To celebrate the publication of The Reckoning, I am pleased to welcome author Alma Katsu on to the blog.
Shades of Paranormal: From Ghost Stories to Urban Fantasy
In the broadest sense paranormal is to normal what supernatural is to natural: it’s the realm of what goes on outside the world we know. That’s a pretty big canvas, ranging from ghost stories (like the work of Australian author John Harwood, who wrote The Séance and The Ghost Writer) to Gothic (such as Australian author Kate Morton, who wrote The Distant Hours and The Forgotten Garden) to paranormal romance and urban fantasy, which is what most people think of these days when you use the term “paranormal fiction”.
Paranormal is a very flexible genre, too. It plays well with other genres, and authors continue to come up with interesting and imaginative variations. Look at Charlaine Harris and the Sookie Stackhouse novels, combining paranormal with mystery and Southern Gothic; Laurell Hamilton’s Anita Blake vampire hunter series. Which combine the supernatural with aspects of thrillers and suspense.
One of the reasons supernatural appeals to readers is that there’s a lot of truth told in supernatural stories. Look at fairy tales: as children we sense the truth that can be told in a fairy tale that can’t be said aloud. Fairy tales admit that there are monsters, that sometimes privileged people aren’t very nice (like evil stepsisters), and that terrible things happen that are not your fault. That’s one reason I like to write about the supernatural: you’re allowed to tell dark truths that some people find too shocking to take straight-up.
In The Taker novels, I combine historical with the supernatural, going back to the different time periods my characters lived through, from the medieval period to the present day. My novels—The Taker and The Reckoning, which just came out—follow the story of a young woman who gets involved with a man with mysterious, otherworldly powers, including the power to grant eternal life. She uses this power to try to keep a faithless lover bound to her forever, only to discover she’s damned them both. The books follow her attempt to save both their souls. The Taker trilogy is about the sometimes dangerous power of love and how each of us must learn to love responsibly.
My writing tends to be more about the unknown, the big questions we all have: why are we here? What is the meaning of life? What happens after we die? And of course, what would you do for love? I like to write about magic and the supernatural to explore the unseen world. There are things that happen that we can’t explain. Over the centuries, we’ve tried different ways to try to make sense of these things. We’ve turned to religion, now science. But myth and magic have always been there, too.
Now that I’ve given you my opinion of the boundaries of supernatural fiction, it’s your turn: do you agree or disagree with my description? what are your favourite sub-genres of paranormal fiction? Your favourite authors? Your favourite books?
The Reckoning was published on the 31st of January 2013 by Arrow.
To find out more about Alma Katsu: