Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Guest Author Jami Gray

You Write What?
by Jami Gray

Urban fantasy...hmm...cover art with women (and men) I wouldn't want to run across in a dark alley...leather EVERYWHERE... and weapons! Oh the weapons are just beautiful!

However, not everyone is so enamored of sharp pointy things as I am, and when people find out I am a writer and what I write, I am inevitably asked two questions: What is Urban Fantasy and why choose to write it?

Let’s take the first question, shall we? So what is Urban Fantasy? Easiest explanation: the existence of magic in the real world. But one of my many rejection letters had me out searching for a better answer. The very nice editor stated “…the idea of secret warriors keeping the world safe from paranormal entities isn't as original as it used to be, unfortunately.”

After some head scratching and re-reading this comment in hopes of discovering a secret message I just wasn’t getting, I had to think about it. Not only do I write UF but I read a great deal of the books out there in the same genre, and I agree this concept may not be an original concept. Nope, from what I can tell, it's the basic framework of about 70% (could be higher, but I estimate on the low side to be safe) of the Urban Fantasy books sitting out on the shelves.

So I went out on the Mecca of all disinformation or information (depending on the sites you visit and/or believe) known as the Internet. I asked “Define Urban Fantasy”. Here's what I got.
Wikipedia called it "a subset of fantasy defined by place; the fantastic narrative has an urban setting. Many urban fantasies are set in contemporary times or contain supernatural elements."

Wiki then went on with, "Many urban fantasy novels geared toward adults are told via a first-person narrative, and often feature mythological beings, paranormal romance, and various female protagonists who are involved in law enforcement or vigilantism." Then proceeded to list several titles, of which I own and enjoy a great deal.

Word IQ.com defined Urban Fantasy as "a subgenre of fantasy, also known as contemporary urban fantasy, modern-day fantasy, or indigenous fantasy. These terms are used to describe stories set in the putative real world (often referred to as consensus reality) in contemporary times, in which, it is revealed, magic and magical creatures exist, either living in the interstices of our world or leaking over from alternate worlds. It thus has much in common with, and sometimes overlaps with secret histories."

If I wanted to go on until the dead horse was glue, I could. There are tons of discussions and definitions of Urban Fantasy out there. Everyone has an opinion; readers, writers, editors, agents. It's most intimidating.

So if my story revolves around a paranormal female protagonist who is involved in vigilantism over paranormal entities who threaten both mundane and non-mundane beings set in modern times, I guess I'm not that original, just another wanna-be Urban Fantasy writer.

Then again, based on the concept "Every story that's ever been or ever will be told, has already been done" I'm guessing what sets apart various UF stories are the strengths and individualities of their characters and the challenges they face. That and the author's ability to find that elusive editor/agent who likes them.

I think my original answer still works.

Okay, first part answered, on to the second part—why Urban Fantasy?

Creating worlds where magic is part and parcel of who you are, what you do and where you live has always intrigued me. Even at a young age, happy ever after left me asking, "But, why? What happen to the wicked witch/evil stepmother/monster under the bed?" In UF characters walk a thin line between what's considered right, and what's considered wrong. They live in a gray world, much like the real world, except they have handy-dandy tools like being able to shift into something more feral and beautiful, work magic that leaves you gasping for breath, or handle weapons until they're poetry in motion to help solve their dilemmas.

So why do I write UF? Because I've always loved the idea of being part of the world but being apart from the world and traversing that thin, blurry line. Give me twisty plots with strong, flawed characters who make difficult choices for the greater good--even when those choices may be completely wrong and I’m yours. Being unique, whether you're the only human in a room full of monsters, or the only monster in a room full of humans, is key to Urban Fantasy. Otherwise, why would any of us want to read the stuff?


As soon as her foot touched the ground, she felt the disturbance of her inner wards inside the house. Something, or someone, had breached them. A powerful someone, since the outer wards hadn’t been tripped. She muttered a brief oath and caught the edge of the car door before it slammed then realized her element of surprise was shot since her headlights weren’t exactly hard to miss in the inky darkness.

Easing the door almost closed until the interior light clicked off, she stood by the SUV, an unmoving shadow. The soft rhythm of falling rain and the slight rustling of the breeze running through the dense tree leaves helped to cover her movements. She kept to the darkness of the garage, scanning her front and side yards. The lights were still off, none of the small bushes were mangled, and there were no strange cars visible. Whoever it was either flew in or parked somewhere out in the surrounding woods. Raine sent out a flicker of energy to read the house wards. Crouching down, she moved silently toward the wrap-around porch. The wards weren’t offering much help. All she could sense was one intruder. One trespasser versus her and her knives? She’d take those odds. She slipped over the porch railing, dropping softly to the deck.

She moved toward the door from the left side, avoiding the windows and keeping her back to the wall. Staying low, she approached the door below eye level, in case whoever or whatever was inside took a shot. The hope being their shot would go over her head. No sense in being an easy target. With a flick of her wrist, her blade dropped out of its sheath into her right palm, while her left hand reached for the doorknob.

A deep voice emerged from the darkened interior as the door swung open. “Raine, its Gavin. I have a message for you.”

Blurb for Shadow’s Edge:
It takes a monster to hunt one, and for Raine McCord, forged in the maelstrom of magic and science, she’s the one for the job. In a world where the supernatural live in a shadowy existence with the mundane, a series of disappearances and deaths threatens the secrecy of her kind and indicates someone knows the monsters are alive and kicking. Partnering up with the sexy and tantalizing Gavin Durand proves to be a challenge as dangerous as the prey she hunts.

When the trail points back to the foundation which warped Raine’s magic as a child, her torturous past raises its ugly head. Gavin and Raine sift through a maze of lies, murder and betrayal to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.

Shadow’s Edge: Book 1 of the Kyn Kronicles is out now and Shadow’s Soul: Book 2 of the Kyn Kronicles hits shelves Summer 2012.

You can find me at:

Buy Link: www.BlackOpalBooks.com
Website: www.JamiGray.com
Blogs: www.7EvilDwarves.wordpress.com or www.JamiGray.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jamigray.author
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/JamiGrayAuthor


  1. Interesting. I'm not sure if what I read or write would classify as Urban Fantasy but it is set in cities, it is contemporary and there's a paranormal involved. The kind of story I like is about ordinary people caught in the whirl of paranormal, as in what pulls our strings, are we just puppets in bigger hands. And yes, everything's been done but there's always a variation on a theme.

  2. "Being unique, whether you're the only human in a room full of monsters, or the only monster in a room full of humans, is key to Urban Fantasy." And I think that's why we can all relate to the genre, b/c 9 times out of 10, you're one or the other.
    Great post, Jami!

  3. I like the explanation that urban fantasy is just paranormal romance with less romance ;) I read for the characters, kick butt people (women) I can fall in love with, and I love Raine.

  4. Much thanks to the awesome peeps at Castles & Guns for allowing me in the door here! And thank you, ladies! Yep, UF--world of dangerous men & women who'll carve their annoying enemies up and leave them for demon bait! I love the fact that every world in UF is so different and that reality impacts the characters in such different ways. Long live UF!

  5. I think I've mentioned that I don't think I've read UF and it sounds like I would definitely like it. I'm sure it was because I wasn't clear what it was.

    So thank for this post and setting me straight :) Your books will be my first journey down the UF road.

  6. Great post! Like Debbie, I've never read UF. BUT it definitely sounds interesting. Can't wait to read both of your novels.

  7. Thanks, Debbie & LR for stopping by and I hope you enjoy discovering the wild world of Urban Fantasy. There are some really great authors out there. Some of my favs are Jim Butcher, Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs. They create some of the best multi-faceted characters and their worlds just suck you in!

  8. Very nice. I love your post. I do like fantasy - the idea of someone being a little more special than the rest of us. Don't I just wish I had some powers *sighs*

  9. Jami, great post. Doesn't it just chafe to be told "oh, there's nothing new about that story" by someone who hasn't read it? Even worse to have our work pigeon holed so it can be readily identified?
    Super excerpt, you just went to the top of the tbr pile. Who needs sleep?