I was writing a paranormal romance novel. Since I hadn’t written that genre before—this was a few years ago now, and I hadn’t really written any kind of romance novel at that point, unless you count YA urban fantasy into which romance occasionally sneaked—I posted a short excerpt from the novel on a feedback site.
Two of the commenters had a problem with this sentence: “He was only human.”
The main character of that novel, which is now titled Eternal Love and is available from Pink Petal Books, is Rhys Trevellian, a 935-year-old immortal. He’s the “he” to whom that sentence referred, and the commenters took issue with my referring to him as “only human” because he’s immortal.
The fact is, though, that regardless of being nearly a millennium old, Rhys is human. In the universe I created for that novel, immortality is a cellular regenerative ability that shows up genetically. Cells restructure themselves at such a rapid rate that an immortal stops aging at about age twenty-five, and injuries and illnesses either don’t touch them at all or don’t affect them for long. However, immortals aren’t any other type of species or creature. They’re human beings who just happen to be able to recover from any illness or injury, and who can’t die.
So does that really make them human, or are they something else as my commenters implied? And if they are human, does that mean I haven’t really written a paranormal novel?
Paranormal tends to feature a wide variety of beings. Demons, angels, shifters, vampires, fae… the list is endless. What doesn’t seem to be very common is a paranormal novel featuring a human main character. Even characters who seem to be human usually have some sort of psychic ability or something about them that makes them a sort of monster magnet. (Not naming any names here…)
Readers of paranormal seem to love the variety of beings. Vampires are certainly popular, and I think shifters are as well. Sometimes they are in love with a human. More often, at least in the books I’ve read, there are no “regular” humans. Or the normal human at the start of the story is turned into a vampire, shifter, etc. by their love interest. And I’m guilty of that myself, assuming that Rhys isn’t human.
In Eternal Love, immortal Rhys’s love interest is a mortal woman named Gwen Davies, who is the reincarnation of the girl Rhys was in love with as a teen. There isn’t really anything extraordinary about Gwen; she’s a perfectly human woman, at least until she meets Rhys. I won’t give away what happens, though I think my blurb does…
So I have two human beings, at least in my opinion. However, opinions may vary, so I’m interested in that of the readers. If a person is immortal, can live forever, can only be killed by a special weapon developed to interfere with that ramped-up cellular regeneration, are they “only human”? Rhys definitely acts human. He has human faults, human emotions. So does Gwen.
I’d love to read your input on the subject. When you read paranormal, do you expect to see characters who are other than human? Do human actions and emotions make a character seem human to you even if they’re some other sort of creature?
And what about Rhys? I’m curious as to whether you’d think he’s “only human,” as I described him, or something else entirely.
Any commenters will be entered in a prize drawing, so let me know what you think!
The prize pack is filled with promo goodies from several authors.
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