I hesitated to use the name Urban Fantasy in this article, mainly because these days it is often too closely associated with Paranormal Romance, which does nothing to describe the kind of books that I write.
To me, Urban Fantasy describes a type of fiction that features supernatural characters in a realistic setting, which can include but isn’t exclusive too, an urban setting. That’s my definition of Urban Fantasy, which may differ to yours or someone else’s.
Choosing the right genre is important. If it gets to the stage where PR engulfs UF then that becomes a problem for me as a writer, because then I’d be aiming books at the wrong audience.
Most readers know to differentiate the two, but there is still much overlap between genres these days and it can be hard for a writer to know how define their brand.
The term “Urban Fantasy” is relatively new to me, but the genre itself definitely isn’t. I’ve been reading books and watching TV shows and movies that could be classed now as UF, but which I always classed as dark fantasy or fantasy horror. When I write my books I think in those terms more than in terms of UF.
So why do I chose to define myself as an UF writer? Because the term is well known to readers of dark fiction. When they see the term UF associated with a writer, they immediately know what to expect from that writer.
This is very helpful in terms of marketing. UF is a strong brand, which is why at this time I choose to class myself as a UF writer, despite me thinking that my books are more dark fantasy horror.
That may sound like splitting hairs, but it isn’t. Proper categorization of your work is important so the right people see it. This is especially true in the beginning, while your name as a writer is still being made.
My problem with using the term “horror” is that it sounds a bit too hard-core. Although there is quite a bit of horror in my new novel series, by itself it doesn’t define what the book is. The book has other strong elements, like a young and strong female lead, angels and demons, elements of the occult, lots of action, all things that are strongly associated with urban fantasy.
So that’s my reasoning behind using the UF tag. Now what about my influences in that area?
When I was coming up with ideas for a novel series, I first asked myself what was I into? What did I enjoy reading about and watching? I had to enjoy the genre or I wouldn’t enjoy the writing. It had to be a genre that I connected with and urban fantasy was that genre.
I also had to consider the market before writing anything. I tried to avoid choosing a genre that wasn’t very marketable. Luckily the UF genre is huge and very marketable indeed.
Although I have read a lot of books in the UF genre, my main influence as far as The Watcher’s Series went was TV shows. Most of my favourite shows are in the UF genre, shows like Supernatural, Sleepy Hollow, Teen Wolf, Grimm and a few others. All these shows feature supernatural characters and classic good versus evil storylines, combined with character arcs that usually involve the main character or characters going through some kind of awakening first of all, before steadily growing into their roles as hunters or protectors. All these things really interested me and they are what I try to bring to my books, but told in my own way.
Although the UF genre is competitive for a new writer, I intend to stick with it for the foreseeable future. It offers me a lot of scope as a writer and it allows me to write about stuff that really interests me and gets me excited, which is massively important for a writer. Without that passion to motivate you, writing can be impossible.
Urban fantasy is what I will write under but hopefully people will buy my books eventually not because of the genre they are in, but because I wrote them.
That’s the goal anyway.
In the meantime, check out these videos for further discussion and enlightenment on the urban fantasy genre: