Because it’s the holiday season, my favorite paranormal romance has been on my mind. Every year around this time, I have to watch the 1958 movie Bell, Book and Candle. The pivotal scene in the movie takes place on Christmas Eve, when urban witch Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) uses her familiar, Pyewacket, to cast a love spell on unsuspecting Shep Henderson (Jimmy Stewart).
The movie isn’t billed as a paranormal romance (I doubt the concept existed as such in 1958). It’s a romantic comedy. But for me, it was the first story I ever encountered that made me think, “Hey, now; why aren’t there more stories with sexy witch heroines?”
It was the kind of thing my friends and I were always making up in grade school. We all wanted to imagine ourselves as women with some kind of supernatural power—whether it was witchcraft or a bionic arm—and inevitably, there would be an episode in this serial game of imagination where we “lost our powers” because of some powerful male villain. Yeah, no Jungian metaphors floating around in there at all.
But Shep Henderson wasn’t a villain. He was Gillian’s love interest, and falling in love with him was what made her lose her powers. It’s the one part of the story that doesn’t work for me, the sappy romantic ending in which Gillian is no longer the fascinating, strong woman in black pants and bare feet, but a teary-eyed, meek, almost childlike woman in a pastel yellow dress and pumps. The most telling thing to me about the ending is that her cat doesn’t like her anymore. Always listen to your cat.
From the first time I saw the movie, I wished it had a better ending. I still adore it, it’s charming and romantic, but I’d adore it more if Gillian hadn’t had to give up all her power to be loved.
Luckily, times have changed, and paranormal romance is an actual, thriving literary genre. As a general rule, paranormal and urban fantasy heroines retain their magical powers when they find love. Some even use their love and sexuality to give power to other paranormals. (Anita Blake, I’m looking at you.) And even if you hate Twilight, Bella becomes more powerful, not less, as a result of her love for Edward. (Note: if you do hate Twilight, please don’t trash it here; I have a low tolerance for attacks on other people’s work and other people’s tastes.)
Not only are there women who can be powerful and still find love in paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but these forward-thinking genres are increasingly home to male demons who find love with male demons, and female vampires who find love with female vampires, and numerous permutations in between. LGBT characters are no longer the ones who have to die tragically or provide comic relief. They’re the heroines and heroes of their own stories.
When I wrote my House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy, I hadn’t even heard of m/m romance, or paranormal romance for that matter. I had my head buried deeply in traditional epic fantasy, where such elements are not commonplace. I worried that I’d never sell my series, and that if I did, I’d be asked to take out the romance between my boys.
Fortunately, it isn’t 1958. Not only did no one ask me to tone down the romance in my unconventional series, they wanted more of it. Turns out, readers actual like smexy demon boys who like other smexy demon boys. And now my naughty demons are loose in the world, with the first book in the series, The Fallen Queen, available now, and Books Two and Three due out next year.
You probably couldn’t get much farther from Gillian Holroyd than my demons—though you could read the underground society of Greenwich Village witches and warlocks of Bell, Book and Candle as a metaphor for the LGBT community of the time—yet I still credit her with sparking my imagination and setting me in motion along the path that led me here.
I’d love to hear about the first paranormal story that hooked you on the concept and had you hunting for more. Was it a movie? A book? A comic? A cheesy 1960s TV series? Leave me a comment for a chance to win a copy of The Fallen Queen. (And remember, no trashing of sparkly vampires allowed!)
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Blurb for The Fallen Queen:
Heaven can go to hell.
Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia’s father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk, and all she wants is to stay alive.
Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with two Fallen thieves—fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda—who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue soon blurs, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter.
Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, she will have to return to fight for the throne—even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved.
* * *Bio:
Jane Kindred began writing romantic fantasy at the age of 12 in the wayback of a Plymouth Fury—which, as far as she recalls, never killed anyone…who didn’t have it coming. She spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed. Jane is the author of The Devil’s Garden (Carina Press/June 2011) and The Fallen Queen (Entangled Publishing/December 2011), Book One of The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy.
You can find Jane on Twitter: @JaneKindred
on Facebook: www.facebook.com/somewherebetweenheavenandhell
or on her website: www.janekindred.com
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To enter to win a print or ebook copy of The Fallen Queen please leave a comment for Jane.
The giveaway is international and provided by Jane, not me.
As this title is more on the adult side I would suggest you be 18 or older to enter but am not asking for your age, just want you to be aware before you enter.
Contest ends Monday, December 12th at noon MST. I'll use random.org to choose a random commenter and contact them that afternoon.