by Raelene Gorlinsky
At the RomantiCon 2009 conference last October, we held a number of Reader Focus Groups on different genres, to ask our fans what they liked or disliked, were tired of or wanted to read more of. "Paranormal" is a very broad genre and most people read at least some aspect of it. We had a packed house for this, over fifty people crammed into every available spot in the room. The discussion was lively and diverse opinions expressed.
What types of shifters, were-creatures, do you like and why?
~ Predators! Dominant animals. Ones who can be convincing as an alpha male, may be dangerous or violent--but have a vulnerability.
~ Werewolves or the various wild cats work, raptors (hawks, etc.) work. Small, "cute" animals don't work as hero or heroine.
Are readers still interested in time-travel stories?
~ Too many are just historicals with an intro that throws character into the past--that's cheating.
~ Needs a believable--or "can suspend disbelief"--mechanism for the time travel.
~ It's a problem if the character's life overlaps in the two time periods.
~ The fun is the "fish out of water" element--the character trying to adjust to very different culture or society, clothes, food, speech.
What do you feel has been overdone, and what don't you like in paranormal stories?
~ Too many vampires that are too alike. More vampire stories are fine IF there is a unique twist on the vampire worldbuilding.
~ Why is it always a male vampire converting a human woman? Let's have more of the opposite.
~ Avoid graphic gore. Paranormal should not be the same as horror.
~ Dislike it when she is dependent on him to come into her powers.
~ Some readers are tired of the "one fated mate" theme, other readers love it.
~ Mythology-based stories had a mixed reaction; again, some love them, others are uninterested.
What do you want to see more of in paranormal romances?
~ Urban fantasy romance!
~ Sexy and spooky ghost stories.
~ Demons with interesting/unique world-building.
~ Anti-hero: the guy who fights his evil side, reforms from his past.
~ Hero who starts out unsure, but then rises to the occasion to become alpha.
~ More humor as a secondary element.
One thing that came up again and again was the importance of detailed and consistent and "logical" world-building. Where did the creatures come from or how are they created, what is their culture like, what is their history?