What is Paranormal? Is it Horror? How closely are they related?
When I originally began writing the Immortalis series, I mistakenly thought I was writing horror. I assumed that because I was using vampires (and later, adding other supernatural creatures) that this automatically put me into the horror category. But as I researched more into the various genres, I found that there was a definite distinction in how you classify things. Technically speaking, I write Urban Fantasy, a sub-genre comprised of Fantasy and Paranormal.
The creatures in the paranormal realm are the things that “go bump in the night” and scared the crap out of us when we were little. Let’s face it, some of those creatures still scare the crap out of us. Take Zombies for example. Nothing scares me more than a half-dead corps running around looking for brains to eat. However, on the flip side, I don’t find vampires the least bit scary. Yes, I do have a screw loose, but this is where I feel the distinction comes into play. No, not my mental issues, the fear factor.
Horror is meant to scare us. It’s meant to make us look over our shoulder to see who might be there. It’s meant to get our imagination working and to see creatures lurking in the shadows. It’s also meant to be intensely gory and gruesome. When that zombie comes to attack, you get every last detail down to the taste of the spongy gray matter being mashed in between the zombie’s rotted teeth.
Paranormal, on the other hand, is meant to entertain using the elements of the supernatural world. Sure, there is an element of fear there, and there can be some gory details, but that is not the driving force in a paranormal story.
Urban Fantasy, which is the sub-genre that the Immortalis series exist in, uses the paranormal creatures: vampires, werewolves, witches, and yes, there is a zombie too, in a modern-day setting. Originally having some horror roots (remember that was what I originally thought I was writing) It does allow for some of the gory and gruesome details you would come to imagine with drinking blood and killing your prey to survive. However, since my protagonist is the vampire, I get to soften it a bit by giving you the reasons behind the bloodlust and the feelings she has while taking her prey. In a way I have attempted to take the gory and give it some intimacy. At least, that’s what I was going for. But either way you see it, I think the Immortalis series strikes a nice balance between those scary creatures and the mystery of their dark world.
So, while the roots are the same, it's the intent that separates horror from the paranormal realm. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject! Please feel free to comment.