Crafting Paranormal Creatures: Charlaine Harris, Marjorie M. Liu, Ilona Andrews & Jeaniene Frost - 2014 RT Convention

Listen, when we hear that Charlaine Harris, Marjorie M. Liu, writing duo Ilona Andrews and Jeaniene Frost are all going to be in the same room together, you'd best bet that we'll be front and center. Honestly, they could be talking about the intricacies of dry cleaning, and we'd be super into it. But today in New Orleans these masters gathered together to talk characterization, and how to create a cast who match their fantasical worlds in awesomeness. We learned, we laughed! We ogled. (Only a little.)

A photo of the panelists 

From L to R: Ilona and Gordon Andrews, Charlaine Harris, Marjorie M. Liu and Jeaniene Frost

Moderator Jeaniene kicked things off by asking panelists how humans, generally at a physical disadvantage in paranormal worlds, tip the scale so that they can survive in supernatural surroundings. Marjorie looked at things realistically, "I'm never that worried about humans, at the end of the day we're so crazy we can find a way to overcome any disadvantage." In Charlaine's books, she addresses this issue in terms of procreation, "Humans breed faster [in my books], that's how they keep the upper hand." Gordon and Ilona Andrews agreed that humans are ruthless, with Ilona stressing that "we're more ruthless than most monsters."

Strong will is essential for any character existing in a paranormal world, but can too much be a turnoff? Panelists unanimously agreed that yes, characters who are too strong can come off as stubborn. Marjorie pointed out that "any overdeveloped character trait can be a pain in the ass, it's very one note." Charlaine used her own characters as an example: "I've had a lot of characters who don't get what they want because they're so strong willed — they're obsessed. It's easy to get in that person's way." Ilona used Achilles from the Iliad as a classic example of a character who is "so strongwilled, he's unlikable." (We've always thought Achilles was a bit overdone.)

With all of these authors being so well-known for writing unforgettable paranormal and urban fantasy series, it's hard to imagine them writing anything else. So, will they ever not write paranormal fiction? Charlaine just can't keep away from magic and woo-woo, saying of her latest release: "I promised myself Midnight Crossroad wouldn't have any paranormal elements, I lied — I'm just a junkie." But the author is returning to her mystery roots with more non-paranormal stories in her Aurora Teagarden series. Marjorie thought she could never give up writing paranormal worlds, but she's coming out with her first historical fiction novel soon! Meanwhile Gordon posited that while many of their books are paranormal, the duo also enjoys writing stories set in worlds with highly advanced science. Never say never!

We'll be covering the RT Convention in New Orleans all week long, for more on the exciting happenings, click here