Thursday, April 21, 2011

Paranormal Posers

I was talking to a fellow writer the other day and the conversation took an interesting turn when she said to me, "Well it's not like you're a paranormal poser - you actually write this stuff cause you like it!"

Her comment struck me as insanely hilarious at first and then I started to mull over the truth behind her words and asked her in turn, "So you can tell when a paranormal writer is faking it?"

Hell yes! After I asked the question I realized that it's something I can do as well...recognize when an author has jumped on the paranormal bandwagon and is writing about vampires, werewolves, whatever, for the wrong reasons. I have a pile of books from several authors that I just couldn't read all the way through. Books where the characters are so wooden -not because of poor writing but because the author was writing them without a true understanding of the genre. Thanks to my friend I now have a term for them - the paranormal posers: writers who only write suparnatural stories because it's the hotest thing around at the moment.

Now, I'm not saying that you have to have a lifetime of experience with liking paranormal related things but I think it certainly helps. I've always loved all things paranormal. From watching the Hilarious House of Frightenstein to reading The Good Little Witch, over and over again, my childhood was filled with a love for ghosts, witches, vampires, whatever; as long as it was weird and scary I was totally into it.

So does it bother me that there are a few authors out there who have suddenly switched genres in favor of the popular paranormal? Sure, I guess it does, but only if they are doing it for the wrong reasons. And even before my friend pointed it out to me and gave it a name, I realize that I certainly can tell when they are doing it for the wrong reasons.

So what do you all think? Can you see through the paranormal posers? Does it bother you as a reader? What about as an aspiring author?

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  1. Its not something I really thought about much until you blogged it. But, there have been times I've read someone's work and wondered if they were outside their comfort zone. So, I guess the idea has crossed my mind periodically but only when presented with a piece of oddly fashioned work.
    I've always had an abnormal interest in vampires, witches and werewolves, not so much the other paranormal entities or supernatural ones, so I might be outside my comfort zone a little writing about something that I don't know enough about. I mean I know a bit, but not enough to feel entirely comfortable with a whole story about something other than vamps, were's or witches. I'd either have to do a hell of a lot of research or stay clear of it.
    Good blog, and enjoyed the honesty you bring to it. :)

  2. Yeah, they get to me as well, I like authors that take either a stand on thier own or like to delve into something a little different.

    One recent newbie that I discovered is Kevin Hearne (yeah and what are the odds on a guy named that writing with a lead Druid character? LOL) His debut, Hounded takes a different route on the parnanormal trail and delivered something that was a whole lot of fun.

    There are plenty of posers who really don't try to push the boundaries or explore anything other than following the already heavily trodden path. It annoys and really feels like it just helps create another part of the motorway that others can just speed along without considering whats gone before.

  3. Yeah, you can tell the difference between someone who has written for the love of the genre vs the love of money. The paranormal elements either feel 'thrown in' or are overwhelmingly trite in the stories written because they are currently in demand.

  4. First, that's a great expression!

    Second, with UF's huge popularity in the past few years, it's not surprising that authors are jumping on the bandwagon. But honestly, I don't think it's too unusual for an author to switch genres and it's usually pretty easy to tell if they did so out of a genuine interest in the new genre or just to cash in.

  5. Haha! Love the term, too funny. As for me, I'm a total poser. I'm a newbie writer, so for me it's all new. I never thought I'd write about vampires or any of the stuff I've written about lately. Yes I think you can tell, but not everyone can. It's like my pal who's an astrophysicist, he love watching all the popular sci-fi shows, even though he's one of the few smart enough to know which star is out of line in the backdrop. Ugh....

  6. I think it's important for a writer to write a story they would love to read. If you're not doing that, others will see through it. I've always been fascinated with the supernatural: werewolves, vampires, ghosts, etc. However, as a writer, the world building is not easy for me so I tend to stay on the border, writing the real world with a thin line of paranormal weaved in. That's what works for me. Despite that I love reading urban fantasy, if I tried to build a bigger supernatural world it wouldn't work for me and I think readers would be able tell.

  7. I hadn't thought much about it. I love Urban Fantasy and I've been writing/reading it since before LKH made it really popular. I have read some books that have vampires in it and I'm all... eh, this would have been better without them. Thanks. It's kind of annoying, but it ultimately doesn't bother me that much.


  8. Lestat was the first vampire I ever met...oops I meant read! And I was hooked after that and took it farther inot the occult world. If I write a spell into a book - chances are I've done it or the research to get it right.

    It does bug me to walk into bookstores and see the YA section overflowing with Paranormal books because I know that about half of them are written by those Posers who are just out to make money.

    I write because I love to write not because I want to make money or get rich at it (although that would be cool too) so yeah it bugs me a lot when I see others writing just for the money.

    Great Post!

  9. Why on earth would someone write what they didn't love? *shakes head*

  10. Wow. I never figured that out. But it just bothers me every time I go in a bookstore, most novels I see are vampire-inspired. If it is not about vampires, it is about werewolves.