Why We Love the Fantastical in Fiction, a guest post by Tracy Wolff
When I was thirteen, I read my first story by Edgar Allan Poe. It was called “The Black Cat,” and from the moment I turned the first page, I was hooked on his spectacularly spooky storytelling. At sixteen, I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. At seventeen, I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Hawthorne’s “Rappacini’s Daughter.” And by eighteen, I was in search of whatever paranormal fiction I could get my hands on. Stephen King. Anne Rice, Lois Duncan, Diana Wynne Jones. If it was spooky, I read it. If it was spooky and had fantastical creatures in it, I read it and loved it and read it again.
My love affair with the fantastical and the macabre hasn’t dimmed through the years—I still love a good vampire novel or ghost flick as much as I ever did. But even so, I have to admit that there was something exciting about reading “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates in my first college lit class. And something scary and utterly fascinating about reading a dog-eared copy of Stephen King’s Misery when I was alone in my dorm room late at night.
So what is it about dark and paranormal stories that appeal to teenagers so much? What is it about reading them for the first time as a teenager that feels different than reading anything else? And different from reading them later in life, no matter how much you might still enjoy the story? After years of writing paranormal stories for YA and adult audiences, as well as teaching spooky stories in my college lit classes, I’ve decided there are three things that make paranormal stories such a hit with teenagers.
- Paranormal stories are Counter-Culture. Whether they are macabre, depraved, or just set in a different world with different rules, paranormal books and short stories let teens live by a different set of rules for a little while. Not bad rules, necessarily, just different rules from the everyday ones regarding curfews and class tardies and school social standing. People can imagine being whoever they want to be when reading paranormal novels, doing whatever they want and having whatever powers they would like, all while being some super cool creature. And they get to do things that are probably frowned upon in their own lives. Running wild and howling under a full moon in the middle of the night. Sleeping all day and partying all night. Making potions to control parts of your life you have no control over. What’s not to love?
- Paranormal stories are a powerful escape. Whether a teen wants to escape from a mountain of homework or an embarrassing moment in front of their crush or a pandemic that has taken over their whole lives, paranormal fiction gives them a chance to do just that. Don’t like the world you’re living in? Pick up a book and change the world for a while. Afraid things are going to end up really bad for you because of a failed test or a fight with a friend or a global pandemic? Jump into another world, one where a lot of bad stuff happens, but an HEA is almost always guaranteed. What a great coping mechanism, and a great chance to let your subconscious sort out some of the more complex feelings you might not be ready to deal with yet.
- Everything is heightened to the highest degree. In paranormal novels, the stakes are always super high. Good or Evil. Life or death. Salvation or damnation. Emotions run high and danger abounds. Everything is the end of the world … until it isn’t anymore. And creatures are rewarded for their bizarre behavior and talents as opposed to punished or ridiculed for them. For teens, who are often embarrassed by so many things about themselves, including their emotions, this escape into a world where nothing is too extreme or fantastical helps give them a chance to come to terms with their own heightened emotions as they experience things, often for the first time.
Paranormal fiction has always been a haven for me in times of change or despair. It is more exciting than comfortable, more scary than secure, yet somehow by the end of a paranormal novel, I’m always a little more comforted and a little more secure than I was when I picked it up. And as a writer, this is the gift I hope to give my readers with my own paranormal stories.
YA SCIFI/FANTASY PANEL featuring Tracy Wolff, Alexandra Monir, Romina Garber, and Victoria Lee, moderated by Aurora Dominguez
FRIDAY, APRIL 10TH AT 7PM ET: RSVP HERE!
Meet Tracy Wolff
Tracy Wolff is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sixty-four novels that run the gamut from young adult action adventures to new adult romance and from women’s fiction to erotica. A long-time devotee of vampires, dragons and all things that go bump in the night, Tracy loves nothing more than combining her affection for paranormal creatures with her love of writing tortured heroes and kick-butt heroines. When she’s not writing (which is a rare occurrence), she can be found trying out new recipes, offering make-up tips online, wandering comic book/gaming stores with her sons, and watching movies or plotting stories with her besties. A one-time English professor, she now writes full-time from her home in Austin, Texas, which she shares with her family.
Visit her website at: www.tracywolffbooks.com Twitter: @TracyWolff Facebook: @TracyWolffAuthor Instagram: @tracywolffbooks
About CRAVE by Tracy Wolff
My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.
Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.
Which could spell death for us all.
Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 04/07/2020
Age Range: 14 – 18 Years
Filed under: Uncategorized
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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