The Oxymoronic Genre – Erotic Urban Fantasy


People tend to look at me oddly when I tell them I write erotic urban fantasy.

Paranormal romances are everywhere these days.  Even erotic paranormals are almost commonplace.  But when you say you write erotic urban fantasies, readers’ eyes narrow as they try to fit that into their mental landscape of the fiction genre world.  I’m not an easy fit.

Try writing it.  🙂

Especially try writing a novella.

Erotic romance, as we all know, is very much about developing the romance via the sexual side of the relationship.   Authors spend pages and pages…well, most of the damn book, actually, focused on the two (or three or more) lovers falling in love in flagrante delicto.  Delicious….

Okay, so now consider urban fantasy.  You have all the hallmarks of traditional high fantasy – look at Lord of the Rings, with its thousands of years of history, five distinct languages, four major species, and three hundred thousand words in the main volume alone.  Wonderful stuff.  I read the book once every year or so.  But that stuff takes a lot of time and space to tell the story properly.  Pages and pages, one might say, especially with all that back story.

Urban fantasy is no different.  You’ve got a modern-day setting, but the fantasy species populating the malls and city streets still have histories, backstories that need explaining, wars that have origins that need developing, and pages and pages of development that need to be squeezed into the narrative without boring the reader or slowing down the action.

Urban Fantasy authors long ago learned the trick of not sending the reader to sleep with endless backstory that halted the action.  They instead feed it into the story in small dribbles while the main action is moving on, and the reader shouldn’t really notice that he’s getting a thousand year history lesson along with a sword fight and a romance.

But add an erotic romance to an urban fantasy and you add all sorts of headaches to the author’s lot.

For a start, the author is supposed to spend a great deal of time focusing on the sexual subplot.  Even dribbling in the tiniest amount of history lesson is going to look downright weird when the hero is nibbling on the heroine’s toes.  See the problem?

For most authors, erotic romance + urban fantasy seem like an oxymoron, and they shy away from the challenge.

But I kept reading all these otherwise superb urban fantasies, except for one glaring exception.  The “hero” and the “heroine” would dance around each other coyly for three books, then maybe kiss and cuddle for the tail end of the third.

And that was it for the “romantic interest” for three freaking books!

I like my urban fantasy, sure, but I like my romances at industrial strength, thank you.  And that didn’t do it for me.  Not even close.

So I thought I’d write an urban fantasy that actually had an industrial strength romance in it, the sort of romance I like.  As I like the sort of romances you get from Ellora’s Cave, that meant erotic.  Spicy erotic.

The series I ended up writing were a series of three novellas (just to add to the challenge, I was limited to 30,000 words per book), called Destiny’s Trinities. The first of them, Beth’s Acceptance, came out last month.  The one I’m talking about today is the second in the series, Mia’s Return.  It will be released on November 28th, a mere thirteen days before the third in the series will be released, Sera’s Gift.

I had a blast writing these books.  There’s something very liberating about building your own fantasy universe, and I really got to know and love these characters.

I’ve since written two more stories that are set in the same universe, but are unrelated to the Trinity books.  Ellora’s Cave have bought both of them, and they will be appearing in 2010.

Mia’s Return was the hardest to fit into the novella length.  There was a huge amount of backstory involved and the editing involved to bring it down to length was painful.  But I got there!

First appeared on the Teal Ceagh website, 2009

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