Today I’m sharing a little poetry and a guest blog post I wrote for Debbie Young on my love for Enid Blyton boarding school stories.
I’m a recent poetry convert. In the last weeks and months, I’ve been drawn to reading and writing poetry (Kathleen Raine, Yeats, Robin Robertson, Marissa Davis). Poetry writing has been a welcome and liberating change from my usual novella/novel writing. I’m also pairing my words with images and here is my latest dabbling ‘Shelter Feather’, inspired by Robert Macfarlane‘s Word of the Day tweets.
On to school stories…I was a bookish child – yes I know, hard to believe – and I especially loved boarding school stories. Debbie Young asked me to review (as an adult) one of my favourite boarding school books and consider how these stories have influenced my writing. My Favourite School Stories.
Today I’m featuring a guest post from Desiree Villena, filling us in on all the up-coming Paranormal Romance (PNR) trends. I know some of you love your saucy shapeshifter stories…so, over to Desiree…
Trends in Paranormal Romance – Desiree Villena
werewolves, raunchy love triangles — is there anything more to paranormal
romance than this? If you haven’t kept up with this intriguing genre, you might
be justified in thinking there’s not. And to be fair, plenty of new releases
continue to perpetuate the same old tropes and ideas. But that’s not to say
that there aren’t new trends cropping up in paranormal romance all the time!
Today, I’ll be taking you through some of these developments so you’ll know
what to expect the next time you browse the shelves.
will surely come as good news to jaded readers of the genre: the lengthy reign
of vampires and werewolves is finally being counterbalanced by the worlds of
fae, mermaids, and mages. And while these certainly aren’t uncharted territory,
there has never been so much enthusiasm for fantasy
world-building in PNR
as there is now.
Bella Forrest’s Harley Merlin series,
for instance, which follows a 19-year-old orphan who discovers a community of
people who share the same strange psychic abilities as her — among whom she
might just find her true love. While the first volume was published in just
2018, its continual success (and the wonders of self-publishing
have led to 20 more books detailing
the adventures of Harley Merlin. It goes to show how much traction this sort of
good measure, here’s another example of a uniquely mystical world: the Fireblood Dragon series by Ruby Dixon.
Set in a post-apocalyptic realm where humans live in enclaves away from beastly
dragons, these books follow different female protagonists as they are punished
for their deviance by being made “dragon baits.” If you’re wondering where the
romance comes in — well, these dragons are shapeshifters looking for lifelong
partners (and fiery passion, no pun intended). Now on its eighth installment,
it seems this enchanting universe is only becoming more popular, setting the
trend in PNR for years to come.
Love in the academies
PNR is largely targeted at young adults, this trend should come as no surprise.
Academies are a very popular setting in fantasy and sci-fi books, from A Wizard of Earthsea to the aptly named Vampire Academy — and since these genres
have significant overlaps with paranormal romance, it’s about time boarding
schools and spell-binding institutions made their mark on the genre.
don’t have to go any further than the Harley
Merlin series to see this in action. Just from the Amazon book description, which compares Harley Merlin to Harry Potter, readers immediately know that Harley will find
herself having many adventures in a magical school. Even though she goes out
into the world to hunt monsters and face her dark past, her starting point, her
home, and the place where she develops a bond with her significant other is the
academy that welcomes her at the beginning of the series.
authors go even deeper into this trope, setting almost their entire series in
an academy, as Serena Akeroyd did with her Caelum
Academy trilogy. Eve, the protagonist, has been raised in an emotionless
cult and cut off from outside the world — until she is mysteriously smuggled
out of “the compound” and taken to Caelum Academy, a school for those with who
aren’t really humans, but paranormal creatures. Here, she’ll not only learn
about the world she’d been kept from in the past, but also meet people who
truly love her.
Subverting PNR gender norms
tandem with the rise in academy settings, which provide love interests galore,
is the increasing popularity of the “reverse harem” in paranormal romance. This
has its roots in recent developments in Japanese animation, and involves a
female protagonist encountering many love interests throughout her journey, but
being unable to decide on her “one true love.” Sounds dramatic, I know — but
isn’t that the whole point of these supernatural love affairs?
return to Caelum Academy, where our female lead is initially bullied and made
fun of at her new school because of her ignorance of the modern world. Soon
enough, however, some of the guys who made fun of Eve take a liking to her (in
a typical enemies-to-lovers turn of events) and start trying to help her out.
As the trilogy progresses, Eve develops strong relationships with these guys,
some of which excitingly escalate beyond the friendzone — but she never admits
to loving any of them in more than a platonic way, at least not until the final
than making these books purely raunchy, Akeroyd shows readers that
relationships are complicated, and finding “the one” isn’t so easy, or even
necessarily imperative. It’s also a great way to throw a wrench into the common
trope of a dominant male stringing along a female lead. If you’re interested in
these types of gender role-subverting stories, consider checking out Meg Xuemei
X’s War of the Gods series, and The Dark Side series by Kristy Cunning.
Crossing over to urban fantasy
it’s thrilling to be pulled into bizarre landscapes with fantastical heroes,
but isn’t it even more enthralling to
discover the world you thought you knew in a different light? This is the
premise of urban fantasy: it takes a familiar setting (our own world) and
points out the nooks and crannies in which you can find a whole other, supernatural universe.
trend has been a long time coming, starting in the mid-2000s with some PNR classics such as the Dublin pub-hopping
adventures of Karen Marie Moning’s Darkfever,
and the bounty-hunting chases of Jeaniene Frost’s Halfway to the Grave. Since then, plenty of series have taken
readers down dark alleyways in cities we thought we knew all too well,
suspensefully revealing the underbellies and hidden gateways of concrete
jungles… while spicing things up with some (often star-crossed) romance. Though
many urban fantasy fans aren’t particularly fond of the growing romance segment
of their niche, PNR fans continue to embrace this trend, which should make for
a number of fascinating crossovers in the future.
books do tend to be slower to change — authors often stick to the ideas and
themes that they’ve seen work well, not wanting to mess with a successful
formula. However, that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been shifts in the
paranormal romance landscape over recent years, and very interesting ones at
that! Hopefully, these trends will kickstart a host of other innovations in
this corner of the literary universe, and we’ll be looking at plenty of
exciting new titles soon.
Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with the world’s best publishing resources and professionals. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading paranormal romance, writing contemporary fiction, and analyzing tropes and trends.