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Mr. Funktastic
01-09-2007, 09:58 AM
Okay, so I'm getting ready to start on an urban fantasy novel. I have a few ideas floating around in my head--a general idea of where I want to take it--and I'm about to sit down and start that outlining process that bugs me so much.

The problem? I don't read too much urban fantasy, so I don't exactly know what readers of this sub-genre like and dislike. So, for you urban fantasy fans, what do you think makes up a good urban fantasy novel? Also, any suggestions for a few good reads?

I'll very much appreciate any help. Thanks in advance.

rugcat
01-09-2007, 11:08 AM
I think the basis of a good urban fantasy consists of:

a) something grounded firmly in reality - everyone and everything that is not a fantastical invention should be as real as in a good detective novel or thriller. For me, Urban Fantasy is just noir with supernatural elements.

And 2) Coming up with a new slant. Alpha packs, sexy vampires and the World of Faerie intersecting our own have been done to death.

Iím not sure why you would want to write in a genre you haven't been particularly interested in reading, but here are some typical Urban Fantasies to start you off:

The War For The Oaks - Emma Bull
Storm Front - Jim Butcher
Dead Witch Walking - Kim Harrison
Ill Wind - Rachel Caine
Guilty Pleasures - Anita Blake (more a paranormal romance, but influential)

Almost anything by Charles de Lint

PeeDee
01-09-2007, 11:20 AM
Also anything by Neil Gaiman, and anything (says me) by Stephen King.

Emma Bull, in particular, is magnificant. She kills me. She just makes it look so.....easy. It's not fair.

Why ARE you writing int he genre if you're not a fan of it?

Mr. Funktastic
01-09-2007, 11:32 AM
Why ARE you writing int he genre if you're not a fan of it?

It's not that I'm not a fan of it. My lady friend recently introduced me to it, and I've grown increasingly interested since. I've been trying to finish up reading a series I've been enjoying before digging into reading some urban fantasy. I intend to go through a few popular U.F. novels before starting on my own to get a feel for it.

Anyway, thanks for the help.

Ardellis
01-09-2007, 02:34 PM
Emma Bull is amazing. Try Charles De Lint, too.

farfromfearless
01-09-2007, 05:08 PM
Charles De Lint is a master in my opinion - if you're in the market for some of his work, I would start with "Tapping the Dreaming Tree" or "Onion Skin Girl" - "Tapping..." is a collection of short stories set in his fictional city. It is a wonderful collage of different characters who tend find themselves between worlds. Good read anyway.

Momento Mori
01-09-2007, 05:52 PM
I think that the early Anita Blake books by Laurell K Hamilton are a good introduction to urban fantasy - they work well as tight mystery stories as well. Be warned though that the later books (Book 6 seems to be a popular chopping point) seem to revolve around a lot of nookie and not much else.

To follow up on PeeDee's Neil Gaiman suggestion, I'd strongly recommend Neverwhere (utilises the London tube system but it's not Brit specific) and American Gods (which I think is his best book). Anansi Boys is his latest and it's okay but didn't quite grab me in the way American Gods did.


rugcat:
Coming up with a new slant. Alpha packs, sexy vampires and the World of Faerie intersecting our own have been done to death.

Most definitely. The latest trend seems to be towards 'demons in our time', which is a bit too Buffy for me.

Jared Axelrod
01-09-2007, 08:29 PM
Try to stay away from swords. I love swords, I own several, but nothing pulls me out of modern fantasy novel quicker than our fully modern heroes pulling out swords. There's plently of other weapons to choose from in this modern world; why have a sword when you could have and enchanted flintlock, for example. Or cursed straight razor? Or a holy hand granade?

Cory Doctorow wrote an excellent modern fantasy entitled Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town (http://www.craphound.com/someone/). It avoids alot of genre traps by going for a more Bros. Grimm fairy-tale fantasy feel than, say, "It's Tolkien, but with motorcycles."

All so, no swords in the whole book.

RG570
01-09-2007, 09:37 PM
I think Someone Comes To Town. . . is weird enough to be considered postmodern.

Great book though. I loved it, and I normally steer clear of this particular fad.

Pthom
01-09-2007, 11:12 PM
All so, no swords in the whole book.Ah, so. But there are wings. ;)

Jared Axelrod
01-10-2007, 12:19 AM
Wings are fine.

Modern fantasy needs more wings, I say!

Mike Coombes
01-11-2007, 01:52 AM
I don't read too much urban fantasy, so I don't exactly know what readers of this sub-genre like and dislike.

Sorry, that's dumb. It's like saying "I want to make a movie, but I'm blind - what do movies look like?"

Forget writing the bloody thing until you know what you're doing. Read, then read some more. Then, for good measure, read a bit more.

Rabe
01-11-2007, 03:59 AM
hey all, let's not forget our own dear Dragonjax's newly published "Hell's Belles" novel!

(puts Anita Blake to shame and should be sold in a brown paper cover!)

It's 'billed' as paranormal romance, but why? To me it's like letting Piers Anthony on his medication and out of his weird obsession with NAMBLA.

Or Elizabeth Moon. She's written a few, fine urban fantasy novels.
Richard Parks? (have only read his work in "Realms of Fantasy" but some darn good stories there)

Rabe...

Mr. Funktastic
01-11-2007, 07:02 AM
Sorry, that's dumb. It's like saying "I want to make a movie, but I'm blind - what do movies look like?"

Forget writing the bloody thing until you know what you're doing. Read, then read some more. Then, for good measure, read a bit more.

I thought I clarified in my second post that I was going to hold off until I had read some urban fantasy. Right now it's just a few loose ideas in my head, and I was hoping to pull them together a bit.

Alan Yee
01-11-2007, 07:28 AM
Most definitely. The latest trend seems to be towards 'demons in our time', which is a bit too Buffy for me.

At first glance, my urban fantasy looks a bit like Buffy and Charmed. Except the demons are the characters, with one witch who's part demon. Basically the (mostly unspoken) mythology is that the human witches gave the demons human form while retaining some of their powers hundreds of years ago.

I suppose what sets mine apart from Charmed is that the demons aren't really evil, just a bit lustful, promiscuous, and unable to control their bisexual urges and conflicting personalities.

It can get a bit complicated, so I'd rather not go into too much detail.

Mike Coombes
01-11-2007, 10:10 AM
I thought I clarified in my second post that I was going to hold off until I had read some urban fantasy. Right now it's just a few loose ideas in my head, and I was hoping to pull them together a bit.

You didn't. You said (paraphrased) "I don't read urban fantasy, tell me what to write".

My-Immortal
01-11-2007, 10:30 AM
You didn't. You said (paraphrased) "I don't read urban fantasy, tell me what to write".

I didn't quite read his posts that way...<shrugs>....I thought he was asking for help/requesting suggestions on what he should read/general likes and dislikes in urban fantasy books. Everyone has to start somewhere on their writing journey and often times it begins with a lot of reading. Good luck Mr. Funktastic.

Mr. Funktastic
01-11-2007, 10:55 AM
You didn't. You said (paraphrased) "I don't read urban fantasy, tell me what to write".

I know what I inteneded to say--you've just taken my questions the wrong way. I asked what was popular to read because I just wanted to see how other authors had done things, and I asked people what they like because I was interested in finding out in there are things I should stay away from.

BiggerBoat
01-11-2007, 11:20 AM
Here's some Urban Fantasy I've read lately:

Fool Moon - Jim Butcher - the 2nd in the Dresden series. Dresden has to investigate some killings that seem to point to werewolves. A great, rollicking story. I look forward to reading the 3rd (which I have misplaced somewhere around here... grrrrr...)

Greywalker - Kat Richardson - A Seattle PI has a near-death experience and finds that she's able to see and move through the "gray" realms where ghosts, witches, vampires, etc. reside. I felt rather ho-hum about this one, though it's a good example of the genre.

Moon Called - Patricia Briggs - A shapechanger (she turns into a coyote) has to deal with some missing friends, a murder, and a revolt among werewolf clans. This takes place in sort of an alternate universe where people have a general awareness of the fey, but werewolves and other sorts are still in the closet, so to speak. This book offers spunky heroine, though I wished the plot had a bit more momentum.

Nightlife - Rob Thurman - A half-elf and his brother try to stay alive when Daddy and some friends come a'calling. The elves in this one are definately not your woodsy, pointed-ear types. They are violent, feral, and are intent on destroying the world. A very fun read. My only disappointment was that the protagonist seemed somewhat static compared to his decisive brother.

Something from the Nightside - Simon R. Green - A private detective goes on a missing persons case into the Nightside, a realm of fantastic creatures that sits in the center of London. There are several books in the series. I enjoyed this first one, though it was a bit more of a travelogue than anything else.

The Apocolypse Door - James D, Maconald - I'm not sure if the esteemed author would argue with my placing this in the Urban Fantasy category, but I think it fits. This is about a modern Knight Templar, a priest, who is on assignment when he uncovers a plot to destroy the universe (which can really ruin your day). This is an incredibly fun read. It's one of those cross-genre books that defies conventions.

Hope that helps!

Chasing the Horizon
01-11-2007, 11:27 AM
You didn't. You said (paraphrased) "I don't read urban fantasy, tell me what to write". That's not what he said. He even clarified that it wasn't what he meant ... twice.

I would have asked the same question about fantasy trilogies, except someone else had already beat me to it and I just read the recommendations off their thread.

I've started doing more reading since I started writing, but all the fantasy books I've read haven't been anywhere near as helpful as AW and several books on the art of writing. I already know the story I want to tell. All I need to know now is how to communicate it. (Which I'm learning)

ChaosTitan
01-11-2007, 08:10 PM
hey all, let's not forget our own dear Dragonjax's newly published "Hell's Belles" novel!


I'll second that recommendation. Jackie's book is a fun, fun read.

I'll aslo toss out Stephen Woodworth's books. I read "Through Violet Eyes," and enjoyed it a great deal. A sect of people born with violet eyes have the ability to channel the dead, and the government uses them to solve crimes. I also picked up the second in his series, "With Red Hands," but haven't read it yet.

If you don't mind a little romance, Dorchester Publishing has a shared universe line of books called "Crimson City." Each book follows different characters, mostly demons and vampires and their respective enemies, all set in or around Los Angeles.

For elemental stuff, try Gena Showalter's "Playing With Fire." It's romance, but it's also a fun little adventure story with shape shifters and telepaths tossed into the mix.