Well, would you?
I had to find an answer two summers ago. I was tinkering with the second half of The Kingdom: The Quest, looking for a way to ratchet up tension between Arman and his friends. I pondered it for a while. Out of the blue came an idea. What if somebody fell in love with a werewolf?
The idea stunned me, but it fit perfectly. It was just crazy enough to work. So I included it. One of Arman’s friends, during the second half of The Kingdom: The Quest, is smitten by a female werewolf. This werewolf tried to kill everybody just a few chapters before the love affair begins.
I was rejoicing until my inner voice spoke up.
“Hey, Sean, old buddy, old pal. You know that what you have here is a paranormal romance, right?”
“Ummm… no. I guess it is.”
“Have you ever read any paranormal romance?”
“Well, no, but how hard could it be? I mean, the most popular examples are Twilight and True Blood. When I hear people talk about them, I don’t hear any talk about the plot. I hear them talking about sexy vampires.”
“I’m not going to read them. I’m going to one-up them. I’m going to take a serious examination. Forget those adolescent fantasies! What really would happen if a man and a monster fell in love? What are the ramifications? How would this be looked at from a traditional fantasy perspective? What can I play with here?”
At that point I shoved away my inner voice and got to work. I didn’t have time to read those silly paranormal romances! I had a novel to write!
Guess who’s feeling stupid now. In about a month, The Kingdom: The Quest goes out to the world, and I haven’t done my research. Now I don’t have the time I had those two summers ago. I’m studying at Benedictine College and putting the final touches on The Quest. The only reading I’ll be doing for the next few months will be for literature and Latin class.
Which is a pity, because I’ve realized that there may be much more to the P.R. genre than I thought. Ever since I joined Twitter in May, I’ve run into paranormal authors left and right. Authors like Jami Gold have blown me away with insightful blog posts about writing. As soon as I have adequate free time, I want to read their books and get to know the genre a little better.
For now, though, I must go by gut. After a lot of thinking about my paranormal romance subplot, I made some conclusions. I thought I’d share them because, having read no paranormal romances, I don’t know how most books approach them. This could mean I have different takes on the genre. Consider this an outsider’s comments on paranormal romance (and a preview of how it’s going to look in the second half of The Kingdom: The Quest).
- In answer to the titular question, I think I would date a werewolf. If she truly had good left in her, and I thought I could help her, I would. I would not run if a spark developed between us. I would stay by her, even if everyone else persecuted me. The only thing that would make me leave her was her rejection or her ultimate choice to pursue evil.
- A werewolf isn’t always monstrous. As a human, there’s no telling what he/she will look like. My werewolf is a beautiful young woman. Even without fur and fangs, it’s easy for a man to forget the dark side of a woman when she’s pretty and she has a smile on her face. It’s easier to fall into paranormal love than the average hero (or heroine) might think.
- On the flip side, there has to be something more than erotic appeal. There has to be an emotional connection. Without that, I wind up writing a testosterone-laced fantasy. I don’t believe in that. Therefore, for my romance, I found a connection in pity. Arman’s friend wants to help the female werewolf, who is consumed by guilt (see #4).
- I think there must also be some serious examination over whether this sort of love is natural. The operative phrase here, after all, is paranormal romance. That implies a love that is not quite normal. Is it moral? Is it healthy? Is it acceptable? Is it even biologically possible if consummated?
- In Arman’s world, werewolves are evil. They are monsters originally created by the Nameless One. They transmit the curse by bite. My werewolf didn’t choose to become one, but she did choose to follow the werewolves that bit her. She’s killed men before. She can’t stop herself from killing if she transforms. The most important theme I try to is explore how she strives for goodness despite this, and how she is tortured by guilt for what she has and has not done. How guilty should she be in the end?
- On that note, there has to be anger from the other characters when they find out about the romance. Especially in a fantasy with traditional values like mine, werewolf romance is another phrase for “sleeping with the enemy”. It’s almost a perversion. For at least one character, it is perversion. I find the tension between all the characters to be extremely important.
- Most importantly, I could not settle this romance without finding answers to these questions. If I could not find a happy ending that answered these questions, then I had to break up the romance and maybe even kill one or both of the characters off. Justice must be served. If my character winds up giving himself to the Nameless One in order to love this werewolf, he becomes an enemy and he must be stopped. I would cheapen the story if I let him be happy just because he’s in love.