When I wrote Vampire Ascending and tried to find a publisher--or someone--to take it, I came across a publisher who I thought was interested in "vampire" novels. I'll not name the publisher, because many people are probably published there. I have nothing against them, but that the fact the editor egged me on by telling me that "this might" work for them. When she asked if I belonged to any writer's groups, I told her no. She thought I should join the romance writers association. I refused to. I began to feel that this wasn't the right place for me if she thought my writing would need "work". I explicitly told her my novel was Urban Fantasy.
Back then I didn't know what the difference between urban fantasy, and paranormal romance was. I could not find anyone who would answer my question. It was like I was supposed to figure this out on my own. Well, I eventually did.
Meanwhile I poured over books by Charlaine Harris, Kim Harrison, and a few others. The spines are usually a clue as to what these novels are. Charlaine Harris' are published by Ace and it says under the publisher: FANTASY/MYSTERY. Mainly, I would guess, because Harris was a mystery writer before she took a chance with her now very popular vampire series, which is now an HBO series.
Others, like Kim Harrison and Karen Chance's books are under FANTASY. If you look around in a bookstore and go either to the heading of horror, or fantasy, you should find any of these author's books.
You can also tell by the title. Usually the title is telling. Eternal this or that is something a romance author would use as part of the title. Also, if AVON has published it, it is most definitely a romance. A hot guy and babe on the front cover, usually one or both are nearly nude and in some sort of embrace--that would tell me that we are looking at a straight romance, I don't care if the characters are vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, or ghosts.
The point I'm trying to make is authors like Harris and Harrison do not write romance, even though romance is featured in their works. It's basically a fantasy--Urban Fantasy. I enjoy them because I'm not expecting anything but a great story with a lot of fantasy, creatures introduced, and some mystery solved, and some witchcraft, or magic going on.
Although sex/romance will be featured in any of my novels, I'm not going to hammer it to death. Romance--whether there are elves, vampires, shapeshifters between the pages (and sheets), it is still a romance. What is a romance? Well, the basic plot is rather simple. Man and woman either meet for the first time, or have known each other for a while. They are attracted to one another, however something keeps them apart. It can be anything from a danger factor, or the fact that they basically hate one another. But, you, the reader, knows that at some point these two are going to hop into bed and go at it until the cows come home. Wow. Big surprise. But that's why people like these types of books for the hot sex on page 105-120.
An urban fantasy is gives us a basic a story, usually there is a problem or a mystery to solve. It is the adventure, with various interesting characters that pop up, and the ones you've come to know and love throughout the series, and you expect them to act in a certain way. If there's sex along the way, this is a bonus, even though you might hope for such a thing, it is not a necessity in an urban fantasy, although a lot of people may think it should be, mainly because some people are including hot sex scenes in such books, it is not a requirement. Believe me.
Also, I don't write romance because I don't want my main character to be bound by the stringent confines of what is considered a romance (i.e. see above). Maybe the guy she starts out with will not be the one she winds up with--surprise! Maybe the man she's been seeing, or is in love with may die--surprise!
You see what I mean? I don't have to confine my plot to one that is boxed in. I love to think outside the box.
And as far as writing sex scenes into my books, I've had to take a stand on how far I would go with it. I'll say right here that I'm not interested in a spitting match with romance writers to see how many pages I can write a bedroom scene or how pornographic it might become. I'm interested in bringing to my readers a sense of realism, a bit of horror, throw in a romantic thread, problems, mystery, danger, and even humor into my books. It's entertainment of a different kind, or style from romance (they can call it paranormal romance or anything-under-the-sun romance, it is still romance and must adhere to the plot formula). Urban fantasy has become the easiest genre for me to write. You can do anything you want, as long as you tell a great story. If you want to write in a lot of hot sex, you're perfectly free to do so.
So, when I find someone who has left a review on my books stating they wanted to see a bit more sex, that's okay, because they've given me a 4 or 5 star review. That means the amount of sex--which by the way, other people who have read the book think it's perfectly hot, and the various men I introduce are hot, and make for an interesting story--doesn't matter. It is the story which I've told that keeps people riveted to the pages.
Each genre has it's own restrictions, and plot formulas to adhere to. Mysteries are nearly devoid of the need for sex. Sexual tension, or even a budding romance between two characters is okay, but no bedroom scenes. The same goes for science fiction--unless that has changed. Urban fantasy seems to be, at least for me, the most freeing choice to write in.
What do you prefer to read or write? Urban fantasy? Paranormal romance? Other? Why do you like to write it? Let me know. I think it would be interesting to have people chime in on this.