Vicki Hinze © 2003-2011
Could you define Paranormal? Not only regarding romances but in general.
A paranormal novel is simply any novel which contains paranormal elements. That’s not much help, now is it? 🙂 Let’s try to dig a little deeper to give you a better grip on this.
Inside or outside the romance genre, a paranormal novel is one in which an “otherworldly” influence impacts events. This can come in many forms, so let’s look at some of them.
Your otherworldly element might be an angel, a ghost (as in my SEASCAPE novels), a group of gods or goddesses or, as in MAYBE THIS TIME, a Council of Perfection of Elders. In other words, something or someone–otherworldly.
That element might also be a novel element that impacts the characters but is not a character. For example, time travel. Some of Alice Hoffman’s books fall into this category.
Another segment of paranormal novels are those where the character is the otherworldly element. Here, you have vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters and the like. All of these are considered paranormal elements. They fall outside the boundaries of what we consider normal.
Yet another type of paranormal novel deals with otherworldly assets that are not the character but are “gifts” (or curses) heaped upon the character. In this category, you would include those with the ability to astral-project and such. Now many include those with special abilities like psychics or those adept with telekinesis, those who converse regularly with ghosts, spirits or guides (like Sylvia Brown or James Edward) in this category. They are human and normal, but they have this paranormal “gift” that many attribute to extremely high vibrational assets or tapped areas of the brain that remain untapped in the majority of us.
So the term “paranormal” is actually a catchall phrase that can include any otherworldly aspect. I would except fantasy novels from this, because in those, the expectation is for all manner of things in the imagination. I’m sure you see the difference.
Paranormal romance is simply a sub-genre of romance that cues the reader/book buyer/editor/agent that this romance novel contains a paranormal element and that element remains secondary to the romance.
If the romance did not, then this novel could be tagged a Romantic Paranormal. Subtle shift, but it cues those same people that the focus of the novel is on the paranormal and the romantic element is secondary.*