Monday, January 10, 2011

Mystery and the Paranormal

A mystery is the driving plot in the contemporary urban fantasy.  By driving plot I mean the plot the main character follows to achieve his/her goal. The fantasy elements are the building blocks of the world and the characters.
In recent years, mysteries have started borrowing paranormal elements, as well.
Mysteries by themselves have many varieties including the cozy and the detective novel, the police procedural, the spy novel, and the thriller.  
Each type of mystery has urban fantasy and paranormal mystery equivalents.   Here are some examples.
COZY:  An amateur detective solves a murder with minimal blood and violence involved.  (Think Miss Marple or MURDER SHE WROTE)
Carolyn Hart's "Ghost at Work" series about a ghost acting as a murder-solving angel.
EJ Copperman's A NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED.  Mystery series with woman who can see dead people.
Casey Daniel's  Pepper Martin Mysteries.  Heroine sees dead people and tries to solve their murder or whatever.
Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse/TRUE BLOOD novels.
PROFESSIONAL AMATEUR DETECTIVE:  A professional in a specific setting uses his insider information to solve a crime.  The Dick Francis novels about horse racing are a good example. 
 Marjorie M. Liu's   "Hunter Kiss" series. The heroine's job is to kill demons, and she must solve mysteries involving them.  
Charlaine Harris' GRAVE  series. The heroine is able to find dead bodies and experience the last moments of the person's death. She often works with police departments and grieving relatives to help solve murders. 
Mary Stanton's ANGEL'S series. A defense lawyer inherits her uncle's law firm then finds out that many of his cases were before God's Celestial Court of last chances for a reprieve of the dead person's eternal punishment. She solves the murder of the person she is advocating for which helps her plead his case before the angelic court.
POLICE PROCEDURAL: Think LAW AND ORDER or any serious cop show. 
Keri Arthur's Riley Jenson series
Kay Hooper's Bishop/Special Crimes unit novels.  Paranormal suspense.  CRIMINAL MINDS with psychics as the FBI agents and the criminals.  
Anton Strout's DEAD series.,  Paranormal NYC government agency which takes care of paranormal threats and covers them up. Hero Simon is an ex-thief who uses psychometry to read objects.
CE Murphy series. Shaman cop Joanne Walker.
SUSPENSE:  The main character doesn't solve the crime, he tries to stay alive after the crime and may stop the criminal during the process.
George D. Shuman series. "Psychic suspense." The blind heroine sees flashes of a dead person's life and moment of death when she holds a corpse's hand. 
ROMANTIC SUSPENSE:  A man and woman fall in love while staying alive and solving a mystery.  
UNHALLOWED GROUND, Heather Graham.    Heroine owns plantation home in St. Augustine where lots of skeletons are found in the house.  A Civil War serial killer/voodoo witch appears to have returned.  Heroine has ability to see some ghosts.  Hero, a PI with psychic abilities, comes to town looking for one of the victims and finds heroine, ghosts, and killers. 
HISTORICAL: Crime-solving people in the past.  
Georgia Evans series.  WWII in rural England with local pixies, dragons, etc. in people form who fight vampire Nazis.  BEDNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS for adults.
Sarah Jane Stratford's THE MIDNIGHT GUARDIAN. An historical spy novel with vampires. English vampires discover that Hitler's "final solution" includes vampires so they go into Germany to stop the Nazis. 
PN Elrod series.  Vampire PI in 1930s Chicago.
Many of Kelley Armstrong's "The Otherworld Series."   
Kat Richardson's Greywalker novels.
Jim Butcher's "Dresden Files."
Laura Anne Gilman's HARD MAGIC.    Magic (the current/electricity) is seen as a science with spells.  A group of young Talents is brought together to create the first forensic magic investigative team. 
Simon R. Green's Eddie Drood novels.  

Marilynn's Workshop Schedule and Information Links
Writing in the Moment, April 11-May 8, 2011 

How to get your voice, viewpoint, and craft so perfect that you disappear and your story comes alive.  Lots of worksheets. 

The Blurb: Mother of All Promotions July 25-August 7, 2011 
A blurb is the pithy description of your novel in a query letter, the short "elevator pitch" used at a writer's conference, the log line for online promotion, and the all important back cover copy for a published novel.  Without a great blurb, a novel won't be noticed by agents and editors.  
 Marilynn Byerly--creator of a blurb system used by university publishing courses, publishers, and many authors-- will show you how to create that perfect blurb for your novel.  The course will include a number of worksheets and in-class blurb analysis.