Saturday, September 13, 2008

Paranormal romance?

I heard this term for the first time yesterday while driving home from the BART station. My husband and I are new NPR converts, so in the one car that we can't use our iPods in, we leave the radio station set to 88.5 to catch whatever is on NPR at the time.

(Side note: I always had this weird view of NPR for some reason. Like the people who listened to it were these super liberals out to figure out ways to hole up in the wilderness when the government implodes itself. Maybe with a few 100 guns and a thousand pounds of dried beans.)

NPR was discussing book authors using audio or video advertising for their upcoming books. I've seen some TV commercials for books, but I've never seen one online or one that I paid attention to online, so I thought it was rather interesting to find out how lucrative it is for an author to have one of these "coming attraction" preview-type ads out there, especially accessible through YouTube.

One author interviewed wrote for the "paranormal romance" sub-genre.

Okay, so here's your chance, if you do read romances, to leave my blog because I don't and I think romances are really silly, and yes, I even went so far as to read a Harlequin Romance when I worked at a bookstore to see what all the fuss was about because if you're going to have a negative opinion of something, you should at least back it up with real knowledge. As Yo Gabba Gabba says, "try it, you'll like it," however, you might just not, but you should at least try.

Two things that do not go together in my head are paranormal + romance. The first thing I thought was, sex with...ghosts? What the hey? How stupid is that? And weird? And, well, stupid? Because when I think of paranormal, I think of ghosts.

When I got home, I googled the term, which brought up a bazillion web sites, and low and behold, I realized that, yet again, there are so many things going on in the world that I know nothing about. There's even a book club for paranormal romances. One site described the genre as one for those with an:

"...interest in science fiction, fantasy, and romantic fiction with paranormal elements, including time travel, futuristic, magical, ghost, vampire and shape shifter themes."

Okay, okay, I can see it. Anne Rice dabbles in the romantical and erotic tones and she writes about vampires and mummies. Poppy Z Brite write some pretty wild and kinky stuff. And even though Rice and Brite would not fit in this sub-genre of romance, I can see how making a tamer fantastic romance story would appeal to people.

Like I said, I worked at a bookstore for about 5 years, and I spent a small chunk of time at a different store location to be closer to home and school. That store had a completely different clientele than the one I spent a good 4.5 years at, and it was really hard for me to get used to it (so much so that I had to leave). Case in point, one man kept calling Stephen King "Stephan Kang" and drove me batty because I couldn't tell him to stop turning Stephen King's name into some pompous frou-frou name.

One night as we were closing up, a lady plopped down her 10 romance novels on the counter. She was having a hard time figuring out which ones to buy. She assumed, for whatever reason, that out of the millions of books we had in the store, it was the romance novel I would know about. Yes, I know, people who shop in stores tend to assume just that - that everything they like is what the store employee likes because it's all about them, the customer.

I must have been really tired that night, or fed up, or something, because even though I would be irritated that people assumed I knew everything about anything, I would play the game, usually stating, "Well, I don't know...I haven't read that one, however, a lot of people seem to like it!" When she asked me about the books, I simply told her, "I don't read romances."

She said, "Oh," and then pressed the issue, I think asking me why I don't (because, dontcha know, if she's reading them, then I am too). While I don't quite remember the full conversation, I know it wasn't finished quickly. I may have even mentioned I was currently in school for English and was way too busy reading Beowulf in Old English (I hated that class, I tell you, what a pain, and trying to speak Old English? It's probably why I'm a tad lispy now.) or writing my 100th essay of the year.

Later on I found out she called to complain about me to the manager because I was making fun of her for reading romances. If she had called and complained about me being unfriendly, then yeah, okay, I probably was, but I didn't make fun of her romance reading. I do have this problem with showing how I feel on my face without realizing it, so I guess while I thought I was just being unfriendly, my face must have been telling her I thought she was a silly loser.

At the store I spent most of my years working, there were a couple of ladies (and yes, Mom, you know who I'm writing about), who would come in each week and load up on the romances. It just blew my mind that reading romance after romance with the same general plot was good enough for them. Then I found out the mom and daughter lived together, and their lives revolved around dogs and romances. One of the dog's name was Merlin.

Perhaps I was peddling paranormal romances at the time and didn't realize it.


Mom, Grandma, Coach said...

Merlin's Mom's life revolved around dogs and book romances - certainly not real romances. How mean am I???

lil miss hissyfit said...

I'm an avid reader of pretty much anything including romances.

Now while I'll agree that a harlequin romance is not exactly a book you have to think about ( in fact it's easy to prove that they have a forumulatic system which is what appeals to some people) I wouldn't classify all romance novels the same.

Then again I tend to prefer my romance novels 400-600 pages long I want an actual novel with character development, a plot and well developed romance. Such books do exist and are for me good.

I totally respect your right to think romance novels are silly. Heck my own fiance doesn't see the appeal in them and she's the more romantic one.

Course she also thinks it's weird I can go from reading a Danielle Steele novel to Pet Semetary to fight club all in the same day. Perhaps I just have odd taste in books.

I pity you yours years of being asked if you'd read practically ever book in store. I've seen that happen at local bookstores and the cashiers always look so pained.

Nut Nut said...

I'm all over the place as well, except for mystery, romance and most sci-fi novels.

My brain candy is medical thrillers, so I'm really not one to pass judgment on others....

Goldfish said...

I was laughing at the idea of a "paranormal romance" and then I realized that one of my favorite books ever is "The Time Traveler's Wife" and that it, in all likelihood, qualifies as such. Therefore, I promise never to laugh at another subgenre ever again. (Medical thrillers?!)

Nut Nut said...

Time Traveler's Wife pops up on various recommendations based on what I read. I'm not sure what that says about what I'm reading. I've heard it's a good book. (OMG - I just did what I did when I worked at the bookstore, however, I was being serious!).

Yes, medical thrillers. I love them. Every time I start one (I read about one a year), I think, "This one will turn me against medical thrillers because what an odd genre for me to like." But I haven't read a medical thriller yet I didn't like. : )