Bookish Musings: Thoughts on the Portrayal of Supernatural Creatures

 
 

I read a lot of books about supernatural/paranormal/mythological creatures, and seeing the different ways that authors portray different creatures is one of my favorite things about the fantasy genre!

And yet, I sometimes see authors get bashed or picked on for not portraying supernatural creatures the “right” way. So here are my thoughts on why different portrayals of supernatural creatures are actually pretty awesome!

(After finishing my post, don’t forget to check the #wyrdandwonder hashtag on Twitter to find more awesome fantasy-related posts for the Wyrd and Wonder blogging event happening during the month of May!)

 

 

There is No Wrong Way to Write Something that Isn’t Real
+
Original Lore vs. Modern Portrayals

Fun fact: Most supernatural creatures aren’t real.

*GASP*

Shocker, I know.

Now, I say most because, depending on religion and culture and experiences, some people, myself included, do believe in certain ones. I also subscribe to the belief that absence of proof =/= proof that something doesn’t exist. So who knows? Maybe there are some things out there that we don’t know about. But even if there are, we don’t know about them. Therefore, the author gets to create their own version, and, the way I see it, as long as that creature is based on whatever attribute(s) makes it that creature, and as long as the paranormal elements are consistent and fit with the rules of the magic in the story, then there’s not much when it comes to supernatural creatures that can actually be considered impossible or wrong.

(One possible exception is that, since some creatures are strongly tied to certain cultures/religions, certain portrayals might be problematic or offensive. That would be an entirely separate discussion though—which I might do at some point—so we won’t get into that right now.)

Another thing to consider: For a lot of creatures, the original lore is all over the place with lots of variation, and half the time the original lore is very different from what has become their modern portrayal anyway. And a lot of what we consider to be quintessential traits of creatures are just things one person made up once that stuck, not things that are set in stone.

Werewolfism, for example, wasn’t related to full moons until one person put it in a movie that became famous, and now most books/movies/shows about werewolves have them shifting during the full moon.

I even just mentioned in my recent Frankenstein review how the way the monster is described in the novel is vastly different from how he’s portrayed in most movies.

And vampires? I’ve seen all sorts of arguments about them. Vampires are supposed to burn in the sun. It’s not possible for vampires to have sex because they’re dead. Real vampires don’t sparkle. Magic. The answer is magic. They’re fictional dead beings animated by magic that can also walk and talk and think and do things like read minds and shapeshift and move really fast. I don’t think walking in sunlight or having erections or sparkling is really that far-fetched. Did you know that even Dracula was able to walk in the sun without burning? And he’s the most famous vampire there is! While something like sparkling may not be my preference, I still think it’s cool that Meyer created her own twist on why vampires can’t go in the sun.

Some authors write their version based on the modern portrayal, some write their version based on the original lore, some combine both, some give theirs an entirely new twist! And I think all of that is pretty cool.

 

What About Realism?

Do people in real life quit their day jobs to fight monsters? Do teenagers give long, eloquent speeches in which they profess their love? Do average civilians get involved in murder cases and solve them even when cops can’t? Did people in the 1800s have perfect teeth and hygiene?

Lots of things in books are unrealistic, but we let them slide because we know it’s fiction. And let’s be honest, if we think about it, every portrayal of supernaturals is going to have logic flaws because of that whole “magic” thing.

 

Why I Love Different Portrayals of Supernatural Creatures

All things considered, there’s a lot of room for authors to get creative when it comes to mythical creatures, which, as a reader, is exciting for me! It means the possibilities are endless. I love seeing what different authors come up with, how they put their own spin on things. I wouldn’t want every version to be the same. And whether the portrayal is a tried-and-true favorite or something totally unique, I’ll get to read about something interesting that I don’t get to encounter in my real life.

(I’ll admit I do gripe sometimes if a creature doesn’t have the one thing that makes them what they are (e.g. a vampire that doesn’t drink blood), or if words are used interchangeably for two creatures that aren’t the same (e.g. mermaids and sirens), but even these things are the author’s prerogative, and my issue is usually with the fact that I was misled.)

Although I love realism in books, even in fantasy, there’s a lot of wiggle room when it comes to paranormal elements. And I love how the paranormal element can make everything else more interesting, forcing authors and readers to consider how humans and supes would react if *this* creature existed, if they had *these* abilities, if they were more human than monster or vice versa. That’s where the realism is most important, in my opinion.

Everyone is absolutely allowed to have preferences and to dislike books because they don’t like how the creatures were portrayed! Even I have preferences. I just don’t think there really a “wrong” way to do it (barring a few exceptions), and I’m grateful for the authors who are taking risks, getting creative, switching things up, and writing their own versions of supernatural and paranormal creatures because I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of reading about them!

 

Need Some Recs?

Here are some great books about supernatural creatures! (Covers link to Amazon.)

The Immortal Coil by J. Armand
Steal the Light by Lexi Blake
The Faerie Guardian by Rachel Morgan
The Midnight Gardener by R. G. Thomas
The Night Realm by Annette Marie
 
 
 

Talk to me!

What's your favorite paranormal creature?
Do you like seeing the different ways authors portray supernatural creatures, or do you have one version you like to stick to?

 

Like this post? Follow me for more!

Bloglovin   |   WordPress   |   Feedly   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Pinterest   |   Tumblr

 
 
 
 
 
 

Let's Be Friends

 
[widgets_on_pages id=2]
 

Your Thoughts

 

66 thoughts on “Bookish Musings: Thoughts on the Portrayal of Supernatural Creatures

I'd love if you'd share your thoughts, too!

 

Reading your comments makes me a very happy blogger!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

 
  1. Annemieke

    I agree that it is great when authors take things and twist it into their own ways. Not everything has to fit the standard. I wasn’t a fan of the sparkling but I agree that it is great that she at least tried to step out of the normal vampire mold.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly! It’s not for everyone’s taste, but the sparkling was definitely unique, and it’s interesting when authors put their own twist on things.

  2. Roberta R.

    Quote:”Werewolfism, for example, wasn’t related to full moons until one person put it in a movie that became famous”.
    For real? I didn’t know that!

    Interesting post! I’ll admit I’m not the most fervent admirer of supernatural creatures as a whole (I read very little fantasy – afterlife, sci-fi and magical realism are more my jam…BUT I religiously watch Supernatural. OK, I’m weird ?), but I get what you’re saying. When I DO read a book with a vampire or some kind of supernatural creature in it, the thing I want most is for it to be original. While, as you say, realism is important when it comes to humans reacting/relating to these creatures.

    Have you ever read the Thirst series by Christopher Pike (https://www.goodreads.com/series/53320-thirst) or the WVMP Radio series by Jeri Smith-Ready (https://www.goodreads.com/series/45374-wvmp-radio)? They’re two takes on vampires that are more on the mature side, AND contain some fresh mythology!

    Your discussion posts are always juicy ?.

    1. Kristen Burns

      From what I understand, pretty much. I’ve been doing research about the lore of various different creatures lately, and I guess there might be some folklore/stories out that relate it to the full moon, but a lot don’t, and I know I read somewhere that the full moon is just a thing cuz one of the first werewolf movies added it in and it stuck.

      You’re not any weirder than I am. I pretty much refuse to read anything that’s not SFF, but the only TV shows I watch are non-SFF ones lol. I actually don’t feel like every version needs to be unique or original? I’m perfectly happy reading about the typical portrayal of vampires for example (they’re my fave creature). But I also love when authors get creative and step outside the norm! And yeah, it’s the interactions and emotions that need to be realistic.

      No I have not, but I will check those out!

      Thank you!

  3. Luna & Saturn

    We definitely agree, much of the original lore about the supernatural has a lot of variations -which we usually put down to the fact that it is lost in translation through generations or diffferent cultures – so it makes sense that authors have a lot of free rein to characterise their creations. Quick question, the sparkling is referring to the vampires in Twilight, right? We’ve actually never read the series (waaay too young when the books were published) but we’re pretty sure that’s it. We’re not too fussy on realism either, because it is a supernatural book after all, so like you said, it’s not even real in the first place. Though interestingly, we have seen teenager gives long, eloquent speeches in which they profess their love, but it’s all pre-prepared so it’s always quite amusing when the characters in books such do it on the spot. Probably the one thing we’d mention about books with supernatural creatures is that they almost always have such beautiful covers! e.g. Your recs have such pretty covers. Really like this discussion post!

    ~ Luna & Saturn @ Pendragons

    1. Kristen Burns

      It’s so interesting how a lot of creatures do span so many different cultures, but yeah, the lore is a little bit different in each. It probably also has to do with the fact that much of this was originally passed down orally, parents telling stories to their kids, etc., so details got changed here and there.

      Yes! Sparkling is from Twilight. It seems a lot of people bash that series simply for the fact that the vampires sparkle, and that seems like such a silly reason to hate a book.

      Lol, then I take back what I said about teenagers not professing their love in the long, eloquent speeches! It does seem like it’d be difficult to do on the spot though, that’s a good point.

      You’re right, I did end up rec’ing a lot of books with pretty covers! Thank you!!!

      1. Luna & Saturn

        Cool, thanks :) That sparkling thing clears it up for us. It seems so odd that people hate Twilight because of the sparkling. We should probably read it and see what’s all the fuss about sparkling vampires.

        ~ Luna & Saturn @ Pendragons

        1. Kristen Burns

          No prob! I can understand not liking that portrayal, but the level of hate it gets for being “wrong” is weird. I hope you like the series if you read it!

  4. Lola

    For the most part I do totally agree with you on the topic. And as these creatures aren’t real the author can basically make up whatever they want to. Although I do like it when in paranormal books the author gives a good feel for these creatures as else it can be easy to fill details in from what the reader assumes about these creatures.

    On the other hand I do think most people have certain expectations like vampires should somehow be related to blood and shifters should be able to shift. I think that if you pick a paranormal creature it does should at least have one of the core things people associate with it. I think if as an author you stray too far away from what people expect there are people who aren’t going to be happy about it. Just like how with genres, there are certain expectations what a genre entails and you can definitely write original things, but if you go too far away from it, you’ll probably also have less people who want to read it. I think if you’re going to make up something entirely different, making up a new name for it is probably the best way to go.

    But I do think there is a lot of leeway in how supernatural creatures are being portrayed and I like seeing how authors give their own take on paranormal creatures. And like you pointed out, I think the most important thing is that they way the creatures are portrayed in a book makes sense given the rules and world building in that book.

    And with how the same type of paranormal creatures are written differently every time is also one of the things that keeps it interesting to read about as they are slightly different each time.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I also like to know enough information about the creatures. I recently read a book that didn’t explain very well, and I felt confused throughout the book about exactly how the werewolfism worked.

      Oh, I completely agree! That was what I meant when I said as long as the creature is based on the attributes that make it what it is, then I don’t think there’s a wrong way to do it, and if it the creature doesn’t have that one important trait (like a vampire that doesn’t drink blood), I feel misled. But if it’s made clear in the blurb, I can at least just avoid the book. I should have mentioned something about expectations though, because that’s very true and a great way of explaining why it’s frustrating.

      It does keep it interesting that each author portrays them a little differently!

  5. Daniela Ark

    wow great post! I never stopped to think about it before!

    I often make fun of sparkling vamps but I think it’s mostly to spark conversation because ppl do have strong opinions about Twilight. So here I’ll confess: I don’t think it really bothers me! :)
    I just found a little corny and patronizing like young people like sparkling stuff! OR It may be because of you say about original lore vs modern version.

    But when it is not consistent with the rules in the story it does turn me off.

    I haven’t found one problematic or offensive yet BUT I do think about it a lot because my WIP it based on Judeo-Christian mythology and I often worry about offending someone with the way I’m portraying some of the paranormal characters. So I would love it if you ever post a discussion about it!

    1. Kristen Burns

      *gasp* A CONFESSION! I GOT HER TO ADMIT SHE’S OK WITH THE SPARKLING VAMPS! :-P

      I agree, authors can make up what they want, but I’m going to get annoyed if it’s not consistent or has seemingly no rules.

      I don’t think I’ve found any offensive portrayals either, but I totally get your concern. I’m wanting to write about certain creatures for my short stories and maybe a book at some point, but they’re related to Asian cultures, and that has me worried. So I might make a post to get more opinions about that sort of thing!

  6. S. J. Pajonas

    “Fun fact: Most supernatural creatures aren’t real.” Lololol. Your opening line had me laughing! I agree so much this post. I think it’s part of the creative and artistic license to put our own spin on things. It makes everything so much more interesting!

    S. J. Pajonas recently posted: May 2018 Goals

  7. Rebeccah @ The Pixie ChroniclesRe

    Great discussion, and I totally agree!! It’s super weird to me when people get angry that fairies and dragons aren’t portrayed the “right” way in books, like…can we have some uniqueness please? The beauty of these creatures is there is SO MUCH we can create with them! Let’s embrace those differences instead of shunning them :)

    Rebeccah @ The Pixie ChroniclesRe recently posted: Monthly Book Draft Challenge : April

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes! What even is the “right” way for a dragon to be portrayed? Does this person know of actual dragons that everyone else doesn’t? :-P I love seeing the differences that authors come up with!

  8. Brittany

    Great discussion! I agree that there is a LOT of wiggle room when it comes to writing supernatural characters. Especially ones like Dragons! I have seen them portrayed so many different ways!

  9. Laurie @ Bark's Books

    I certainly have preferences for my monsters (I prefer them mean and nasty usually) but that comes with growing up as a horror fan but I don’t agree with the people who think monsters have to be written a certain way and if they don’t they’re breaking the rules. Glittering vamps are a good example but fast zombies are another that set people on edge. When they first came on the scene people were in an uproar because they didn’t adhere to Romero’s slow moving creatures. It’s all made up, fergodsakes! People take things their monsters too seriously, IMO.

    Laurie @ Bark's Books recently posted: DNF Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly! Preferences are totally fine, but that doesn’t make one version right and one wrong. I was never a horror fan, so I didn’t know there was an uproar about fast zombies. Interesting! The first (and possibly only) zombie movie I ever saw was 28 Days Later, so I had nothing to really compare the zombies to lol.

  10. Karen

    It doesn’t bother me at all when authors portray supernatural creatures in different ways. I remember that I liked Twilight back in the day because it did things differently. Then I read Anne Rice and loved the version. It’s all good and if, as a reader, you prefer one over the other than stick with that but yeah – they aren’t real so that whole they must be one way never made sense to me.

    My exceptions are (like you ) being misled or if it’s offensive to a culture/religion. Otherwise it’s ALL made up so who is to say??

    I saw that Roberta rec’d the WVMP series and that’s one I loved a lot. The vampires are dj’s and kind of get *stuck* in the era of their time. It’s actually the series that got me started blogging.

    Another one I liked was The Maker’s Song series by Adrian Phoenix. Interesting take on vampires but it did get dragged out so I quit.

    I haven’t read a lot of paranormal recently though.

    Karen @ For What It’s Worth

    Karen recently posted: tell me something tuesday

    1. Kristen Burns

      Tbh when I read the books, I didn’t like her version of vampires, probably because I read those books immediately after Anne Rice and I had totally fallen in love with that version at the time, but it’s definitely not wrong, it’s just a preference thing! And now I love seeing all sorts of versions.

      Yeah, it’s just frustrating when a blurb says a book is about XYZ, so then I spend the money and time to read the book only to discover it’s not at all what I was expecting.

      Oh that does sound really interesting. I think you might’ve rec’d it before? It sounds vaguely familiar lol.

      Ah, darn. I don’t like those series that drag either.

  11. Camilla @Reader in the Attic

    When I saw your tweet about this I prepared myself, but for me you didn’t say anything that absurd. As you said, unless someone is using a specific type of mithologycal supernatural being that is related to a culture, there should be no problem.

    As someone that included vampires in my WIP, I took the inspiration for the general concept of a bat like, semi human creature that likes blood. And raw meat. All the rest I built it on my own. Certanly, there are also varius type and when I’m writing on a culture inspired by one in real life, I will be sure to check its vampire types. Or if are as such.

    I’d an interesting discussion about some vampire like figure (Internet opinion) in India’s folklore and ended up with discovering that vampire could also be more like a wraith. So another thing is that, yes, I think that authors should elaborate their own version of the paranormals’ general aspects, but also be really careful if taking real life inspiration. A lot of those ancient figure are sometimes creature in-between.

    Oh, and yes! Mermaid and sirens always confused me. I stopped used the term siren to refer to half-human and half-fish creature and switched to mermaid. I knew the difference in my language but I didn’t get why in English people equated them. I remeber that sirens were, in origin and in Greek’s myth, half-bird women.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol I’m glad that other readers seem to have the same thoughts as me on this topic.

      Ooh that’s interesting! There’s so much vampire lore out there anyway, so many different types, that that’s one with so much room to get creative if you want to.

      That is a confusing thing sometimes, a lot of cultures have things that go by the same name but are totally different. There so much overlap but also so many differences.

      Don’t worry, I don’t understand either why those terms have become interchangeable lol. Yes, as far as I know, sirens were part bird and part of Greek mythology!

  12. Olivia Roach

    Very, very interesting post and I really enjoyed reading it! I liked the mention to Twilight as well ;) That book gets so much hate for being too far from the original vampire. But I agree, magic – and if you can make some logic within the story to back up your shade of magic you’re using – then go for it! I like the idea of being creative with it, and new and original takes on creatures intrigue me too. So I relate to you on this one. :)

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! Not liking a book is one thing, but that book does get so much hate for such a silly reason. But yeah, as long as there’s consistency and some sort of rule system, it’s cool when authors get creative!

  13. Mikky @ Nocturnal Predators Reviews

    This is an awesome post! I also believe that as long as the author does a good job setting the rules to the world they’re creating and explains the nuances of the creatures they’re going to be featuring and stays consistent throughout the story it’s fine. I may not agree with a detail here and there but that would be an opinion to a detail not an inconsistency in the story. Though, if the lore is too detailed I tend to get lost and not absorb as much of it as I’d like if I’m not already somewhat familiar with it beforehand :)

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thank you! Exactly, as long as the creature is consistent and fits with the rules set forth, then it’s hard for it to be “wrong.” I might like certain details or even the overall portrayal, but that’s just my preference. I haven’t read a lot of books that get too detailed with the lore, to be honest, but I usually think it’s neat when the author creates their own explanation or something!

  14. Wren

    I have rarely seen people getting upset over the portrayal of paranormal or supernatural creatures, aside from sarcastic “vampires don’t sparkle” type stuff. Honestly I don’t understand it myself…..I mean in the end its all fiction, and over time even before things like Twilight and whatever, these myths, folklores, and stories evolved! I see people getting all bothered about books and honestly at this point I’ve just stopped caring. Readers should just read what they want and authors should just write what they want, whether thats sparkly vampires, immortal werewolves, half angel/half leprechaun hybrids (can somebody please do this actually….). So yeah. Just enjoy your books! And all the awesome variations of supernatural folklore that come with them.

    Wren recently posted: Hiatus

    1. Kristen Burns

      I guess I’ve not seen people get upset, per se, but I have seen a lot of talk of sparkly being “wrong” and this was partly inspired by a discussion I saw on Twitter one day about Twilight, I think, and how it’s not possible for vampires to have sex. I held my tongue and decided to write this post instead lol. Damn, I want a book about a leprechaun-angel hybrid too now! Nicole @ FeedYourFictionAddiction made a joke one day about a gorgon-harpy-leprechaun-vampire hybrid, and I’ve legit been trying to figure out a story to write about that creature ever since lol. I’ll let you know if I ever do ;-) But yep, let’s all just write and read what we want and let everyone else do the same!

  15. Christy LoveOfBooks

    Totally agree. It’s refreshing when an author throws in their own twist on the supernatural creatures, their abilities, etc. It’s also cool when an author has SC that are a little different and it’s explained that the legend or whatever has been altered over the years. I’m not explaining it right. But the characters talk about maybe how a vampire can go in the sun, but the myth of them not being able to morphed over the years. The Iron Druid series does this with some of the SC and such.

    Christy LoveOfBooks recently posted: Dear Dwayne, With Love by Eliza Gordon

    1. Kristen Burns

      It is refreshing! I think I know what you’re saying. I’ve read books where the vampires were able to go in the sun or see themselves in mirrors or w/e, and they’re just like, “Yeah we created those myths so humans wouldn’t detect us.” So I think that’s similar to what you’re saying.

  16. Greg

    “There is no wrong way to write something that isn’t real” That pretty much sums up my view. Yeah I have preferences but who am I to say someone else’s take is wrong? I may think it ha ha but you’re right- different takes are fine. Although I do agree with your caveat about sensitivity to certain real-life connections- and that would be an awesome discussion too. :)

    And yes lore vs modern portrayals- couldn’t agree more. I just learned about the full moon thing myself recently – I never knew that was a fairly modern invention, and by a movie of all things! I love the idea of a moon/ night connection, but not sure I’d use it if I wrote a book. That’s also why I tend not to take the “shifting is painful” thing too seriously- because says who? They could just as easily magically transform without pain and bones snapping and all that.

    *nods* Variety is awesome. I love the idea of supernatural creatures living among us, and even thouh I don’t read a ton of urban fantasy I love the concepts, and yes- let’s have different takes on all these wonderful creatures. :)

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly, I have preferences too, but that doesn’t mean that’s the one and and only correct way to portray something! I might have the discussion because I’m curious how other people feel about that.

      Isn’t that so interesting about the full moon thing? I’m probably going to use it for my stories about the sim werewolf. It’s become so much a part of modern lore—kind of like vampires burning in the sun—that it just kinda feels normal to me at this point and I like. Though I did just read a werewolf book in which the moon was not a factor. That was also the first book I’d read where shifting was painful. So yeah, I definitely don’t that’s a definite thing either. I mean, it’s magic. So it can totally be not painful if the author wants!

      Different takes are so much fun!

  17. Aimee (Aimee, Always)

    It actually gets really tiring when authors just stick to the common portrayals of supernatural creatures–I love it when authors do something even just SLIGHTLY different from what we’re used to, because hey, at least they tried! I’ll have to admit, even the Sparkly Vampires was okay for me. xD It may be weird, but weird is GREAT when it comes to fantasy and paranormal novels, at least for me. ♥

    1. Kristen Burns

      It would definitely get boring if every author portrayed supernaturals in the same way! And you’re right, weird IS great when it comes to paranormal!

  18. louise ☆

    I love this post! I love seeing the different variations of supernatural creatures in both folklore and modern fiction because it shows just how imaginative people are. I have my preferences on certain creatures too (I prefer werewolves to be actually scary monsters rather than just abnormally large wolves) but that doesn’t mean that anything that doesn’t fit my criteria is “wrong” because there is no “right and wrong” in writing monsters.

    The whole “vampires don’t sparkle and are supposed to do this and that” really gets on my nerves because the way that one single author decided to write their vampires does not automatically become the definitive version and how all other vampires must be from now on. Silly or not, it was perfectly within Meyer’s right to make her vampires the way they are. I’ve written two university dissertations on the way vampires are portrayed so I’m a bit passionate about it, haha ?

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I also have preferences, but I still enjoy seeing different takes on creatures. And sometimes I end up finding a new version that I like!

      I agree, I can understand disliking the portrayal or the book, but to bash it and say that it’s wrong for vampires to sparkle gets on my nerves too. There is definitely no one definitive version of vampires that’s right. That’s so interesting that you’ve written dissertations on this!

  19. Karen Blue

    This is such a well thought out post about something that really needed to be said. You bring up so many great points about the freedom of writing fiction. I feel the same way about these things. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Jen

    I’ve always been a vampire fan and it can be boring when people don’t change their supernatural creatures and copy everyone else. You said vampires have to drink blood blood but there’s a myth or fiction about energy vampires who drain the life force. But I understand what you’re saying. I enjoy reading your posts ☺ I haven’t read the books you mention. It’s hard to find original supernatural reads. Maybe I’m reading the wrong ones

    Jen recently posted: Insecure Writer.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes, there are so many vampire stories out there, and the ones that do something different can really stand out! I know there are things about energy vampires and the like, but see, I would be disappointed if a blurb just said vampires and didn’t mention them being *energy* vampires because then the book would not meet my expectations. Well, if you need recs, those are all good ones! (Depending on your taste, of course!)

  21. Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer

    Agreed! Hey, I love musicals, but cannot remember the last time we broke out into song before dinner. LOL, As long as you recognize the creature I love when authors add their own spin and rules to them. I crack up when I see reviews that a particular supernatural creature cannot do this or that. Um, why not?

    1. Kristen Burns

      Wait, you mean you *don’t* sing before every meal??? ;-P Exactly! As long as it’s recognizable as that creature, it can be fun having new twists! It’s strange sometimes the things people have no issue vs the things they say are impossible for the creatures lol.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It can definitely be fun seeing new twists on creatures! I’d recommend all the Annette Marie books I’ve read so far, although I started with the Steel & Stone series, so I might be a bit biased that that’s the best place to start!

  22. Sam@WLABB

    I am not even into paranormal creatures, and I was riveted by this post. Good job! I did grab onto the part about realism with two hands, though. It’s a well known fact I love fiction, and do not expect it to be realistic all the time. If I wanted something that was totally realistic I would read a work of non-fiction (though these days, I wonder if the truth really is out there anymore).

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thank you!!! Yes, that’s the thing about books. Even though they’re meant to be realistic in some ways, they are never 100% realistic unless they’re non-fiction. And even then, who knows, haha.

  23. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    You are totally right! I always think it’s funny when people complain about monsters that don’t follow the “rules,” but maybe it’s because I’m not a die-hard horror/sci-fi fan or anything. But I think you said it perfectly: these creatures are pretend. Let’s put it all in a little perspective.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction recently posted: The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty: Review & Giveaway

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly, even if you’re a die-hard fan, you should be able to recognize that it’s not WRONG for a fictional creature to be portrayed a little differently from what you’re used to!

  24. Kyla @ Kyla's Library

    I totally agree with this post! Paranormal books are some of my favourite books to read and I definitely would’ve got bored of the genre if every author portrayed them the same so I’m glad when authors put their own spin on things. Great post! :)

  25. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    My dreams are shattered, supernatural creatures aren’t real? Well, I never!

    I love this post for saying something I totally agree with. Do I love Stephenie Meyer’s portrayal of vampires? No. But it’s not just because she made them sparkle (which is at least a memorable and different reason for vampires avoiding daylight) it’s because I dislike the books themselves, I wasn’t a fan of the writing and felt the characters themselves fell flat and led me to lose interest. Her portrayal of vampires was not the issue. I think it’s great when authors do manage to get an original new angle for supernatural creatures that for many of us feel done to death. We’ve all seen them written about and think we know it all so when someone can find a new angle or element to them to explore I celebrate them for that fact. Good on them for trying something different and breathing new life into things. People aren’t always going to do it right, but they’re not doing it right because they don’t develop their own creature lore enough so I don’t believe it. I want it to feel like they’ve got their own fully fleshed handbook to their creatures, not that they’re making it up as the story goes along (even if they are).

    1. Kristen Burns

      I take it back, I’m sure you’ll find a hunky supernatural lover one day ;-)

      Glad you agree! It’s totally fair to dislike the books. But I hate how the fact that her vampires are sparkly is constantly picked on and bashed. It is cool when authors create some new twist though! Especially with vampires, that’s hard to do.

  26. Bookworm Brandee

    Great post, Kristen! I, too, am a fan of supes and I’ll pretty much take ’em as they come. I love it when authors use more “mainstream” characteristics but I *LOVE* it when authors put their own spins on supes. The characteristics, the mythology, the society…all of it is fascinating to me. I don’t think I’ve found a brand of supe that I didn’t like – no matter their characteristics – as long as the story around them was good. Which I guess, in the end, is the main point. If the story is well written with well -developed characters, I’m happy no matter if they howl at the moon or can siphon blood via a brush of skin. :)

    1. Kristen Burns

      Same, I love both the typical portrayals and the unique ones, and sometimes it can turn out amazing when authors add their own twist! It’s all fascinating to me too. And that’s a good point, if the overall story is good, then I’ll probably be happy regardless of how the creature is portrayed!

  27. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer

    Wow! Great post and I couldn’t agree more. I love when an author gets creative and twists things up. I think there is a lot of hate in the world for Meyer when anyone who knocks her is just plain jealous. She caused publishers to realize YA books can sell. That’s pretty incredible… it may not be Rowling but she deserves props.

    I do dislike when the one trait that makes a creature that creature is left out … find another name or make one up! But supernaturals do make regular life exciting and I’m good with that! ♥️

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! Seriously, it’s one thing not to like her books or writing or even her version of vampires, but the amount of hate she gets, the way she gets picked on as though her version is wrong, that’s not ok.

      Agreed. It’s like false advertising to say your book is about vampires if it’s about something entirely different. Making something up is a great solution! Or just finding something better suited. Supes def make regular life exciting!

  28. Stephanie Jane

    Whadya mean, they’re not real? Tis all spoiled now :-(

    But seriously, I think it’s great that authors can be inventive with their own interpretations of supernatural creations. Like you say, so long as what they create fits within the rules of their world, why not have fun redrawing the lines?

    Stephanie Jane recently posted: My Sweet Friend by H A Leuschel

  29. Cee Arr

    I think that the twisting and turning of what defines these creatures is what makes they’re stories so powerful – fairy tales don’t always have the same elements, they are *definitely* not told with the same words, but they’re still undeniably fairy tales.

    Myths, legends, and fairy tales, are so powerful because they survive the different interpretations and re-tellings, and take them into themselves to become a part of the fabric of them. Certain classics – Shakespeare, The Christmas Carol – do the same. It’s how stories stay alive – by changing and weaving themselves into a new form. And that’s beautiful.

    At the same time, if there are cultures that firmly believe in these creatures – this includes vampires, who are still believed in in certain countries – then *especially* if the book is set in that country, or borrows from that mythology, then it needs to be respectful of those origins.

    1. Kristen Burns

      That’s so true, when fairytales and myths and lore are passed down, they don’t stay exactly the same. I don’t have anything to add to what you said, but I agree, it is beautiful!

      That’s a good point too, it’s important to be respectful!

  30. Tizzy

    Love this post! I really like reading books where the author has put a unique spin on a mythological creature. I like how the merpeople in Harry Potter are quite scary and sinister creatures, for instance. I totally agree with you that there’s no wrong way to write about a mythological creature. The more diversity the better for me!

    Tizzy recently posted: Book Review: Ink by Alice Broadway