Steampunk Is Not The New Paranormal

Really interesting article from Heather Massey here: Why Has Paranormal Romance Taken Off, but Not Steampunk Romance?

Personally, I think the problems come down to:

A) People on the covers of steampunk novels have an embarrassing tendency to look like LARPers. I don’t know why this is, particularly as there are far more vampire LARPs than steampunk LARPs out there, but it’s so.

B) I realise I am being a giant howling hypocrite for saying this because I have yet to write a book that doesn’t try to inhabit several genres at once, but steampunk tends to branch off unexpectedly into other genres, and it’s entirely reasonable for people to not want Unexpected! Other! Genre! in their romance. I mean, people keep recommending Meljean Brooks’ books to me and I’m sure I’d love them if it wasn’t that the first one has zombies in, and zombies are one of my ‘Nope. Don’t want to read this’ hard limits, along with heroines who whine about their weight all the time and clichéfied descriptions of Mystic Fantasy Not-Quite-China.

I was going to say that adventures with clockwork and airships are less familiar than adventures with vampires and werewolves, and therefore require more effort and more ‘what’s going on here, then?’ anxiety from the reader, but I’ve read enough paranormals with a glossary at the front that I don’t think that holds true. In fact, one of the things that seems to make a paranormal series really stick with readers is worldbuilding.

Anyway! Go read Heather Massey’s article, it’s well worth it.

3 thoughts on “Steampunk Is Not The New Paranormal

  1. I enjoyed her article. I suppose my thoughts on why steampunk romance hasn’t taken off is that there’s often been an erotic/romantic component in supernatural fiction, whereas steampunk doesn’t have that, and so readers of supernatural fiction are more likely to ‘cross over’ and read supernatural romance (and boost sales) than steampunks are to read steampunk romance. I see steampunk romance as similar to fantasy romance: fantasy fans that I encounter don’t tend to read fantasy romance, and get very upset when it finds its way onto the fantasy shelves in bookshops, instead of being on the romance shelves. Fantasy romance is primarily for romance fans, not fantasy fans, and steampunk romance will probably be for romance fans, not steampunks, but how many romance fans will enjoy the trappings of steampunk? (That’s a genuine question, I have no idea what romance fans are like as a bunch, they could be well up for a bit of clockwork kissin’ for all I know…)

    And my other thought is PLEASE GOD DON’T LET SFX GIVE ME ANY OF THAT TO REVIEW. I had enough of the fantasy romances – while “You have won me in war and therefore I will follow you to your home nation, hunky man, and you will learn to love me” was bad, the one where the woman fell in love with her rapist was the last straw. I’m sure all romances can’t be dross, but most of the fantasy ones I had to review were pretty dreadful.

    1. I don’t really mind finding fantasy romance on the shelves in Waterstones: it might not be what I require, particularly if it features people discovering that their fated One True Mate is that guy they can’t stand (which is a trope that one of these days I am going to deconstruct so hard it squeaks), but then neither are very grimdark fantasies which are all war crimes, all the time, or tie-ins with series I don’t watch, and I’m perfectly willing to riffle past those.

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