Why I Write Urban Fantasy

Why I Write Urban Fantasy

Since my urban fantasy novel Liam’s Doom is set to be released next year, I’m going to be posting regularly about writing in general and about writing urban fantasy in particular. So, the first place to start is with a question of genre: what type of story do I want to write? I decided to write an urban fantasy novel, and so this post will explain my reasons for doing so. In this post, I’m going to discuss what urban fantasy is, what draws me to urban fantasy, and what I plan to bring to urban fantasy.

What Urban Fantasy Is

Urban Fantasy is a broad term for fantasy novels set in cities from the 19th century to the present day. Most urban fantasy stories written today occur in either real cities or fictional cities set in the current time of their writing. Much of the conflict in urban fantasy can be traced to the presence of supernatural elements (the occult, vampires, lycanthropes, faeries, demons, ghosts, spirits, etc.) interacting with a contemporary world that, more often than not, believes these creatures to be nothing more than legends. Urban fantasy is a broad genre that includes television shows and movies such as Ghostbusters, Kolchak: the Night Stalker, Carnival Row, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as the novels of Laurell K. Hamilton, Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, and Faith Hunter. In a broad sense, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling can be considered urban fantasy; although the genre rarely includes children’s literature, as it often deals with dark and adult subject matter and situations.

What Draws Me to Urban Fantasy

Now that I’ve briefly described urban fantasy as a genre, let me address what draws me to it as both a reader and a writer. I’ve always been drawn to the genres of fantasy and gothic horror, and urban fantasy blends these genres while asking a philosophical question regarding how the reality (and potential knowledge) of supernatural and folkloric creatures would alter the world as we “know” it. What does it mean to have a vampire for a neighbor? Is the old “witch” in the weird house just eccentric or can she curse you? Is that cute and confident chick flirting with me a succubus in disguise? What are the legal ramifications of vampire or werewolf “turning” a human? Does a vampire feeding on a mortal count as assault unless there is written consent? What happens when a vegan becomes a vampire? Can Elves hold public office? Are there special prisons for supernatural criminals? Do the fae live anywhere or are they required to live/choose to live in “Little Faerie” districts? How do magic and science coexist? How frequently does violence erupt between humans/supernaturals and between different types of supernaturals? What does this mean for religious belief as we know it? As you can see, urban fantasy evokes questions that allow for exploration into current sociopolitical systems and current social issues through stories that combine the gothic and the fantastic with tones that range from campy to humorous to dark and terrifying.

What I Plan/Hope to Bring to Urban Fantasy

While every author hopes to bring a “fresh voice” to their chosen genre, my hope is that I’m able to bring a unique voice that blends my knowledge of the genre, its roots, and my academic research into folklore and myth. I think my background in the original legends and critical analysis will help me breathe fresh life into a genre that many thought “died” around 2016. I want to provide a reader with a pair of “glasses” that offer them new eyes to see the genre and all it has to offer in a fresh, hopefully entertaining and intelligent light. I want to offer my readers an experience that gives them the opportunity to think about stories, about culture, about human social interactions in a different way. That’s what I hope to bring to the genre: an entertaining and enlightening reading experience.