I love paranormal stories. Humans with a little something hidden that you only get to see if you have the inside scoop … or become their prey. But as an author, what does it take to make your paranormal tale stand out in such a popular genre? Ana Bosch has found the answer. Here she is to talk about her latest story and what went in to creating the fabulously inventive creatures known as the “undead.”
Why do some paranormal creatures get so much more love than the rest?
Several years ago, when I was at my old product development job, I was asked to review a study that ranked the popularity of movie monsters. I’m not sure that it was the most scientific study since it pitted specific monsters like Frankenstein against classes of monsters like zombies, but in that pre-Twilight era, vampires won by a landslide. While this was attributed to many qualities such as intelligence and eternal youth, the defining characteristic that cemented their position was sex appeal.
It wasn’t particularly surprising. Of course we humans like our monsters to be sexy. From robots to My Little Pony, every fictional creature out there seems to have an alternate “sexy” version hidden in some dark corner of the internet. But why were the vampires in the study so much sexier than the rest? Sure, skeletons are at a disadvantage since owning skin is usually a prerequisite to sexiness, and zombies are a little iffy because who wants to kiss a guy who’s got brain stuck between his teeth? But surely there are other sexy paranormal creatures that we can play with in our writing. (How about Bigfoot? You know what they say about a man’s shoe size.)
In the years since the study, shifters and were-creatures have risen in popularity. Surprisingly, angels and demons weren’t included in the study, and while they may not be on trend right now, there’s an audience for them. I for one am a sucker for demons, and they make frequent appearances in my sequential artwork. Elves and fairies have their place in romance as well.
One of my goals in writing Art of Death was to explore a new breed of paranormal creature that wasn’t short on sex appeal. If pressed for the nearest equivalent, I’d say the “undead” in the novel are a mix of zombie, vampire, demon, and superhero. They look like humans and are capable of acting like humans. They don’t age, and they regenerate after death. In addition to superhuman strength, each undead also has his own unique power, which a human can tap into by signing on as his worshipper. However, each undead also has a unique weakness that can put him out for good.
Oh, and did I mention that some of them are hot?
For me, the “hotness” of paranormal creatures depends largely on how they interact with humans and with each other. Creatures that lack cognitive function or are purely predatory generally also lack in sex appeal. I’m sure this one reason why vampires were considered sexier than the Swamp Thing, though probably not the only reason. While the undead in Art of Death can often be predatory, my favorite part about them is their symbiotic relationship with their human allies. In Bonds of Death, the sequel scheduled for an October release, we get to see what happens when a human is forced to take his undead lover as his liege. Can you have a mutually respectful relationship when one partner has to worship the other?
BLURB FOR ART OF DEATH:
Despite the support of his rich older boyfriend, starving artist Riley Burke is determined not to be a trophy—hence his second job as a nude model at the local art school. It’s important to him that he pay his own way, so when the artist Coliaro requests a private modeling session with him, he jumps at the chance to earn some real cash.
Then he hears the rumors—that Coliaro is undead. That his worshippers perform rituals to fill him with life energy. That every time he paints a male nude, the painting transforms to depict a gruesome murder. And that shortly after, a young man turns up dead.
The source of these rumors is a man named Westwood, who claims to be an instructor at the school and warns Riley not to get involved. Riley ignores the advice—but when the rumors pan out and another murder looms, he turns to Westwood for help. Westwood is clearly keeping secrets. He’s dangerous, and Riley doesn’t know if he can be trusted—which makes him all the more attractive. Riley is in way over his head… and his involvement with the undead may make him the ultimate target.
Available from Dreamspinner
As a reader, what are your favorite paranormal creatures? And which ones do you enjoy incorporating into your writing?
She is offering up 1 e-book from her backlist. To enter, comment below about some of your favorite monsters. What makes them so appealing? What makes them original?
Open until Thursday, July 12th at 11:59 pm (PST). Winner will be selected and notified on Friday.