Today’s guest is urban fantasy author Amanda Carlson! Last year, a prequel novella in her Jessica McClain series, Blooded, was released, and it was soon followed by the first book in the series and her debut novel, Full Blooded. The second book in her series, Hot Blooded, was just released earlier this week. I’ve been hearing that these books are riveting, and I’m thrilled that the author is here to discuss sex in urban fantasy—and I’m also quite excited to be giving away a set of both books in her series today!
Sex in Urban Fantasy
When I started writing my first book, FULL BLOODED, in 2008 I had no idea there was a difference between urban fantasy (UF) and something called a paranormal romance (PNR). I read both interchangeably, depending on what I could find at the library. I knew one followed the action and one followed the romance, but as a female reader I loved them both. It wasn’t until I started querying agents that I figured out they each had a separate name.
And it wasn’t until I was published I figured out readers had very strong opinions about how different they should read.
It wasn’t a conscious decision on my part to write urban fantasy over paranormal romance. I wrote what I loved the most, as most authors do. I’m an action junkie through and through, so my story was decidedly urban fantasy—with a shot of romance to spice things up. That’s what I love the most in a good read. Give me the adrenaline, give me a strong heroine, give me adventure, and give me a little sex. Why the hell not?
But not all readers felt the same. Especially those who love “action only” in fantasy.
FULL BLOODED is categorized as an urban fantasy and shelved as urban fantasy, but because of the sex element some reviewers sill refer to it as PNR. That surprised me.
What I found most interesting were the male readers who picked up my book expecting action and getting a dose of sexy. They seemed the most put off that I had included a brief scene, some of them even encouraging me to write more like fantasy and less PNR in the future.
In trying to dissect why readers don’t always appreciate sex in UF, I tried to understand why and came up with a few of my own ideas. I think a bit of sex is expected, even if it’s not always appreciated, but the “romance” element is what can get in the way. Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books were decidedly UF in the beginning, but I’ve found most readers who love to read her are rooting for Sookie to have her happily ever after. Does that make them UF or does it change them to PNR? Or maybe they fall somewhere in between?
That’s an interesting thought. And maybe there is a difference. Maybe some current UF authors are falling into a hybrid area of UF, something more mixed with PNR? Maybe a UFR? I see Kim Harrison going in that direction, and Patricia Briggs and Ilona Andrews have already given their heroines mates/husbands.
I find it all very interesting. Especially when it comes to sex, which I happen to love reading and writing. And I guess that makes me a firm believer that UF can have it both ways.
To me, urban fantasy is still urban fantasy even with a little romance. If the heroine follows her journey, stays with the conflict, is the strong and dominant character, I believe an author has licence to make it as close to reality as she can. That’s what I am always shooting for. In real life many of us have spouses, boyfriend and girlfriends, we kiss and make love. It’s a part of our daily lives. To me, if you leave out all the angst and the “does he love me or not” internal struggles I think it still qualifies as UF.
But, in the end, I’m extremely interested in what you readers think. Do you think sex belongs in urban fantasy or should it stay in PNR? Is there a balance you prefer? Does it depend on the story/plot? Do you think UF with a shot of romance should be categorized at UFR?
A Minnesota girl, born and bred, Amanda began writing in earnest after her second child was born. She’s addicted to playing Scrabble, tropical beaches and Ikea. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and three kids. Find out more about Amanda at www.amandacarlson.com or on twitter @AmandaCCarlson.
Courtesy of Orbit, I have a copy of both novels in the Jessica McClain series, Full Blooded and Hot Blooded, to give away! (The giveaway is open to those with US and Canadian mailing addresses.)
Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below OR send an email to kristen AT fantasybookcafe DOT com with the subject “Blooded Giveaway.” One entry per person and one winner will be randomly selected. Only those with a mailing address in the US or Canada are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Saturday, May 4. The winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the book).
Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.
Update: Since the giveaway is over, the form has been removed.