Why Did I Choose To Focus On Paranormal Romance For My First Self-Published Novel?
I’ve had a string of conversations about writing since I took my first leap into self-publishing. One question that often comes up is why I chose to focus on paranormal romance. I just don’t look like the type of person who could come up with such steamy content. As romance goes, paranormal is kind of ‘no-holds-barred’ in the sex arena. I guess it’s because I’m a bit of a jump into the deep end sort of person. I seldom take the easy path. Besides, I’ve always thought that escapism is the primary goal of reading romance. And you don’t get much more escapist than an entirely different realm populated by an entirely different species.
As a writer, one of the greatest rewards is having the ability to create your own ideal world and design the characters who will inhabit it. You put the words into their mouths and the emotions into their hearts. It’s a godlike feeling. The trick is to do this in a way that is convincing to the reader. Which is where personal experience comes into the picture. As an editor, when offering advice to aspiring writers, I’ve always emphasized the importance of starting with what you know.
Personally, I love forensic crime mysteries. I’ve read every Cornwall and Kellermann ever published. But I have absolutely no experience in forensic pathology or psychology. The amount of research I’d need to do to make my stories even remotely readable would make the process prohibitive. Part of me would probably always feel like a bit of a fraud anyway. So, what do I know well? Feelings – I’m pretty good at identifying them, I’m great at describing them. Romance is all about feelings. You want to get into your reader’s heart and really make them feel the moment. I love doing that. Romance became the obvious choice.
When you start dabbling in self-publishing, one thing that will become clear pretty quickly is that traditional genres are no longer simple. Romance is a multilayered, complex genre. Gone are the days of “boy meets girl, they fall in love, overcome some small trial or tribulation, and then live happily ever after”.
Actually, those days aren’t gone – they’ve simply become more complicated. Now, ‘boy’ might be a billionaire with control issues and ‘girl’ might be a feisty career woman who hates being controlled – but secretly loves the idea of being tied up. (Admit it, you read that book). Or she could be the daughter of a mafia lord who owes a debt to a rival family, so he sells her to the rival boss’s son to satisfy his deviant desires. That’s an actual thing…I’m not kidding.
Troops of Tropes
I discovered that these variations to a genre are referred to as tropes – which is confusing to me, because when I was just a baby journo, a trope was more of a metaphoric technique. However, in my new publishing journey, it appears to refer to a subset within a specific genre…and there is one for every taste. Seriously! If you can imagine something, there’s a storyline for it. A bit like when porn exploded on the web and suddenly we were seeing websites for everything from regular nookie to people who liked seeing teddybears in chains.
But back to my choice of genre. I’ll admit it had a lot to do with the advice of a friend who writes steamy paranormal series focusing on hot alpha males. Aside from loving her books, it dawned on me that I live in a male-dominated household. With the exception of my spaniel, Chloe, I’m the only female in the house. And my men are not ‘easy’. With an alpha-male husband and two sons who take after their father, the testosterone levels are so high I imagine there’s a shimmering haze of masculinity over my house that’s visible from space.
Surrounded by Resources
It made perfect sense for me to write romance featuring macho male characters. I have daily interactions that provide material for my writing. On top of this, my husband is a Harley-riding, ex-special forces, ex-MMA fighter, ex-bodyguard, bushpilot who undertakes interesting missions into high-risk regions for projects I don’t ask about. He’s also 6’2”, built like a tank and covered in tattoos. No really, I’m not joking. Nor am I bragging – even tough guys lose their keys, gripe if you use their razor, and snore like chainsaws. Anyhow, I love him. And I can pretty much use him as a blueprint for the main male characters for almost every popular romance trope trending at the moment.
He’s not aware of it, but almost all of our conversations are stored away in my little mental filing cabinet for future use in some scene. I do it with everyone I meet, to be honest. And in my opinion, here is the most valuable resource that we have as writers.
Regardless of the genre you choose, the best fiction is based on real situations, even when we’re writing about some fantastic alternate realm. Readers want to connect with something that makes sense to them. Even if your characters defy every other rule of science or nature, if they have quirks that are real and relatable, readers will probably click with them.
Of course, this is all easier said than done and if I get it right, I’ll let you know. Or you can take a glance through my book and see if I’m on the right track.
Brigitte Billings writes under the penname BE Brouillard. If you enjoy steamy paranormal romance (and you’re not her mom), you can check out her first book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089H18568 If you like it, please leave a review, and then look out for the next one…it’s going to be even better!
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