Posted On July 12, 2017 by Print This Post

Romancing the Paranormal: 5 Tips For Putting the “Super” in Supernatural – By Jeri Westerson

Welcome author Jeri Westerson in her first time posting with us on Romance University!

I had a freelance editor tell me to “lose the romance between the heroine and the demon.” Needless to say, she really didn’t understand the genre.

I mean, take the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast. I admit freely that I always liked the beast better, and I yelled at the screen, trying to convince Belle to stick with him, not the prince he changes into. And so it is the same with romancing the paranormal. Whether vampire, werewolf, or demon, we want our feisty gals to snuggle up to them. The mundane guys are just…well, mundane.

But is it realistic? Could you see yourself settling down with a guy with horns? And would Belle be happy with a litter of children?

So let’s look at some of the elements we need to get this romance supernatural but also as real as can be.

1) A Feisty Heroine: And they’re always feisty or plucky, aren’t they? No milquetoasts here! In my new paranormal romance series BOOKE OF THE HIDDEN, my heroine Kylie Strange takes a disastrous relationship with a lemon of a boyfriend and makes lemonade. She picks herself up and moves across country to start her own business. Which under normal circumstances simply goes on like that in its mundane way. But that can’t happen here. Something odd’s gotta happen to move the plot forward into the fantasy realm. And does. When she finds an ancient book bricked up inside the wall of her new tea shop. As she opens the Booke of the Hidden, she ends up releasing a horrifying array of supernatural creatures into the world. She really has to step up now, and like any of thousands of heroines in urban fantasies and paranormal romances, she has to hold her own, find a hidden strength, and become a character you want to spend a whole book—or a whole series—with. Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, even with all her flaws, including an aversion to blood, stands tall to take down the badassest of vampires. Sookie Stackhouse, Charlaine Harris’ heroine in her Southern Vampire series, didn’t know that the fact she could read minds–except those of vampires–would immediately put her in the crosshairs of every bad boy vamp in Louisiana.

In Kylie’s case, her opening of the Booke also triggers the release of the demon who protects the book, which leads us to our next point…

2) A Paranormal Hero: Erasmus Dark. Brooding, arrogant, English accent. Demon. A foil to Kylie at first, until she succumbs to his charms. This is a must. Whether sparkly vampire or shifter hedgehog, the love interest needs to be on the paranormal side of things. Now, I’ve kept an eye on how readers react, and I decided to throw something else into the mix: A love triangle. In Stephanie Meyers Twilight series, Bella could go either way to the handsome vampire or the handsome werewolf. Readers divided into “teams” rooting for their favorite contender. And I’ve done that, too. Kylie is therefore also a little melty for the handsome but mundane sheriff, Ed Bradbury. Another tall, buff specimen, and who also happens to be the same species as Kylie. Now he doesn’t know about all the paranormal things going on and she scrambles to leave him in the dark to keep him safe. As the series progresses, it soon morphs from a love triangle to a love parallelogram when others start getting into the mix. Whom should she choose? I’m hoping that with enough readers and fans, I can let them decide. Yes, I’m all about the fan service. And yes, I know that I wrote the thing and can do whatever I want with it, but I’m a reader and a fan, too, and I know sometimes I have been disappointed with an author’s decision. So I love it when fans can really get behind a series and let the writers know how they see it. I know it’s a different choice. I know some authors might howl at the very idea. But dammit. Let’s be real. They’ll just ship it anyway.

3) World-Building: I hope you’ve been doing this all along. Usually in paranormal romances and urban fantasies, it’s the world we know…with an undercurrent of a world we never knew existed. J.K. Rowling did it with the Harry Potter series. She gave us a familiar England, but that phone box or that public toilet is actually an entrance to the Ministry of Magic. Even though you aren’t setting your tale on another planet or another time, you need to ground the reader in fact. Are you using a real city like Anita Blake’s St. Louis or Kat Richardson’s Seattle? Then do some research and make sure the streets and sights are where you say they are. And then create that opening to the netherworld down that blind alley. Introduce the rules of your world as you go along. Don’t info-dump by providing long paragraphs of “this is how it all works. Now! Here’s the story!” The world you create should unfold from the dialog between your characters, from the narrative description, and from the mood.

4) Paranormal: What sets your world apart from the mundane world around us? What are the magical elements needed for your heroine and hero to move through this world? What and who are their obstacles? And since it’s your world, you set the rules. Stephanie Meyers didn’t make her vampires go up in smoke in the sunshine. Instead, they sparkled! Shifters usually don’t need to wait for a full moon anymore to shift. But what if they did? Or needed the stars to align. Or an eclipse? Make your paranormal yours. But be consistent with your rules. This is all part and parcel with world-building. It all has to be consistent to be believable, and for your readers to love and follow the heroes in their journey, wherever that journey takes them.

5) Romance: You all know what makes a romance a romance. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl. What is going to keep your protagonists apart? Is she allergic to his fur when he goes all werewolf? Does he freak out too much when she sprouts fairy wings? Is it a Romeo and Juliet scenario when both their diverse worlds collide and nothing can bring them together? Remember, it’s still about the supernatural and that needs to be integral to the menace keeping the lovers separated. If it’s just everyday ordinary problems, then there’s no need to bother. Readers want to see how these paranormal couples overcome their obstacles supernaturally. And isn’t that the whole point and the fun of it in the first place?


Join us on Friday for Debbie Burns!


Bio: Award-winning author Jeri Westerson likes to make the fur fly in her new paranormal series, BOOKE OF THE HIDDEN, the first of which will be released on Halloween! See her “booke” trailer, her Pinterest page, friend her on Facebook, or read an excerpt on her website

Pre order the book here!

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12 Responses to “Romancing the Paranormal: 5 Tips For Putting the “Super” in Supernatural – By Jeri Westerson”

  1. Jeri, um, what does this line suggest:a love triangle to a love parallelogram when others start getting into the mix.

    Geometry, not my thing, LOL.

    Posted by Morgyn Star | July 12, 2017, 8:49 am
  2. Your post is such a fun read while giving solid advice!
    Thank you!!!

    Posted by Apryl Schwab | July 12, 2017, 11:59 am
  3. Thanks for the great post – I bookmarked it!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | July 12, 2017, 3:58 pm
  4. My WIP “When Darkness Falls” was backburnered for two *years* because I couldn’t figure out how to make a HEA for a human woman and an immortal vampire without 1) him turning her vampire (so cliche); or 2) “redeeming” him (gag me). hehehe. My heroine didn’t want to be a vampire, and my bad boy’s gotta stay a bad boy… but how to reconcile apparently irreconcilables? It finally came to me, and I was off and running with the manuscript finally last NaNo.

    Reading this article brought that back to me, and I just had to share! 🙂 🙂

    Posted by Allie | July 14, 2017, 12:36 am
    • Good luck with that, Allie. Sometimes you just gotta wait for the right inspiration. In my medieval mystery series, I had started one book, but it just wasn’t singing to me and I set it aside to write a different one. Five or so years later I was newly inspired and instead of the fifth in the series, it’s now the tenth, releasing New Year’s Day. (That’s SEASON OF BLOOD, by the way, in my Crispin Guest Medieval Noir series)

      Posted by Jeri Westerson | July 14, 2017, 4:31 pm


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