Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ghosties, Ghoulies, and the Unexplained

Starting tomorrow, I'm on the road for a few days. Monday, I'll be hooking up with Casey, (and many other wonderful mystery authors), at The Festival of Mystery, sponsored by Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA.

But first, I'll be attending DemiCon 20 at the Hotel Fort Des Moines in Des Moines Iowa. I'll be doing a workshop, a reading and book discussion, and a couple of panels. In fact, tomorrow night, I'll be doing a panel with Stephen Zimmer (THE EXODUS GATE) and Lettie Prell (DRAGON RING). Our topic is "Trends in Paranormal Fiction." I started thinking...just what is "paranormal" fiction? Is it mystery, urban fantasy, science fiction, horror...or all of the above? So I looked up paranormal in the dictionary:

Paranormal-that which is not scientifically explained.

To me, that's defining it with a pretty broad brush. (To this date-no ones ever been able to explain bad hair days to me, but I hardly think they'd qualify as a "paranormal" experience.) I guess my personal definition is "things that go bump in the night," and when you stop and think about it, stories dealing with the paranormal isn't that new. Legend and lore about witches, werewolves, shape-shifters, ghosts, and vampires have been around as long as we have. I suspect even our ancestors sat around in caves talking about it.

In modern times, there's a rich history of novels, short stories, poems dealing with the unexplained. Oscar Wilde and THE CANTERVILLE GHOST; Dion Fortune-THE GOAT-FOOT GOD, THE SEA PRIESTESS; Edgar Allan Poe; H.P. Lovecraft; the list goes on and on. (My particular favorites have always been Barbara Michaels' mysteries with a paranormal twist.)

So is the paranormal really a trend? Or has it always been a part of our lives? (I vote for the latter.) What's your vote? (And while you're at it, who are some of your favorite "paranormal" authors?)

That's it for this week-everyone have a good one!!



Blodeuedd said...

It has always been there and we will always love it :D

As for favs, I'll name one, the author of my first ever paranormal book, Kelley Armstrong

Casey said...

See you on Monday, Shirley. Looking forward to it!

Shirley Damsgaard said...

Let's try and stay out of trouble, this time, shall we, Casey??? No comments about changing water to wine!!! LOL

I'll give you all a report next week and let you know how the events went!!

Casey said...

Who us? Get into trouble? It's so far out of the realm of possibility, I can't even think about it!

Kimberly B. said...

I think that the paranormal has always been with us, going back to stories about the Underworld in Greek and Sumerian mythology. It seems that every culture has some belief in magic, and stories about how it interacts with the ordinary world. I also think these things go in cycles, and that paranormal fiction is particularly popular right now. I wonder if it is somehow linked to how unsettled and stressful life seems to be these days; we need to imagine ourselves with magical powers to get things under control.
I'm so thrilled that you brought up Barbara Michaels, because she is my favorite author (both under that pseudonym and as Elizabeth Peters. I think my first exposure to paranormal fiction, though, was the Lois Duncan novels I read when I was in junior high.

Shirley Damsgaard said...

You’re right, Kimberly! In fact my good bud, Joanna Campbell Slan, said she once read an article about that subject. And if you look back through history, you can really see where that’s true. Spiritualists during the Civil War; esoteric movements in Europe circa World War I and World War II. People seem to have a need to look beyond the norm in order to make sense of what’s happening around them.

Also, since I started writing about the paranormal, I’ve learned that there’s a lot more believers out there than I would’ve supposed. Living in a small town in the Midwest, people usually don’t trot out their other-worldly experiences in the course of normal conversation. BUT since everyone knows what I write, they’re more comfortable about bringing it up to me. I even found out that we have a haunted gas station!! Lived in the town for years...never knew...but after the books started coming out, people began telling me stories about experiences that they’ve had working at that station. And personally, I love hearing about this stuff!! 8)

And Blodeuedd, thanks for mentioning Kelley Armstrong. I’ve not read any of her books, but will definitely look them up!!