Urban Fantasy

I just got another rejection on Alien Blue from an editor; it was the best rejection I’ve ever received, because it was both true and flattering.

The editor said she liked the book–but there was no market for it now.  THEN she said I should think about writing something with series potential in the urban fantasy realm, which I’m going to take as, “If you should just so happen to write such a thing, send it to me and remind me I suggested it in the first place.”  Not quite a request, but a sly whistle.  That’s how I’m taking it, anyway.

As it so happens, I just finished the first draft of A Chance Damnation yesterday.  I have a mystery game to write, a chapter book for Ray to write, a WFH book to write…and then I’m not sure.  Those things might take me through to December; none of them are very long and will be about 70K altogether.  So I’ve been kind of noodling around for the next thing to write and/or polish up (that is, from my stack of NaNoWriMo drafts, all but one of which were written before I had a clue how to plot and thus need major work).

I have a YA urban girly fantasy set in Japan, a rural fantasy set in 1890 South Dakota, and a historical-steampunk-rural-fantasy set in post-WWII Iowa.  Not to mention Chance, which is 1960 South Dakota rural fantasy (no relation).

I’m probably going to send her a proposal for one of the above and try to start a new trend.  I’m thinking the Iowa book; there are mechs, and I never finished that one (although I wrote 58K on it).  The one that got away.

So I was in the shower thinking about it, and I had an ah-hah moment about the nature of urban fantasy.

My Iowa book doesn’t contain any sex with the natives.  Clearly, it won’t work as an urban fantasy unless I change that–or at least create the potential (and attraction) for this to occur.

Here’s the basic template for an urban fantasy, at least as it seems to me:  Person in an ordinary setting meets a person of a mythical species and is EXTREMELY attracted to them.  The relationship causes we-do-it-this-way/No-we-do-it-THIS-way issues, is considered at least somewhat disturbing/kinky by straights, and promises that any progeny will be a pain in the ass to raise, even if they’re raised as either all-human or all-other, not being informed of the mixed heritage.

So, as I see it, urban fantasy is the mythicalization of mixed-race relationships.  Even more than that (and this is what made me laugh in the shower), it’s the mythicalization of Western civilization integrating with other cultures.  You cannot be treating another culture with respect if you can’t imagine them as sex partners.

It isn’t necessarily a sublimation of racism/antiracism; I’ve felt for a long time that racism has very little to do with the color of your skin (other than as a marker of your probably culture and mores).  I have a friend (hi, Julia!) who is writing a book about a liberal human and conservative vampire, for example (that I can’t wait to read; the snippets are painfully funny).

So now I’m trying to rethink the Iowa book in terms of making the other culture something…sexy.

Sexy, sexy, sexy.

They’re asexual gremlins right now, that mate kind of like amoebas, mixing genes here and there, but mostly via the whole squish in half thing.

NOT sexy.

I keep breaking down in giggles trying to think of a way to make those guys sexy.  The current love interests in the book are a paraplegic Val Kilmer (who gets the world’s best mech; two of them, rather) and a sky pirate modeled on my husband.  No gremlins, though.

So, if you have any suggestion on how to make gremlins sexy, let me know; I’ll totally give you credits in the acknowledgement section and name a character after you if you want one.

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2 Comments

  1. Well, it all depends on how you present it. We are talking little green goblin-like gremlins, right? (Or some variation there of.) Gremlins aren’t really sexy, I think, from the connotations they bring up. The little hairy things from the movies? Not sexy. The blue-green monsters from the Bugs Bunny cartoons? Not sexy, more of an annoyance.

    So, first you have to set the context. What is likeable about these gremlins? Are the eco-friendly, good mechanics, eloquent poets… We need something likeable before we can start to find them sexy. Vampires were, at one possibly very brief point, considered ugly and undesirable. (Nosferatu? Strigoi?) They were monsters, and then someone made them human. From there it was a short step to turning them debonair symbols of lust with their neck-biting and seductive powers. Maybe your gremlin love interest is a good listener or the body-guard type or really suave… Maybe he makes all the gremlin ladies swoon just by passing by because he’s got a special reputation that sets their hearts aflutter and your human character starts to wonder what’s so special about this gremlin Don Juan. Maybe the human character finds something they can relate to with the gremlin that makes them see the gremlin in a new light.

    …And I think I now need brain bleech because I can’t stop picturing a tiny foot tall gremlin trying to seduce a human. Dauchsund versus Mastiff?

    • De

      Even worse: a green dachshund vs. a shaved mastiff.

      The problem is that the humans saw the gremlins as so foreign that they couldn’t conceive of them as having separate personalities.

      I’m thinking a first step might be…to make them taller. Ever seen Invader Zim? I’m pretty sure the “tallest” were wearing height-enhancing devices. And the gremlins can certainly make cooler stuff than that.

      Heyyyyy…fully sexed mechs….

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