Thoughts from an urban fantasy writer’s panel


With electricity prices skyrocketing, solar paneling may be your urban fantasy, but it is not the sort of panel I am referring to…

The Brisbane Writer’s Festival is in full swing, and I thought I would summarise some of the key points I learned from the urban fantasy panel last year:  Nalini Singh, Marjorie M.Liu and Paula Weston.

Nalini Singh – Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunter series

Marjorie M.Liu – Hunter Kiss series

Paula Weston – Rephaim series

1) Know where you are going with your world and how  it will end.

Some of us are plotters and some are pantsers. Either way, knowing how your world will evolve and how the story will end will help you build the layers through your installments. You’ll know when the time is right for the series to end.

2) Characters need to show light and dark and growth.

If there is nowhere for your character to head to or come from, readers will be less interested as they like to follow a journey.

3) Keep the tone of your series consistent.

If you start your book as one genre, readers will expect that it will stay that way – don’t change it. If your series will head in a different direction, you need to set the expectations for your readers early on.

4) If you are having writer’s block, make sure you don’t leave it too long before you write again.

Marjorie said that she left it two weeks once, and every day she left it made it harder for her to return.

5) Create your own mythology, but keep it consistent and believable.

And when they say believable, they  mean that readers need to be able to accept the mythology you have built, not that you expect to see vampires walking next to you. If you provide limitations on the paranormal aspect, then your magic system/creature will be more believable as well.

6) Don’t write to a trend.

We hear this all the time. Write what you love when you love it even if nobody else does at the time. Your passion will be translated through your words. Chuck Wendig did a great post on his terribleminds blog. Can I just link other peeoples blogs or am I meant to reblog? Hmmm

What will be the next big thing? Urban fantasy. Oh, they didn’t say that? Well, I’m saying it.

It’s on….



It’s not you, it’s me: when authors jump genres

A blood elf in Warcraft dancing like Napoleon Dynamite? Sure, why not? I’m open to anything. I love this dance!

My favourite author jumping genres? Wait, what? Which genre? I’m not open to everything.

When I read a book by one of my favourite authors and they’ve taken on a new style to fit a new genre and added elements I never agreed to,  my heart sinks and I feel guilty for not feeling the love.  One minute I’m tweeting reviews and retweeting other people’s reviews, and then retweeting the author’s retweets of other people’s reviews of their books, and the next minute I’m hiding under the desk becoming uncharacteristically silent when I’m normally so vocal. I want to stick with them, I’m not completely unreasonable. Should I remain as supportive as before just because it isn’t my thing?

I used to love Fantasy; it was my first love, before Urban Fantasy and you never forget your first love. I am not trending to Game of Thrones when I say that I would love to write a  true Fantasy novel one day. I’d shake my David Eddings and Raymond E.Feist books at you for proof, but they’d get all ratty with my vehemence. And I’d challenge you to a duel with my ten level 80 Warcraft characters if I didn’t have to close down my account three years ago because I was so obsessed. I’d love to see David Eddings write a YA Contemporary romance, though. Has he? I’m so out of touch with my roots…

YA to NA to Adult and back. Not a problem for me, as long as the elements and style is similar.

Some leaps are more like a shuffle, some leaps can clear huge, gaping chasms.

What leaps have you stretching with the author, bracing yourself for the journey, and what genre jumps have you pouting like a 14 year old who has had their Warcraft account cancelled by Mummy? Okay… like a 39 year old who had to cancel their Warcraft account because they are obsessive.

If you don’t like the leap, are you just as supportive?

I’m not really saying what leaps are too big for me, am I?

Here’s the real Napoleon Dynamite to distract you with his awesomeness.


Romance and non-romance readers unite – is there a happy medium?

Gather round romance and non-romance readers and writers. Or gather around. Do it in a circular fashion, circle before you get here, or just come and sit down anywhere.

Now, scooch in a little closer.  I’m not a complete monster. I’m only halfway there.

Originally I wanted to be selfish. I wanted to talk about  the deep psychological reasons behind why  I can’t read romance and why others can.   I’ve found great reading friends over the past three years and I know that our romance buttons need to be pushed in different ways. Some of us need a manual, but others can enjoy the book for what it is, and leave out with the nitpicking. This is one of those times where I think to say less is to say more.  I have a habit of coming across a little cynical.

I was an obsessive reader before I started writing. When I found there were adult versions of  Young Adult Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy, I went a little crazy. Er, crazier. The supernatural without angst? Isn’t this one of their super powers that allows them to hook so many readers? Bring on the twenty books I ordered from the library. Bring on the flushed cheeks when I was served by a man at the counter and I used my husbands library card. He didn’t have to say, ” Are these for your husband?” But he did.

So my eyes were opened – widely. I have romance, sex and alpha men, and I didn’t know what to make of them. What I found though, is that there were romance aspects that stopped me from reading the more romance-skewed books. The romance seemed too extreme, too unrealistic. I was proclaiming, “Why is she so special!” “That wouldn’t happen!” I read to escape, but I found I was escaping less.

I ran to Urban Fantasy, clutching my pearls. I wanted more tension, a slower-burn romance, an exciting protagonist, a greater connection, a less protective male and less sex.

Would romance writers lose their market if they compromised these elements? When I throw a book because a woman looked at a man’s biceps thirty times while they were in a dire situation, is there someone out there dichotomous to me who throws the book when she only looked at them twice?

Is there a way to keep all of us happy? Is there a happy medium? Well, you’d have to find a happy medium first, and if they are happy, they’ve probably finally worked out the lottery numbers and won’t want to work anymore.

*braces herself*





YA,NA and Adult: Blurring the lines

I’m going to be making some huge generalisations here. I’m in the final stages of my second to last edit and I have to take some leaps. Forgive me if I fall into a big hole in the process. I’ll roll over and expose my belly later, but I don’t have the time right now.

I should probably note here that I’m a huge Urban Fantasy fan ( with Urban Fantasy there’s a paranormal aspect, but the romance normally takes a back seat. If romance was driving, it would be called Paranormal Romance.) and my comments about contemporary romances are probably ill-informed and basic. But considering it takes up a large part of the NA market, and this is where my book fits age-wise, I have to acknowledge it’s existence.

Hi, NA Contemporary Romance *waves sheepishly*.  I’m Urban Fantasy, new to the block. No, please keep your pants on, this is just an informal introduction.

The year New Adult  was born ( protag aged between 18-25 I believe) , I contemplated writing a book. It was certainly  before the age group was accepted as its own category,  but I didn’t know it existed at the time.  I don’t know if I shied away from writing New Adult because of this, or because I wasn’t ready period. Redundant statement really.

I heard NA was born because some authors were being handed back their manuscripts and told: make the characters younger, tone down the sex and lets get some YA love out of the market. People wanted to write about emotions, the exciting time where you leave your parents to experiment life.  I believe it started with books like Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster. Still pretty tame for NA really. The setting was university, but the sex didn’t dominate. I don’t know what happened though – over the next few years NA contemporary romance seems to have become very erotic.  I could proclaim myself a prude with my desire to shy away from reads that are heavily erotic. I don’t know if this is it though. And I’m not saying they don’t have great story lines that hook you in- I almost stayed up all night reading Beautiful Disaster. I guess I’m confused as to why the NA that’s selling well seems erotically skewed. Is this because there are no other NA genres available to this age group? Why can’t we have NA that reads like YA, but with older characters? Oh, but less angsty than YA.

When you take out the angst, you can almost argue it becomes more adult in nature. But considering a lot of my content and humour could be considered juvenile to adult readers,  this isn’t exactly where I sit either.  My character doesn’t tolerate boundaries, so I’ll be damned if I shove her somewhere she doesn’t want to go.

I’m blurring the lines. My book isn’t angsty, it isn’t romancey, it isn’t adult, it isn’t not erotic. Am I doomed? Will romance forever be kicking the back of my seat saying, “Let me drive. I can do this so much better, and I’ll do it better nude?”

When you’re writing, do you consider what appeals to your market, or like me, do you write what appeals to you, and hope that it will resonate with the right readers who can be of any age.