[De]Constructing Paranormal Romance

On Friday I stated that I’m working on a paranormal romance story, and that I’m planning on querying it out when it’s ready. I’m not going through the Big Six, I’d rather stick to smaller press. Now I know I said I wouldn’t write a romance, but I have several story ideas that weren’t going anywhere no matter how I re-worked them. Then I started reading the old gothic stories, and when I did some research on the genre, I learned something interesting. Paranormal romance is a sub-genre of gothic fiction!

I remember the paperback novels in the grocery stores back in the 70’s; the ones with the Picasso-like woman in the foreground and a creepy castle behind her. I discovered these books were some of the first paranormal romances. Interesting. I started asking the question; what defines a story as paranormal romance (you might have seen it on Twitter or Facebook), and I was very surprised to learn that the majority of people consider it a PR if one or both characters are in some way part of the supernatural world.

When I searched the internet I found a few articles that helped define it a bit better for me.


As this article explains, one of the parents of PR is horror and horror I’ve always considered as more of a background element to a story than a character trait.

Please don’t think I’m putting down modern PR, I’m not; far from it. I’m just trying to understand it better. If I’m going to write it, I want to understand all parts of it. Even the humble beginnings. I don’t want to throw out a weak novel and call it a paranormal romance.

What troubled me the most was everyone’s insistence that PR had to have either one character or both somehow connected to the supernatural; whether it be a vampire, demon, ghost or what have you.  It bothered me because it felt so restrictive.

This blog about paranormal romance states, the genre itself can encompass elements from other genres, was interesting as well.


According to RWA  ‘a story containing both a central love story, and also an emotionally satisfying AND optimistic ending has to hold true for any romance, no matter the sub-genre’.

What if I wrote a story where the characters weren’t supernatural in nature, but the paranormal was in the setting? Just like the old gothic novels that inspired the genre. As long as the romance was central, I can call it PR.

I’m going to try and write a PR where the supernatural not limited to the characters. I want it to be a central part of the story, so that if it were removed from the plot, the story would fall apart. I have a few ideas that this could work with, but I’d have to flesh them out a bit more.

What do you think?


About Darke Conteur
Darke Conteur is a writer at the mercy of her Muse. The author of stories in several genres, she prefers to create within the realms Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy. A pagan at heart, her personal goal it to find her balance within nature; exploring the dark through her stories and the light through her beliefs. When not writing or working with crystals, she enjoys knitting, gardening, cooking and very loud music.

6 Responses to [De]Constructing Paranormal Romance

  1. Genres can have gray areas. Usually when a story borders, I just call it “paranormal fantasy” 🙂

  2. Sounds intriguing. I am well versed in gothic lit…and I love your idea to go back to the roots of the genre.

  3. What you’re describing sounds like you’re going back to the roots of PR. Go for it. I’m for anything that will make me forget about sparkly vampires. 🙂

    • I just hope it works out. I said I wouldn’t write PR and I don’t want people to think I’m jumping on any bandwagon, but these stories just popped in my head. Damn Muse. 😛

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