Urban Fantasy deals with fantasy species living in our suburbs and shopping at our malls. Which begets the immediate question: Do the humans in that fictional world know about these fantasy creatures living amongst them, or not?
And that’s where an urban fantasy author’s headache immediately sets in. Right from the get-go she has to make decision about whether the species are known or secret, and each decision has huge implications for the universe she’s building, and the human characters in it.
If she’s writing urban fantasy romance, it adds layers of complication to the romance, too. Usually, one of the romance couple is human and the other is the fantasy creature. For the sake of simplicity, let’s deal with vampires for the rest of this post, although urban fantasy doesn’t have to be just vampires. It could be elves, witches, fae, gargoyles, demons, angels…anything. Vampires still continue to be incredibly popular.
An urban fantasy romance where the vampires are secret makes life difficult for the hero and heroine, because usually, one of them is human and the other is vampire. The human has to adjust first to the whole idea that vampires exist in the world, before any true romance can begin to happen.
If vampires are openly living in the world, such as Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series, this problem doesn’t exist, but a whole new series of problems arises: prejudices against vampire & human relationships, and a whole truckload of political issues that the author needs to decide about before they start page 1 of the novel.
These are the two alternatives that most urban fantasy/urban fantasy romance authors tend to consider when they’re building a new urban fantasy universe for a novel or series.
I went a third way when I was building the world for Blood Knot. I asked the question “What if the vampires were on the cusp of emerging?” What if the novel caught them at the moment when they were trying to reveal themselves to humans? What sort of ramifications would that have?
After that, the background for the novel (and the series) wrote itself.
As it turns out, vampires trying to “come out” has some very interesting complications indeed. In the world of Blood Knot, not everyone likes the idea of vampires becoming common knowledge, and you’d be surprised at who tries to stop them.
(Although check the dateline of this post to ensure you’re not reading one of my back-posts.)