Why Write: Paranormal Romance with Ana Blaze

Ana BlazeOn today’s episode of Why Write, we talk to Ana Blaze about paranormal romance! This is a fun topic for me, since I write contemporary fantasy that often strays into romantic territory: paranormal romance is the flip side of the contemporary fantasy coin, I think. Be sure to check Ana out after you’ve read what she has to say!

Hello, Ana, and welcome!

Hi. Thanks for having me.

 Tell us a little about yourself and your work.

I live just outside of Washington DC with my husband and three cats. When I’m not vacuuming up cat hair, I like to cook, watch TV, read and, of course, write. I write romance, both contemporary and paranormal. I’m also a teacher.

 What made you decide to write romance? Why paranormal romance in particular?

I love a happy ending. I married my best friend and I just want to give everyone that perfect happy moment. I’ve always been attracted to paranormal stories and elements so they naturally made their way into some of my writing. And, let’s be frank here, vampires are really sexy.

Haha, I definitely agree there. Vampires aren’t played out for me!

What types of stories does romance/paranormal romance make possible?

I think the paranormal element can add a lot of humor to a story and also raise the odds a bit. The characters can have incredibly bizarre obstacles to overcome before they earn their happy ending and that makes for some wonderful stories.

What audience do you think paranormal romance attracts? How does that alter the types of stories you tell and characters you write?

I think the audience is clever and often led busy lives and they are looking for a little fun in their reading. They want the stakes to feel real, but they pick up the romance knowing that they will be satisfied with the ending. I think the key is writing a story that feels honest, regardless of whether it is a contemporary or paranormal romance the characters need to make choices that seem reasonable. They face obstacles, but those obstacles shouldn’t seem arbitrary. I hope to give my readers characters that they want to root for, a few giggles and steamy scene or two.

How does romance affect the stakes for your characters and your audience?

Falling in love makes everything feel more intense.

Why do you think people love to read paranormal romance? How do you think the genre affects its audience?

It’s fun to escape some of the more mundane real life problems for a bit. Maybe you’re annoyed with a co-worker or stuck waiting all day for a plumber, but at least your boyfriend isn’t turning into a werewolf every full moon. You get to imagine how you would handle the crazy situations a heroine in a paranormal romance gets herself into and what you’d do if your hunky crush turned out to be an out of time Scottish Warrior. I mean who doesn’t want to at least consider that? I’ve been thinking lately about the overall message of paranormal romance, because I thinktime and again, the point is that people are people whether they are people with fangs or fur or the ability to cast spells, or your next door neighbor they share more in common than not. It’s a nice message. I think that all those stories about shifters and ghosts and guardian angels makes readers a bit more open in their own hearts.

For fun, what is your favorite genre to read? Why?

I read a lot of romance myself, all subgenres and I love urban fantasy. I also read a lot of YA and NA. Basically, I like stories with quirky characters and rich worlds.

The Best Man By Ana BlazeHow can readers track you down?

You can find me online at:





My new contemporary romance novella, The Best Man, is out on April 29, 2013! You can read more about it here:


Thanks for stopping by and telling us a little about why you write!

Thanks again for having me.

Overcoming Genre Stereotypes

Yep, I said genre.

For Christmas/Yule/halfway-through-the-dark-day, my lovely spouse gave me a big stack of paranormal romances—at my request.

I’ve never really read any paranormal romance, you see.

What?! The urban fantasy writer does not know the genre’s illegitimate-half-sister, the paranormal romance?! It’s madness, I know, since the line is so fine it hardly exists. Is Laurell K. Hamilton’s work urban fantasy, or P.R.? Jim Butcher’s Dreden series is firmly (harhar) U.F., but where does Kim Harrison fit? Is Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series a romantic urban fantasy or a thriller urban fantasy?

You get my point.

You may remember that I said I’m currently writing a romance, and if you follow me on Twitter, you may further remember me saying that I’m almost a quarter of the way into the book and there have been about six fighting scenes and zero kissing scenes. Romance continues to elude me.

So now I’m reading paranormal romance, and I’m finding the hair even harder to split. But as I make my way through the twelve-book stack, I’ll be observing here some of the things I learn from each book. I hope, as readers and (some of us) writers, we’ll learn a little bit about genre, writing, and reading as I study each book with a critical eye.

The more, erm, “romantic” books, I may be less critical about because, um, the squelchy bits* only vary so much from book to book. So stay tuned in January and February, and I’ll tell you a little bit about my exploits in the paranormal romance genre.

Coming soon: Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione and Darkfever by Karen Moning. I’ll also be venturing into Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Series and crossing from True Blood to The Southern Vampire Mysteries. Are there any other paranormal romances you would recommend? (They may very well already stand in my to-be-read pile, but refer away!)

*Should I drop the act readers? Is this a PG13-blog, or an R-rated blog?

Freudian Friday: Alaric Saltzman

Yes, readers, your wish is my command, and at Laird Sapir‘s request, this week’s psych patient is Alaric Saltzman, history teacher, vampire hunter, guardian, murderer, and all-around interesting guy from The Vampire Diaries.

Interesting sidenote: I got Laird’s request in a comment to an earlier Vampire Diaries Freudian Friday entry on the very same day that I turned to my fiance while I was watching the show and said, “Wouldn’t it be weird, as a thirty-something single guy, to live with an 18-year-old girl you’re not related to? A really hot 18-year-old?”

Um, yes. Yes it would be weird. But I digress. Here’s the normal disclaimer: this post is about the CW show The Vampire Diaries, not L. J. Smith’s series of novels by the same name.

He will always be Warner Huntington III from Legally Blonde to me.

Alaric shows up on the show as a history teacher, mysterious vampire hunter, bitter widower, and love-interest for main-character Elena’s aunt in season one. We learn that Alaric’s wife, Isobel, died a couple years before, murdered by Damon Salvatore—or WAS SHE?

No. She was not. She was, in fact, turned into a vampire at her own request. We also learn that she had an affair with Elena’s “uncle” John, and that Isobel and John were Elena’s birth-parents. (Confused yet?) So that makes “Rick” Elena’s… step-birth-dad?

When Elena’s aunt dies, Alaric sticks around to act as guardian to her and her younger brother (cousin?), Jeremy. Rick makes friends with Damon Salvatore, joins the Founder’s Council, and overcomes his issues enough to become a decent guardian for Elena and Jeremy.

It’s more complicated than that, though. He’s briefly possessed by an evil vampire, his (first) girlfriend becomes a vampire before she dies, his “friend” Damon kills him a couple of times, and his new girlfriend reveals that his protection-against-the-supernatural ring is actually giving him a second personality that prowls the town and kills other members of the Founder’s Council.

Yikes. Poor guy.

So here we have a man who hated the vampires because they fascinated his wife and, to his reckoning, killed her. Then he gradually learns that vampires are people, too. In a super-sad scene from season one, he confronts Isobel without his supernatural protections, trying to prove he trusts her, in spite of what she is, and she compels him to move on and forget her. She later kills herself.

He opens up, shows his vulnerabilities, and promptly gets passively stomped on. He finds a group of trusted friends and adoptive family, and then an evil vampire uses him to infiltrate their defenses. His wife gave him a ring to protect him, but that ring is turning him into a vicious killer.

If that doesn’t teach him not to trust a good thing, what will?

Relationship-wise, his wife chose to become a vampire and abandon him. His first girlfriend became a vampire (not by choice) and then died. His second girlfriend is trying to protect him—and his alter-ego stabs her.

His best relationships are with Elena and Jeremy, two kids he’s not even related to, and Damon Salvatore, a frenemy if ever I really saw one. Alaric protects Elena and Jeremy, and he trains Elena to protect himself, satisfying that apparent need in him to do something good, to take control in a world where supernatural rules and humans have few defenses.

Teaching Elena to defend herself.

His friendship with Damon is mutually self-destructive: everything I touch dies, and you kill everything you touch, therefore we must have something in common. It also crystallizes his relationship with the supernatural: he likes it, he’s willing to work with it, but he hates it a little, too, and it will kill him at a moment’s notice.

So how do we reconcile Alaric’s need to protect the weak and fight against the supernatural with his fatalistic attitude that he cannot do anything right, and that everything supernatural is tainted? He fights against the supernatural, but he relies on it to protect himself, setting him up for a confusing simultaneous hatred and reverence.

Elena’s friendship saves him several times: she has faith in him, even when he doesn’t. And his desire to protect may overcome his tendency to despair.

But what will he do now that he cannot even protect himself? Will he overcome his backwards-reverence of the supernatural now that he cannot depend on a magical ring to save him? Will he finally own his natural, human talents and accept himself as a strong human who has fallen victim to the supernatural, but can overcome it?

What do you think, readers? What’s Alaric’s trouble? Have you even thought this much about him? And would it be weird to be a thirty-something guy living with a hot 18-year-old girl?