Paranormal and the Pandemic
a guest post by Beth Linton author of The Guardian's Trust series
I blearily climbed out of bed this morning, pulled on my too large
dressing gown and shuffled off in my Uggs to click the heating on, my
half-awake brain was met with a strange sense of unreality. At 6.00
am it was dark outside and rain lashed against the double glazing.
Autumn has firmly gripped Wales – and so has another lockdown.
boiler fired and I headed for the kettle, determined to grab what has
become my favourite time of the day: an hour of essential coffee
drinking with my laptop before I begin another day of the ‘new
normal’. That morning my plan was to re-read a scene from book
seven of the paranormal romance series I’m writing and escape
reality by editing the rather dark discovery the hero makes after
infiltrating my villain’s dystopian, misogynistic world.
the oddness of the fact that I planned to exchange one real-life
dystopian world for another gave me pause.
As I grabbed the Nescafe, I wasn’t enacting the tale of a Handmaid, nor was a surveillance camera watching me in 1984. I was in my kitchen, in 2020, during a global pandemic.
So why, given these awful world events, has my habit become to get up early to claim some time with my novel when I could still be snuggled warmly in bed? I’ve always loved to read and write, but my need for these things has increased tenfold since life as we know it came grinding to a halt in March.
Yesterday, I saw a post on Twitter about a t-shirt by Ripped Bodice that reads, ‘stay home, read a romance’. The slogan is accompanied by an embracing mask-wearing couple. I loved it. I tried to order it... and was left devastated because it had sold out. The slogan and image on this t-shirt clearly spoke to millions of readers and, if you think about it, the reason why is obvious: lonely at home, and facing difficult health and fiscal times, people want to escape into a book.
During the summer months of the pandemic, statistics tell us that readers have devoured dystopian and steamy romance novels. Pre-pandemic, romance sales slumped. In January 2020, sales were down 11 percent from the same time the previous year. By May 2020, as the pandemic took hold, this gap had closed.
I enjoy apocalyptic Sci-Fi and I’ve read many an anti-utopian novel, but while a steamy romance certainly offers comfort, I think I need something in between: Romance with a bite.
Within a paranormal romance I have discovered that I can find the escapism my brain seems to crave during this time of uncertainty. The genre’s darker themes offer a sense of catharsis, but the stories lack the depressive tone of paranormal’s dystopian cousin.
Covid-19 has transformed our regular lives into a scene from a dystopian novel, so, while I could download a copy of Camus’ The Plague or Dean Koontz’s The Eyes of Darkness for my morning me time, I think I’ll stick with paranormal romance and the more optimistic future to be found amidst its pages.
To learn more about Beth Linton and The Guardians’ Trust series visit Beth’s website www.bethlinton.co.uk .