Where Does the Paranormal Start and the Urban Fantasy Begin?
I suppose we could subtitle this You Got Werewolves in My Urban Fantasy. Because of how booksellers shelve and publishers categorize books, there’s a lot of confusion regarding what’s paranormal and what’s urban fantasy. It’s not impossible to tell one from the other, but it can be a bit tricky and some authors insist on genre mashing just to make things interesting.
Paranormal refers to something outside normal human understanding. (Para meaning beside, so in this case a set of knowledge that runs alongside the normal.) These are, generally, things associated with humans that possibly could be explained by a body of knowledge we don’t yet understand. Or we once believed so – studying psychic and supernatural phenomena was once regarded as a science. Some people still treat it as such. Ghosts, demons, humans with extra abilities such as telekinesis or humans who have been enhanced through contact with paranormal beings such as vampires or werewolves.
Paranormal stories take place in our world, the setting recognizable as our world with events and beings operating outside the normal range of human experience or understanding.
Urban Fantasy, on the other hand, takes place in an Earth setting that is subtly changed. Originally, urban fantasy denoted a modern urban setting, often with grittier results than high fantasy. But the term has expanded so that it can include any real world urban setting in any time period and modern settings that are not necessarily urban. The key to urban fantasy is that it’s not quite the world as we know it. Magic is real and has laws of operation just as physics or chemistry. Creatures from legend and folklore may well walk the streets. Human society is somehow changed, in large part of small, by this setting.
Some substantial subset of humans in urban fantasy, or in some cases all humans, are aware of the magic and the magical creatures. They are part of society for good or ill and humans need to deal with them.
So are werewolves and vampires always paranormal? Not necessarily. Man walking the moors alone at night is attacked by a feral creature but survives and finds to his horror that he changes every full moon. Paranormal. You have a paranormal creature operating outside the normal byways of human society and a person who is changed by coming in contact with said creature. However, werewolf tribe living and working in Atlanta as an integral part of the community and requires magic to change? That’s urban fantasy.
Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters comes very close to straddling that line, but still falls within the Paranormal spectrum. The Offbeat Crimes stories take place in our world, in modern Philadelphia, with no overall system of magic in place. We have a small subset of the population, in the case police officers who are enhanced humans, who are aware of paranormal happenings and try to shield the general population from these happenings.
Never mind that their special powers are all jacked up. They do the best they can.
Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters
Offbeat Crimes 1
Kyle Monroe, his irritating new partner and their fellow freaks at the 77th Precinct must learn to work together to stop a vicious murderer that might not even be human.
Kyle Monroe’s encounter with a strange, gelatinous creature in an alley leaves him scarred and forever changed, revealing odd abilities he wishes he didn’t have and earning him reassignment to a precinct where all the cops have defective paranormal abilities.
Just as he’s starting to adjust to his fellow misfit squad mates, Kyle’s new partner arrives. Tall, physically perfect, reserved and claiming he has no broken psychic talents, Vikash Soren irritates Kyle in every way. But as much as he’d like to hate Vikash, Kyle finds himself oddly drawn to him, their non-abilities meshing in unexpected ways. If they can learn to work together, they might be able to stop the mysterious killer who has been leaving mutilated bodies along the banks of the Schuylkill.
About Angel Martinez
The unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, Angel Martinez has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, (same husband for almost twenty-four years) gave birth to one amazing son, (now in college) and realized at some point that she could get paid for writing.
Published since 2006, Angel’s cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You’ll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don’t expect sad endings. Life is sad enough.
She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.