Hail, fair readers!
Recently, I contributed my story “Eye for an Eye” to the Under an Enchanted Skyline boxed set (8 urban fantasy stories for $0.99! What a deal!). My fellow authors contributed to an epic quest that will take you from blog to blog to check out a conversation about fantasy, urban and epic and scary, and this is my part of the trek.
IMPORTANT NOTE! This anthology is available for a limited time! After December 30, it will be locked! Get it now!
Check out my fellow authors’ blogs to see more of the roundtable! (Some links on their names, other links forthcoming!)
Also this would make a fantastic last-minute Christmas gift. Just saying. :)
Question: Monsters have been around for ages in stories, myth and history. What kind of impact has the current Urban Fantasy genre had in popular conceptions of such creatures and how do you think it will change those perceptions of the future?
Phoebe Matthews: Hmm. Maybe Homer was the first urban fantasy storyteller, earning his livelihood by entertaining his audiences with tales of real cities and normal people and scary monsters. Did he try to shape the future with his tales? I don’t think so. If I had the smarts to shape a better future for the world, I would go into politics, I guess. Instead, I write stories to entertain.
Django Wexler: I don’t know that there really are myths to be dispelled – hopefully people today don’t REALLY believe in vampires and werewolves. But I think UF has done a good job of complicating some very standard tropes and creatures, so that we think a little harder before writing about some monster who’s just pure evil. If there’s one thing the sub-genre has accomplished, it’s been to demonstrate that anyone – zombie, vampire, demon, etc – can be sympathetic, or even a protagonist, with the right story.
Cedar Blake: I’d imagine that each of us could write a book about that subject. Hell, we sort of did all write books about it! As a micro-answer to that potentially complex question, I’d say that the current wave of Urban Fantasy has continued in the Anne Rice vein of “sympathetic monsters” – that is, the supernatural creatures who are more human than the humans they supposedly prey upon. The popular conception of monsters shows scary alien predators in the shadows of our world; the newer perspective shows that we are the monsters, and the monsters are us as well. That mutual reflection mirrors tensions in our real-world identities, and as the world continues to become a stranger and more “alien” place by the standards of our ancestors, I suspect that the lines between mortals and monsters will continue to blur into one another, transforming the popular conceptions of humanity and the things existing beyond it.
Doug Blakeslee: **Just like people are different, monsters aren’t all cut from the same mold or model. It’s a big impact when the protagonist is a dragon, but not the fire-breathing / treasure hording kind, but one that wanders the world and becomes the Urban Fantasy equivilent to “The Equalizer”. [There's a dragon anthology coming up and I've just given myself a premise.] A recent story featured cockatrices, gorgons, and harpies; familiar faces but with a Fae twist to pull them away from their origins while keeping their essence. Making them unexpected or tweaking a bit keeps them interesting and provides more fodder for tales in the future.
Jennifer Brozek (Apocalypse Ink): I don’t think Urban Fantasy has dispelled any of the myths associate with the supernatural. I think it has added to them. Or reintroduced old myths to new audiences as authors mine historical myths and legends to entertain today’s readers. I think this adding to and morphing of monster myths will continue to suit the author and the readers.
Janine A. Southard: Urban Fantasy has definitely smashed the idea that magic only happens in the old places. It’s not reserved for the roots of the old tree or at the standing stones where the magic has always come before. No, magic is for here and now. For apps on your phone, for the new skyscraper’s thirteenth floor.As humanity shapes the world around us, we also bring all our myths and stories into the new spaces. A crossroads demon is a crossroads demon, whether in the countryside or downtown; and you can see it whether you’re beneath a streetlight or holding a flickering torch.Instead of dispelling the myths, perhaps we are retouching them until they fit in this new world we’ve made.
Erik Scott de Bie: Every urban fantasy world that uses the traditional monsters–vampires, werewolves, etc–has to deal with the huge cultural heritage we have as regards those monsters. Some fiction reacts against it, defying our expectations for what vampires can do and their vulnerabilities (especially), which can sometimes disrupt your suspension of disbelief (did someone say sparkling vampires?). Some fiction just inherits it full-on and tries to innovate with our expected monster tropes, usually focusing hard on character and relationships (Sookie Stackhouse’s adventures have some pretty standard vampires but aren’t predictable). I think creators will continue to present different riffs on the standard formulas, or perhaps borrow from other mythologies, or go in an entirely new direction and create brand new things to go bump in the night.
Check out my fellow authors’ blogs for more questions and answers! (Links forthcoming!)