I get asked this question a lot. Especially in my daily life, when I tell people I write books and they ask what I write, I say “urban fantasy” and get blank stares. I have yet to distill down a simple and clear answer that won’t take ages to explain when they inevitably ask “what’s that?” Sometimes I try to point out movies and TV shows that have an urban fantasy vibe, to make it clearer. Of course, they’ve never seen any of them (in case you’re confused as well, here’s a list of TV shows, though I don’t necessarily agree that all of these are urban fantasy).
So what’s urban fantasy?! Well, here’s some key elements:
- Usually set in a city. This is what makes it ‘urban.’ However, to complicate things further, not ALL urban fantasy has a city setting. Because:
- A general gritty/modern/dark vibe. If it has this feel, it can be set outside an urban area and still be considered urban fantasy.
- Paranormal elements. This is the actual one universal rule.
- Usually has a female protagonist. Especially when it comes to urban fantasy books. However, guess what kids? This is not a hard and fast rule either.
- Has some romantic elements. Again, not universal, but especially when it comes to books. Urban fantasy is often listed as a subgenre of romance. But does it have to be romantic? Of course not! None of this makes sense!
- Has some action/high-stakes. This is another element that actually seems to be universal.
Is it any wonder I can’t explain to people what the hell urban fantasy is unless they actually read it? I guess it’s…a paranormal, action-y, gritty sorta romance with no clear perimeters on content?
I just write romance, guys. Romance! Let’s leave it at that.