“Um…no,” I replied hesitantly. “Not exactly.”
“Well what’s the difference?”
That’s a really good question. And I have to admit / hate to admit that even though I write urban fantasy, I have no idea how to explain the difference. Urban fantasy, the kind I write and the kind I read seems to have an awful lot in common with paranormal romance.
If you ask the experts, by which I mean wikipedia.com, they’ll tell you: “Urban fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy defined by place; the fantastic narrative has an urban setting. Many urban fantasies are set in contemporary times and contain supernatural elements."
Wikipedia describes paranormal romance as “a type of speculative fiction, paranormal romance focuses on romance and includes elements beyond the range of scientific explanation, blending together themes from the genres of traditional fantasy, science fiction, or horror.”
Does that clear things up for you? No? Yeah, not for me either.
Carrie Vaughn, an author who writes (among other things) a series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty, has written a great article about urban fantasy, its characteristics, and its origins. I fully recommend you read the entire article but I’ll tell you that for Carrie, urban fantasy must have a kick-ass heroine.
She says, "We also have a generation who grew up after first and second wave feminism, who watched the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman and Lindsay Wagner in The Bionic Woman and Charlie’s Angels at young, impressionable ages. Who also grew up with Ellen Ripley and Sarah Conner. Who took it entirely for granted that women could be heroes and kick a lot of ass while doing so."
For UF author Tracy Cooper-Posey the genre is defined by wordiness. She says, "Urban Fantasy is mostly about the back story. The history. While the romance reader wants to know about the romance, dammit."
My books have a kick-ass heroine and as the series goes on, Tab keeps getting tougher and tougher - mostly because she has no choice. They also have a complicated back story full of intrigue and curses and prophecies and murder plots and a war between Light and Dark. So it seems Tab and I meet the basic criteria for urban fantasy anyway. (Huge relief. Huge.)
Which brings me back to Bill. He wanted to know the difference between the two and he was quickly running out of tater tots. So I took a sip of my Diet Coke and said, “Urban fantasy is the combination of fantastic elements, like elves or fairies, and realistic settings, like elves or fairies who live in New York City and work at the New York Times. If it’s a paranormal romance, they have sex on the desk.”
That about sums it up, don’t you think?
Now it’s time for you to educate me, readers. What’s your take on Urban Fantasy? What’s the separation line for you? Do you love UF but hate PNR? Stop by and tell me all about it in the comments.
You could win an ebook set of both books in the Princess of Twilight and Dawn series.
Princess of Twilight and Dawn Book Two
By Jes Young
Six months ago, when her long-hidden heritage came to light, Tab Bennett reluctantly let go of her past and embraced her future as an Elvish princess on the cusp of her gifts and the edge of her destiny. She never wanted a fairy tale life, but as the daughter of the Dark King and the Light Queen, that’s exactly what she got.
Raised in exile away from the kingdom of the Inbetween, Tab has never even met the parents who ruined her life. Her mother is dead, but Tab’s father, Daniel, is alive and well, the mad ruler of the kingdom of the Underneath. He’s made it clear he wants to meet her and now that she knows all the sadness and heartache in her life can be traced directly to the Dark king’s door, Tab wants to meet him too. After all, it's because of him that the first twenty-five years of her life were a lie. It’s his fault she gave her heart to Robbin when she should have been saving it for Alex, the prince who is destined to be her Homecoming. But, most importantly, King Daniel is the one responsible for her mother’s suicide and her sisters’ murders.
Now Tab wants justice – but she’ll settle for revenge and Finnegan Blackthorn, an Elvish warrior with secrets of his own, is going to help her get it. Together, they’ll embark on the dangerous journey to her father’s stronghold in the kingdom Underneath. Once she's there, far away from the Light in which she was raised, Tab will be forced to confront the seductive nature of Darkness and her own potential to truly become her father’s daughter.
About the Author:
After graduating from Emerson College with a BFA in creative writing, Jes Young was a copywriter at Random House (Ballantine Books and Crown Publishing Group) for nearly ten years. Currently she is the development manager of a small non-profit and the mother of two children under the age of ten. Her writing is done primarily between the hours of 11 p.m and 3 a.m.
My blog: http://www.JesYoung.com