Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why do you read suspense/thrillers?

I appreciate what everyone's been saying about the paranormal discussion. So far, you've articulated what I've been sensing, especially about definitions ("paranormal" vs. "miraculous"--thanks, Caitlyn). Some words are declared guilty by association, aren't they? No matter what we mean, the words we choose matter.

Taking the concept to a different level, I'm curious to hear from those of you who like to read paranormal, supernatural, fantastic, suspenseful, thrilling, (insert your adjective of choice here) stories. Porcelainsnow talked about why she likes vampire stories. I love a good metaphor! Why do you like books in this particular category? Who are your favorite suspense/thriller authors?What makes a story memorable to you? What makes you rave about a book to your friends? I've got a few books to write and know what I love to read, but if it also lines up with what you love to read, they'll be that much better. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What's the problem with paranormal?

Since the release of Kiss, I've encountered a handful of people--reviewers, interviewers, readers--who have said they don't like the paranormal element of the story. Some seem simply surprised by it, some more deeply offended. This information has come to me indirectly rather than face-to-face, so I can't always find out the reason for the objection. One reader did tell me personally that she thought stealing memories from another person by kissing them was demonic.

Demonic is a strong word for a device I intended to be merely symbolic. But it raises a question I'm hoping some of you might help me with: What's wrong with stories that employ paranormal devices? Some readers don't like the genre on the grounds of personal preference. I get this. There are fiction categories and authors I don't read for the same reason. But I'm more perplexed by moral objections to the exploration of paranormal possibilities. What's that all about? (I'm genuinely asking.)

Kiss is considered a "Christian book." Define that as you will. But it leads me to ask: Do people object to the paranormal because it is perceived as unChristian? The definition of paranormal is "not scientifically explainable," in which case one could argue that the Christian faith is founded on something "paranormal." Do people object because the paranormal is perceived as unbiblical? Then what can we make of the angels and demons that appear in Scripture, all of the miracles and prophecies, and Jesus' transfiguration and resurrection? Also, there's a story Jesus told that I consider paranormal, not to mention dark: It's about a rich man who goes to hell and a beggar who goes to heaven, and a long-dead Abraham telling the man in hell why he won't send any spirits of the dead to warn his family of hell's reality. That's in Luke 16.

Is it because many books, films, and TV shows that feature the paranormal tend to focus on the dark side of the unknown? Does that mean a Christian writer can't touch it? Does misuse of a device preclude it from ever being employed constructively again?

So these questions are rattling around in my head, because the stories I write are going to have paranormal elements in them. The intersection between the physical and spiritual worlds is what captures my heart and my imagination, both symbolically and literally. I can't avoid it.

But maybe understanding the objections will open some new ideas for me. So shout out or sound off. I'm ready to hear.