Jul 20 2010
I was perusing the HarperCollins catalog and came across the entry which noted Christine Feehan’s Dark Prince was going to be re-released in hardcover with 100 additional pages. I don’t know if this is a rewrite or just extra material.
I mentioned on Twitter that I thought Christine Feehan was the mother of Paranormal Romance. Others disagreed. Michelle Hauf, for example, thought Kenyon or Maggie Shayne and Susan Sizemore pointed toward Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s St. Germain books:
I would say that Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s St. Germain books are the first paranormal romances & rest of us are Quinn’s children.
BuriedbyBooks posited that Laurell K Hamilton popularized paranormal romantic elements and Feehan moved those elements from fantasy to romance.
Kenyon’s Fantasy Lover was published in 2002. Laurell K Hamilton’s first book, Guilty Pleasures, was published in 1993. I started reading LKH with Blue Moon, published in 1998. Maggie Shayne’s vampires were introduced in 1993. I am not very familiar with Shayne’s works.
The reason I place Feehan as the mother of PNR is because so many of the elements of her Carpathian series can be found in other series. Dark Prince was first published in 1999 by Dorchester. For example, Feehan’s Carpathians were primarily male. After 200 years of existence, a Carpathian male begins to lose his sanity. He can no longer see in color, loses sexual desire and the ability to feel emotions. All of these things are aroused once they find their mate. They mate for life. The link between the male and female is both in body and in mind.
Carpathians hunted vampires, or Carpathians who had gone rogue. Vampires went rogue when they hadn’t yet found their mates. When the darkness overtakes a Carpathian male, it can be alleviated temporarily when in the act of killing another. At this point, a “good” Carpathian will kill himself by seeking the sun. A bad one turns rogue and becomes the prey of the Carpathian. There are few Carpathians because the lack of females and thus, the lack of progeny.
Carpathians can shapeshift, speak telepathically, and some have special other powers.
JR Ward and Lara Adrian are two popular authors who use variation on of the Carpathian myth. From Ward’s glossary:
transition n. Critical moment in a vampire's life when he or she transforms into an adult. Thereafter, they must drink the blood of the opposite sex to survive and are unable to withstand sunlight. Occurs generally in the mid-twenties. Some vampires do not survive their transitions, males in particular. Prior to their transitions, vampires are physically weak, sexually unaware and unresponsive, and unable to dematerialize. (my emphasis)
In Adrian’s series, the Breed vampires hunt down Rogue vampires, bloodsuckers who have given into their bloodlust. There are few Breeds. Conception for females is rare and the women breedmates, a human gifted with unique blood and DNA properties, are cherished. The Breed vampires consisted solely of males.
The Carpathian stories are almost completely stories of heroes in pursuit who have serious territorial issues much like the Adrian and Ward men. While the “alpha male tamed by the love of a good woman” existed prior to Feehan, I think she popularized it (along with Stephanie Laurens) and to some degree this trope permeates the mate filled paranormal romance series.
Of course, the myths in Ward and Adrian’s themes can be traced to other books but I see echoes of the Feehan series in many paranormal romance books published since 1999.
Who do you see as the “mother” of paranormal romance? Any one in the poll? Someone who is excluded? None of the above? A mixture (that’s too easy!).