Monday, March 9, 2009

What Is UF? (The Elevator Pitch Version)

NOTE: This is NOT the blog post I've been planning for days now but I couldn't resist...

Writers of Urban Fantasy often come across the same dilemma.

It goes like this:

Conversation with average-off-the-street-and-fairly-well-educated-types eventually comes around to vocation. You say you're a novelist and then...

They say:
Oh you're a writer!
*nod* (& add a reassuring smile)
Then they say:
What sort of stuff do you write?
We say:
Urban Fantasy
They say:
What's that, exactly?
*take a deep breath then ramble, trying definition #32 for the day in an attempt to encompass both the genre we love and write in AND our new novel which would seem to not quite fit within the confines of said definition*
They say:
"Oh." *and either look confused and wonder if you know what you're doing or decide you're writing another version of Twilight or Buffy*
*sigh and decide we'll try definition #33 next time we're asked this question*

The writers over at The League of Reluctant Adults, have been thinking about this recently as well and comments were invited to suggest the ultimate 'one-liner' for a definition of what Urban Fantasy really is. Here are some of my favorite responses:

Blogger Jaye Wells said...

Fantastical tales set in modern times that blend elements from the mystery, horror, romance, and traditional fantasy genres.

Blogger Heather said...

"It's real life for people like me who believe in fairies." Or "It's like if Narnia came out of the wardrobe instead of the other way around."

Anonymous Thom said...

It's stories about the paranormal in the modern world, kind of like horror in as far as there are kewl supernatural folks, but with far less gore and far more sex.

Blogger December/Stacia said...

Usually something about magic and/or magical/paranormal creatures in modern or urban or suburban society.

Blogger -Kelly Meding said...

"Harry Potter with sex!"

"It's like Twilight, only with vampires."

OpenID silveradept said...

"What if there really were vampires, fairies and werewolves, and they're your next-door neighbors?"

Bloggertalshannon said...

Urban Fantasy: Modern, everyday life with a fantasy twist. So if your next door neighbors were elves, that would be Urban Fantasy. If your cat turned into a sexy cat-man one day while you were vacuuming, that would be Urban Fantasy. If you found out you had invisible fairy wings, that would be a miracle (and it would also be Urban Fantasy).

Please note: the above quotes are excerpted from people's comments. Most had a lot more to say than a single sentence! For the whole post and all comments please click HERE.

So what's my elevator-pitch definition of UF?

Well I shy away from saying 'paranormal' or 'supernatural' because to me that not only means ghosts but all things X-Files, including aliens, which I think belong to the sci-fi realm so I'll say:

Urban Fantasy is a contemporary genre-soup of an often-edgy story where the main ingredient is an element of the fantastic, be it fanged, furred, fey or other mythical type (kick-ass protags welcome but not truly necessary).
What do you think? Are we getting close?

NOTE: Illustrations are copyright of Timothy Lantz. The top illustration was used as the cover art for A Flash of Hex by Jes Battis, published by Juno Books. Please click on either image to go to Timothy Lantz's website.

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