Monday, November 17, 2008

Guest - Brenna Lyons

Good morning everyone! Today's guest is the fabulous and oh-so-energetic Brenna Lyons. I don't know Ms Lyons personally but I've 'seen' her around on various writer and reader loops. I can say that if I had a tenth of her energy, well...I'd be doing a whole lot more than I am, LOL For more details on this remarkable writer, read on. Oh and don't forget to leave a comment. She's offering a free, signed copy of one of her print books (your choice as long as it's not OOP :-D ) to a lucky commenter.

by Brenna Lyons

It's an age-old question, posed by readers who read primarily contemporary and historical books... What is the appeal of SF/F/H/P characters and plotlines? Why do women flock to them? If pressed, I'd have to respond that there are several reasons.

Many of the paranormal character types are darkly appealing. It often takes violence to change the human character to a paranormal one (biting, betrayal, death). Dark fiction, in general, has always held a certain appeal for some readers, male or female.

The vampire, for instance, walks in shadow, lives in the night, would rarely want to be noticed... It's the dark underbelly of a seemingly placid world, and who doesn't want to reach into the dark depths (whether it be the night, space, or the depths of the ocean) and grasp at or discover something new and just out of reach? It is the purview of man (the "everyman" man) to search, discover, learn...

But, not all SF/F/P is dark, admittedly.

One of the reasons SF/F/H/P is so popular and has remained so over the years is one fact. It's a departure from the doldrums of an everyday life. It offers something fresh, something to fantasize about when you're tired of everyday. Some people want a glittery HEA type of escape. Some want adventure. No matter whether it comes in a light or dark packaging, SF/F/H/P can offer something for readers who want escape fantasy.

Alpha heroes and kickass heroines are very popular. What's more alpha/kickass than a nearly-immortal or unstoppable, worldly, intelligent...predator? Don't dismiss it out of hand. This is a man (or, in the case of the heroine, woman) who gets what he wants, whether that's a meal or a love interest.

Non-human (or formerly-human) characters are, by definition 'more than human'...and sometimes less than human, in some ways. So, what does that bring to the table?

You can exaggerate human conditions to extremes that wouldn't be believable in a human subject. If you can hurt X amount as a human, how much more can you hurt, if you are able to heal from extreme injuries? How much longer does it take to destroy and rebuild a character, and how much more completely can you destroy someone who isn't human? If you can be tortured for centuries instead of weeks and months? If you are cursed not to die until you've accomplished something in specific, no matter how much suffering that entails? And how does that change a character? Do we see the humanity being stripped away, piece-by-piece, painfully?

What about animalistic characters? Weres? Aliens? Do they have instincts? What about the vampire? Imagine an intelligent, proud character, trapped in a body ruled by the instinct to feed. Further imagine that the intellect slips away, as the urge to feed becomes more pressing or when faced with the scent of fresh blood. How galling would it be to lose yourself to your animal drives? How guilty would you feel later for atrocities committed in that state?

How different would your mores and laws be, when you have instincts? When you have non-human experiences and thought processes?

If the paranormal character is the villain and not the hero or heroine, there is still something to be gained for the reader. If defeating a human villain is difficult, how much more difficult is it to defeat a character that's not human? How much more admirable is it when you're fighting a villain that can dematerialize, use mind control, is nearly all-powerful beneath the night sky? That would be something, wouldn't it?

Why do people like SF/F/H/P? Because it stretches the limits of what we know and delves into the unknown. It's not for everyone, but it's easy to see how it would be alluring.

* * *

Brenna Lyons wears many hats, sometimes all on the same day: former president of EPIC, author of more than 65 published works, teacher, wife, mother... She's a member of ERWA, WRW, TELL, MWW, IWOFA, WPM, and Broad Universe. In her first five years published in novel-length, she's finaled for 6 EPPIES (in five different categories), 3 PEARLS (including one HM, second to Angela Knight), and a Dream Realm Award. She's also taken Spinetingler's Book of the Year for 2007. Brenna writes milieu-heavy dark fiction (in 18 established worlds plus stand-alones), poetry, articles and essays.
Brenna loves talking to her readers and can be reached via her site at or MySpace at

If Katheyn O'Hanlon had one wish, it would be a memory of her childhood and the source of her nightmares. Psi-linked to her four-year-old nephew, she is dragged back to Pittsburgh to confront a renegade psychic. Kyle's father has been brutally murdered, and Kyle claims his toy tigers have done the deed led by Ty, the Siberian. It is up to Katheryn to remember where Ty is and how to destroy him before he destroys everything she cares about.

Be sure to check out Brenna's "Coming Soon" page on her site. With 18 books and stories releasing in the 9 months between the end of October 2008 and the beginning of July 2009, there's always something new and interesting going on!

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LaTessa said...

Great article Brenna. Personally, I enjoy Paranormal Romances, and recently dark paranormals/urban fantasy for many of the reasons you outline. But primary, I have always had a fasicination with all these weird, outworldly, or primal. For me, tales about weres, vamps, and other creatures that go bump in the night, provide me with the ultimate excape. And when you combine this with romance, my favorite genre, it's all good.

Adrianne Brennan said...

Me personally, I love fantasy, scifi, and paranormal for the "what-ifs" and the possibilities. In short, I like being on my toes and forced to look at reality differently--and see what would happen to the reality I know were xyz to exist in the here and now.

It's good stuff. :)

Anonymous said...

brenna if you could be one of your heros which one would you be and why?

Lynn Crain said...

Great article, Brenna, as it gives a great overall view of the genre!

Sci-fi is one of my favorite areas and I'm doing more and more there. It's one of my first loves and as I can see one of yours as well.

Keep the fantastic stories coming.

Deborah Macgillivray said...

Super posting. I think I have had a life long love of things that go bump in the night, so it's great to she Paranormal growing and strengthening in the market!

BrennaLyons said...

I'm with you. I love the what-ifs, the things that go bump in the night... It's all appealing to me.

Angie.... If I could be one of my heroes, who and why? Well, two of my heroines were loosely based on myself: Kyla in the Prophecy serial and Katie in the Renegades series. But hero?

Probably Jonas Paige in RENEGADE'S RUN (Renegades series). Why? He's a powerhouse, and he has the perfect lady match. Of all the guys, I like his situation best.

Thanks to everyone for posting!


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading the comments. I am always looking for different kinds of books to read. I have added this one to my TBR list

Kassie Burns said...

Excellent summary of the appeal of SF, fantasy and the paranormal, Brenna!

I know I was drawn to writing SF and paranormal romance because I was fascinated by the idea of characters who could feel and know beyond the realm of humanity, who had strange powers or psychic gifts. What would it feel like to know your lover's secret thoughts, to share someone's most intimate feelings, to live forever?

Once I wondered, I had to write about it, LOL.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Great post, Brenna!

One reason that I think paranormal works so well in the romance genre is the possibility for perfect connection, perfect communication. Sometimes in the real world one has the rare experience of feeling that one can share her lover's thoughts. In paranormal romance, this fantasy can come true.

Shiela said...

Excellent article Brenna!

I agree with you completely. I for one love anything that goes bump in the night, especially if it's a vampire. And the 'what ifs' are definitely a draw.

Lynda K. Scott said...

Excellent post, Brenna! I have to agree. I do love the 'bump in the night', paranormal stuff. Always have. It's great to see that I'm in good company :D

Thanks so much for being with us.