Part of what has been great about revisiting romance and getting more knowledge of the genre is being able to deal with my own prejudices about the different sub-genres of romance. Paranormal romance is the sub-genre I know the most, with YA paranormal romance being the genre that I cut my teeth on as a youth: Twilight, Hush Hush, City of Bones, Fallen, etc. When it came to adult fantasy, I would read a lot of urban fantasy (Anita Blake, Rachel Morgan), but paranormal romance was not on my radar.
Enter Christine Feehan. I remembered people recommending her works to me, so when the opportunity came to speak with Ms. Feehan about her career, I jumped at the chance. Dark Fire, which is a reprint of the 2001 book, was a sexy, fun read because when it comes to the sexiest supernatural creatures, the vampires … they top the list.
Here’s what we discussed over email:
TMS: What is one of the biggest misconceptions about the genre of paranormal romance that frustrates you the most?
Feehan: There are actually two.
1. There are some readers who want to assign human expectations to paranormal beings and societies which can be challenging since paranormal myths and expectations can be extremely different. How a Carpathian male or a male Leopard shifter reacts to a mate’s need to be independent would likely be very different from that of a contemporary male. It’s best to read the story within the context of it being paranormal.
2. I think some people feel paranormal romance is far-fetched. It’s fiction. Like any fiction you must suspend disbelief. Many authors, myself included, do a great deal of research for their stories and try to make as much of the story as believable as possible. I base a great deal of my GhostWalker stories on real science or research.
TMS: You have been a writer all your life and have written over 50 novels and six series. How do you keep finding the passion and drive to produce so much content? How have you so thoroughly kicked writer’s block’s ass?
Feehan: I have so many stories in my head that I’m excited about and can’t wait to tell. I don’t suffer from lack of ideas.
If I find I’m struggling with writing I often find it’s because I’ve put myself into the story, which isn’t a good idea. So, I go back and identify where that happened and remove it to start again.
TMS: I feel like whenever a female author writes about vampires, there is always pushback about their way of depicting them. When you started writing, did you experience people trying to attack you or put you in a box? How did you come up with your vampire mythology, and then later, the Leopards?
Feehan: I think that, with entertainment especially, there will always be people out there looking to attack someone. You can’t let that get to you. I don’t engage with it and I don’t take it to heart.
With my own vampire mythology I wondered why a man of honor would choose to give up his soul to become a vampire. I imagined how difficult it would be to live in this gray world of no emotions, no mate, no family and how alluring it might be to give in to the temptation of feelings even if those were evil. I have always loved leopards. When I decided that I wanted to write something more animalistic and primal I knew it would be leopard shifters. I had done so much research on leopards and wanted the shifters to be a true blend of human and animal traits.
TMS: After so many books, how do you find that spark of passion between each couple, and what are some of the things that sometimes leave you feeling a little red in the face?
Feehan: Every couple is new with new backgrounds, needs, and traits. So the chemistry between two new people will be exciting and new as well.
I never get embarrassed about sex. It’s a natural part of life and a healthy part of a relationship. And each couple will have different sexual needs. Nothing about that bothers me.
TMS: What do you enjoy reading outside of romance novels? Is there anything you’ve been meaning to check out?
Feehan: I love almost every genre other than horror. Though I do read some Dean Koontz and I will try out a horror novel if it is recommended to me by someone I trust.
I have been thinking about reading the Michelle Obama book since everyone seems to love that. I am also interested in Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
TMS: Who are some of your favorite fellow PNR writers? Especially for people who (like me) are new to the genre?
Feehan: The name that comes to mind is Nalini Singh. She is an amazing writer and I highly recommend her.
TMS: If you could rewrite any classic novel and turn it into a paranormal romance, which would you pick? (It can’t be a Bronte or Austen novel.)
Feehan: I would have to say Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. I think I could do a lot with that.
TMS: Lastly, if you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of writing advice, what would it be?
Feehan: The first would be to pay more attention to the business side of things.
The second would be to learn about time management way sooner than I did.
Happy Valentine’s Day, and let your paranormal romance flag fly.
(image: Avon Books)
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