a fan of fairies any more though.
    The thing that I get most fed up of is authors sticking the 'no sex before marriage' thing down our throats at every available oportunity. I mean, people can make up their own minds!

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    1. I don't think I'll ever tire of them either. I do take breaks, but it's mostly to read nonfiction that I'm using as reference or research or brainstorming. The "no sex before marriage" thing is interesting to me. I'm not sure I've seen that (maybe just the opposite--maybe I'm reading the wrong kind of book--LOL). Is that mostly in YA books? I know sex in YA is still pretty much taboo for most publishers.

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    2. It is mostly YA, read one the other day where the girl wasn't even able to say the word sex- she kept referring to it as 'that'.

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  9. I for one never fail to pick up the latest PNR or UF. I do love to see a twist on the vamp/werewolf legends but the are still my fav. I rather like the alien books too.
    I've often wondered why the invisible man and the abominable snowman didn't appear in more PRs. I am heartily tired of the Angel/Demon books, though. One aspect I miss with the paranormals was the gothic feel of the older books.
    As I tend to read a lot of genres, PR, UF, YA, historicals, and any type of romance, if I find myself getting burned out on a story-line, I simply switch genres for awhile and then I'm ready for another go at the vamps and shifters.

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    1. I've read some interesting alien books as well (I love Jennifer Armentrout's Obsidian YA series!), especially the ones coming more from the paranormal than the hard SF realm. I've gotten a little burned out on PNR, so I switched over to dystopians for a while. I'm about ready to go back now :-)

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  10. I don't think vampire books will ever go away entirely Vampire books seem to go in cycles of popularity but never entirely dissappear. I don't read much PNR because I find them too predictable. I do enjoy UF books and will continue to read them. When I want a break from paranormal books I read mysteries and the occasional western.

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    1. I think there will always be a core readership for vampires, too. It might be a while before we have another big breakout vampire book or series, but they'll rise again (ha). Western! I haven't read a western novel in forever. Might have to try one.

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  11. If the writing is smooth and the characters are compelling, the book will probably be enjoyable. Major bonus points for originality or new twist. I am burned out on historicals, being thoroughly tired of dissolute dukes, libidinous lords, reckless rakes, etc., especially when paired with voluptuous virgins.

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    1. This is brilliant: "I am burned out on historicals, being thoroughly tired of dissolute dukes, libidinous lords, reckless rakes, etc., especially when paired with voluptuous virgins." LOL. I wish I had written that!

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  12. One of my fave genre is paranormal so why I have not read any book from this genre :)

    Love vampire, angel, demon, witch, every creature :)

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    1. A lot of different creatures are fun. Witches are probably among my least favorite..unless it's Rachel Morgan, of course!

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  13. First i fallin in love with Gena Showalter Atlantis series (nymph, vampire, dragon), and next to JR Ward series.

    Sometimes ive got bored, and move to Contemporary, Historical. But, i like every genre although PNR, CR or HR.

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    1. I have to admit I haven't read any Gena Showalter, but I'm a huge fan of JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood. I have her new angel series in my TBR pile. Someday :-)

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  14. I like different genres, especially paranormals. Interested in reading any kind of character/creature.

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    1. I'm glad to hear people aren't getting tired of paranormals!

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  15. I love reading across most fiction genres. UF, PNR, SFR are probably the bulk of what I read. Occasionally, I'll read historical if it is written by an author I enjoy under a different name like Jayne Ann Krentz and Amanda Quick. I have recently started reading some paranormal mysteries which was a fun find. As long as there is great character development, an interesting plot and a few surprises, I'm willing to try almost any book.

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    1. I haven't read any of the straight-up paranormal mysteries although I think there are several series out now. I like the idea of them, though--I used to read a lot of cozy mystery series.

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  16. I never get tired of UF, PNR, vampires and other supernaturals. I think every genre has its core group of readers who never tire of it. Then there are readers who follow hypes. Those are the readers who tire of a genre and hop on to the next hype, thus creating the feeling readers are getting tired of vampires/werewolves/whatever.

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    1. I agree totally--the problem is that when the "hype" group moves away to the next big thing, the publishers see sales decline in paranormal and decide they're going to buy fewer of them. So it becomes harder and harder for authors of paranormal fiction to find publishers for their work. I think that's what might be starting to happen now.

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  17. Paranormal will always be my first love, and I still have so many new to me series on my shelves to read, I won't be done for years. I do like it when an author comes up with an original twist. I do keep hoping for instance, for a female vampire to find a human man. Haven't seen that yet. I absolutely love reading about the creatures that are not often used, like goblins, or leprechauns, unicorns, pegasus, medusa. Thea Harrison has a great way of mixing them all up in her series. She even has a small chameleon shifter paired with a big canine one. Laurell K. Hamilton uses swan shifters as well as the werewolves and big cats and rats. I love that. Mix it up, give me more than one paranormal creature in a book.
    The one thing I won't read are zombies though. But whatever you decide to use in your next series, the storyline itself is what has to be original. And of course characters I can fall for, and then it doesn't matter what they are.

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    1. I'm with you on Zombies. I'll read zombies as zombies (a little) but not zombie romances. That just blows my mind, and I know there are a bunch out there. I just got an ARC of a book I might have to read because it's so bizarre-sounding: Apocalypse Cow...yes, it's a zombie cow takeover. (Yes, it's a satire...I hope.)

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    2. Zombie cows?! I must get hold of that! Zombies are the best!

      I agree on zombie romances though. Zombies should be the monsters, not the ones falling in love.

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  18. I've always read a bunch of different genres so switching around isn't something new. Sometimes I'm in the paranormal phase, sometimes contemp, etc. But I'll admit I'm not reading as much PNR/UF as I used to because the spin on some of the *insert PNR creature here* stories just aren't so unique. The one UF series I've re-read countless times and will probably never tire of is the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews!

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  19. I read (heard?) something Neil Gaiman said about working from the best source material you can find, and I think he makes a good point. If your source material for a vampire story comes from Charlaine Harris and Joss Whedon, while they're both excellent storytellers, you're going to end up rehashing what's already out there. Looking back further by studying folklore and mythology, is a way to find fresh ideas. I mean, vampires were done after Ann Rice, right?
    (Not!)

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  20. I love paranormals! I think they're here to stay

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  21. Paranormal is one of my top favorite genres ! never had enough about it :)

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  22. That's a good question since there seems to be so many paranormal based books out there. I could see it being a problem for readers who read solely in the paranormal genre and getting tired and branching out to other genre's. I don't think this is a problem for me specifically though. I love Paranormals and Urban Fantasy. This is the genre that got me back into reading. Paranormal is my top favorite and always my go to pick. I love Vampires and I love the different twists some authors take them on. Vampires, demons, wolfs....these are the bad boys of romance that I love. They have that internal struggle within themselves as they fight their nature. I tend to read in multiple genres, which I blame for my massive tbr list, so I always give myself little breaks and then jump back in. If I stick to one genre, I feel like I may be missing out on an amazing story. Though paranormal is my go to genre, I also keep up with and enjoy contemps, historical, YA, Urban Fantasy, Chick Lit and even some horror and Sci-Fy romance :)

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  23. Same here- sick of vamps, werewolves, angels, demons- SICK OF IT, I tell you!

    Yet I still keep on reading those books. Weird. XD

    I actually like books about Fey- like the Iron Fey and the Fever series by KMM. And as for demons, I like The Demon Trapper's Daughter. And Vampire Academy for vampires.

    It seems like dystopian books are trending now too, but there's still a lot of YA paranormal books on the market. Authors are just coming up with wilder stuff- I personally like Soul Screamers, since it has reapers and banshees, totally unique! :)

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  24. I still love urban fantasy but it is true that I've gotten tired of vampires. One paranormal creature that fascinates me is the gargoyle but it's rare to find a book that includes them. Hopefully that'll change soon.

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  25. I think it depends on what you do with it. Mostly, what's causing the paranormal fatigue is authors taking the same formula and using it to death. I believe with more breaking the rules and risk taking, the genre can be phenomenal.

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  26. Paranormals are my absolute favorite. I love PNR in YA and adult. Urban Fantasy and Dystopian novels are right up there with PNR for me also. I do occasionally read contemporary and historical romances and every once in a while a mystery/suspense book.

    Vampires will always be my favorite however I like to read a different take on them or just a really well written story will get me to read it however I have never been a big fan or witches or werewolves. I have found quite a few witch books that I like now and am not sure why I did not used to like them.

    Angels and demons, I am not burned out on because I have not read that many books about them yet. So for right now I still enjoy these.

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  27. Paranormal books are defiantly getting old, at least the ones that don't put a spin on things. The classic vampire, werewolf, and fae books are way overdone. However authors like Illona Andrews who creates entire new worlds without getting too sci-fi or magical for the average reader...THAT is the next big thing.

    Also Connie Suttle is very inventive in new concepts but lacks diversity in plots and how she keeps the reader interested. Jeanie Frost is an exceptional writer, I personally love her books, but they still lack a uniqueness needed to truly pulls a reader in.

    Dystopia is also catching on, look at The Hunger Games and Divergent (also Kate Daniels).
    Young adults will always be young adults that are easily strung along by simple plots and character development, but for the older audiences writers need to look at what makes Game of Thrones so special.

    Although kings and queens fighting with some magic thrown in isn't new, the darkness and horrible acts portrayed are typically not in mainstream media. The fact that GOT is so similar to reality when the unthinkable is done, and is set in a magical adventurous world where you don't know who is a "good guy" or "bad guy" captivates the audience. This light that GOT casts on human nature is what more books need. I personally don't like books that are set in a middle ages type of world, so if that special aspect was taken from Game of Thrones and put into a urban fantasy/dystopia book, well I think that WILL be the next big thing in reading entertainment.

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