March 30, 2012

Square Pegs in Coffin-Shaped Holes: a guest post by Jaye Wells

Square Pegs in Coffin-Shaped Holes
By Jaye Wells

It comes up at every convention I attend: Just what is Urban Fantasy? Or more often the discussion is what is not UF.

While I have dived into these discussions with varying levels of zeal over the years, I find myself tired of it. The truth is that unlike traditional genres—romance, mystery, westerns, science fiction—Urban Fantasy is not a neat box that books either fit neatly into or must simply be discarded as something else entirely.

That is because urban fantasy is not a single genre, but a blending of genres. Further, the books that are lumped into the category exist on a broad spectrum. Over here, we have the books that tip their fedoras to Raymond Chandler with their noir sensibilities and heavily mystery-influenced plots. Over there are the more romance-heavy stories, where the protagonist’s relationships move a good portion of action. But it’s not even a straight line, this spectrum, because there are UFs that borrow heavily from the classical fantasy quest, the thriller, the classical vendetta story, satirical comedy, etc, etc, etc, and mix them all up to create a stew of awesomeness.

The truth is that there is an urban fantasy out there for everyone. Every time I talk to people about why they read my books I hear a different reason. Some love the action elements—explosions and fight scenes. Some love Sabina’s relationships with her team. Some like watching her journey and struggle from the broken ragecicle she began the series as to a warmer, more evolved heroine. Some adore the political intrigue of the dark races and the complex world building. Others still love the irreverent humor. 

So let’s stop trying to shove UF into a tidy box. Part of its appeal is that the stories and their authors don’t play by traditional fiction rules. We borrow and discard genre conventions at will and with blatant disregard for The Rules.

That is also, I suspect, why so many people love to read these books. They’re just good fun.
What’s your favorite type of urban fantasy?

BLUE-BLOODED VAMP, the fifth and final book in Jaye Wells’s Sabina Kane series releases in June. For more about Jaye’s urban fantasy novels, please check out her web site at or follow her on twitter


Gef: I'd like to thank Jaye for a great guest post to cap off the Urban Fantasy Marathon. I've had a lot of fun all this month reading the great contributions from everyone generous enough to give a little time and a few words through March. I'll also encourage folks to hop on the SABINA KANE bandwagon, as I've been having a blast with this series. I have SILVER-TONGUED DEVIL on my to-be-read pile, and I'll hopefully have that read and reviewed by the time the fifth and final installment is published.

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