When I began the work on my first novel project, The Unseen, the question of genre came up. I struggled a little with this question, as I felt there was no genre yet existed that could accurately describe the novel. I was fortunate enough to have some constructive feedback, as the novel was being worked out within the framework of Forward Motion’s Two Year Novel class, a bulletin-board based course presented by Lazette Gifford.
The Unseen is about Lupe Sanchez, a police detective in a small California coastal town. She begins digging into the cause of a sharp increase in violent crime, and eventually finds that the source is tied to demonic activity. The plot pivots around her reluctance to believe in the existence of demons, as well as her faith in her ability to deal with them when she finally does believe.
Horror seems to be the natural choice for such a story. My problem was my perceived definition of the genre, as I believe that horror stories are written for the primary purpose of horrifying its readers. Although I will certainly be using horrifying elements, my goal in writing The Unseen is not to frighten.
From what I am seeing in the market today, the some of the main elements of the supernatural and paranormal genres are romance and/or erotica, teenage or young adult angst, and humanized monsters. None of these are major elements in the novel. Also, urban fantasy, to my mind, involves traditionally fantastic creatures or characters (elves, dwarfs, fairies, wizards, and dragons for example) in a modern setting. And I didn’t think demons fit the role adequately.
So, I have come to coin the term “supernatural suspense.” The plot definitely revolves around the other-worldly, but the emphasis is on suspense rather than horror or any of the subjects listed above for the supernatural genre.
That’s it in a nutshell. What do you think? Am I wrong about my perceptions of any of the genres? Where do you thing such a book should fit in? Please comment!