Scary Is the New Sexy
Once upon a time in the old, olden days (like, fifty years ago) the link between the paranormal and sex wasn't as strong as it is today. Entertainment intended to scare and horrify rarely titillated as well. Horror was created to shock, to repulse, to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and keep you awake at night. Nosferatu, with his deformed alien otherness, was a far cry from our modern sexy vampires who sweep the hapless village virgin off in a whirlwind of passionate discovery. Likewise, The Blob wasn't a tantalizing, hunky shifter looking for his true mate. Even the Bride of Frankenstein wasn't so much a love story as a tale of tragedy and horror. Monsters used to scare us because of their lack of humanity—after all, they lacked one of humanity's most fundamental values: no one could love a monster, not even another monster.
Until today, when everybody loves a monster, and monsters can love.
Our screens are now full of TV shows and movies about sexy, sensual, otherworldly creatures: The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, True Blood, the Underworld movies. The monsters of yesterday who made our skin crawl are now misunderstood hunks and vixens looking for acceptance and love—and more often than not, finding it. Where the idea of fangs in your throat used to make your blood run cold, it now sets your pants on fire.
Thus the emergence of paranormal romance, that wild child of the romance world, the one that breaks formulas and bends the rules as only creatures from the fringes can. I hear every other week it's going out of style, or not being acquired/selling anymore, only to see a fresh batch of vampires and werewolves pop up, ravishing their chosen mates. Readers love it. Paranormal romance authors love it. We're not going anywhere. Supposedly horror went out of style years ago too, but fans are still demanding a steady supply.
Why is that? Because in addition to love, humans crave being scared. We like a thrill, something that sends our pulse racing, the idea that there might be something out there that can't be explained. We like mystery and magic. We like to believe there's something more exciting than this boring day-to-day, that if we leave our window open at night a sexy vampire will sweep in and make us his eternal lover; that if we get lost in the woods we'll acquire a hunky werewolf instead of just poison ivy.
Mixing love and scares is appealing. Monsters aren't mundane. They live in an unpredictable and exciting world, where you might live forever or gain superhuman powers. Likewise, we imagine they love as outrageously as they live—passionate, intense, desperate and devoted. They want to be understood and accepted and crave a tender touch from the only human who can love them the way they are. They want to be saved and transformed, but they're still dangerous. We like a little danger, because danger is sexy. If it's true women like bad boys, then vampires, werewolves, and shifters are bad boys with all the glamour and none of the realistic 'bad' of the real world, like a meth lab and six warrants in the next state over.
He might suck your blood, but he won't steal your purse.
At the core of romance are fantasy and escapism, and a suspension of disbelief. Romance is meant to take us to a world of passion and thrills, where things always work out and the sex is mind-blowing. Adding the paranormal gives it another layer of un-reality we desperately need in a world that is unpredictable and scary in ways that aren't fun at all. The hero battles the darkness he knows all too well, the heroine spreads her literal wings, but neither are trying to remortgage the house or survive an audit. Better to fight actual dragons than the dragons we deal with outside the page.
Scary is sexy now. Probably, it always was sexy, though the learned and stoic authors of the past didn't want to admit that—unless you're Bram Stoker, and even he was trying to pass on a tale of morality and humanity rather than a story of love and passion. Both terror and lust make you tingle and set your heart pounding. Nothing is wrong with craving something out of this world. Also, we see the humanity in monsters better now—the real monsters, out here in the real world, are the ones we actually, actively fear instead.
So go ahead and leave your window open. Metaphorically, anyway—you don't want the mosquitoes getting in. Those buggers will suck you dry.
THE WICKED CITY
She's got a voice to die for…
Whatever June Coffin says, goes—literally. And it’s not just because she’s a chain smoking rebel. As a Siren, June has the ability to force people to obey any command she voices. But in a world where those with supernatural powers quickly become lab rats for science, she’d rather look out for herself than fight on the front lines…until her similarly gifted twin brother, Jason, is captured by Chicago’s Institute of Supernatural Research.
To save Jason, June has no choice but to enter a hidden world of conspiracy, murder—and strange bedfellows—including a widowed paranormal advocate whose memory June accidentally erased, and a fiery paranormal separatist leader. Soon the lines between attraction and strategic alliance become blurred. But in a city exploding with paranormal crossfire, and her brother’s life at stake, June will have to face her inner demons and finally take a stand.
Available March 3, 2015. Pre-order at Kensington Books:
Megan Morgan is a paranormal romance, erotica, and urban fantasy author from Cleveland, Ohio. Bartender by day and purveyor of things that go bump at night, she likes her fiction scary and sexy. She’s a member of the RWA and trying to turn writing into her day job, so she can be on the other side of the bar for a change. Currently published with House of Erotica and Muse It Up, she is also the author of a three-book urban fantasy series coming in March 2015 from Lyrical Press/Kensington Books.
Lynda Again --
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