Ok. I have done some thinking about this whole urban fantasy genre. It’s pretty damn big and a lot of people make their living off of it. Ok, maybe not a living, but a lot of people are getting to write books in this genre. If they are not making a living, they are still being paid to write. Which is cool.
The point (and by the point, I am in no way promising to not ramble. This blog is in fact the very illustration of a ramble. Not a rant, there is no frustration or anger, so a ramble – a jumble of words and thoughts that meander in a general direction to a semi-relevant location. (see what I mean about ramble? Multiple sentence asides and two, count ‘em two, sets of parentheses.)) is that in my opinion there are three major things that have converged in influence to create this urban fantasy genre.
The Holy Trinity of Urban Fantasy (dunn-dunn-dahhh!)
1) The movie Blade.
The movie Blade is the totality of urban fantasy distilled to it’s base components. It had edge, violence, supernatural elements, new takes on old tropes, and a simple, larger than life hero.
The movie was just plain cool. It took vampires and turned them on their head. It pushed the same old thing in a whole new direction and it kicked it’s ass the entire way.
2) Buffy The Vampire Slayer (TV show)
OMG every writer who is published in this genre since 1998 needs to send Joss Whedon a bouquet of roses. If Blade is the distillation of the genre, then Buffy was the exploration of the genre. Joss also made the genre better because by God, if you have an idea, he probably got there first and you have to bust your ass to be new, fresh, and exciting after the Joss came along.
Joss also showed the entertainment industry that this genre can make money and thus that they should look at your writing to see if they can turn a profit. This means you get to write books for more than just yourself.
3) Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake books.
If I hear one more complaint about Laurell or Anita I may actually take a gun and begin blasting. Yes, her last book had a wobble or two, but I reread it and it wasn’t bad. It was better than other books I have read in the genre and the last 3rd of the book was brilliant. Her salvation of the Richard character was inspired. Anyways. There is a lot of derision and dissing of her work lately.
I’ll go on record and say that her books are by far the best in the genre. There is a reason she is so popular, time and again. The lady writes a compelling book and has since 1993. Her continued sucess has also made an umbrella that many other writers can take shelter under.
Yes, take away any of these and there would still be a genre called Urban Fantasy, but it would be less. These three things are in my opinion, directly responsible for the genre.
They are definitely my biggest influences.