6 Reasons Why the Paranormal Character is Always Male


This post is in response to a little nugget that I read in Heather’s article at the Galaxy Express entitled Does Science Fiction Romance Need More Alpha Heroes? The specific section that caught my eye was this:

In response to the My Paranormal Malaise post at Dear Author, Lisa Paitz Spindler asked:

“Why is it the paranormal character is so often the hero and not the heroine?”

Yeah, what’s up with that?

I can tell you exactly what is up with that as I am a fan of paranormal romance and fiction. So here it goes… six reasons why the paranormal character is always the hero!

  1. We like our heroes mysterious. What is more mysterious than a mythological creature, be he vampire or lycanthrope or other?
  2. Strong powerful hero + average heroine = swoon. When an extraordinary specimen of the male gender sits up and takes notice of a rather ordinary female it is easier to place ourselves in the heroine’s shoes. That’s not because we think of ourselves as unworthy, this formula just makes it more accessible for readers. This scenario also tends to fill the tenderness and protectiveness side of the fantasy.
  3. Strong powerful hero + kickass heroine = hell yeah. When number two’s formula just doesn’t cut it there are the novels about strong heroes and stronger heroines. In this scenario the reader and heroine tend to dominate over the situation. The hero must work around the heroine to get in her good graces and who hasn’t imagine upon at least one occasion a strong sexy male groveling at your feet?
  4. Angel, Spike, Jean-Claude, Asher, Edward Cullen, Jasper Cullen, Eric Northman, and Bill Compton. Do I really need to go on with this point? I think this pretty much brings it home. Otherworldly men are downright sexy! Especially vampires!
  5. The desires of the paranormal fit better on a hero. The act of drinking blood is considered highly sexual in vampire romances. It’s become part of the erotic fantasy. Sometimes the heroine likes to pretend to be helpless and the hero’s act of feeding gives her a thrilling rush. Besides, I think I pretty much covered how icky it can be to read a heroine drinking blood.
  6. Redemption always looks better on a man. Many paranormal stories involve the preternatural lead repenting his past acts dictated by his nature, circumstances, and misinformed beliefs due to change. This makes him now a brooding hero and occasionally puts the heroine in the middle of the path toward his salvation or as his savior.

So there you go—six reasons paranormal stories always feature preternatural heroes.

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  1. I disagree with # 5. I don’t find it sexy at all, just icky, especially since there really was at least one ‘vampire’ rapist who drank his victims blood.

    #7 for me is that most readers of romance are female. Since it is obvious that we females are not and cannot be other than female in RL, short of an operation, it is easier to accept that the male can be anything we imagine, while we remain female.

    OTOH, the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher is an excellent series, I love it, wherein he creates an entire universe. But it is not romance, by any stretch of the imagination.

    Any romance is secondary to the plot. Harry Dresden, the last wizard in Chicago, had a hot and heavy romance, but she was turned into a vamp. Then there’s his half-brother Thomas, who is a vamp, who has a thwarted love interest also, but along different lines.

  2. Susan S.

    No.4 Otherwordly men are sexy, let’s sway the unbelievers. Stefan, Damon, Mortimer, Erik Night, Sin, Acheron, Morgan Saint Evanston, how about Henry Fitzroy from the tv series Blood Ties. Have I swayed anyone yet?

    I also think it boils down to believability. It’s easier to imagine the 900 yr. old male vamp is still smoking , than to imagine the 900 yr. old heroine without wrinkles.

  3. Susan S.

    I meant smokin’ hot not smoking Marlboro’s.(LOL)

  4. I agree Karin about the paranormal romance genre being written by mostly females. Great point and excellent #7. Though I will have to stick by my hunky male vamps and their erm… desires.

    Susan – Haha! when I first read that I was like cigarettes? What? Wait she must mean how hot he is… lol nice little disclaimer. Great point on the wrinkles, makes an excellent #8.

  5. Well, since you mentioned Angel and Spike, I’ll agree. I’ve always about that. Still, I’ve been toying with a paranomal wherein the paranormal er, creature, is female and the hero is a Canadian Mountie. 🙂

  6. Thanks so much for the break down! Much to ponder here.

  7. Like Heather, I appreciate this breakdown. I’m a Paranormal reader as well, and so I agree that paranormal heroes are indeed quite sexy. However, we all read for different reason, so it’s no surprise to me that we may not see eye-to-eye on this.

    I disagree with the idea that it’s easier to “to imagine the 900 yr. old male vamp is still smoking [as in hot], than to imagine the 900 yr. old heroine without wrinkles.”

    Why is that? I have no problem temporarily putting aside my disbelief for either scenario.

    I also have to disagree with #5, specifically: “I think I pretty much covered how icky it can be to read a heroine drinking blood.”

    I get your Breaking Dawn demon baby example and completely agree that would be a huge turn off. However, I sometimes fear that we’re downplaying the desires of women when we shut the paranormal door on heroines. I would really love to read a story about a vampire female and human male. In JR Ward’s vampire series, three of my favorite characters are Beth, Marissa, and Shex. They’re all vampires and it’s fun to see a vampire story from three distinct perspectives.

    #3 — This perpetuates the power play structure in some love stories, and that’s not really something that appeals to me as a reader or a writer. Why does one character have to hold sway over the other? Why does one character have to ultimately be in charge? Ultimately I want to see a healthy relationship at the end of a Romance, so to me that means a give and take and a sharing of power. If the power differential is still there at the end I find it harder to be happy for the story couple.

    #2 — I am average, why would I want to read about what I see in the mirror every day? I read for escape, for adventure. I do sometimes put myself in the heroine’s place, and when I do that I prefer to experience some hefty qualities I don’t possess in my real life — like commanding my own starship or being some kind of supernatural being. I’m as much interested in the heroine’s journey as the hero’s.

  8. “Redemption always looks better on a man.”

    LOL! And if the Immortal is also a Rake, you get double fun.

  9. Mandy D.

    In Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed Series, the female mates of the sexy make vampires of the breed must drink their blood in order to remain youthful. For some reason in this context it doesn’t have the ‘cringe factor’. Though I can’t quite pinpoint why, I have a hard time reading the heroine drinking blood.

    I also have to agree with #2. Though we immerse ourselves in these paranormal worlds it is definitely a plus to imagine these sexy males falling for an ‘average’, everyday woman. My favorite example of this type of relationship is between Rhage and Mary in J.R. Ward’s Lover Eternal (Book 2 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series).

    @Lisa: I never noticed it until you mentioned Marissa, Beth and Xhex, but Ward doesn’t focus on them “feeding” in her books. It seems that the only one that she really writes those scenes about is Bella.

  10. Mandy D.

    Ugh….I meant Sexy MALE vampires

  11. Oo that’s such a good point Mandy about the focus being away from feeding!

  12. Because most women don’t know how to write any other way.

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