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Urban Fantasy: Fantasy or Paranormal?

Written by eastern writer on Wednesday, March 23, 2011

And yet another mystery about publishing for me.

My system is to enter all the books I receive into a database and let my readers pick the ones they want to read and write about. I give the author’s name, title of book and type of book (usually using the spine definition as a guide to help them decide if it’s a book they are interested in). As I was going through the 4 boxes of books that came in while I was traveling, I noticed several that were now being classified as fantasy that were considered paranormal at one time. Among them were the reissued Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse books.

Now, describes fantasy as imagination, especially when extravagant and unrestrained, while paranormal’s definition is beyond the range of normal experience or scientific explanation.

I thought I understood it before when I considered Neil Gaiman’s Stardust as fantasy and anything vampire or were-animal paranormal. Now I’m just confused. (And I thought figuring out the difference between paranormal and urban fantasy was difficult)

Then there’s the use of the words "novel" or just plain "fiction." What does that say about the book? Back to Fiction is the class of literature comprising works of imaginative narration, especially in prose form and novel’s definition is a fictitious prose narrative of considerable length and complexity, portraying characters and usually presenting a sequential organization of action and scenes. The vast majority of what I receive are fiction. No help there. And novels are iffy. I think of Gone With the Wind when I think of a novel, not a book with only 200 pages.

Of course, lately there’s been quite a few that don’t say anything on the spine. What the heck does that mean? The publisher isn’t sure what the book’s about?

I realize that it’s not always easy to classify a book and we’ve had whole discussions on where they should be placed in book stores and libraries, but help me out here folks. What do these words mean to you? And does it matter? Help or hinderance when the story doesn’t really hold up to the word describing it?[]

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