From Fairy Tales to Paranormal Romance: A Journey Through the Dark Woods
By Juliet Dark
I have always loved fairy tales, especially ones in which the prince is in disguise: Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and Rose Red, East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon, stories in which a mysterious brooding animal groom is under a spell and must be saved by the intrepid woman who sees his true worth. As I grew up I fell in love with the great romantic novels inspired by these fairy tales—Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, Rebecca—and when I started to write I wanted to infuse my stories with the spirit of these tales. So my characters read fairy tales and tell them, teach them in classes, paint scenes from them, and depict them on stained glass windows. They learn lessons from them and understand their lives through them. Most of all, I hoped to infuse a sense of magic into my books by invoking these primal tales. But it took seven books before it occurred to me write a book in which the fairy tales are real.
Then I was possessed by a demon lover … okay, not actually possessed, but it felt like that. I had been walking in a nearby woods that was overgrown with honeysuckle shrubs and I began to think about a house on the edge of such a woods that was possessed by an incubus. Once I started writing the book, I did feel as if I were possessed, immersed in the world of Fairwick College where my heroine, Cailleach McFay not only read and taught about fairies, but met them.
What would a Brownie do for a living in the 21st century? (She’d be a real estate agent, of course.) What subject would a gnome teach? (Earth Science.) What would a modern succubus wear? (Soft flowing layers in warm earth tones.) And what if the face of your lover was disguised? Would you know him? Would you trust him? Would you fall in love or would you run away and get lost in the woods?
I wrote Demon Lover in half the time I usually take to write a book, so caught up in the story that my family began to say I was possessed by the demon lovah, as my step-daughter called him. Somewhere along the way—on the path through the woods, in the dark corridors of the haunted house—I remembered what those old fairy tales teach us. That when you think you’re the most lost, you find what you’re looking for. That you have already been given all the magic you need to defeat the evil sorcerer. That true love lifts the curse that holds prisoner your beloved and the entire kingdom. And I learned that once you stray off the straight and narrow paths of realistic fiction into the dark woods of Paranormal Romance it’s hard to go back.
Question for you – what have you strayed from that made it hard to go back? 5 commenters on Romance At Random win a free book every week – randomly chosen winners are announced on Sunday!