Why do we love monsters? I've never considered the question, although I read enough paranormal romance, fantasy and urban fantasy that I should have wondered what was feeding my addiction. Eleri Stone, author of Mercy (just released by Carina Press and already winning great reviews, including 4 stars from Romantic Times), shares her insight.
Thanks, Eleri, for visiting with such an interesting topic. I like the jaguar friends you brought along, too ;)
My Kind of Monster
I love in fiction when the monsters turn out to be not quite so monstrous. Beauty and the Beast? My favorite Disney movie growing up. I think this is one of the reasons I’m such a fan of paranormal romance where this trope is so prevalent.
Of all the monsters out there – vampires, ghosts, the Fae, witches, demons and angels – the one that’s always had an irresistible appeal to me is the shape-shifter. (As a note, I tried my first djinn last week – Thanks Jenny! – and I loved the novelty of that. The Price of Freedom seemed right on the edge between paranormal romance and fantasy romance which is a sweet spot for me.)
I was trying to figure out exactly why I have this fascination with shape-shifters and so far here’s what I’ve come up with:
As a writer and as a reader, having a character that has such clear-cut human and animal sides gives you a lot of room to explore what it is that makes us human in the first place - the sometimes subtle differences between instinct and conscious will. It gives you a playing field to look at questions of morality, civilization, and if you’re talking about Pack, the bonds that tie us together.
Another facet is the mystery of the “other”. Everyone’s been an outsider at least once in their life (new school, new job…). In most paranormal novels, the outsiders aren’t lesser. They may be hidden or hunted as a group but usually they’re stronger, richer or longer-lived than their human counterparts. It makes for an interesting dynamic.
You can have characters who are larger than life, who have a good reason for being that way and then you can give them wildly adventurous conflict that matches their abilities.
There’s also the idea of the tame monster. Because, really, who wouldn’t want one? Especially if said monster was sizzling hot, highly principled and unswervingly devoted to you.
Some of the other monsters share the same qualities but of them all the shape-shifter to me seems closest to human and so is dearest to my heart.
In Mercy, my jaguar-shifter romance, the hero Gabriel is the outsider. He’s considered an outcast because his mother was human and when the old king of the Yaguara dies, Gabriel enters the tournament of succession to protect the community of other “mutants” like himself who are living in the human world and have come under attack.
Iada, the heroine, is a survivor – quiet, strong and almost brutally practical. She’s the insider in the Yaguara world, a full-blooded jaguar who has this unique ability that makes her almost unbeatable as a fighter. Since the crown goes to the winner of the tournament everyone expects her to win, especially her uncles who’ve been grooming her from childhood to be their puppet Queen.
Enter Gabriel, the dark horse (er….jaguar) in the tournament who blows through the ranks and beats her. He spares her life and by law that means he claims her as his mate.
They start as enemies in a death match and the rest of the story is where they go from there…
You can read an excerpt here: http://www.eleristone.com/index.php?p=1_6
It’s a little on the spicy side, so be forewarned.
Mercy is on sale now at Carina Press (http://www.carinapress.com)/
And I have to ask…what’s your favorite paranormal character?