Just how many different types of supernatural beings have you encountered over the last year? In paranormal, it seems, even those bloodsucking, sun-fearing, garlic-hating vampires are run of the mill. And there are more and more paranormal books crowding the shelves; apparently we readers can’t get enough, and now that Hollywood has jumped on board, the entire genre is realizing the biggest boom since Bela Lugosi did his thing as Dracula in 1931.
I acquire at least 30 paranormal books—sometimes 40—a month, and I certainly don’t get everything that’s out there. The most recent creatures to join my mile-long stack are the winged vampire warriors in Caris Roane’s Ascension.One must wonder, as I did, whether—with all the paranormal activity running around our literary world—any condition or affliction could possibly remain unexplored? We’ve pretty much run amuck with the supernatural characters—from shapeshifters to were-panthers to tales of Wiccan and incubi. So what’s next? There are only so many beings that can be dreamed up and in so many different circumstances—right?
No, apparently not! Thankfully, there are a plethora of writers available with plenty of material and new possibilities on the horizon. The newest entry in the supernatural being pantheon are characters with disabilities, according to Romantic Times (Sept. 2010).
Characters with disabilities have long been a trope in other romance genres, and now they are making their way over to the paranormal, supernatural side of things. Arguably, the paranormal character could technically be construed as having a virus of sorts, as our Sookie Stackhouse series Vampires would have you believe, but in whatever world they belong to, they are quite the opposite of disabled. They are significantly “abled” in contrast.
As writers cast the box aside and think in totally new terms, readers may find more of physically challenged human protagonists to feed our need and paranormal thirst (Ahem—pardon the not-so-obvious vampiric pun).
In Susan Krinard’s paranormal historical novel To Catch A Wolf, released in 2003, Krinard’s heroine Athena is a wealthy, physically handicapped heiress who meets her polar opposite in Morgan, the wolf man of a traveling circus. What they have in common, however, is that they are both werewolves. Athena’s disabilities—in both werewolf and handicapped senses—are integral to the book, and make her character vibrant to the reader. Remember Ascension from earlier? From what you can gather from the video clip, the main character, Alison Wells, places men in grave danger by making love to them. . . . Surely, that has to be considered some type of disability.
The fact is, many of our heroes and heroines from recent years are less godlike and a tad more grounded in reality. These new protagonists are considerably more relatable with everything from socioeconomic issues to low self-esteem to paraplegia. Readers find themselves able to connect with the character on a more personal level than ever before—after all, everyone has a few character foibles, if not outright disabilities. We like reading about people who are like us—even if they also happen to be able to fly, or read minds, or whatever. The number of books in the paranormal genre featuring characters with some form or level of disability is bound to rise, and is breathing new life into the paranormal genre.