Sherrilyn Kenyon is one example among many talented authors using the real world as the framework for building a paranormal romance novel. Her acclaimed Dark Hunter series is primarily set in real world, modern cities familiar to readers (i.e. New Orleans, Seattle, etc.).
She’s infused locations we can relate to (the French Quarter, Pike Place Market) with nightclubs, tabloids, and coffee shops unique to her characters, which coats the ‘real world’ setting to her desired effect and enhances the believability of her stories.
Her readers want to visit the locations she uses, and when they do, it’s easy to imagine their favorite characters moving through the shadows.
But Kenyon goes deeper into the process of world building for a paranormal romance novel. She layers what we know (or can vaguely recall from long-gone history and lit classes) with what is fresh from her imagination.
Using mythology, gods, and pantheons both familiar and not-so-familiar, she lends vivid depth to what our teachers and professors likely glossed over. She boldly claims and modifies what she’s clearly researched, using it to best advantage for both her plot development and her readership’s enjoyment.
This blurring of real and unreal worlds (combined with a preternatural understanding of men in all stages of development – an analysis for a different post), is what I believe makes Kenyon so popular within the genre of paranormal romance.
We could chalk up this talent for world building as intuition, but that does Kenyon and other paranormal romance writers a disservice. Effective, consuming world building for a paranormal romance stems from an author’s specific interests, passions, and ability to tell a story that transcends the ‘real world’ readers know.
When using the real world, especially well-known areas, a writer has a responsibility to do the research, check the facts, and justify any exceptions. Kenyon has done this quite well as she’s built the world for her paranormal romance novels, a world her readers love to visit over and over again.
Live the adventure,