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 released two horror stories last fall, Kropsy’s Curse and Dead Til Dawn. 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. (What kind of monster is he? How did he get that way? What is life like for him?)
My contemporary paranormal, Confessions of 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 Anya (the vampire) sympathetic and sexy, and not overtly terrifying—yet she still flexed her vampire muscles when she wanted to. This story could have easily gone down the horror road and become a full-fledged vampire story, but I wanted to show a softer, kinder side to the Anya and embrace her once-human side.
My gay paranormal, Killer in Wolf’s Clothing is not your usual werewolf love story. Readers should know that Deke, the “werewolf” character, doesn’t actually turn into a “wolf-man”—he’s more of a shapeshifter who transforms into a super-aggressive Alpha male during the full moon. As I say in the book, “It’s more Incredible Hulk than American Werewolf in London.”
I almost had a problem writing Killer in Wolf’s Clothing 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.)
As I wrote the book, I contrasted Deke’s harsh and demanding personality with that of his gentle alter-ego Greg. Greg understands 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). I enjoyed writing this story, and although it’s dark in places, Larry (Greg’s boyfriend) lightens the mood with his offbeat sense of humor.
Killer in Wolf’s Clothing is not your typical werewolf or werewolf/shifter romance. Some people might have a problem or take issue with the subject matter, the use of humor, and/or my treatment of shifters (what they expect a shifter to be could be quite different from my interpretation) in this book. Yes, it’s very different. Yes, it’s graphic. And yes, you either “get” it or you don’t.
The Viking’s Witch is a historical romance with paranormal elements set in Scotland in 803 A.D. The heroine, Odaria, is what they called a witch back then—nowadays we’d call her a psychic and a healer. Odaria’s “magic” is the catalyst that sets the story in motion. When the book opens, Odaria is about to be burned alive for being a witch. She calls down a spell and curses the villagers while unknowingly invoking a Viking raid. Or so it seems…
Odaria uses her “powers” for self-preservation and to get revenge on the people who hurt her. Rothgar (the hero) doesn’t believe in her “magic” and thinks she’s merely pretending to be a witch to frighten people. But after a highly-charged interaction with Brennan (the villain), Rothgar gets a taste of what Odaria could really do if she set her mind to it.
I loved showing readers (and Rothgar) Odaria’s powers of clairvoyance, telekinesis, and psychometry. The scenes that included the “magic” elements were a lot of fun to write. I’ve always been interested in psychic phenomena and other New Age/paranormal subjects, so it was easy for me to incorporate what I know into Odaria’s character.
Vampires, shapeshifters, witches… 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?
Order Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover here:
Order Killer in Wolf’s Clothing here:
Order The Viking’s Witch here:
Other platforms: http://medallionpress.com/books/the-vikings-witch/
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at paranormal romances. I like hearing from readers, 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:
Medallion Press Author Page: http://medallionpress.com/author/kelli-wilkins/
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Next week, I'll be sharing a look at my two horror ebooks, Kropsy's Curse and Dead Til Dawn.