Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Karenna Colcroft Guest Blog and Giveaway


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.
Be sure to include your email address with post.


Sullivan McPig said...

Hmmm.... In my opinion if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and qaucks like a duck it most probably is a duck. Meaning that even vampires, werewolves and such are human in a way as they're still bound by human emotions and thoughts.
I myself love reading about all kinds of paranormal creatures, be it the afore mentioned werewolves and vampires or immortals, telepathics, etc..

SandyG265 said...

I think that if the only real difference is immortality than I would consider him human.

Stella (Ex Libris) said...

When I read the first part where you said he was an immortal I understood what those commentators meant,. however with the background story you gave, t is clear Rhys is a human, only a genetically modified human. So, his "species" remain human even if he is a mutant. A bit like the human in the TV series Dark Angel or Roswell: their genetic code was modified, however they are still humans even if different than the average people and possessing special powers, abilities.

So, back to your question, he is human and in my opinion you have written a paranormal novel, since there is a paranormal element in it (=immortality).

stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

JenM said...

Interesting question. My feeling is that if he's immortal, he can't be human, even if it is just a trick of genetics. To me, dying and fear (or at least trepidation) of death is such an important part of being human, that I think that it is impossible for someone who could only die with great difficulty to really experience the full range of "human" emotions.

jeanette8042 said...

From your description I think Rhys is just human since in your world people have regenerative abilities that make people immortal.

*yadkny* said...

*waves from CTR!*
Those are good questions Karenna. I thought I would ask Webster what the definition of human is and this is what I found that was interesting...
1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of humans
2 : consisting of humans
3 a : having human form or attributes b : susceptible to or representative of the sympathies and frailties of human nature
What I take from this is that it sounds like Rhys would be considered human with a caveat. He has characteristics of a human, has the human form or attributes, but isn't completely susceptible to the same human frailties. I think for some supernatural beings they have 1 thing in common... they were all at least once completely human, but you probably wouldn't put them in the same category after they were changed.
I guess it depends on how big the change is. I don't know:) The more I think about it the more I could probably try to disect this all day lol! In the end I would classify Rhys human.

*yadkny* said...

Sorry I didn't add my email address to my last post...

KarennaC said...

Thanks for the thoughts, everyone :) It's really interesting to see your opinions on this question. Can't wait to see what other ideas are posted :)


He's human. I love reading paranormal.


joder said...

That's exactly why I read paranormal stories. For creatures that are hard to define. And I don't think they have to fit any certain category, they just need to be entertaining.

As for Rhys, I think he would be labeled human. His regenerative qualities are reminiscent of the movie/tv show Highlander. Since the core of his dna is human, that's the label I'd give him.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Jennifer Mathis said...

Maybe I'm taking the sentence the wrong way but I took it to mean he has faults like any other human . I would say that even if he was a immortal he still thinks like a human so I consider him to still be one. I mean he's not acting like a space alien so
anyway thats my opinion

stacey said...

I think that there human but evolved different then we did.but started with the same D&A whit just a few difference's in happens

T said...

This genre is newer to me but reading what you said, he is a special/modified like human.

Have a fabulous evening!

Thanks, T.

T said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EVA SB said...

I would say he's still human, immortality hasn't made any fundmental changes to his actually being.[@]gmail[.]com

Madeleine Drake said...

Well, the idea that a human can evolve to the point where immortality is an option seems like it falls in the category of science fiction to me. So I'd call it a science fiction romance, rather than a paranormal, but the way the publishing industry works, I also understand why your publisher didn't want to call it a science fiction romance. :)

And yes, a human with a few mutations is still a human, in my book.

KarennaC said...

Some great thoughts here! I'm reading everything everyone has said, but a couple things have caught my attention that I wanted to respond to:

Madeleine, evolution is an interesting thought. I hadn't really thought of it that way. The original immortals (within the context of the story) came from Atlantis and interbred with mortals, because immortals can't conceive children together. The Atlantean immortals very well might have been another species. However, because they interbred with mortals--humans--the genes got spread out throughout the world, and by the time Rhys came along immortality was a recessive genetic trait. Just like blue eyes or red hair.

Jennifer Mathis, that's exactly what I was thinking when I wrote that line. Rhys was telling Gwen the effect looking at her had on him, and said, "I'm only human." In other words, his body responds to an attractive female just like any human man's would.

I'm checking in here periodically, and unless Roxanne gives me other instructions, I plan to wait until tomorrow (Friday) to draw for the prize in case other people want to join the discussion. So stay tuned :)

terriavidreader (IN-USA) said...

I Love Books. period. And you can get a clue by my moniker. But this sounds intriguing. Keep them coming.

tina werner said...

he sounds human to me, just doesn't have the ability to age or get sick.

i love paranormal and since rhys is not normal in human standards, i would say this book should still be found in the paranormal section :)

thanks for the chance to win!

stampitchick at yahoo dot ca

katsrus said...

I love to read all kinds of paranormal. Of your descrption I would say he is somewhat human. This was an interesting post.
Sue B

Nicole said...

I don't think that characters in paranormal have to be non-human. I mean, look at werewolves, technically they are human, so are vampires, and witches, and warlocks... I think as long as there are NON realistic parts that deal in magic, it is paranormal.

Vidisha said...

Great!!! do enter me

KarennaC said...

I've drawn the winner (a day late... I apologize... real life intruded). Stacey, congratulations. I'll be contacting you by email.

mbreakfield said...

I think that I would consider him human with special abilities.