Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Question Time (Wherein I steal a Good Question)--veinglory

A question from Bianca D'Arc over at Beyond the Veil:

"I'd really appreciate some opinions on this as it's been bothering me for quite a while. How do you all think of urban fantasy romance? Does it require "gritty" death scenes on every other page? Does it require a writer to absolutely TORTURE (and I mean TORTURE) their main characters? Or can it possibly have a less bloody death toll and some characters who actually end up truly happy? Or must every supporting character be blown away like a "red shirt" on Star Trek?"

My take on it is that there is a long tradition of 'angst' and 'h/c' fic in other genres and it is really crossing over pretty hard into urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Personally I kind of like it so long as it is done with some finesse rather than overt masochism by proxy.

7 comments:

Moira Rogers - Bree said...

I don't like clumsy slaughter, but I also roll my eyes at a universe where I'm told that everything is SUPER dangerous, omg no, the horrorz...and yet the hero(ine)'s 128 closest friends never suffer more than a boo-boo.

Angie said...

My issue with urban fantasy right now is that the genre is defining itself down to about the size of a quarter. Urban fantasy was originally a modern-day magical story taking place in a city or town environment. There you go. Think Charles DeLint or some of Mercedes Lackey's work back in the eighties. Nowadays, it "has" to be gritty and bloody, it "has" to have a female protag (although this is obviously not the case in m/m, it's true the vast majority of the time on the het or genre fantasy side) and I'm seeing more that "have" to be all chic and hip and throw around designer names every other line.

If people like this kind of stuff, then that's fine. I don't like seeing the genre contracting to the point where a character like Lackey's Tannim (for example) is squeezed out of it. Heck, if the urban-chic trend keeps growing, even Harry Dresden won't fit eventually, which is ridiculous.

To answer the actual question [cough] I don't mind a lot of blood and deaths if that's what the story itself requires, but I don't think a story should need to have a high body-count to qualify as urban fantasy.

Angie

Linda Mooney said...

My issue with urban fantasy right now is that the genre is defining itself down to about the size of a quarter. Urban fantasy was originally a modern-day magical story taking place in a city or town environment. There you go.

Amen, Angie. I write urban fantasy, but none of it "fits" the definition that the genre's been pared down to. Yet I've been told my books are not "real" UFs.

It reminds me a lot of what's happened to the paranormal genre. Vamps and were-beasts are paranormal elements, but paranormal stories aren't JUST about Vs and Ws.

Angie said...

Vamps and were-beasts are paranormal elements, but paranormal stories aren't JUST about Vs and Ws.

Also very true. [nod] What's up with this stuff? I have a hard time imagining that any writer, or any creative professional period, would be all eager to see their freedom within their genre contract, so who the heck is responsible for this crap? :/ It doesn't seem to be the publishers -- I have an urban fantasy short out set in Griffith Park (which is about as rural as you can get in greater LA) and nary a mention of a designer label [eyeroll], and a paranormal novelette with a ghost instead of a vamp or were, so the publishers are still taking stories outside the new, tighter definitions. (Or at least my publisher is, and yours is too.) Is it the readers demanding only X or Y? Is it actually some group of writers...?

Whoever it is, I wish they'd knock it off.

Angie

December/Stacia said...

There's not a were, vamp, or designer label to be found in Caitlin Kittredge's upcoming STREET MAGIC (June)--which also features male POV as much as female--or in my UNHOLY GHOSTS coming in October.

Personally I think we're riding the crest of the UFs with those elements, and the genre is about to expand again and become a lot more variable, not less.

Angie said...

Stacia -- from your keyboard to the publishing gods' ears. :)

Angie

Moira Rogers - Bree said...

The book my writing partner and I have coming out from Samhain next week has been classified as both Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. It's written in 3rd person with a hero and heroine POV, but the conflict and adventure is heroine-centric. We've got wizards, psychics, shapeshifters and a distinct lack of vampires. The violence is also low, though important and beloved characters aren't spared a death sentence just because they're nice.

So what that says...I can't tell you. LOL That we're walking on a genre edge? That the lack of designer labels or a heroine with a gun made it less pure urban fantasy? That the presence of the hero's POV made it paranormal romance?

I just know I'm glad I got to write what I wanted, though I recognize that if I had tried to sell this book to NY instead of a small publisher who can take a chance on a wider genre range, I might not be excitedly anticipating a release right now.