The Dark Corners of Fiction: Lovecraft’s Effect

What does it really mean to be Lovecraftian? This week I’m delighted to host a guest post by historian-turned-novelist Kathryn Troy, who has just released her dark romantic fantasy novel A Vision in Crimson. Her historical expertise in the supernatural and the Gothic informs her fiction at every turn, and she’s stopping by on her blog tour to take a look at the influence of Lovecraft on speculative fiction:

Howard Phillips Lovecraft is one of the most influential authors in American literature. His craft, his universe, his subject matter and underlying themes are so pervasive in speculative fiction—fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and everything in between—that his impact is seen and heard the world over, even when it isn’t recognized as such.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a speculative fiction author today who doesn’t know who Lovecraft is, or doesn’t attribute him with having at least a modicum of influence over their own writing. But what does it really mean to be Lovecraftian? Continue reading

How Long Should a Fantasy Book Be?

It’s a question often asked by aspiring authors wondering if their manuscript is several thousand words too long or short, but it’s also an intriguing one for readers to consider: is there an ideal length for a fantasy novel?

Every book is different and for any suggested word or page count you see, you are likely to encounter several popular fantasy books that are outside of it. Nonetheless, as someone who reads a lot in the genre and has also submitted work to competitions, agents and publishers, I thought I’d tackle this topic from three different perspectives:

  • how long popular published fantasy novels are,
  • how long the industry (agents, publishers, competitions) prefers them to be,
  • how long readers prefer them to be.

Continue reading

10 Common Mistakes I See in Paranormal Romance and YA Fantasy Writing

Last week, I discussed some common “fatal flaws” that might make me give up on an epic high fantasy novel, rate it poorly, or even avoid reading it in the first place. This week I’ve decided to do the same thing for paranormal romanceYA and urban fantasy novels, because I enjoy reading these genres as well, and I’ve found the problems I encounter in them usually differ to those I encounter in traditional epic high fantasy.

So here are 10 key things that will often turn me off a paranormal romance or YA fantasy (genres I normally like!): Continue reading

17 Common Fantasy Sub-Genres

The fantasy genre is rich with a myriad of sub-genres, and each has its own conventions and trends. With the different terms floating around out there it can be easy to confuse or overlook key sub-genres. Finding a succinct list of the most notable ones – particularly a list with definitions and examples – is not always straightforward. So I thought I’d put my reading and researching to use and assemble one. Continue reading

5 Ways Weddings Are Used in Fantasy Novels

So I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front for a few months, namely because I got married and moved countries. Needless to say, both endeavours took up a decent amount of my time, so I’m going to shamelessly use them as my excuse!

All that wedding planning, however, inspired me to start up again with a wedding-themed post: how are nuptials usually handled in fantasy novels? Continue reading

Resolving Sexual Tension in a Paranormal or Fantasy Romance Series

I’m having a dilemma at the moment. I’m working on a manuscript, and while I’m nearing the end of it, I can already see that it is too long. And not just a little too long. It’s more than 100,000 words too long. The prospect of editing it down to a reasonable size is nothing short of terrifying.

When I mentioned this to a friend they said, “why don’t you just make it two books?” Continue reading

Accepting the Existence of Magic

If you’re a paranormal fantasy reader you might find this scenario familiar:

The main character, Mary Sue, has finally cottoned on to the fact that things around her aren’t quite what they seem. In fact, things are getting downright weird. The various laws that govern time and space and normality in her world are breaking to pieces around her. In short, she’s encountering the supernatural… either that or she’s just mad. This is a fantasy novel, however, so you can be 99% sure it’s not madness.

The trouble is, Mary Sue continues to insist that she is mad. Continue reading

Sex Scenes in Fantasy Novels: When Do They Work?

Growing up, most of the fantasy novels I read didn’t have sex scenes. Perhaps they had a little romance, maybe some kissing, but nothing I would classify as a proper sex scene, or even an illusion to a sex scene. A few, of course, did have scenes that were a little raunchy… but I remember finding those awkward and out of place. Continue reading

Public Declarations of Love: Fantasy Romance vs Romantic Comedy

Image: kiss scene from the film Never Been Kissed

So I just got back from Germany last week – a trip home that unfortunately involved about 22 hours in a plane. Most of those hours were spent in an awkward half-sleep fostering a sizeable collection of neck cramps. The rest were spent bingeing on movies.

On flights, I usually find myself watching one of three things: romantic comedies, Bollywood epics, or YA fantasy films… because these are things I enjoy, but also simply because my boyfriend point-blank refuses to watch them with me. Those hours of solitary viewing are a chance for an uninterrupted dose of romance, melodrama, and teenage heartbreak, without any judgemental eyes looking on.

Continue reading

Please, No More Love Triangles

I’ll be honest, it has to be a brilliant, addictive, or particularly unique paranormal romance to tempt me to read beyond the first book. Even then, I’m hesitant. And it’s not because I don’t enjoy the genre. I love a well-crafted supernatural romance. I’m not even turned off by the copious vampires and werewolves. Sure, I’ve seen a lot of them, but if they’re done well, they’re still enthralling.

The reason for my hesitance is that I’m thoroughly sick of love triangles. Continue reading