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megwrites ([personal profile] megwrites) wrote2010-03-26 11:24 am
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Genre Talk: Urban Fantasy

I've been trying to make this post for, like, a week now. I keep deleting it and re-writing it because I haven't felt I've really articulated my opinions as well as I want to.

But I think I've gotten close with this post.

I read and write urban fantasy. The draft I'm trying to get through at the moment is urban fantasy (complete with vampires!). But if any of you have followed my reviews, you'll see that I'm often quite critical and very harsh on urban fantasy/paranormal romance novels. Moreso perhaps than I am on any other genre of books, even science-fiction or straight up fantasy.

When I go into a bookstore or browse online booksellers, the selections I see disappoint me greatly, and I'm frustrated by the current output in urban fantasy/paranormal romance. I firmly believe in Sturgeon's Law (99% of everything is crap), and that goes for books. So there is no genre that is either completely perfect or completely terrible. But right now, as it stands, the UF/PR genre seems to have a higher-than-normal proportion of shitty books.



There's no reason I can think of (outside of marketing and publishing realities) why this should be so. I, as a reader, am desperately hungry to find the kind of tales that this genre could be telling. I am ravenous for tales of the magic and mundane swirling together, showing how ordinary the not-ordinary is, how much is unseen even when we look straight at it. I long for stories of secrets places where there might just be a ghost on the subway or a goddess stuck in traffic. I want to read of unlikely heroes, of people who's greatest magic is not a spell or amulet or super strength, but the abliity to twist and turn and shape themselves around whatever is strange and dangerous and true.

As for paranormal romance? It's like that kid who you know is a genius, but they just won't do their homework so they get D's when they could be acing the class. I am so ready for that really great story about what it would really be like to love someone who is sometimes a wolf or drinks blood and can't touch daylight. I'm ready for someone to show me how amazing it is when love - which is its own super power - can put people together against steep odds. I want to see how you'd make it work with a vampire or a witch or a demon, and why they'd fall in love with a human. Why a human - a smart human with actual self-esteem - would fall in love with them.

I'm ready for an attraction between the magic and the mundane that transcends the "well, he's basically a blood-drinking Abercrombie model and she's wearing leather pants, ta da, it's true love!" I want to read the stories about people who thought they were done with love or couldn't/wouldn't be loved. I want to hear the tales of how sometimes, in the midsts of the worst places, people find and create something spectacular.

Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance have some lofty literary parentage. They borrow from SF and Romance, respectively, though you can find dashes of noir and detective fiction and mystery in the mix, the way a kid might have their's uncle's nose or their grandmother's smile.

Romance is a lot of live up to, because some of the greatest cultural works we have stem from that genre. It's something that has permeated into our TV shows, movies, songs. The tales this genre comes out with are important ones. It's also a genre where women writers can stake a claim the way they often can't in other places. In this genre get to talk about life, about love, about how it works (or doesn't), how it hurts, how it isn't easy, and how sometimes life really is exciting. How individual human being spark and shock and fight and fuck and exist so beautifully sometimes even when the rest of the world is ugly. Romance is where we talk about the things that make life worth living. What makes all the boring bits worth it.

Fantasy is all about inventing new things, shining light into dark corners, inventing the place that aren't but making you, the reader, feel as though they're as real as the book in your hands. Fantasy lets us talk about things we can't say openly, it lets us parse our world through alternatives and contrasts and opposites. We can define and even shape what is by talking about what isn't (yet), what can't be, what shouldn't be, what should be.

But these are not the stories being told, these are not what I see when I browse shelves and websites.

What I see staring back at me is a sea of sameness. I see, over and over again, just one tale being told. I see covers that show only one image: the cutoff image of a thin, white, cisgendered, able-bodied, twenty-something woman's body. Her skin is meant to tantalize me somehow, as though it is beaconing me to see what I could imagine myself to be, because of course to be thin, able, white, and twenty is the ideal, this is the body women ought to have when talking about themselves as powerful and free and liberated. Who would want to be PoC, after all? Or disabled? Or fat? Or fifty? What woman in her right mind would see a body of color or a disabled body or a fat body or a transwoman's body an old body and think, "This is a powerful, free body? This is the body of a warrior, a heroine, a person with a tale worth telling?"

I tell myself, "Cover art isn't everything." I think of the examples of bad covers on good books (think Justine Larbalestier's "Liar" or Jaclyn Dolamore's "Magic Under Glass").

Then I open the books, and I find that the covers are not so inaccurate. The tale told to me seems always the same, always a disappointment. The story is told in the first person by the same self-absorbed, conventionally attractive, twenty-something, blandly heterosexual, aggressively cisgendered, emotionally needy white woman. I am expected, as a reader, to sympathize with her because of her shoes or her clothes, of which she speaks often and sometimes at length, never mind if such clothing is usually not made for my body or that I may not even be able to afford such things. Because I identify female and so does she, it is expected that her material possessions will elicit a bond between us.

I am then expected to relate to her ill-considered attraction to an equally conventional, aggressively heterosexual man who's body matches her in it's dominance-affirming perfection. His scars, like hers, are never deforming. I am not supposed to question his actions too much, whether following her home makes him a stalker rather than a lover, whether an immortal creature repeating high school endlessly is not creepy rather than charming. It is my fault as a reader if I examine and analyze this relationship too close, asking rude questions and wondering why they're together or why their relationship - the meeting of two perfect, white, straight, thin, attractive bodies - should matter to this fat reader. Obviously, thin white bodies are of interest to everyone, whatever their size, color, orientation, or ability.

The story told to me winds around, a barely functioning plot that reads like a weakly written episode of a detective show with a witch or a vampire or werewolf thrown in. The heroine's adventure takes usually a week or less and is paced too quickly to be believable, all the while she makes crack and quips designed to be witty but which are never really funny. Clue after obvious clue is laid down, leading to a cardboard villian who seeks to destroy the world or kill the heroine for reasons that are as thin and flimsy as the shirts she wears on the cover. During this plot many friends and allies and even rival suitors appear to woo her, help her, lay down their lives for her cause as though they have none of their own, no lives or responsibilities that might cause them to prioritize other things or themselves above this perfect, enchanted white woman. These minor characters (many of them only PoC, GLBT, PWD, or fat people to be found) are merely smaller bodies that rotate around the gravity well of the heroine, who is more important than all else.

After a scrambling, clumsy battle at the end, the heroine has accomplished her goal and come out intact. She is never killed, never loses a limb, never scarred, never left damaged. She and the Love Interest are closer but here is room left for a sequel so it isn't a perfect "Happily After Ever" and there the tale ends.

I am told by reviewers and book blurbs that these are supposed to be fun stories, that they're supposed to be "sexy", "fun", "wild", "hot", "sizzling", and I wonder - to whom? What if you're bisexual (I am), lesbian, gay, or otherwise queer-identifying? If the story of perfect woman-on-perfect man doesn't excite you, what is the purpose of this book?

And then I wonder where the books for the rest of us are. Where are the urban fantasies and paranormal romances for PoC, PWD, fat people, GLBT folks, or those of us who just want something different, something else? Where are the urban fantasies and paranormal romances for those who have nothing to do with and are nothing like the sea of perfectly sculpted whiteness in front of them?

I know this isn't just the fault of authors writing these things. I know there are a long line of agents, editors, publishers, and marketing professionals who push the material, who push the suspicion that nothing else will sell, who take the giant pool of submissions and select only these things, who press authors to twist around their material. There is no one person to blame, just one terrible system that keeps telling and transmitting this same story. Whether it is profitable for the writers, publishers, editors, and agents involved, it leaves me, the reader, feeling very lonely and disappointed and longing for something more, something else, something different, something better.

[identity profile] corinneduyvis.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 03:57 pm (UTC)(link)
I tend to lurk more than comment, but I very much feel you here. I think I love the idea of urban fantasy more than how it's often executed.

And I have to say, the more I read of your journal, the more I'd love to read your fiction - so good luck with the agent hunt. It'd be fabulous to have more diverse voices in the genre.

[identity profile] takumashii.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 05:32 pm (UTC)(link)
Have you read Caitlin Kiernan? Murder of Angels wasn't a perfect book, but it had impressive prose, a real sense of wonder (and terror), a Vietnamese-American protagonist and a central lesbian relationship. I haven't yet read Dia Reeves's "Bleeding Violet," but the heroine is bipolar and biracial, and it's been getting some very nice reviews.

And I would be remiss in not mentioning Karen Healey's excellent "Guardian of the Dead," which has the first asexual-identifying character I've ever seen in fiction, a fat heroine (who knows martial arts!), and important characters who are Maori and Chinese-Australian, and handles its potential cultural appopriation issues with aplomb.

Sometimes genres get very narrow, when they get down to trying to press the same button over and over again, in this case the Laurell K. Hamilton button and the Charlaine Harris button (and the Stephenie Meyer button, for YA -- I don't think she's really had much influence on the adult market, though I could be wrong.) Secondary-world fantasy went through that in the 90s and I think that's why the market is not so good for it now. And what happens then is that the books that fall outside the narrowest confines of the genre get published by small presses, or they're shelved in 'mainstream,' or they don't get published at all. It takes more aggressive looking to find them, but I think they're out there. More and more I'm not picking books from the SF/Fantasy shelves, but looking for magical-realism stuff and weird fiction on the mainstream shelves.

[identity profile] oneminutemonkey.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 06:54 pm (UTC)(link)
I just read Guardian of the Dead, and I keep shivering with glee. An asexual character! (glee) A fat heroine who kicks ass but isn't made out to be uber-attractive or fond of leather pants! (glee) Characters of Color (GLEE!) This is one YA that will be getting lots of review love from me, that's for sure.

Rachel Hawkin's Hex Hall, another new YA, has a secondary character who identifies as lesbian - and the main character barely bats an eye, accepting her as a friend right off the bat.

I would love, so very much, to see more non-standard heroes in urban fantasy. When I see the GLBT characters, I cheer. (There's a gay couple in Jenna Black's Morgan Kingsley series that makes it worth reading for me. Jes Battis has an assortment of GLBT characters fleshing out his Night Child series.) When I see the CoC... I -notice- them now. Especially if they're the main characers or at the very least important to the story. When I see the overweight characters, I'm downright thrilled.

I guess I've read enough urban fantasy that so much of it's become a blur, and anything that stands out as different actually stands out.
And I want to see more of the different ... even if I have to write it myself. I want heroes of color, of different orientations, of different body sizes, of different faiths.

(No wonder I've been in a reviewing slump lately. I read urban fantasy but it's become increasingly hard to talk about them when they start to blend together. Sigh.)

Oh... as far as heroines who never get scarred or maimed: you might think of checking out Lucy Snyder's Spellbound, where the heroine sustains some nasty, lasting injuries early on and doesn't get magically cured.

I may have to bookmark this post as an example of what not to do when I get around to writing novel-length urban fantasy.

[identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 07:24 pm (UTC)(link)
I have Kiernan's book on the list of things to pick up - and thanks for the other recs. They also go on the list of Things To Look For when I get a chance to go bookshopping, which should be relatively soon (yay!). I had heard about Healey writing "Guardian of the Dead" and she spoke about how she wanted to be really careful about appropriation issues and bad covers.

Sometimes genres get very narrow, when they get down to trying to press the same button over and over again, in this case the Laurell K. Hamilton button and the Charlaine Harris button (and the Stephenie Meyer button, for YA -- I don't think she's really had much influence on the adult market, though I could be wrong.)

Exactly this. As far as the question of Meyer, I would say that she is actually the product of influences from the adult market rather than being the source of it. I also think that in a way her wildfire popularity prevents her from being more influential. I think one of the reasons Harris and Hamilton had so much influence was that they sold well, but weren't so popular that anyone similar to them would get called a copycat. Now if someone tried to submit a YA vampire novel that was ANYTHING like Twilight, they'd get rejected, I think.

Though I might disagree with second-world fantasy not being so good for the market right now. I think it depends on the type. But that's a whole other post and discussion.

Can I ask, do you have trouble finding fantastic (in the sense of being fantasy/paranormal) literature that's good on the non-SFF shelves? Years of my own habits have trained me to seek out the SFF section for my speculative needs, but is there elsewhere I should be looking?

[identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 07:28 pm (UTC)(link)
I think I love the idea of urban fantasy more than how it's often executed.

This, precisely! I still sort of get excited at some of the broad descriptions but then I start reading and I think, "This is way less cool than it sounded."

I hope one day that you do get to read my fiction! And I hope it lives up to your expectations (or exceeds them, because that would be nice!). BTW, your userinfo and journal tell me that you're working on some urban fantasy yourself. Care to share what it's about?

Sorry if I'm prying, I just love to talk shop with other people who are writers and similarly frustrated with the state of the genre. And I also love to hear what they're working on. :)

[identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 07:38 pm (UTC)(link)
I guess I've read enough urban fantasy that so much of it's become a blur, and anything that stands out as different actually stands out.
And I want to see more of the different ... even if I have to write it myself. I want heroes of color, of different orientations, of different body sizes, of different faiths.


Amen to this. Although I do think it's a little difficult to tell someone frustrated with the genre to "write it yourself if you want it" (not saying you said that, but OTHER FOLKS say that) because a) not everyone is a writer and b) no writer can possibly write and develop and publish every single idea they get.

I want to see about a million different things on the shelves. I want to see transgender heroines. Transwomen for the win, yanno? And I want to see how you'd make urban fantasy work in a primarily Muslim country where the dominating supernatural is not what it would be here in the U.S. What does a kickass heroine wearing hijab look like, what is that story like? What do you do when, maybe, djinn replace vampires?

And I am beyond pissed that with all these sexy vampires running about that almost none of them are queer-identifying. I mean, come on. Sexy immortals who don't have to worry about disease or pregnancy? Who don't have to live inside society's rules? And none of them are getting their GLBT on? I mean, what if you're a male vampire and you finally have the freedom to be the woman you've always wanted to be, always known you were? And how would you (or could you) get hormones/surgery necessary?

What about vice versa? Or what if you're a vampire in one of those typical hypersexualized vampire societies and you're asexual?

There are just so many possibilities with vampires alone, but nope.

So, yeah. And thanks for the book recs as well. One great thing about these posts is hearing about books I missed or didn't hear about that are really awesome. I'm putting the ones you mentioned on the list as well. I can't wait to go book hunting soon!

[identity profile] corinneduyvis.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 07:40 pm (UTC)(link)
I've got descriptions of my novels here (http://corinneduyvis.blogspot.com/p/novels_19.html). I'm currently querying a light-hearted UF with a half-Latina protagonist, set in Amsterdam, which borrows some of my own experiences with/feelings on my autism (and specifically, family that Doesn't Get It). It pokes some light fun at familiar UF tropes, too - her love interest is utterly human like herself, and she mentions in passing that vampire boyfriends really aren't as much fun as most people think. The cold skin and lack of bloodflow are major turn-offs, and emo just doesn't do it for her.

The novel I'm currently writing is, er, not so much fun. Demonic Stockholm syndrome, family drama, the works. I'm still kind of feeling my way around. Better descriptions of both books are at the link. :)

And no need to apologize for asking at all. I'd love to know more about what you're working on, too!

[identity profile] corinneduyvis.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 07:42 pm (UTC)(link)
*boggle* All those ideas you just mentioned? I WANT TO READ THOSE.

[identity profile] takumashii.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 07:55 pm (UTC)(link)
The best SF book I read last year was The Yiddish Policeman's Union, shelved as mainstream. My favorite collection of slipstream/magical realism short stories, Meet Me In the Moon Room, shelved as mainstream. My favorite mindfuck book that I want to slap for its misogyny, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, shelved as mainstream (Japan is more flexible in the amount of fantasy that's allowable in mainstream fiction... I love Haruki Murakami's weird stuff except for his women.) Kelly Link, shelved as mainstream.

I won't say that these books necessarily do a better job of representing LGBT people, people of color, people with disabilities, and other people who lie outside the conventionally-attractive-movie-star paradigm, but at least -- they do better at getting to the heart of WEIRD, rather than being just supernatural mysteries in leather and stilettos.

[identity profile] oneminutemonkey.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 08:07 pm (UTC)(link)
There's a lot of stuff I want to read.
This, in part, is why I'm editing Scheherazade's Facade for Norilana Books. Because I want to see more gender bending, cross-dressing, and personal transformation in fantasy.

This, in part, is why everything I've done for Circlet features lesbian protagonists. Because I want to see the lesbian get the girl, and the happy ending (if not the happily ever after). (Frankly, I think everyone deserves to get the guy, girl, or person of their choice, but I can only do so much at a time...)

Frankly? The more I see the same old same, the more I want to break the unspoken rules. And I want to do it with the big presses. I want to see a DAW/Ace/Roc/etc UF that refuses to conform to the same old. No offense to the many fine authors I love to read, but it's time for something less heteronormative.

(Points to Jim Hines for his lesbian protagonist in the recent DAW antho, A Girl's Guide to Guns and Monsters.)

[identity profile] handyhunter.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 08:14 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, yes. I've been feeling very put-out with the paranormal romance/urban fantasy genre for a while now, for the reasons you state. It also made me wary of Buffy comparisons because they'd inevitably be about how the heroine could kick ass, but without much depth. They'd all be 'strong' in the same (physical) way, which I found boring and sometimes problematic.

[identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 08:35 pm (UTC)(link)
I've read Yiddish Policeman's Union, and I'm not sure why that was stocked as mainstream except that maybe someone thought it was "too good" to be SF/F. It was a pretty good book, though really, really bleak. About half way through I was like, "IS ANYTHING EVER HAPPY IN THIS WORLD EVER?" Good, but not something to read if your mood is really down.

they do better at getting to the heart of WEIRD, rather than being just supernatural mysteries in leather and stilettos.

Yeah, that's my other complaint. Not only is it the same white, able, cis/straight woman, but it's not even really interesting or original. It's all, like you said. Leather and stilettos and I just want to know who thinks that you should be wearing stilettos when fighting evil. OR EVER. I'm just so over the whole let's talk about our shoes while fighting vampires thing I cannot EVEN EXPRESS IT IN WORDS.

[identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 09:45 pm (UTC)(link)
hey'd all be 'strong' in the same (physical) way, which I found boring and sometimes problematic.

ZOMG, yes! It's very boring when your heroine can just punch through a wall or has inexplicable martial arts skills that she didn't earn and that inevitably get her through every sticky situation. Plus, it makes me uncomfortable that for a heroine to be considered strong she must be physically augmented. Because I don't like the "women are automatically at a physical disadvantage" myth that it feeds into. As though a woman needs the extra strength just to match up. Plus there's some uncomfy ablism vibes there - the idea that perfect/superhuman physical ability is all that matters, as though you can't kick ass if you have a disability. Which is NOT EVEN TRUE. I've always wanted to see what you'd do if you had, say, a Slayer from the Buffyverse who was PWD and how you'd rework the idea of being a Slayer and Slayer powers to go with that.

So, yeah. What you said. Though check the above comments for recs of books (if you haven't already read them) that people are saying are awesome. From what I'm hearing of "Guardian of the Dead", it's definitely worth checking out.

[identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 09:51 pm (UTC)(link)
INORITE. In my head there's this imaginary series of awesome books that has a heroine-in-hijab (who is not even a little oppressed, thanks much) who is snarky and clever and quick witted and big hearted and so fierce. She gets into startling adventures and fights evil and deals with djinn and sandwalkers (if she's from, say, Saudi Arabia) or Hantu Pusaka and Toyol (if she's Malaysian). And it would be awesome and I would devour a pound of chocolate while reading this books and I would not be able to sleep until I'd finished them.

But, alas, no. They don't exist (I don't think). :(

My only comfort is that while I can't write all the things I'd like to see, I can at least try to include or feature some of them in the things I do write.

[identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 10:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Oooh! I love the way your projects sound and I wish you the best of luck in what you're querying. I'd really love to hold these as books in my hand one day, especially the lighthearted UF because it sounds like it really turns some tropes on their head and I love some trope-turning, me.

she mentions in passing that vampire boyfriends really aren't as much fun as most people think

Yes, THANK YOU FOR THIS. I've always kind of imagined that it would be really uncomfortable to sleep with a guy who's got cold feet except OVER THEIR ENTIRE BODY. You think cold feet under the covers are bad, what if it's the entire person?

I don't have any nifty links for mine. The urban fantasy draft I'm working on now is tentatively titled Soul Machines. It's the Vampire Novel O' Doom I'm working on right now. Not sure how to summarize it neatly (which bodes well for the query letter) - but the short version?

Our heroine, Melissa Ramirez, gets attacked by a possessed vampire lord and when her coworker saves her by killing him, the only way to keep his very unhappy underlings at bay is to find out who possessed him in the first. And the only people willng to help? The dead lord's best friends: his second in command, his pack of do-gooding Robin Hood-esque shapeshifter thieves, and his gun-toting 80-year-old daughter.

Not nearly as awesome sounding as yours, and I suck at summaries. Queries and synopses are my nightmares, srsly.

I really hope I get to see your stuff one day, it sound astounding!

[identity profile] corinneduyvis.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 11:08 pm (UTC)(link)
Exactly. There are a lot of things I'd like to see - like, um, everything you just mentioned - but you have to write what's in your head. There are a few characters in my own books I kind of wished were main characters, but they just... aren't. I have a trans male character in an upcoming trilogy who I'm starting to really love, but he's content being a side character. Maybe he'll be vocal enough to feature in a short story some day.

In addition, while I'm educating myself hardcore when it comes to writing PoC and other "Others", I'm not yet comfortable writing about an entirely foreign setting/culture without getting it severely wrong (as opposed to just a little wrong), so that's limiting as well. (For the record, I identify as white/female/cis/bi/disabled.)

[identity profile] corinneduyvis.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 11:16 pm (UTC)(link)
You think cold feet under the covers are bad, what if it's the entire person?

The thought grosses me out so bad! At least the vampire would be unlikely to be clammy, but still. Ick.

I think your book sounds interesting! Commercial in the best way possible, and a lot of cool potential for, well, coolness. I actually love writing queries, so let me know if you ever need help with that. I'm afraid I share your synopsis hate, though.

Great title, BTW!

And thank you so much for the comments on Always Read the Fae Print. I share your hope it'll end up in your hands some day - and that it'll live up to your expectations. :)

[identity profile] mercwriter.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 11:52 pm (UTC)(link)
I think I love the idea of urban fantasy more than how it's often executed.
THANK YOU. This is generally my feeling about it too--there is so much potential, but so often it's canned into the same blah mold. I keep looking for what's different.

Also, [livejournal.com profile] corinneduyvis, I read your description for "Always Read the Fae Print" and I would SO love to read that! :) Best of luck with the agent hunt.

[identity profile] mercwriter.livejournal.com 2010-03-26 11:53 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks for drawing my attention to "Guardian of the Dead"--that sounds fabulous! I've put it on my TBR pile right away. :)

[identity profile] corinneduyvis.livejournal.com 2010-03-27 12:02 am (UTC)(link)
It's so encouraging how often I hear this from people I don't even know. Gives me hope! Thank you :)

[identity profile] mercwriter.livejournal.com 2010-03-27 12:06 am (UTC)(link)
*nods in general agreement with much of your post*

I want more DIFFERENT in mah urban fantasy. (Personally I'd like to see more MMCs who are also different. Actually... I have a laundry list of things I want to see more of in urban fantasy, including more of a hard line between UF and paranormal romance, because dude, if I want romance, I will LOOK for a romance, m'kay? When I want UF, I want less mush and more action and blowing things up. ;))

... this kinda makes me want to go back to my UF, in which I mess around with a lot of the "conventional" tropes and stereotypes of the subgenre. (Because, shockingly, not everyone in the monster fighting business is white and/or straight.)

(I have a secondary world fantasy to focus on first, though.)

I've now forgotten what I meant to say in the first place, because I was reading the great comments... anyway. Off to see if I can find some of those book recommendations. :)

*putters off to read some more*

[identity profile] claws-n-stripes.livejournal.com 2010-03-27 12:43 am (UTC)(link)
You've just given me an ass-kickingly awesome idea! :D One I can actually publish under my own name (always a plus)!

[identity profile] fantasyecho.livejournal.com 2010-03-27 02:19 am (UTC)(link)
In one of the Sookie Stackhouse books, I recall a vampire wedding between two vampire kings, who actually seem pretty blissed out with each other.

Alas, never as the protagonist. That said though, I've never been quite drawn to the urban fantasy genre, preferring secondary worlds, but I never quite know what's worth my money, you know? =/
manifesta: (Default)

[personal profile] manifesta (from livejournal.com) 2010-03-27 05:24 am (UTC)(link)
Ironically, in the past several years I've seen a deluge of vamp YA books that are simply a retelling after retelling of Twilight (Evermore by Alyson Noel springs to mind). I do agree that Meyer is more of a product of the adult market than the source of it. Twilight filled the gap in the YA market that 15 years of adult vampire fiction, the adult paranormal romance boom, and a growing YA trend had helped create.
manifesta: (Default)

[personal profile] manifesta (from livejournal.com) 2010-03-27 05:37 am (UTC)(link)
The story is told in the first person by the same self-absorbed, conventionally attractive, twenty-something, blandly heterosexual, aggressively cisgendered, emotionally needy white woman. I am expected, as a reader, to sympathize with her because of her shoes or her clothes, of which she speaks often and sometimes at length, never mind if such clothing is usually not made for my body or that I may not even be able to afford such things. Because I identify female and so does she, it is expected that her material possessions will elicit a bond between us.

Yes. This. You also reminded me that often times these heroines are frequently able to afford or in the very least covet (from the perspective of potentially one day owning) x brand of stilettos, or some other material object, and that this classist bias is consistent throughout the genre. (I especially appreciated your point that's it's in part an attempt to create a bond with the female reader.) Even if they're portrayed as being "poor," they still manage to materialize guns or other weaponry, which would cost a small fortune to obtain legally OR illegally, and do not mention how they were able to do so.

I recently posted on urban fantasy, actually--it's in the context of Phillip Palmer's article on whether urban fantasy is all about sex, but there's also some discussion on UF as a genre, especially in the comments.

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