TW: Teratophila and some sexual mentions.
Paranormal romance has been around since 1764, when the Gothic novels started to appear, with Bram Storker’s internal homophobia and outward xenophobia cementing the vampire as a terrifying yet seducing figure. However the true element of romance didn’t appear until Ann Radcliff started writing gothics, specially The Mysteries of Udolpho.
In the present this genre is rather infamous in the already ostracized romance genre (read: When people sh*t on YA romance) despite how common “paranormal romances” tend to appear in popular texts.
For clarity the definition I’m using for paranormal romance is when a character -or all the characters in the relationship- is not entirely human or non-human.
Think of The Little Mermaid for example in which a siren falls in love with a human an exchanges her voice for legs so that they can bang, or Remus Lupin from the books that shall not be named, Shrek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Superman (Clark is an alien people), and whatever cartoons in which half of their characters are humanoid animals have going on.
When I heard the phrase paranormal romance I used to picture wanna-be-twilight books or remember that I still haven’t watch the Shape Of Water, it wasn’t until recently that I realized that being invested in the relationship of a lizard lord with his two human lovers (The Penumbra Podcast), or that of a God-like figure and his hunter boyfriend (Hello From The Hallowoods) or liking a story in which a zombie gets set up by ze mummy friend with another zombie (The Differently Animated and Queer Society) count as part of a genre until I started to rethink my image.
One of the reasons for it might had been for the lack of erotic scenes in the aforementioned texts, which is a fair part of the genre and another might be attribute to my own biases. That being said, I love monstrous characters in relationships, mainly because I have always identified with the adjective “weird”.
In the early times of the genre the authors would ask the reader to empathize with the human character showing us how we could love someone despite their monstrosity, new works of fiction are now talking about how is the monstrosity that gives them appeal- while I was doing my research I came across so much vampire longing.
Nina Auerbach attributes this to the peak of civil rights movements in the 60s and its continuing expansion, which has shifted society’s relationship with the other from fearing them to loving them.
However what I think what the author gets wrong is the assumption we automatically identify with the human character. To be bold, a great portion of us identify with the monster- in part yes, because of any marginalized identities we might fall into but also because even being the norm you’re expected to act a certain way, which you can’t always perform.
This might be also why monster/monster pairings have become more popular with the time, as a society we’re coming to accept the monster within us, therefore authors are letting go of the fear of their non-human characters being unrelatable.
As an author, writing the romance gets mixed with the thrills of worldbuilding, making your creature unique a la sparkly vampire. It is important to have the world boil down so that the werewolf fucking is plausible in your reader’s mind and they don’t get thrown out of the story.
There are also more stakes for your characters, from the monster/human forbidden love, or monster/monster love but in their world monsters are hunted, to just joking around with any funny situations that can come with an interspecies romance like a vampire that wants cuddles in their sleep but their partner refuses to sleep in a coffin.
Today I’m asking you to reshape the image that comes to mind when you hear “paranormal romance”, the genre has tropes and archetypes that are just a NO, but it also has interesting worldbuilding, exploration of societies relationship to “the other”, wholesome ships and just who doesn’t like the idea of handsome vampire inviting you to their old-style mansion and serving you spaghetti?
Ari Ochoa Petzo
is a Mexican-Venezuelan bi genderfluid writer. They like dancing to old music and history. In their free time you can find xem trying to coerce their friends to participate in another of their crazy projects.
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