Once upon a time, parents told children tales of the boogie man and other things that go bump in the night for a very specific reason. To keep them in bed where they belonged. It may seem cruel, but think about it—there was no electricity, so no night-lights. There were wild animals and open fires about. Staircases didn’t usually have hand rails. It was a safety thing. Also kept them out of mom & dad’s bed, which was quite possibly in the same room. Explained away that grunting and bumping, too. :)
What boogie man tales did for the children, religion did for the grown-ups. Thinking about running around after dark? Watch out, the vampires might get you. Those shellfish that are making everyone sick? If GOD says they’re unclean, maybe the masses will stop eating them. In parts of Africa it is believed that evil spirits lurk in the corners of the house—so houses are built in circles. Of course, it also conserves the scarce wood supply, as a circle gives you the maximum area/perimeter ratio. In Thailand you build a high threshold to keep out the evil spirits that crawl along the floor. Also works on snakes. Handy, huh?
I’m not saying that religion deliberately hoodwinks the populace for its own arbitrary or nefarious reasons. Though it might surprise you, I’m not dissing religion at all. But in a pre-literate society, religion was one largely self-enforcing way for the educated minority to communicate messages to the masses, and to have them stick. A lot of the paranormal legends we’re familiar with today may have started off in just such a manner, along with the fact that every culture has a mythology, and as cultures moved and mingled, the legends spread, grew, evolved. Trolls mean one thing to one culture, something else entirely to another. Brownies, leprechauns, elves, pixies, faeries—the stories and differences are largely regional, but with a great deal of overlap. Some of these creatures featured in the teaching of pre-Christian beliefs, just as the djinn feature in Middle Eastern theology and demons in many of the Asian philosophies.
Now, if you want to know how I think these religious origins should relate to modern paranormal romance, you might be in for a shock.
Not one little, teeny, weeny bit.
I write FICTION. Stories. Faery tales for grownups if you will. They have nothing whatsoever to do with reality—especially politics or religion. I try very hard not to mention religion at all, though now and again the context of a story forces it in. When it does, I try to be as vague as possible, and most importantly, not to offend any particular sect. Why? Because I don’t want to get into a religious debate. That’s simply not what my romantic fiction is about. If your beliefs have a problem with the existence of a werewolf, or a living gargoyle, or a half-dragon cop, that’s fine. I don’t believe in singing purple dinosaurs either, but I let my kids watch Barney, even though he bugged the daylights out of me. Because even when they were two, they got the concept that THIS IS NOT REAL. If however, you have a problem reading about magical creatures, you should probably not read my work. And that’s okay, too. I can recommend some wonderful authors who do bring their faith into their fiction—everything from Wiccan to Jewish to Catholic to Baptist to Buddhist. But in my stuff? Pure, unadulterated fantasy. Just kick back, forget reality for a while and have some fun.
I do think the paranormal world and romance are a natural mixing ground, and one I love exploring. When we’re talking fantasy, why not add the elements of magic, extended lifespans, and so on, meaning the Happily-Ever-After can really be EVER after. In other cases, adding paranormal heroes and heroines can up the conflict level, making it harder for our lovers to get and stay together. That’s certainly the case in my new book out tomorrow from Ellora’s Cave, All Hallow’s Evie. Evangeline Bonnell is a ghost, whose time is up on Halloween, meaning she and Sam Holiday have a mere 10 days together. Figuring out how to give these two an HEA was a real challenge. :)
I’m giving away a free copy of Sam and Evie’s story to one random commenter below, so if you’re in the mood, tell me what you think about paranormal romance, or how you celebrate this time of year. I’ll leave this contest open until the 28th, so everyone who wants to has a chance to enter. If you want to know more about my books or this one in particular, click on the links below.
Have a wonderful Halloween, or Samhain, or if you celebrate neither, then just a have a marvelous autumn.
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All Hallow’s Evie
Out Oct. 21, from Ellora’s Cave
Holiday Hearts, Book Five.
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