Saturday, June 26, 2010

Forbidden Fruit (And Don't We Love It!)

We've all met the forefathers of the paranormal world. Bram Stoker's Dracula, George Waggner's The Wolf Man, and other early prototypes of the much-maligned fur-and-fanged world have been ingrained in our racial memory almost as deeply as a fear/fascination of fire.

Think I'm joking? Don't worry, I am... mostly. While there is no (credible) evidence of fanged cavemen stalking the Neanderthals of ages past, there is, instead, a like fascination with the things that go bump in the night. We have loved to hate vampires who creep through bedroom windows, cheered when the werewolves have been put down by silver bullets (carefully crafted from one's father's melted down watch, natch), covered our eyes when the blood-bathing witch was burned at the stake and the souls of her cursed victims set free.

If you're here, then you share that love with me.

And perhaps you can answer a question that has always interested me: How, in all that is (un)holy, did vampires go from this unfortunate child of the night to this blessed hunk of blood-love? Where in our society did we decide that being stalked by furry-faced flesh-eaters was not nearly so fun as being seduced by them?

I have a theory, gentle (and not so gentle) readers. My theory is this: We as a species, a culture and a shared memory are routinely fascinated by the forbidden. From as majestic as the ancient tales of locked gateways to heaven to the mundane as being told we shouldn't touch the stove, we are drawn to that which we cannot have.

A creature of the night who is as likely to kill me as kiss me is about as forbidden fruit as I can get. Add in the most-certainly intimate trappings of blood, penetration of fang (hey, now!), and the invariable mechanics of dark nights and lonesome surroundings, and you have a recipe for one smoldering romance.

Aside from that whole "may possibly get killed by my fanged lover" bit... A tiny, insignificant detail, of course.

Does it stop with the traditional critters? Absolutely not! In this very blog, we have mermaids and dragons, vampires and gods; a veritable cornucopia of creatures, A to Z. (Do we have a Z, actually? What on earth—or beyond—starts with Z? Anyone? Anyone? ... Bueller?) And while modern fairy tales have been Disneyfied quite a bit, we all know that the old tales weren't nearly so light and happy (and only rarely featured a song and dance number).

Mermaids have been known to eat and drown thirsty men; sirens lured sailors to their deaths on craggy rocks. Gods have rarely been so kind as to help from the goodness of their hearts—most have been portrayed as selfish, flawed beings with phenomenal cosmic powers (and very large living spaces, to boot!). Vampires, as we mentioned, drink human blood, werewolves feast on human flesh; witches ate children and bathed in the blood of innocents.

And as if the natural state of their being wasn't enough, we humans have always hunted and destroyed (or captured!) what we don't understand. We have to quantify everything, and to do so we, we must pick it apart... Can you imagine a vampire in a laboratory?

So tell me your story. What draws you to these once-upon-a-time killing machines? Why do you read paranormal, and what makes you want them?

Hi, my name is Karina Cooper, and I'm addicted to paranormal romance.

In my debut novel, Blood of the Wicked, Silas Smith is not a man who is lured by the forbidden. In his line of work, the forbidden is executed, and he's one of the best witch hunters the Mission can claim—thorough, deadly, and most of all, dedicated. His task? Simple enough: use Jessie Leigh to hunt down the witch that is her baby brother, no matter how many lies it takes to force her hand. Unfortunately for him, Jessie's a witch, too, and she's not going to roll over without one hell of a fight. There's just one problem...

Like most of us, Jessie's got a thing for the forbidden. And the man who'll kill her if he learns the truth is about as forbidden as a witch can get.

Bets, anyone?

23 comments:

Jackie Uhrmacher said...

For me, it's more the fact that these big, strong, dangerous and deadly men are wrapped around a woman's little finger. It's horrible, it's sexist, but it's true. It just plain does it for me. (Probably because I've been divorced twice, but still, LOL)

I'm not saying that's the *only* reason I like those characters, but it's definitely the giant boot keeping open the door of possibilities. The story has to be strong, the characters believable, and the supernatural love interest can't be *too* high-handed. Having a big, bad boy be the love interest will get your book on my radar, but only a powerful story will keep it on my shelf.

Thank you, by the way, for the sexy Eric picture. My day is now complete!

Merrie Destefano said...

Karina,
I blame it all on Lord Byron. When John Polidori first wrote his vampire short story, he based his bad boy character on the real life exploits of his friend, the infamous poet, Byron. At first it seemed like a warning--this kind of man can eat the soul of the women he mistreats. But as time passed, it evolved into a romantic legend. According to stories, Byron even seduced his half-sister, so no one was immune to his charisma.

Great post! Can't wait for you first book to come out!!

Karina Cooper said...

@Jackie You are decidedly welcome! As soon as I saw that spread, I knew I'd have to use it somehow. ;) Enjoy it with my blessing.

You make a phenomenal point about these instinctively alpha men who end up wrapped around a woman's finger. Do you think it has to with a belief (or wish) that love can overcome even the flaws of a human-craving creature of the night?

@Merrie Oh, Lord Byron... I once read a short story that painted Byron as a vampire's "beard", for lack of a better word. And as I recall, Colleen Gleason wrote about him (briefly) in her Gardella series. I love it when real history gets wrapped up in the supernatural, don't you?

Thank you for the kind comment!

Cassie C said...

Hi Karina my name is Cassandra C and I'm addicted to paranormal romance as well!

Barbara E. said...

I can't really explain it, but I'm addicted to paranormal romance too! I've always loved stories about things that are unexplained, or not normal - ghosts, witches, etc., so when I started running across stories about sexy hunks that were also vampires, werewolves, demons, and so on, I just had to have them.

Jackie Uhrmacher said...

@Karina - Absolutely!. The women are (normally) so down to earth and relatable and the men are gorgeous, attentive, intelligent, and sweet. They overcome their blood-thirst, their hunter's instincts, or their need for brrraaaiiiiiiiiiiins, all because they feel so deeply for another person.

rightforme said...

I am addicted to paranormal romance too! the Idea that you could tame such a creature is part of what lures you in, they have a lot more dept to them now and it helps a lot that they are soo hot!!!

Sharon said...

I love reading about those big old alpha males who think that they are in control cause they have X superpower. Then comes a woman who could do with or without said man. Paranormal authors also come up with some of the coolest twists on the old myths and I find that fun .

Melissa said...

Maybe it's the whole, there is no true evil angle. Those that people would find as totally unredeemable are actually very redeemable. Perhaps it is also about prejudice. People rarely look beneath the surface, and it takes a strong individual to look beyond the prejudice to see the heart of the individual.

Or perhaps it's neither and quite shallow. A great body with little effort forever? Hmmm.....

angela t. said...

Vampires have always had that sexy lure to "glamour" their way to their next bite. Why not add love into the mix and have the "victim" actually enjoy it. I love the part in each book about where the women finds out that the man she loves is a vampire. Of course she always chooses love in the end. What better way to end a romance novel then have the two characters fall in love and live happily ever after...forever!

Pamela Palmer said...

Great post, Karina! My theory is that the more respectful, considerate, and kind we demand our modern men to be, the more untamed we like our fantasy males. Then again, as others have said, the true fantasy is having a dangerous male become respectful, considerate, and kind...to the woman he loves.

Karina Cooper said...

Oh, and the lovely and talented Jenn Bennett just rattled some sense into my skull! Z for ZOMBIE.

Of course! :D

Chris R said...

While I really like that these heroes are wrapped around the heroine's little finger( I am happily married for the last 23 years), what I like is that these heroes are completely devoted to their heroines. There is no looking for something better. No matter what the heroine looks like..overweight or too thin..her hero thinks she is the best for him.

Patricia Lynne said...

I think we've turned the monsters into sexy creatures we can't help but fall for because it lessens our fear of them. we humanise them, find ways to relate and rationalise why they kill. the vampire isn't evil because he drinks blood. he has to, when he was turned he had no choice. and hundreds of years later he researches until he finds an alternative to biting people.
same with werewolves, they fight to control the best inside, not giving into it because they don't want to be monsters. we write them that way, that's the direction we take the story. any vampire who isn't written that way is a bad guy and usually ends up dead.

in the end we find that we can love them because deep down they are still human like us. (only with added bonuses of strength speed, sexiness etcetera)

Krista said...

What I love about paranormals is having that fantastic vampire, werewolf, etc. think that you are the perfect person for them in every way. Immortality with the one you love is a nice thought in fiction, isn't it? A long lifespan learning what a woman loves doesn't hurt either. ;) Many, many things draw me to paranormals and I love the adventures.

Nicole Murphy said...

I think it's finding the human within them. All the creatures of the dark that do become the heroes of these tales end up having something still human within them, something that makes them redeemable, so that the right woman can save them.

So you end up with a man who you believe ain't gonna leave this girl, cause she's the one who makes him 'real'. And at the same time, there's that frisson of wondering if maybe one day he will turn on her. How tame is he? What a risk she's taking for love!

Ah, I don't know. I just love the suckers :)

In a nice little piece of serendipity, the word verification I need to type to post this - sated. Indeed I am :)

Sharon said...

oooh! Krista! You hit on it. The reason I like PNR is cause the freakishly beautiful creature that has lived for hundreds of years, bedded many women, seen it all, and done it all chooses the (usually) plain old human. Talk about feeling special! And we all imagine ourselves as the heroine when we read these books;)

Lauren said...

I'm a total addict. Nothing better than being thrown into a world where anything goes and sexy dangerous men are around every turn. It's fun wanting what you can't have, maybe for precisely that reason.

nymfaux said...

GREAT TOPIC!!!!!

I kind of wrote a paper about the different versions of Dracula--We read the book for class, and then watched Nosferatu....But my whole thing was believability vs. scary--Yes vampires can be deadly and scary--But when I watched that movie after having read the book, I found had a little trouble believing it...I mean, it's one thing when you go to a remote, foreign city to visit someone, and when you ask for directions the whole town breaks out the garlic and crucifixes and tells you not to go. And when the cab driver will only take you so far, because he doesn't want to get too close. So, ok, maybe these people are superstitious and you're brave, ok, so you go---but then a pasty white hairless guy with freakishly long fingers and fingernails--CLAW-like, answers the door, and you decide to STAY!?!?!!?!?!?--I'm not saying the guy wouldn't kill you if you made a run for it, but seriously, I would be thinking that maybe the villagers are on to something, and maybe I'll just spend a night into a hotel instead of inviting a plague on all of modern London....I'm just saying....

Now, as for the second picture...He seems SO much more inviting and hospitable...someone you could totally visit with and spend some time getting to know...It's a whole lot more believable, that's all I'm saying

Carol L. said...

Hi Karina,
I loved your post. I love Paranormal and am attracted to those sexy Alpha males who meet the one woman who turns them upside down. The fantasy of such a deadly dark male still having a bit of humanity and love inside him makes it an amusing and interesting read to see the characters work it out. But I love the were wolves and vamps and they have so many added benefits as well. :)Like endurance and stamina to name two.
Carol L.
Lucky4750@aol.com

Jessie said...

OK - 1st off, LOVE your character's name. I happen to be a Jessie Leigh myself (only Leigh is my middle name, and my first name really is Jessie, not Jessica).

I agree that it's the slightly dangerous, forbidden promise of supernatural romance that draws me in. I love all paranormal (well, not Zombies - there's your Z), but vampires are really the ones I like best. If you've read Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, I feel like that book sums up the added intimacy so well.

Dakota Banks said...

Great topic, Karina, and I love the idea of your book. It sounds like it captures "forbidden" completely.

catslady said...

Isn't that the best parts of books - it's all so exciting but perfectly safe :)