You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stick together* You gotta be HUMAN

*In case you were wondering, this Des’ree album was the first CD I ever bought. Actually it was one of two but the other one was the Aladdin soundtrack, so I don’t count it.

My suspension of disbelief is wacky, it has an ever changing “tolerance line” that can or cannot be crossed as in: it’s ok with me if the heroine is a witch, but not ok if she’s a werewolf. A hero can be a vampire, but not a Greek god. She can be telepathic, but not an angel and definitely NOT a ghost.

What I think I’m trying to say is my Heroine needs to be HUMAN. Well at least mostly human, her most recognizable characteristics, thought processes and personality traits must be those of a human.

Kate, you're hot, but your being a vampire doens't work for me

Kate, you're hot, but your being a vampire doesn't work for me

Authors have it rough with this “fine line” in paranormals, I would imagine they struggle to keep the humanity in their fantastical characters so we the reader can still connect with them. I think every reader must just have a different point of no return.

Part of my eclectic reading habits include the paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi genres. Especially ever since I discovered book blogs, these are some of the hottest genres right now, and some of the most recommended titles. We all know vampire books have saturated the market, but they are only one small sub-set of the larger whole.

In an effort to ensure I predict which books that I will LIKE I’ve been thinking really hard about what does and doesn’t work for me and why. When I see recommendations for books where the Heroine is a vampire from the get-go? I stay far away.

For some reason I can deal with a vampire Hero AS LONG AS the author makes it work, in a “believable” scenario where it works out for them to be together. For example, I am totally depending on Charlaine Harris to keep Sookie Stackhouse human but somehow figure out a way for her and Eric to live Happily Ever After. Sounds impossible, but I have hope.

Looking back at some of my previous blog posts I saw the trail leading me to this realization. Every reader is different, has different preferences, which is why the literary world is SO incredibly diverse. So these books are some examples that just don’t work for me:

     Exhibit A) Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake, Laurie Brown: The heroine travels back in time, meets and falls in love with the hero in the historical past, then they both become ghosts and live happily ever after as GHOSTS. This is a story line I DO NOT WANT. If I had known they would both end up as ghosts I never would have read it. But again, I recognize that in a time travel book it is REALLY difficult to write a good HEA.

     Exhibit B) Fantasy Lover, Sherrilyn Kenyon: In this case, it was the Hero not being human that bothered me. He was a lesser god from Greek mythology and many of the secondary characters and sub plots included other Greek gods and goddesses. I like books that are “re-tellings” of fairy tales or myths, but not when they feature the actual gods themselves. I feel like there is something sacred about fairy tales and myths, that we in present day shouldn’t mess with them or use them.

     Exhibit C) Sort of on the same path, I don’t like when my historical fiction makes up fake princes or princesses when everything else in the book is historically accurate. Fake Dukes and Earls I can deal with. Royalty? Do not want. Something that would be a matter of such importance and historical record that is completely fictional bothers me. Again I have this weird feeling that royalty is something sacred not to be messed with.

     Exhibit D) This is a tired and overused example, but the Vampire Hunter series about Anita Blake by Laurell K. Hamilton. With every additional book Anita becomes less and less human (she had magical powers to begin with) but her humanity disintegrated as her story went on, starting with being marked by the vampire Jean-Claude, getting more magical powers in a menage-a-trois, becoming a lupa with the wereleopards…well this sounds like nonsense so I’ll stop trying to explain.

Are there any paranormal protagonists that just don’t work for you?

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15 Responses

  1. good post… i think you got it really. i love the fantasy/sci-fi genre but in the end it all comes down to a driven story that i can somehow relate to in my life. (it’s all about me)

    ps my sister has burned aladin into my brain FOREVER!

  2. thanks becky! and i agree, being a reader makes us selfish, even if the story takes place on a different planet 100 years on the future it does have to connect with us somehow.

    ps: that’s because the soundtrack is A-mazing

  3. Awesome post and I must say, Aladdin totally counts ;-)

  4. You’re sweet! Clearly my eclectic tastes are long standing…purchasing des’ree and aladdin together in 6th grade. i somehow though both were super cool at the same time.

  5. Wouldn’t it be great if PR or UF authors could write about a normal heroine who didn’t have such great powers? But then she may get killed because she didn’t have them.
    I wonder how they could get around that?

  6. katiebabs: it *would* be great! while i’m reading my imagination does conjure those “what ifs” which ends up yanking me out of the story…

  7. haha, my first music purchase involved the lion king soundtrack ;-)

    i inexplicably love historical fiction, even when it’s all REAL history with just one random fictional character. even if it’s royalty. i like it better than real history, anyway…

  8. Interesting blog article. I write mostly historical (a little paranormal). In my paranormals the hero can be a shifter, but my heroine is generally just a little ol’ human trying to understand his complex world. I’m amazed at the “craze” over the vampire and werewolf stories. People seem fascinated with humans who can morph into any number of creatures and the vampire plot doesn’t seem to slowing down (credit goes to Twilight).

    I’m always interested in what readers want and there are some interesting thoughts here. Thanks for posting.

    Keta Diablo
    http://ketaskeep.blogspot.com

  9. Alice: I think we’re on the same page (pun intended) re: historical fiction. Like I am fine reading about Eleanor of Acquitaine’s court from the point of view of a fictional lady in waiting but the large historical events are factual.

    Or historical fiction set during the civil war (I’m thinking John Jakes books) where Lincoln makes an appearance and all the large battles are factual, but the rest of the characters and dialogue is all fictional.

    But in either of these two examples if Queen Eleanor or President Lincoln talk to much or have too much action in the novel it really bothers me.

  10. You… you don’t count the Aladdin soundtrack? *sheds a silent tear*

    But I guess we do have to find some way to connect to heroes and heroines. We have to be able to believe that the character is some enhanced version of ourselves, or at least the realization of our potential. And if it’s a ghost, it just can’t possibly be any of that.

  11. I wish you’d been with us this weekend… at one point we randomly broke out singing “Part of Your World”, and I just know you would have brought it home.

  12. Keta: thanks for visiting! i like the sound of your heros-with-something extra, while the heroine remains human! we readers are so very diverse, so my opinion is very different from many others, but i’m glad you stopped by.

    f.B: don’t get me wrong i luuuurve aladdin and after 8 years of piano lessons as a child the ONLY song i can still play off by heart is A Whole New World.

    Lilu: OMG i know every word to it. I especially love “walkin around on those, whaddya call ’em? oh feeeet!!!” and also “Bet they don’t reprimand their daughters!”

  13. […] keeping with my post about my tolerance line for paranormal protagonists, I find that I am only comfortable with real-life famously prominent historical characters on stage […]

  14. […] first I was all, ugh, a non-human heroine? Yuck!Also in my imagination her eyes were like those old Windows Screensavers, like stars zooming towards […]

  15. […] kept reading since I was on the plane, but that type of heroine is just not for me. I’ve blogged about it before, but totally non-human heroines with very different agendas/goals/morals/eating habits/life […]

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