For my weekly column Scooped!, I scour the Internet, contact authors and pick my fellow RT editor's brains to make sure no reader question goes unanswered. This week, I did something a bit different. One reader's question really stood out, so I am using the entire column today to answer K. from Kentucky. Still have questions? Send them to me here and you may be featured in an upcoming post.
Question: My favorite book genres are paranormal, mystery and historical romances. What themes are you seeing in these types of books? - K
Morgan: Around the RT offices we are constantly on the search for new spins on common themes in books. Obviously, there are the omni-present plot devices like the Regency debutant ball, reoccurring paranormal creatures including vampires and the popular woman-in-peril storyline. But if you are looking for what will be the hot new trend in books ... that is a little more tricky. As much as the publishing world would like to have you believe that they do everything on purpose, oftentimes books releasing together with similar themes is purely coincidental. Having foresight into what fad will be the next big hit is nearly impossible since before landing on bookshelves, authors often spend a year or two writing a manuscript, another few months (or longer) shopping the story around and finalizing the contract and then the book can spend another year or two in editing and production before it ever hits bookstores. So while it may seem that there is collusion on what is hot and not, generally publishers are just looking for a good book, regardless of the trends and fads — much like the reader.
But whether by coincidence or design, here is a list of some of the trends that we are seeing in three popular genres.
PARANORMAL THEME - THE SOUL REAPER
There seems to be a sudden rise in a new type of supernatural hero — the soul reaper. These stories usually involve the hero escorting the souls of the recently departed to the Underworld. My personal favorite soul reaping hero is Lucien from Gena Showalter book The Darkest Kiss. In this story, Lucien is cursed with his job to atone for previous sins - although the curse does come with the pretty cool ability of being able to 'flash' from one place to another, anywhere on earth and beyond.
A more recent entry into the soul reaper category is the Krayl brothers in Eve Silver's Otherkin trilogy. These brothers must search out evil souls for their father, the powerful God Sutekh.
Want a different spin on the soul reaper? Look no further than Christina Henry's December release of Black Wings where the agent of death is a woman.
SUSPENSE THEME - THE ABDUCTION
The abduction plot has a long history in the suspense world, but while it was once relegated to gritty, nightmarish novels, it can now be found in almost every genre.
For example, this summer Young Adult author Lucy Christopher released a tale of kidnapping, the frighteningly realistic Stolen. Written for a teenage audience, this story just goes to show you how far this theme has evolved.
HISTORICAL ROMANCE THEME - THE LONG ABSENCE
Can absence make the heart grow fonder? Authors have been asking this question since the early days of historical romance. The long absent husband theme has been used time and time again and been handled by the giants of the genre. In Julie Garwood's classic novel The Gift the two main characters are forced to marry as children and then spend decades apart, but the fact that they have someone waiting for them is always on their minds. And for a different spin on explaining this absence, Judith McNaught's hero in Something Wonderful doesn't leave the heroine on purpose — he is imprisoned by his enemies. What makes this book a stand out is to see how the characters change during their time apart.
That's all for this week. Remember, if you have a question about anything that's going on with your favorite authors and books, send me an email at MorgansScoop@gmail.com and I promise to give you the inside scoop on the publishing world!