The Joys and Challenges of Writing Urban Fantasy
I've always been a huge fantasy fan of both film and books. I remember when the Wolfman and Dracula were considered horror, and now horror is totally redefined as something else. We're not so horrified of vampires and werewolves anymore. They, among other beasties, have become our fantasy.
Urban Fantasy has been around for a while, but I remember when there used to be some confusion as to what it meant. Most people understand epic fantasy, those magical realms with medieval settings. So when you classify fantasy as "urban," it may raise a few eyebrows. Or at least it did when the genre was still new. Urban Fantasy continues to baffle those who haven't yet been introduced to the imaginary world of contemporary magic.
I think one of the most intriguing aspects of urban fantasy is that stories are set in the present, and typically in a modern city (vis-à-vis urban). It's kind of mind blowing when you think about it. Many readers associate sorcerers and dragons and elves with thatch-roofed villages and horse-drawn carts. But in an urban fantasy we see these characters juxtaposed with modern cars, nightclubs, gangsta rap, computers, iphones, television, skyscrapers and everything else we associate with city life. It shakes up the fantasy genre and that's what I like about it. It's unexpected. There's something special about everyday people confronted by extraordinary circumstances.
Not all urban fantasies are romances. Most stories may have romantic elements, but romance is not the focus of the plot. Romance is typically used as a subplot portrayed in varying heat levels from sweet to hot enough to melt the fillings in your teeth. An urban fantasy is more like a mystery-suspense with magic and supernatural creatures. Some stories have absolutely no romantic elements at all.
I enjoy writing urban fantasy because it allows me to open up creatively and gives my imagination the opportunity to do just about anything it wants. That being said, it's not an easy genre to write well. Writing fiction is hard no matter what the genre, but when you invent magical systems with their own unique set of rules, and then have to explain your world in a way that doesn't sound like an explanation, you have a huge challenge on your hands. Everything has to flow seamlessly at a fast pace and not be overly heavy with information. Concepts must be easy to grasp for any reader. It takes several drafts to get right.
The market for tried and true urban fantasy--meaning the kind that features traditional monsters like werewolves and vampires--is rumored to be tapering off. Readers are looking for something that transcends the genre and presents a unique story, something that stands out in a crowd of books. A new twist on an old saw. So not only should urban fantasy writers be at the top of their game as far as craft, their stories must also be on the cutting edge of originality.
Demon Fare, the first book in my Spawnstertown Chronicles, is an urban fantasy set in a alternate history New York City. A hundred and fifty years ago, a powerful earthquake trampled the entire planet, destroying almost everything in its wake. Millions died, cities crumbled, and progress came to a screeching halt. It’s now the twenty-first century and civilization still relies on steam-powered energy, but there’s help from a magical species unearthed by the quake. The people have named them demons because of where they came from, but these amorphous creatures of energy are gentle and want only to serve humans by possessing their machines to make them run.
Though global resurgence is slow, the new world has enjoyed a century and a half of peace. At least until one greedy man—part human and part demon—forces the city’s demons to turn against their human masters. The city is blessed with two unlikely saviors: A Hellspawn taxi driver and an exorcist. Can these two sparring partners work together to take down the menace biting the Big Apple before it spreads worldwide?
Thank you for reading!
The Spawnstertown Chronicles
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Karen Duvall
Date of Publication: 12/20/2014
ISBN: 13: 978-0692342633
Number of pages: 324
Word Count: 86,000
Cover Artist: Karen Duvall
In an alternate history New York City—one hundred and fifty years after an earthquake from hell nearly destroyed the planet—the twenty-first century clings to an industrial age. Steam engines rule, and demon-powered technology is the up and coming thing. Henry Paine, a half-demon taxi driver, is the go-to guy for just the right demon to possess your machine and automate any mechanical gizmo with or without an engine. The creatures are tame as pets. Or at least they have been… until now.
Wanda Snow is an exorcist who grudgingly admits to having a few drops of demon blood herself. She's come to New York to rid the city of demonic vermin as well as any other demons that get in her way. Wanda and Henry are naturally at odds, but the two are forced to become partners in a mutual goal to round up the rogue demons biting the Big Apple and take down the sinister tyrant who started it all.
Available at Amazon
About the Author:
Karen Duvall, who wrote Demon Fare as Cory Dale, lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. Karen is represented by Elizabeth Winick Rubenstein of the McIntosh & Otis Literary Agency. Her Knight's Curse series was published by Harlequin Luna in 2011 and 2012, and her post apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, appeared in Luna's 'Til The World Ends anthology in 2013.
Karen is also a professional graphic designer who designs book covers and book interiors for self-published authors, and creates original 3D graphics for computer gaming. Demon Fare is the first book in her Spawnstertown Chronicles.
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