Jan 23 2013 12:30pm

Author Alma Katsu on Paranormal Romance: Does it Still Have a Bite?

The Reckoning by Alma KatsuAuthor Alma Katsu's Taker trilogy is a dark paranormal historical, and Alma has been with us before to talk about dark historicals, so today we've asked her to H&H to discuss the other element of her writing, paranormals. The third book in the Taker trilogy, Descent, will be released in 2014. Please leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win the first two books in Alma's trilogy!* Thanks for joining us, Alma!

With contemporaries on the upswing these days, some folks are asking if we’ll see a decline in readers’ interest in paranormals. Some might say that it was impossible for the genre to maintain its fever pitch; after all, whatever goes up must come down. I may be biased as I write a paranormal series with a unique immortally myth, but I think that paranormal novels have characteristics that make them particularly suited to give readers exactly what they are looking for in a story.

A Central Character That Represents “The Dark Side”:

All paranormals have a strong central character who is part of the supernatural world, whether he’s a vampire, werewolf, or, in the case of The Taker books, a man with mysterious magical powers. It’s what gives paranormal novels their Gothic flavor and provides the story’s major tension: this strong supernatural character embodies the forbidden attraction of “the dark side.” Whether he’s the love interest or the villain, he represents the primitive, emotional, sexual side of our nature. He offers us the chance to escape from the “normal” civilized world of manners and constraints. No wonder we want to give in to temptation.

Escape From The Everyday:

Let’s face it: we live in the real world. A good book gives us a means to escape from it. Paranormal novels give readers want is a chance to have a truly extraordinary experience and to live out our—well, fantasies. Paranormal fiction promises to take the reader out—far out—of the everyday world where bills aren’t waiting to be paid and you don’t have to worry about what to make for dinner: dinner just might be a pint of O positive. And who wouldn’t want to have a lover who—like your average shapeshifter—isn’t afraid to give in to his most feral, animal tendencies?

It Allows Us to Be Bad:

Paranormal fiction allows us to indulge in the need to be bad in a way that contemporary fiction does not. In many paranormal stories, a character’s undoing is out of her control: usually she was bitten by a werewolf or turned by a vampire against her will, so how could anyone blame her? And somehow it’s easier to imagine yourself in a situation that’s completely impossible—say, being a vampire hunter with a license to kill or suddenly finding yourself bound for eternity to charming monster—than, say, stepping into the shoes of a bank robber or murderer.

Belief in a Higher Power:

Humans are hard-wired to want to believe in something more powerful than ourselves. Storytelling has its origins in myth. Our ancestors told stories around the campfire in order to explain what we didn’t understand, such as why the seasons changed, or what happened to our consciousness when we died. Religion grew out of these myths, and the beliefs we were raised on run deep in our psyches. In short, humans are programmed to believe in a hidden world that is more powerful than the one we live in. Paranormal stories are darker, richer versions of our early myths.

Now it’s your turn: do you think paranormals carry a special appeal for readers, or do you find these characteristics in all stories? What do you like best about paranormal novels? Leave a comment to be entered to win both books in The Taker series.

To enter for a chance to win a copy of each of the first two books in Alma Katsu's The Taker series, The Taker and The Reckoning, make sure you’re a registered member of the site, and then simply leave a comment about the post below.*

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 or older. To enter, fill out entry at beginning at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) January 23, 2013. Sweepstakes ends at 12:29 p.m. ET on January 30, 2013 (the “Promotion Period”). Void outside of the 50 US and DC and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules at Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010

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Christine Webber
1. ccwebber90
my interest in paranormal stories is that it brings you to a new world. it takes you away from the stress and responsibilites in daily life. when i come home and open my book i am taken away into a world of mystery, suspense, darkness and romance. In The Taker/ Reckoning, Alma takes us to an immortal love story where the dark bad guy is the love interest. In every book i read i imagine myself as the main girl character and that really helps me to get into the story and to live it. most of the time i love the book world i live in more than reality. especially in The Taker.
Jamie Brenner
2. jamieloganbrenner
The Taker was my favorite book last year (I'm now a quarter of the way into The Reckoning). These novels are brilliant and daring in that none of the characters are black and white. This trilogy weaves a thrilling story that also raises questions about the nature of romantic love, and by using paranormal elements, it takes these questions to an extreme. This is paranormal fiction at its best.
Lucy D.
3. Lucy D.
I like paranormal stories because the world building is open for anything. Is it vampires, werewolves, witches, or a mix, is it a secret society or are they out in the open, are they the guardians of humanity or the creatures that go bump in the night?

Contemporaries are great, but how many millionares are there out there who don't use condoms and eventually fall in love with that one night stand, and in Regencies, if you add up all the Dukes falling in love with poor governesses, there are more titled men in England than regular joe's.

Paranormals add a whole different level of interest to a story.
Eileen Mertens
4. EiMertens
I always think it's funny when people try to tell you that a whole genre is losing popularity or on the way out. While paranormal stories are certainly incredibly popular today, fantasy and romance are always popular. People have always loved stories about gods and goddesses and monsters of all kinds. Perhaps the romance aspect is new, but really, most great stories are about love!

I think paranormals especially are a fantastic escape from the real world but at the same time my favorite books usually are ones that have themes that everyone can relate to, like not fitting in or finding love. And who better to find love with than someone who is preternaturally gorgeous and will live forever and take you with him? :)
Dawn Roberto
5. dawn_roberto
I love finding new takes on the paranormal/urban fantasy genre. Lotsof interesting twists and tweaks that authors do and frankly the same old, sameold formaula just doesn't work with me anymore.

Got this series on my wish list now
Anne Muller
6. amuller38
I love paranormal reads. I don't think it's because I want to be bad though. I do think they allow me to imagine a larger than life, alpha hero though.
Lucy D.
7. vgm0826
Most everyone who knows me is surprised to find out that I read paranormal romance, which kind of ticks me off! LOL!! My standard line, which is so so true, is that I participate in real life every day and it's okay for me to go away for a little while!

The draw for me for paranormal, is a trip into the unknown. Paranormal allows rules to be broken, in that, they have powers, super human strength, etc., and can get out of sticky situations and take care of things differently than a hot billionaire or a hot paramilitary guy. Don't get me wrong, I love a hot billionaire and a hot paramilitary (the list could go on and on), but paranormal is my get away. It is something that I can do solely for me and I don't give a damned who's surprised by it!!! =)

Great article, by the way!!
Amber Belldene
8. AmberBelldene
Hi Alma! I've been meaning to read The Taker for a while now--it sounds so unique.

I love this post! I write paranormal because I like the way I can take an abstract theme or idea and make it concrete in a paranormal world, and up the stakes for the characters. I don't think I will never stop reading it. But I do look for fresh ideas, and worlds, and voices. When I don't have one on my list, I am happy to read a historical or a contemporary, and I think there's some wonderful crossfertilization of my imagination by reading many types of books. Books that could stand up in several genres at once are my favorite!
Lucy D.
9. tadyena
I love paranormal for the same reason the others mentioned. For me it let's my imaganation go wild. There is nothing that is not possible, and for me that is a wonderful concept.
Kathy Fannon
10. Kathy F
This book has been teasing the edge of my consciouness for some time. I would love a chance to find out if it meets expectations.
Jocelyn Barnette
11. Jrbarnette
These books have just showed up on my radar and are on my TBR list. I'd love to win!
Lucy D.
12. Iris Sachs
I enjoy paranormal when the created world is believable, even when you know it is not. They allow your mind to run free.
Ronni Graff
13. ronnig
Most good fiction requires a leap of faith, an extraordinary coincidence, unusual event or singular character. Why not paranormal romance? Didn't several of 2012's best selling books feature Heaven, God and Jesus. If we want to read about Heaven, why not Hell? If there are angels, how about demons? BTW, I'm a CPA and I read paranormal romance so nobody is too logical, rational etc. to enjoy the genre. I'd love to read The Taker trilogy.
Traci Groves
Thank you for giving me a escape from my everyday hum drum life to a exciting paranormal romance story. I'm a addict! This is the only genre I now read.
Lucy D.
15. Joyce S.
I read it for the escape.. My sister in law turned me onto it a few years back and I have never looked back.. The funny thing is I fought her for years about not reading vampire books. I read all things but to just "go away" for awhile I want me some vamps, weres, shifters and also dragons!!!
Kat Bernard
16. Abforth
Well if it's on its way out, it's taking its time! I've been reading paranormal romance since I was a teenager. I vividly remember finding L J Smith's Nightworld series and devouring them. I was hooked from age 13, and imagine my surprise on entering womanhood to find that were adult books too! (I'm 28 now.) I love the lack of limit and definition. I am at heart a scientist, but I love myth, legend and ghosts. I love falling in love with characters and new worlds, all the better if they're mystical and the impossible can happen. The world can be such a wearing place; so many demands, limits and expectations. Yet in novels I can be that princess learning to wield a sword against a dragon, only to find the dragon is a man ready to sweep away my heart.
Alma Katsu
17. AlmaKatsu
Great answers guys--keep them coming! I love that you are unapologetic about feeding and following your imaginations and are unafraid to go where they take you.
18. kimmieb
Paranormal romance is the little extra oomph given to my romance reading ;)
Lucy D.
19. lvj1
Imagination, imagination, imagination! The authors of urban fantasy, paranormal romances, etc. have elevated their art of story telling - usually a love story (must have one) by going one or two more steps deeper into their resources. They build worlds! Again, they build worlds. I think many of the readers are so expectant and jaded that the world building is so unappreciated. Most of those facinating worlds come from within - not history or sci-fi movies. I love the art of world building. While not all worlds work out for all authors, the fact that they've even tried is admiralble. Anyone can set something in Highland Scotland or in a an average Regency romance, or downtown NY, but the time paid to the worlds gives the stories that extra attraction for me. Can't beat a fully realized imagination. Love it!
Laura Hondl
20. zora6807
these both are on my TBR list. can't wait to dive into them!
Tamara Peterson
22. navywife001
I love the whole alpha male thing that is common in paranormal romance. I love that I can let my imagination run wild!
Lucy D.
23. Maanika B.
I think the main reason I read paranormal is to escape from reality for a while. I grew up reading high fantasy, and while I still like aspects of that - the magic, for example - so many of the stories are overly complicated, loaded down with locations and what feels like casts of thousands. Sometimes that's nice, but now that I'm older and don't have as much time to myself, I want something I can relax into, with a handful or so of characters I can grow to love or hate, while still incorporating touches of fantasy.
24. Sable677
I love paranormal reads because I love exploring new worlds. They are a great escape and anything can happen.
Lucy D.
25. Sarah k
I like paranormal romance because it takes you to another world, and I always enjoy the different worlds that authors create . And there are usually strong heroes that fight for those that can't .
Sarah Stultz
26. RVASarah
Maanika: Like you, I got into PRs for the escape but stayed for the world-building and, for me, the action and the Alphas (both male & female).
Some of my favorite characters are the strong (physically or mentally), the snarky, and the initially unattainable. I connect with those characteristics. Are those things possible in contemporaries? Yes. But I don't want to be close to reality when I read. I want to be able to use my imagination to shape the worlds being described.
Jennifer Walter
27. jlc341
I think paranormal romances let you go anywhere and everywhere. The women (on average) tend to be stronger characters and there are limitless possibilities. I read comtemporary romances too, but have a special place in my heart for paranormal ones. I have a hard time with historicals since the reality of the times wouldn't allow for how things go in most of them. At least with paranormal, you can be free to suspend disbelief and believe in anything being possible. I love to escape reality and learn about the author's new world.
Riley Moreland
28. ramore
I read to get a break from reality. Paranormal is pretty far from reality, so it and I are a good match!
30. Kareni
I think it's the "What if ...?" nature of the paranormal that draws me in.

Your books are on my mile high to be read pile, Alma. They look intriguing!
Donna Simmonds
31. donnas
I love paranormals. They give you that break from RL problems we all have to deal with everyday. They give us a chance to play in the unbelievable for at least a little while
Jena Briars
32. CutMyTeethOnKleypas
I get way more "emotionally invested" in paranormals. It feels like the universe turns upside down. Heroes die and then get revived by Fae queens. Creatures lurking in every page. Tons of action. And endless possibilities. I love it. And if/when I DO get weepy during historicals or contemporaries, it's usually along the lines of "Awww, how sweet!" *sniff*sniff* but with Paranormals - it usually a full on sob (snot bubbles, choppy breathing, and possible hiccups) - thinking of those sad scenes with Rhage and Mary. It's just those little details that bring the paranormals back to reality and it totally destroys me every time. In a good way. :)
Brenda Leon
33. Bonita62
Paranormals give me a very different feeling when reading. I am taken to a place I know not possible. I think that is why I love reading them. I like to escape the normal and go far beyond what we do and see and be every day.
Lucy D.
34. Liz S
I enjoyed your post. I admit to reading PNR for the escape factor. I want something fun to occupy my mind when I read, even if it is dark, because
I know it is not real.
Allison Hickman
35. AllisonHickman
I love your take on why we read them which makes me think I'd really enjoy your books!
I agree, I read mainly as an escape & how much more can you escape than to go to another world or an alternate history? It is fun to imagine what the world would be like if supernaturals/paranormals existed & the best way to do that is to read!
For me movies about these types of beings don't quite work the same way, there is always a part of me that is aware I am watching a movie. With books I can completely immerse myself & forget about regular life.
Denise Garofalo
36. denise99
Reading a paranormal fiction is like taking a short, pleasant vacation from reality, where "others" such as weres, vampires, magicusers, etc. are a part of the mix. The plot possibilities are endless, and I find this genre of fiction less 'formulamatic' than Regency romances, contemporary thrillers, etc.
Elizabeth Halliday
37. Ibbitts
In fiction, I read a lot of differant genres: historical romance, urban fantasy, science fiction, mystery, humorous contemporary, but still #1 for me is paranormal romance. I have plenty of real life in my real life. When I curl up with a book, I want to slide into a differant world, and PNR allows me to do just that!
Melissa Keith
38. MelK
I love Paranormals! And I do think they hold a very special appeal for readers. The idea of becoming involved with a vampire or werewolf brings out the wildness and freedom we all crave. And that first bite from a vampire is always written as a thrilling and exotic 'kiss'. Seems the otherwordly can make us feel as though we will live on forever in eternal bliss!
Kate Sanborn
39. LestatLover
I prefer to read Paranormals because there is always a different take on something I have heard or read before. The idea of something (a world, a group of people, or a new mindset) that is out of the norm/this world is always going to capture interests either by making someone think about what is being said in a good way or by making someone have general opposing thoughts. Either way the Paranormal topic will always garner interest and keep people entertained and interested. I will always read paranormal books from romance to the scientific thought about whether or no paranormal beings, entities, or worlds are possible.
L Lee
42. lwl8
I love paranormal romances as they offer a different spin on the world around us.
Lucy D.
43. A. J. Larrieu
Fantastic post. I agree with everything you've said, especially your first point, that a paranormal being can represent our dark side. The reason I love reading (and writing) paranormals is that the supernatural creature can embody some slippery, primal aspect of our psyche: fear, lust, anger. It gives us a way to take that difficult emotion, make it real and physical, and then deal with it. It's much easier to stake a vampire than it is to deal with our own fear of death. The sub-trends may come and go, but I think paranormal fiction will never really truly die out.
Denise Carlson
44. nqdenise
I like paranormal fiction as a change of pace. I hope I'm not insulting anyone here, but I'd worry about someone who is reading it exclusively.
45. faeriemyst
I've enjoyed paranormal tales all my life and I can't really tell you why exactly. It might be the mystery, the romance, the darkness, the fantasy, the unexpected, or most likely, all of the above. :) The paranormal has been around hundreds if not thousands of years, and I don't see it going away, but evolving.
Lisa Dalesandro
46. mswink07
I'm pretty sure that the genre will stand the test of time - after all, what are the ancient Greek and Roman Myths about? You had Gods, Goddesses, demi-Gods, supernatural creatures like cyclops, minotaurs, sirens, and whatever the heck Medusa was - romance, tragedy, tortured heroes...none of it ever goes out of style! (Thank goodness ~ *wink*)
Sherri Bailey
47. sherri19
I love paranormal stories because they take me to a fantasy world...somewhere I can escape from the everyday troubles in life. Plus, I am a believer in spirits that roam our world.
Ace Maimone
48. aceafter9
Most importantly no matter how tough the heroine/or hero they must have true empathy for the surrounding characters and the results of their actions. Otherwise they are only boring cardboard cutouts.
kathy pease
51. klp1965
Thank you for the great giveaway please count me in :)
Lori Walker
52. iggysaysno
I read to take a few minutes away from real life stress.
Connie SInclair
54. emeraldever
Paranormal romances can be excellent but there are some really bad ones out there. I have found that if you like stuff by a certian author you will like most of thier books. I like Kenyon but don't like her Fire, Ice etc series. Everything else I can't wait to read. I like Morning, Sands and Chapman.
Heather Cowley
61. choochoo
An escape does sound good. Looking forward to the break.
Lucy D.
62. Coriander Warren
I'm an avid reader of all different "genres" of books. I like Paranormal and Horror the best though. This book sounds like it would suck me in and have me hooked right away! Great Contest!
Susan Smoaks
63. susansmoaks
i love your website and i love entering to win, it's my birthday today so i would love it if you chose me!
becky moe
65. beckymmoe
I find paranormals intriguing--the idea that they're in a world that often seems like ours on the surface yet underneath is so wholly different--it's fascinating and fun to read about. They also make a nice break from straight contemporaries and historicals; definite pure escapism!
Ieshea Altrock
70. Iesheabeast
I am an avid reader with over 5000 books so of course paranormal romance has got to sneak in there somewhere I just can't help it.
thank you
Joan Boose
71. joan.boose
Yes! A double escape from reality into romance. OH YEA! Please and Thank You :)
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