Friday, March 9, 2012

What's so great about paranormal, fantasy, and magical realism?

I've had a bad week.
What does that have to do with the title of this post?

I read (and write) mainly paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and magical realism.  Among my co-workers at my "day job" my tastes are rather unique.  I am often approached by a co-worker touting the latest book-you-must-read, usually women's fiction or true life kinds of things.  There is a time and a place for all types of writing, and everyone has their own personal tastes.  Never the less, when presented with these books I can't help my grimace.  I recoil.   I shrink back as if I am being presented with a spitting cobra. 

I read (and write) to escape.  I don't need to be touched, or have my tears jerked.  I'm not seeking to enlarge my world view.  If I want to experience these things, all I need to do is watch the news.  No thank you, not for me.

After yesterday's particularly traumatic events, my daughter asked to go to the bookstore.  After we mozied through the children's section and played with Thomas the Tank Engine, I purchased a book.  When we got back home, I immersed myself in the book.  I spent most of today there as well.  At first glance, it would seem that the story I chose, rife with death and ghosts, would be a poor fit in my current mental state.  But the fantastical threats there aren't real.  The ghosts aren't my ghosts, and they give me something else to focus on.  I know that the heroine will solve the problem.  In the end good will triumph and the world will be set right again.  There is none of the helplessness, futility, and blame that exists in the real world.  At least not on the same level.

Our world- scary, painful, and sometimes downright hopeless- needs escape.  Paranormal, fantasy, and magic subjects provide a respite from our world.  Maybe we need a place to hide.  Maybe we need a happy ending. Maybe we just need to find sympathy in the pages of a book.  When I read and write, I leave.  My mind and my heart can rest (yes, even when I'm writing) for a time.  When I emerge again from that world, I feel calmer, more centered and grounded, and more able to face the challenges of the real world. 

Why do you read/write in the genre you love?


  1. Good post, Kaye. And your blog is simply "the bomb". I feel like I'm really outdoors while reading the post.

    Anyways... I read realistic MG/YA. I don't do much paranormal, but I will read a good ghost story. I don't care for the vampires, werewolves, winged creatures, etc.

    And, for me, I'm just the opposite. I want to read about real-world stuff, and I don't care so much about being taken into the magical realm. And I don't care too much for women's fiction either. I guess we read what we write, and we write what we read. :)

  2. I wonder, if you aren't reading the magical stuff, do you still read to escape? Or more to garner knowledge? I'm curious if there is still an escape element- maybe being able to distract yourself? Or what kind of motivation/reward you find in reading? All just curiosity of course :)

    1. Hi Kaye, Sorry I'm just getting back to you... I usually check back on blogs. But yours got lost in the shuffle of the long list of blogs in my reader...glad you posted today. :)

      To answer your question, yes, I do read to escape. Ever since I discovered the wonderful world of fiction, I've been reading to escape. But I also read for the knowledge. So a book that takes me away and gives me a lesson is a double bonus.

      I can't say I don't ever read magical/paranormal/etc., because I loved Holly Black's Spiderwick Chronicles--so I do read outside the contemporary, realistic genre. It's just that I don't do it often.

      But, when I was in my teens and twenties, I loved paranormal/magical--vampires, werewolves, zombies, and everything in between. :)


I'd love to hear your musings :)