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Guest Post – Researching Urban Fantasy by Cristy Rey

Reference Collection Collage

Researching Urban Fantasy

By Cristy Rey: Writer, librarian, slayer of demons, romancer of stones…you know, all the stuff that matters.

For Shakuita Johnson’s blog, The Ramblings of Me, at http://dark-indiscretions.com/

 

I write urban fantasy. This means I weave imagined fantastical creatures and themes through the “real world,” or the world that we live in. I create a mythology for my characters. I impose order in the world they inhabit. I write the rules and, sometimes, I even break them.

In this genre, as in all the genres and subgenres that fall under the fantasy banner, authors are like gods. We can choose to create from scratch and fill readers in along the way, or we can leave you as much in the dark as cavemen before Prometheus gifted them with fire. Alternately, we can take what is already out there in the popular consciousness and tweak it to our liking. We can re-create myths, legends, and fairy tales. We can take Barbies and rip their heads off and reform their limbs so they become something different, something all our own.

I have done the latter.

As much as my series, the Incarnate series, has been called “different” and “new,” it’s not altogether unfamiliar. I write witches and werewolves. I skew existing concepts derived from sources as far-ranging as Western neo-paganism, Greco-Roman mythology, contemporary pop culture, Gothic literature, Modernist poetry, and wildlife photography…to name a few.

Shakuita invited me to guest blog for her and, at first, we thought I’d provide sources on the writing craft and the indie publishing business. I was gung-ho until we started talking about our next projects and our conversations moved from “How can we hone our business skills?” to “What information is out there about X, Y, and Z for researching our next novels?”

This blog post is an extension of that. As a good librarian (spoiler alert: I am a great librarian), I want to share a selection from my personal bibliography. I invite you to take a look at it and, most importantly, to evaluate the sources for yourself. In the immortal words of Obi-Wan (a character built on the archetypes of Campbell’s seminal Hero with a Thousand Faces), “Use the Force.”

 

Below is a list of books. All links provided are to Google Books:

 

Here are some free Internet resources:

Cristy Rey is the author of the urban fantasy Incarnate series. The first book, Taking Back Sunday, and a short prequel novelette, Edge of Seventeen, are available now at online retailers. She also writes and publishes unconventional romantic women’s fiction. Weeping Angels will be released in July 2014, and The Heart Grow Fonder will be released at the end of the year.

Cristy lives in Miami, FL where she is a reader and writer most of the time, and a knitter much less of the time than she was six months before she took up writing again. She writes the books that she likes to read. She describes her writing style as riot grrrl Jane Austen sprinkled with a little magic. There’s always a killer soundtrack running in the background of her novels – all you need to do is turn to the playlist to know what’s up.

Find Cristy Rey Online

Get Cristy Rey’s Books

 

The 'R' Word

I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a while now but never had the time. Now that I do let’s talk about why I wanted to write paranormal fantasy fiction. I don’t like doing the ‘R’ word. What’s the ‘R’ word you ask? Research. I hate it with everything in me. I do enough research for term papers so with my leisurely writing I didn’t want to have to make sure I was politically correct about what was going on in my story. So I made up a lot of the words and spells and the idea was formed and without a bit of research. Even for the city because I never really talk about the city at all. It’s just for gee whiz information. I let my audience decided what the city life is about based on their own knowledge. Nothing really takes place at a certain shop or club anyway. So I was all ‘middle finger to the world’ about research. The characters aren’t real or human so I had carte blanche with their abilities, ages, and so on.

Now I said all that to say this…I was wrong! Yep, I’m admitting it. I’m soooo wrong. I thought sticking to a genre where the characters were species that didn’t exist in the world wouldn’t require any former knowledge. Then I had this book idea and realized I would have to at least know some basic mythologies and characteristics just for my general knowing. Yes I will still be taking huge liberties with my own mythology of the characters but some of the stuff would have really seemed like gibberish without at least some plausibility. Now I know were-creatures, elves, and the like don’t really exist but there have been enough information on them that people have a general idea of what they should or shouldn’t be capable of. Like I said I will definitely be putting my own spin on these species so it’s not the same old song and dance but at least now I’m more aware of general characteristics.

I still strongly hate research of any kind when writing for fun. It feels too much like work to me but in order to bring the best story I can think of to my readers, I’ll bite the bullet and try to pretend that I somewhat know what I’m talking about 🙂

The ‘R’ Word

I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a while now but never had the time. Now that I do let’s talk about why I wanted to write paranormal fantasy fiction. I don’t like doing the ‘R’ word. What’s the ‘R’ word you ask? Research. I hate it with everything in me. I do enough research for term papers so with my leisurely writing I didn’t want to have to make sure I was politically correct about what was going on in my story. So I made up a lot of the words and spells and the idea was formed and without a bit of research. Even for the city because I never really talk about the city at all. It’s just for gee whiz information. I let my audience decided what the city life is about based on their own knowledge. Nothing really takes place at a certain shop or club anyway. So I was all ‘middle finger to the world’ about research. The characters aren’t real or human so I had carte blanche with their abilities, ages, and so on.

Now I said all that to say this…I was wrong! Yep, I’m admitting it. I’m soooo wrong. I thought sticking to a genre where the characters were species that didn’t exist in the world wouldn’t require any former knowledge. Then I had this book idea and realized I would have to at least know some basic mythologies and characteristics just for my general knowing. Yes I will still be taking huge liberties with my own mythology of the characters but some of the stuff would have really seemed like gibberish without at least some plausibility. Now I know were-creatures, elves, and the like don’t really exist but there have been enough information on them that people have a general idea of what they should or shouldn’t be capable of. Like I said I will definitely be putting my own spin on these species so it’s not the same old song and dance but at least now I’m more aware of general characteristics.

I still strongly hate research of any kind when writing for fun. It feels too much like work to me but in order to bring the best story I can think of to my readers, I’ll bite the bullet and try to pretend that I somewhat know what I’m talking about 🙂