SDCC12: Paranormal Love-Potion Panel: Writing Romance for Non-Human Characters

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On the second day of San Diego Comic Con 2012 there were two huge book panels. First up was Paranormal Love Potion: Writing Romance for Non-Human Characters. Like the panels before, there was an all-star line-up of awesome authors: Kelley Armstrong (Thirteen), Aprilynne Pike (Wings), Shawntelle Madison (Coveted), Tessa Gratton (Blood Magic), Sylvia Day (Crossfire), Marjorie Liu (Dirk & Steele), and Andrea Cremer (Nightshade).

The moderator broke up the questions by asking some to everyone, and then going through with individual questions before opening the floor up for audience questions.

The first question off the bat was about what draws these writers to paranormal (and why you think it draws readers the way that it does).  Various ideas arose, but similar themes overall emerged: the magical and the mundane co-existing, needing to write a book you enjoy reading, and of course kissing. Andrea Cremer summed it up best by saying, and I quote, “It’s really frickin’ awesome!”

Kelley Armstrong was the only panelist to have published paranormal romance before the Twilight craze, and she was asked what it’s like to have written before. She replied about having great timing and being able to ride the wave of success on both her young adult and adult books, so no issues!

Tessa Gratton and Shawntelle Madison were the newbies on the panel, and they were asked to give advice to aspiring authors who want to write in this genre when they are told the market is too crowded. Tessa gave the time-tested reply of write what you love, it will be what you’re best at. Shawntelle mentioned making herself go outside the box and challenge her pre-conceived ideas of what is acceptable, and she recommended everyone do so. Also, don’t forget perseverance!

Marjorie Liu and Sylvia day were asked how they know which media to write in (movies or books or comics, etc). Marjorie kind or let us inside of her thinking a little bit, and she talked about how she “sees” things in her head, and if she can tell the story better visually, that’s the way to do it, and it’s destined to become a comic. Sylvia focused more on the actual story: setting and the complications of the plot. Once that’s in place, then you can decide what style will best increase the stakes. I found both of these answers to be fascinating and extremely helpful in the creative process overall, since these are relevant to determining placement of ideas in all art forms.

Andrea Cremer was a history professor and wanted to know how being a pro helped her write. She gave many examples of things throughout history that are paranormal related, based on ignorance and fear, and talked about how this only enhances her experience.

Aprilynne Pike’s question was about her fairy world, which is botany-based. She laughingly said she had no idea how she thought of it, it just came to her in mind wandering one night when she couldn’t sleep. She went on to talk about mythos, stating brilliantly that you cannot twist mythos until you know the mythos.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a love panel without talking about the hotties that help make the books. A general question for the panel was about the sexual and animal instincts within us, and if that’s why people like these books so much. Pike pointed out an observation about comments from fans, that what they see in the stories reflect where they are in their lives, as if they read that into the books. Also, it was interesting to hear stories of how the men came into existence in the priority of creating the story. Some authors came up with the heroines first, and then the conflict, and then fit the hero in, but some really do start with the hot guy first (even though sometimes, as the story goes on, it’s the quiet cutie librarian dude who is meant to be the real love interest!)

This panel was a great panel with enjoyable, interesting topics. It was fun to not debate difficult subjects, but to just hear how to get into someone’s head when they write what so many readers know and love. And of course there’s the kissing!

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