To celebrate my favorite month, I’m writing about what happens when horror meets romance—paranormal romance!
Although I create hot and spicy romances, I actually started out writing horror stories. For some, that might seem like an odd combination, but it works for me. One half of my brain writes the horror, and the other half writes the romance. (In fact, I just released two new horror stories this fall. You can read more about them on my site or my Amazon author page.)
I like writing horror fiction because I get to explore different settings, plots, and characters that I couldn’t develop in romance. Sometimes after working on several romances, I’ll switch moods and write a horror story to give my brain and writing muscles a change of pace.
My horror short stories are more psychological/spooky/creepy than gory, and it’s fun to add something scary (or strange!) into a romance. Sometimes it’s hard to keep a paranormal romance within bounds—you have to blend just enough horror elements into the love story without grossing out (or turning off) the heroine or hero… or readers!
Other times, the challenge to writing a good paranormal romance is creating a believable plot or finding a way to make a “monster” attractive/romantic/sexy. If one of your characters is a monster (of the non-human variety) you must believe your creature is real (whether he’s a vampire, a werewolf, or something else entirely).
If you don’t write the creature believably, readers won’t buy into it, and there certainly won’t be any sparks flying in your romance. As a writer, you need to make your monster as real as any other human character and flesh him out completely with a backstory, goals, motivation, and conflicts.
In some cases, the only way to get around the wacky idea of someone being in love with a non-human creature is to use humor. My novella, Beauty & the Bigfoot is a perfect example. Beauty & the Bigfoot sprung from a “what if” idea. What if a girl fell in love with a Sasquatch? And, what if her father was the town crackpot Bigfoot hunter? I wrote the story as a contemporary comedy (how could it not be?) and had great fun creating the oddball characters and their crazy situations.
And yes, there’s plenty of romance between Tara and her sexy Sasquatch-shifter named Joe. I’ll admit, writing the love scenes was challenging. I had to write the scenes in a way that was believable to the readers and characters, and give Tara a really good reason for giving into her animalistic desires. It must have worked, because the book got several great reviews and readers love the chemistry between the two lovebirds. The book has a “twist” ending that I won’t give away here, but “Joe” isn’t exactly what he seems…
Confessionsof a Vampire’s Lover started out with the premise “What if a vampire went to the beach and fell in love with a surfer?” The book is extra “unique” in that it’s told in first person from the male character’s point of view. I made Cassie (the vampire) sympathetic and sexy, and not overtly terrifying—yet she still flexed her vampire muscles when she wanted to. This story could have gone down the horror road and become a full-fledged vampire story, but I wanted to show a softer, kinder side to the Cassie, and embrace her once-human side.
Killerin Wolf’s Clothing is my third paranormal romance, and I almost had a problem writing the story because I’m “old-school” when it comes to creatures of the night. I expect my werewolves to be violent and vicious, and anything but cuddly. In my opinion, if a person is going to turn into a werewolf/wolf-man, he should look like the werewolves in Dog Soldiers. (A horror movie I highly recommend.)
Killerin Wolf’s Clothing is not your usual werewolf love story—readers should know that Deke, the werewolf character, doesn’t actually turn into a “wolfman”—he’s a shifter type of werewolf and transforms into a super-aggressive Alpha male. As I say in the book, “It’s more Incredible Hulk than American Werewolf in London.”
I contrasted Deke’s harsh and demanding personality with that of his gentle alter-ego Greg. Greg has an understanding of his condition and does everything he can to keep Deke suppressed. But Deke is a badass with a serious need for revenge, and the antagonist, Blayne, is just about as violent and vicious as you can get (without fangs and claws). This book was a lot of fun to write and although it’s dark in places, Larry lightens the mood with his offbeat sense of humor.
But no matter what subgenre of paranormal romance you write, readers need to be swept into the story and buy into the premise that you’ve created. Your job as a writer is to make the reader believe in the paranormal element (whether it’s a werewolf, zombie, vampire, or ghost) and take the reader on a journey with the main characters as they fall in love. The situations in the story need to be plausible and told in a way that grips the reader, even if the premise seems a bit far-fetched (at first).
When writing paranormal romance, don’t be afraid to break patterns, make your characters different, or have them go against stereotype. Give readers something unexpected, turn a cliché on its ear, or use a different point of view—it’ll make your work stand out. Why not set your werewolf story in Hawaii? Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover takes place at the beach.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at writing paranormal romances. I enjoy hearing from readers and other authors. So feel free to drop me a line with questions or comments. You can catch up on all of my writings and follow me on social media here:
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Next week I'll be sharing the October issue of my newsletter. Filled with all sorts of holiday treats!