Monday, October 25, 2010

by: Anita Clenney

We’ve all heard the saying that truth is stranger than fiction, and if you look at the news you’ll see it can be true. I see things on the news that can’t possibly be real, but Yep…they are. Some of our best material can come from real life. But what about the world of paranormal? The paranormal genre is more popular in fiction now than ever before; vampires, demons, werewolves, shape shifters, and fairies, and of course, the old standby…ghosts. Gotta love a good ghost story. The world of the paranormal has left its mark on every genre, wiggling its way into romance and suspense, cozy mysteries, and YA. But while there may be more paranormal stories than ever before, we have to wonder if it’s really new.

If you look back through history, you’ll find myths and legends of otherworldly creatures woven into every culture, passed down from generation to generation. From harmless, whimsical beings that like to play jokes on unsuspecting humans to creatures that make otherwise rational people arm their homes with crosses and garlic and do horrendous things to the dead bodies of loved ones, to insure that they stay dead. From Europe to Asia, Africa and beyond, all civilizations have these stories. Some are downright bizarre.

For my Modern Day Highlander series, to be released by Sourcebooks Casablanca next year, I chose angels and demons, the battle between light and darkness, and the humans caught between. My secret warriors rely on their strength and secrecy to protect the humans from demons who are hiding among them, perhaps disguised as their neighbors, friends, bankers, babysitters. Maybe their mother-in-law. These demons want to destroy the world, and the warriors are the only ones powerful enough to stop them. Yeah, my warriors are really cool and can do some X-Men-like things, but they’re flawed too. Sometimes all those muscles, good looks, and swords just aren’t enough. The warrior needs a quirky historian who can kick butt and keep him on his toes.

As the story unfolded in my head, I realized that I wanted Michael the Archangel working behind the scenes, ordering my warriors on their missions. Michael has always fascinated me. One of the most revered of the angels, a mighty warrior himself, capable of casting Lucifer and one third of the angels—those who’d rebelled--out of Heaven. I have two children that I have a hard time herding into the bathroom to brush their teeth. Can you imagine having to herd thousands of fallen angels out of heaven? So they can go to hell? Come on. Would you leave?

While I tried to handle the topic of Michael with respect, at times, I shuddered, hoping that what I was doing wasn’t blasphemous, because Michael is real and sacred, whereas vampires--I have them too--in my estimation are not; although I saw a program recently on TV about people who would beg to differ. But that’s another story for another day. So while paranormal seems to be a new buzzword in the world of entertainment and even in real life, paranormal really isn’t new. It’s been around for as long as humans have, and as long as we exist, we’ll be telling our stories, stretching our imaginations to carry us into the future.

Do you have a favorite paranormal story or series, a favorite character? Edward, Jacob, Asheron, Dracula, Wolverine? Let’s hear it. Bring those bad boys (and girls) on.


  1. Loved your post, Anita! And the part about you herding your kids into the bathroom to brush their teeth. Did you ever think that that could be way more difficult than any war waged by more powerful beings? Yep! :)

  2. Terry, sometimes it feels like I've declared war. I have to resort to, "Do you want your teeth to rot and fall out of your head?" or "You're going to get gum disease and no one will ever want to kiss you." Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

  3. Sometimes, Anita, nothing seems to work!!! :) I so agree!

  4. Your book sounds intriguing and if you can get your kids to brush their teeth then I reckon you can handle about anything! My favorite paranormal character had to be Earl from Saving Grace. Does your book have a course old feller like that?

  5. Edit time!! Please change last line from course old feller to coarse old feller ... morning coffee had not arrived! LOL But I'd still choose Earl for my angel if I needed one in a hurry.

  6. What a great blog. I would think that herding fallen angels would be tantamount to herding cats (or kids off the the bathroom to brush their teeth.)

    Have had three kids to ride roughshod over, I know the torture tooth brushing can be. I remember when my son was about 12. He had a bunch of friends over and it occurred to me that he might be embarrassed if his friends knew I had to still routinely brushed his teeth. Yes, if he wasn't doing a good enough job, I took the brush from him, sat him down on the can and brushed his teeth--I figured it was better than him going to the dentist and having to hear from the hygienist that there was green stuff growing in his mouth! So, being the evil mother that I am, I went and grabbed my son's hand, in front of all his friends, and said "Come on, time for Mommy to brush your teeth." I dragged him to the bathroom and got the job done. Unfortunately, my son seems immune to embarrassment. It didn't even phase him. Still, I enjoyed the heck out of it. Oh, and it does get better. He's now 17 and brushes his teeth all the time, thank God!

  7. Loved this blog, Anita. Having read your story (at least the unedited version)you mastered the part about making your hero vulnerable. I loved him.

    As for me, I have a ghost story that I'm trying to sell. She's one of five sisters and desperately needs redeeming, even in death. But in the meantime, she keeps me laughing as I come up with other outrageous things I can make her say. That's the beauty of paranormal - you can do whatever you want to and no one can contest it.

    Again, great blog.

  8. A paranormal with an interfering, but well-meaning ghost or angel--that's my speed. What you might call paranormal light.

    My favorite paranormal character is the carnal excess-loinvg angel Michael depicted by John Travolta. I think the title of the movie was "Michael."

    I still chuckle at the deadpan line: "I'm not that kind of angel."

  9. Carolyn, there is one old guy in the first book, but he's a grandfatherly type, retired warrior, and the second book has an interesting old guy, sort of a hermit type, but he turns out to be far different than what he appears. Not an angel, but not really of this world. Now, I have lots of warriors, but I have to admit most of them are young and good looking. I didn't even catch your "coarse" mistake until you mentioned it :)

    Robin, I'm still laughing at you brushing your son's teeth in front of his friends. I agree, it's better to embarrass him than have bad teeth.

    Hi Liz. I loved your paranormal. If it's the one I'm thinking about, where the one sister is a foul-mouthed ghost. But I have to say, I'm really excited about your Clueless Cook series. "Liver Let Die" and "Beef Stolen-Off"!!! Awesome titles. I think I'd read them just from seeing the titles.

    If any of you guys haven't checked out Mysteries and Margaritas blogspot, you should. Great information and loads of fun.

    Mary-Margaret, I loved Michael. I do think that was the title of the movie. He's a different version than my Michael, and honestly, Michael in my books is very behind-the-scenes, but John Travolta's Michael was such a great movie. The bull-fighting scene was my favorite part.

  10. Great post! I didn't use to love paranormal (didn't watch 'darkshadows' as a girl), but do love Jericho Barrons from Karen Marie Moning's Darkfever series (is he a vampire, werewolf, or Unseelie King? We have to wait until Jan 19, 2011 to find out!) I also love her treatment of the Fae Prince Adam Black.

    You threw Wolverine in there (ha!). When I was a young adult I loved Marvel Girl's transformation into Dark Phoenix! A mesmerizing few years, and never captured well in the movies.

  11. Anita, the more I hear about your book, the more I can't WAIT til it's on the shelves. (Hope the bookstores don't ban me! LOL)

    I've found some paranormal series get a little too involved in their worldbuilding, and I tend to avoid those--if I get lost reading the blurb, I now I won't be able to keep track of it when I'm reaidng the book! LOL

    My fave paranormal series is Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark. Great characters, all so different and intriguing.

  12. I love the concept for your book. It sounds really great. I don't think I do have a favorite paranormal series.

  13. I'm really enjoying JR Ward's Fallen Angel series (as well as the BDB). I can't see myself taking on that subject matter, but if I were, the Archangels are where I'd start. They are the guys we get to see actual DOING something beside playing their harps and fluttering their wings, yeah, being an angel probably feels a lot like that mom trying to herd two kids toward bedtime.

  14. Anita,
    I think the Beast in Beauty and the Beast was my first hero and Superman after that. When they get darker than tose two, I stay away from them. :-) Thanks for an enjoyable post.

  15. Hello Anita - I've never been a big fan of paranormals until my grown up daughter recently put me nto True Blood. So now I've started the Sookie Stackhouse novels.

    However I did read 'Dracula' back when I was 17 and it was just a classic novel of interest mainly to academics. I found it very scary and powerful.

    My daughter read it recently but for the post-Buffy generation, she found it rather tame!

  16. Ah, those "brush your teeth" days of yesteryear. Hang in there, Anita. The year my son graduated from high school, he was voted the senior with the best smile. Love your Angel Michael portrait. I do like the wiggle room I have writing my YA fairy tales. And as a reader looking for escape, I enjoy being taken to "what if" worlds filled with all sorts of creatures. There are way too many great paranormal tales both old and new to pick a favorite!

  17. I don't know if I have a favorite. Although Angel from Buffy is a keeper along with Nick Knight.

    When I was little we'd visit my great-grandmother and nighttime was scary for me since to cross the hallway to get to the bathroom I had to pass the window overlooking the cemetery next to her house. Woo woo time!

  18. Claudia, I've only read one Karen Marie Moning and it was the one with Adam Black as a secondary character. I loved his character. I like secondary characters,especially if they turn up later with their own book. Now you've got me intrigued with Jerico Barrens character...Hmmm, I'll have to check it out.

    Donna, I can't wait until the book is finally out. My editor says my worldbuilding is amazing, but it's all set in the normal world. I just had to make up the rules concerning how the warriors, demons and vampires function. I don't do other planets, and my protagonists are from this dimension, even if the bad guys can move around. I'm almost ashamed to admit that I write paranormal but haven't read Kresley Cole. I'll have to pick one up soon. If I can find time to read.

    Shana, even with vampires and demons, this book isn't dark. I don't prefer dark, well, depends on my mood, but even cozy mystery lovers could enjoy this book. It really has elements of everything; romance, adventure, mystery, thriller, fantasy. I didn't do it on purpose, it's just the way it came out. But definitely not dark.

    Grace, I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't read JR Ward either. I haven't read a lot of the big paranormal names. I've read some of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters. I loved Acheron as a secondary character. I haven't read his story yet.

    Amelia, Beast is an awesome hero. So is Superman. In fact, my heroine refers to the the hero in this book as Superman. This isn't a dark paranormal. Honestly, if anyone likes romance or mysteries, I think they'll like it.

    Phillipa, hi goodreads buddy. As I've mentioned here, I'm embarrassed that I haven't read a lot of these big paranormal writers. I love paranormal, but I tend to read more of other stuff. I just really love a little different twist. Like Diana Gabaldon. I'd never heard of Diana Gabaldon until a year ago. I know, I've been in my little writing cave, but I love how she does a lot of things. It's a normal world...but not quite. There are a lot of paranormal, and non, writers here at Sourcebooks that I can't wait to check out. WHEN I get time to read.

    Pat, I only hope so much for my son. Right now, he actually has a very nice smile. He looks like a blond Justin Bieber.

    I loved the picture of Michael too. Most angel pictures are little fat babies with wings. NOT what an angel should look like.
    As far as favorite paranormal characters, I love hearing other opinions, but there are so many good ones, I don't know that I have a favorite either. Good luck with the YA fairy tales. Sounds great.

  19. Linda, now you've made me think of a favorite paranormal character. Angel. I loved that series. When I discovered it, I had to go back and watch the previous seasons. I had Netflix DVD's coming like every other day.

  20. Yeah, I read the crack - erm, J.R. Ward's BDB books. In addition, I love Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark - such a sprawling, rowdy world - and my appreciation for Nalini Singh knows no bounds. Her Psy/Changeling series is one of the most ambitious, unique and satisfying I've ever read, and her Archangel series somehow manages to be brutal, uplifting, and free of religious overtones. Her hero, Raphael, is simply a glorious creature.

  21. Tamara, I have a huge list of authors I haven't had a chance to read. I haven't read Nalini Singh, but I've heard good things about her. Will definitely have to check her out.

  22. Loved your idea about the strengths and virtues of Michael. What a wonderful way to look at him. (Loved your description of getting the kids to the bathroom, too!"

  23. Your books sounds very intriguing - can't wait for it to come out! I actually used to collect Marvel comics in my younger years. Probably didn't hurt that the guy selling comics was totally hot!

  24. Jagi, I've always been fascinated with Michael. He's bathed in so much mystery and power.

    Thanks, Amanda. My agent knows a director, and we were at dinner during RWA and he said he thought my story would make a good animated movie. I thought that was interesting. Who hasn't thought how wonderful it would be to have your book made into a movie? But I'd never even considered that type of movie.

  25. LOL! I loved that movie, MM! Especially the way Michael smelled like cookies! "You can never have too much sugar." Great lines, a terrific dance sequence, and a wonderful romance, too!

  26. I KNEW that my mother-in-law was a demon! Thanks for proving me right. Well, she's my ex-mother in law now. Go figure.

    Favorite paranormal being? Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. LOVED his character. The first time I heard him talk out of character I flipped out. He's NOT British. He's American. What a way to ruin the fantasy for me.

  27. Hi Anita! I love all things fantasy, and am really looking forward to reading your books. Terrific post!