Monday, November 7, 2011

Guest author Maureen O. Betita

I’ve got a questions for everyone to start this blog off…what do you consider paranormal?
I’ve been wrestling with this concept for a few years now. My very first writing class, at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Pittsburgh, 2008…I talked with Judi McCoy, the instructor, about this topic. I had a finished book…and she wanted to know what genre it was. Our convo went something like this…

“…well, the main character is a witch…”

“Paranormal!” (triumphant Judi)

“…who can travel through time and space…”

“Science Fiction!” (brow wrinkled Judi)

“…who restores her magical power through sex…”

“Erotica?” (blinking Judi)

“…who lands in Port Royal during the golden age of piracy…”

“…historical?” Judi shook her head.

I ended up pretty confused myself and simply kept writing, and not trying to understand. I sorta knew science fiction/fantasy as a long time reader and attendee of science fiction/fantasy conventions. I knew that including sex and romance into scifi was the kiss of death. (I think that has changed and was changing back then, but I only knew what I knew.) (Which wasn’t much, come to think of it.)

I still have that book, it’s a nice fat series and one day, it will be published and I will go on to conquer the world! BWAH HA HA!

Meanwhile, I kept writing and founded my personal quirky genre, I call piratepunk. I mean, steampunk had risen to some level of recognition, but I didn’t quite write steampunk. Not enough steam. But punk? Well, if you consider punk a bit like the character in Shakespeare, Puck…then yeah, it works. I don’t do much with mohawks, bodypiercing or headpounding, but I might change a character’s head into that of an ass, given a chance. Maybe it should be piratepuck?


Still, for my publisher I had to fit into an existing genre…and the one that fit better than most, was paranormal. There are vampires and werewolves and zombies…granted, they are pretty much just normal people with odd appetites and no one blinks twice at them in the Tortuga I created for my Kraken’s Caribbean books…but they are there. Along with a matchmaking albino Kraken who guards his Caribbean (when not playing cupid.)

Genre…it’s a very fluid thing! What are your thoughts on it?

And for fun… An excerpt from the first in the the Kraken’s Caribbean series… The Kraken’s Mirror, where my hero, Captain Silvestri prepares a spell, asking for the Kraken’s help. And finds it…
A sliver of moon rose from the sea as he walked into the surf. The water chilled him slightly, but nothing like the nightmare the night Emily held him. He’d seen her, Glacious. A frost appeared on the glass and her eyes studied him. Studied them.

He shook the memory off, praying it had been nothing more than a lingering effect from the nightmare. He walked until the water hit him below his waist and stopped. He held the mirror flat, barely above the water, as Mama Lu told him. A ripple of water reached for it, which was certainly strange. Well, spells should be unusual. He lowered it minutely, and the next ripple kissed the mirror, stirred the powder Mama Lu told him to sprinkle atop the rest.

A ripple flowed away from him, counter to the sea’s course. It disappeared toward the horizon, barely visible in the bare light of a crescent moon. And he waited. Mama Lu said to be patient.

“Ya gonna get a sign. Some message or vision ’bout what way ta go. Wait for it!”

He heard her melodic cadence even now, floating above the sea. The quiet of the night, the lack of any breeze, nothing stirred the trees at his back. No birds called. He looked up at the stars; they blazed down at him.

He sighed and turned his head back to the horizon.

He fought the instinct to scramble away from the great, bulky head of the albino Kraken, not three feet from him, bobbing above the waterline. He swallowed and mastered his fear, while his heart galloped loud enough for the world to hear.

Two tentacles, wider than his waist, drifted to his sides. A fingerling tip brushed the back of his left thigh. He’d never felt so exposed, so vulnerable, small, and insignificant in his entire life.

Gazing into those black eyes, he slowly relaxed. There was no threat there. Simply interest.
Sounds paranormal…right? Or…piratepunk… Yeah, piratepunk. I’m starting a movement! Put your tricorn on, pass that rum and let’s hear an ARRRRRR!

Where to find Maureen


  1. THE KRAKEN'S MIRROR is fantastic! I agree wholeheartedly with piratepunk. You have cornered the market and started the movement!

  2. This is a very good question. I am frequently amused when I pick up books from the library and see how they categorize the books. Who here would say Sherrilnyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series should be under Fantasy? What about Jeaniene Frost's Cat & Bones Grave series as Romance?

    Lumping Urban Fantasy under Fantasy or Romance is not good. And is Steampunk a sub-genre of Fantasy, Sci-Fi or Historical? All depends upon who you ask.

    Your first book, the one the instructor was confused about, sounds to me to be something I would call Paranormal Sci-Fi Fantasy or, if there is enough hot and steamy sex in it, Erotic Paranormal Sci-Fi Fantasy.

    Paranormal to me is anything with an inhuman or hybrid (i.e. halfling) character (i.e. supernatural) including ghosts and angels or humans with extra abilities (witches, physics, mediums, blood drinkers - the vampire sub-culture, not nuts). A paranormal story to me doesn't have to be supernatural.

    I think these days there are so many books and authors doing cross genres, we don't need to stick with traditional labels for the stories. Hence something like Erotic Paranormal Sci-Fi Fantasy tells me the story has some seriously steamy hot sex with interesting beings who either deal with time travel, space and/or aliens, in a made up world sometimes featuring the Fae world or unusual characteristics.

    But then again I don't think a romance has to have a happily ever after and have a terrible time with automatically labeling a series that continues a story over a lot of books in a series Urban Fantasy.

  3. Artemis - Thank you!

    WildAboutBones - With the explosion of e-books, it may be possible to categorize a book in the multi genre fashion you propose. But presently, most publishers are using the old brick&mortor model. And trust me, when shelving a book, clerks need it fast and simple.

    When I worked in a bookstore, it drove me crazy to see how some books were categorized and knew they (the publishers) were missing the boat. But limited space and time means books need to be classified quickly!

    On the other hand, I have an independent store locally with one row of romance...shelved as romance... Wandering the store, there is plenty more, but knowing his readership in the community, he puts some in scifi...some in fanatsy...some in contemp, some in... You get my drift?

    Might be fun to just try out a bookstore with the name... CrossGenreBooks.

    And screw all this separation!

  4. I think that anything that has something like, Vampires and wolfs and maybe even witches. But it's not a easy quetion to anserw. Great post

  5. Genre bending! Steph

  6. Loretta - It gets strange...what about angels, demons, mermaids, griffins, dragons... If they shift? What if they interact with the 'real world'? I tell you, it's a nutsy thing to try to figure out!

    Steph - So true...genre bending until it breaks and plants the seeds of the many new orchards of genre.

    Me? Piratepunk...Or it did occur to me to call it honor of mischievous Puck...

  7. This is from Michele on goodreads
    This is an interesteing topic.I belong to Sister in Crime and we recently had a long thread trying to define the difference between paranormal, fantasy and several other adjectives. No consensus. We've also had discussions about the fine-tuning of mystery genres: is a cozy with romance not longer a cozy; what's the difference between a mystery and a thriller (consensus is that in a mystery the reader doesn't know who did it; in a thriller, the killer is known, the plot is how s/he's caught. I bill my vampire romance as a "paranormal" because of the vampires and my mystery, with a protag who's a newspaper editor, as a "traditional" mystery. I don't know how fine these genre defination should go. British auther Kate Atkinson has said she doesn't like labels and says she just writes the best story she can. Do the finely-tuned labels help readers or sales?

  8. Laurie - I've had the same discussion in less definite terms with my blogmates on the Romance Writers Revenge...and never can reach a consensus.

    I know readers might miss reads by sticking to a very narrow listing of books. One of the things that will be missed with brick&mortor is those aisles one stumbles onto. Or the tables with new releases, no particular genre, just shiny new covers to entice the readers...

    It seems as if we are becomming more and more of a narrow/specific sort of society, with less venturing out of our comfort zone than we once did.

    That has to reflect with readers, I would think! Yet, I hope not.

    As I said, it would great to have the no specific bookstore...but then again, how would one find what they want quickly?

    I imagine the more specific helps the sales short term, but long term? I doubt it.


This is an award free blog. Thank you for all of your comments.