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08 October 2007

Paranormal Historicals?


A girlfriend and I recently took a road trip . . . and for writers that means one thing: plotting. She’s working on a paranormal series that will include both historical “foundation” books as well as contemporary “urban fantasy” books. Obviously this means lots and lots and lots of world building. Since my friend also happens to be a huge history buff, she’s working hard to tie all the paranormal aspects in to historical events, people, civilizations in ways that makes them seem “natural”.

We were both jazzed when I figured out an historical basis for the names of the first paranormal generation and then found linked ones for the various houses and talents that descend from them. Once I got into the spirit of the thing, it was actually quite fun to plot something so different from my own books.

The history buff in me is fascinated. Just watching how her mind works inspires me (in fact, on the drive home we dreamed up a paranormal series for me—we’ll see if it ever sees the light of day). So I guess my rather simple question today is, as readers, how do you feel about historical paranormals? Do you like them to be closely tied to actual history (where the paranormal would have to be “hidden”)? Do books that are clearly set in an “alternative” history work best for you (where the paranormal is open and known)?

11 Comments:

Anonymous Angela said...

I recently watched a video on YouTube about "the history of the slayer" and got excited over the thought of someone writing a paranormal series dealing with a slayer in the past, the role of women in society, myths, and such--sort of in the vein of Ariana Franklin's awesome "Mistress of the Art of Death".

I find history, the history of women, and the history of mythos and legends to be so rich and rife with potential stories of that kind that I wonder why no one has done it yet! Considering the fact that religion and superstitious were such a huge part of everyday life in the past, a paranormal/urban fantasy historical could work--provided that it feels "organic" and rooted in some form of reality instead of feeling overwhelmingly like an alternate universe.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Tracy Grant said...

I love books with richly worked out past histories (I like this in nonparanormals too; I love working out the histories of past generations of the families in my Regency-set books; I find I often have to think a lot through just to work out how their estate would have changed through the years :-). I think either a hidden paranormal world witin the real world or an alternate history paranormal world could work well, if it was well grounded. A lot for me would have to do with the present-day stories. Are they set in today's world with a "paranormal underground" or in an alternate reality version of today's world?

11:05 AM  
Blogger Amanda Elyot said...

My novel BY A LADY: Being the Adventures of an Englightened American in Jane Austen's England is a historical paranormal, because the premise is a time travel (both ways for the main character) between 21st c. NYC and Bath, England in 1801. Apart from the time travel element as a paranormal device or conceit, it's pretty much a historical in terms of the way Bath and its residents are portrayed. But it's a fish-out-of-water tale for the central character, who does spend some time in my city and our century, so maybe BY A LADY is a "paranormal histemporary"

11:09 AM  
Blogger Gabriele C. said...

I'd like to see some historical paranormals.

In fact, I had some ideas for one myself, but when I integrated Eagle of the Sea into the trilogy, I took the selkies and werewolves out and made it plain historical fiction. But who knows, I may yet write a story with werewolves in the Roman army. Or among their German opponents. :)

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Belinda Kroll said...

I read MJ Putney's "Stolen Magic" a couple of years ago, and I loved it. That has a steady historical background and a definite magic flair. Same with A Mankind Witch by Dave Freer. Historical paranormals are fun.

I mean, think of it in terms of mysticism, fantasy, paranormal occurences... people used to believe in that stuff all of the time. If you didn't believe in it, people thought you were odd! So I find historical paranormals natural and fun to read. I mean, the Victorians were obsessed with death, so how could there not be a few ghosts lurking around?

2:04 PM  
Blogger Kalen Hughes said...

The more I knock around my paranormal idea, the more I like it . . . I may just have to give in and write the proposal. *grin*

4:36 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Libba Bray does wonderful historical paranormal YA novels set in a boarding school in Victorian England, and then this other realm that can only be entered into by certain people. It's wonderful the way that she uses history along with the paranormal elements. Amber Benson and Christopher Golden also did a series called the Ghosts of Albion which deals with a brother and sister who are the protectors of Albion from the paranormal world and the ghosts of Bryon, Boudicca and Lord Nelson assist them.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

I love it when the real mysticism of the era is layered into a good Victorian or Medieval. ;-)

It adds such realism!

7:15 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

I love historical paranormals. The inherent disbelief of contemporary times does not exist. The connection to the spiritual and the veil between people and the mystical is far closer than it is today. Not to mention all of that lovely architecture and atmosphere with which to work!!

8:56 PM  
Blogger AndreaW said...

*waving madly* Oooo, I like paranormal historicals, too! Kalen, I say write that proposal! LOL!

~Andrea

7:56 AM  
Blogger Victoria Dahl said...

Wait just one minute. YOU thinking about writing a PARANORMAL?!?! I think the devil may have just strapped on his first pair of ice skates. *huge grin*

I can't wait!

9:26 AM  

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