This week: Let's PretendEdited by: GeminiGem🎱
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"Urban fantasy describes a subgenre of fantasy in which the real world collides with the decidedly supernatural or magical world. Sounds simple, right? Think again! Fantasy and its subgenres are notoriously elastic, making the definition of “urban fantasy” decidedly open-ended." ~Reedsy Blog
"Urban fantasy is a genre of fiction, a subgenre of fantasy in which the narrative uses supernatural elements in a 19th-century to 21st-century (or equivalent) urban society." ~Wikipedia
"The “urban” in urban fantasy means that the setting should always be one of the main characters. While books with a UF “flavor” have been set in rural areas, historical periods, small towns, or even secondary worlds, the classic urban fantasy setting is a dense, highly populated present-day metropolis. Think London, New York, or San Francisco--the sophisticated pulse and personality of the city permeates the story."~WritersDigest.com
Okay, good. We've got the dry, boring definitions done with, now let's have a bit of fun.
et's pretend that you and I are besties. It isn't much of a stretch, really, we have plenty in common. We both love reading and writing, right? You can call me Leah because, well, that's my name. Let's say that we have lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (population 636,212) our entire lives. We are young adults and the year is 1982. Sorry, there are no cell phones, personal computers, or internet access. Before you get too despondent about that, let me remind you that this is the late twentieth century, so we do have access to cassette tapes, landlines, and indoor plumbing.
We are co-workers at a small book store in a neighborhood where most of the people who live there are employed at the Miller Beer brewery. I live in a tiny one-bedroom house I inherited from my grandmother and have an adorable little Chihuahua that I take everywhere. You have a new-to-you 1975 Harley-Davidson Super Glide motorcycle that is currently in storage for the winter (Milwaukee has been the home of Harley-Davidson since 1903).
One snowy night we go out for a few adult beverages. We cut through an alley as we walk back to our neighborhood and you are accosted by a vampire. Instead of dying you end up turning into a vampire. Hey, I wouldn't kill off my bestie that fast, that would be rude!
We go to the Milwaukee Public Library to research how to help you deal with your new living situation. Remember, Google doesn't exist yet, even in our pretend world. During our hours of research, I uncover information that proves that I come from a long line of powerful witches, and have latent powers just waiting to be discovered. We also search for information in the attic of my grandmother's house that confirms what we learned at the library.
Oh yes, and it turns out that adorable Chihuahua is actually a shape-shifter (the sneaky little stinker) and had chosen me because she knew I was a witch, even if I didn't know it myself.
Our made-up world has turned into a rather hastily concocted urban fantasy. How do you feel about that, bestie? Our lives used to be relatively straightforward, but now are infinitely more complex, and not necessarily in a good way.
The fantastical characters of Milwaukee keep their nature and activities hidden from humans and attempt to blend in with them. Now that you and I are no longer regular humans, we realize there are other supernaturals hiding in plain sight. We have to learn how to continue to live among humans without raising any suspicions as well as learning to fit into a whole new community of supernatural beings.
Remember when the biggest stress we had was having enough money to cover the rent? Now we have to lead a double life as well as deal with the life and death struggles of the supernatural realm. But we got this, right? I mean, we live in the beer and motorcycle capital of the U.S., you're a newly-turned vampire, I'm a powerful but completely untrained witch, we've got my faithful shape-shifting Chihuahua, and ...okay, when you put it like that, it doesn't sound all that promising, does it?
ou have to admit, the human vs. supernatural concept is intriguing and makes for fascinating stories. Why not give this subgenre a try? The rules are wide open. Do humans and supernaturals know about each other? Do they co-exist? How do they handle conflict? What modern setting works for your story? Who populates your urban fantasy?
These things are limited only by your imagination.
Interested in reading some published urban fantasy? Here are some I recommend.
Charlaine Harris: The Southern Vampire Mysteries (also known as the Sookie Stackhouse series)
First book in the series: Dead Until Dark
This series is set in a small parish in Louisiana. Sookie is a young woman who works as a waitress and can read minds. She attracts vampires and trouble with equal ease. Humans are aware of the existence of vampires and mix uneasily with them. Although vampires figure heavily in these stories, there are several other supernatural characters as well, like shapeshifters and fairies. This series is the base for the HBO series True Blood.
Patricia Briggs: Mercy Thompson series
First book in the series: Moon Called
Mercy (full first name Mercedes) is a part Native American woman who is a German car auto mechanic and a shapeshifter who becomes a coyote. She is involved with the local werewolf pack and is continually mixed up with vampires. There is a mix of other creatures, including the fae. Mercy faces danger down and is brave and clever, like the coyote she is.
Richard Kadrey: Sandman Slim series
First book in the series: Sandman Slim
This is about as classic urban fantasy as you can get. Stark, known as Sandman Slim, is a talented magician, a Nephilim, and a video store owner. He gets sent to Hell while still alive and becomes "The Monster Who Kills Monsters". He escapes Hell and comes back to hang out in L.A. This series is violent and dark, but very entertaining. Even the humor is dark. There are all kinds of interesting supernatural characters in this series.
Here is some interesting reading from across Writing.Com
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Where would you think would be a great place to use as a setting for an urban fantasy story and why? What about your home town? Use the quote about urban fantasy settings in the "About This Newsletter" section above help you chose an interesting or unique location.
Here is a link to find out what type of supernatural being you are (it is not all vampires and werewolves, FYI).
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I'm a witch! See? I told you!
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