J.K. Beck Guest Blog and Giveaway!

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Random Thoughts on the Allure of the Paranormal
by J.K. Beck

With a new paranormal series on the shelves (The Shadow Keepers, Book 1 out right now, When Blood Calls, and books 2 and 3 coming in October and November), I’ve been thinking a lot about the reasons behind the recent explosion in paranormal-themed books and movies. Sure paranormal’s always been around, but lately, it’s everywhere. A reality that I’m extremely happy with since I’ve always gravitated toward the paranormal anyway.

And when I say always, I mean always. I was weaned on I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched, and I even went so far as to comb flea markets, hoping to find a discarded bottle that happened to have a genie in it. I’d dig in piles of old coins, hoping to find an enchanted one. And I was more than happy to believe that there were ghosts in my grandmother’s old house (although in my imagination they were good and kind ghosts who’d be fun to hang around with—the horror possibilities came later).

But why? Why was I so keen on fantasy and paranormal and escapism fiction and television?

For kids, I think the answer’s easy: You’re never the one in charge. Someone’s always telling you what to do—from combing your hair to packing your stuff to go spend the summer at The Other Parent’s house to eating your broccoli. Big and little stuff, but ultimately, for kids, life is a bottom line out-of-control experience.

Fantasy lets the kid be the one in control. The one with the power who gets to make things happen—little things like making a feather float, all the way up to saving the planet from The Big, Bad Evil. In fantasy, the kid often isn’t just The Kid. Often she’s a princess, a demi-god, a changeling. And the allure of reading those stories is that the reader gets to escape to that place and play that role, even if only for a few minutes in their head. (Heck, even Nancy Drew is a fantasy—she goes and does all that stuff and always figures out the answer and never gets in (real) trouble and is always rescued. Fantasy. Yup.)

Theoretically, adults and kids are significantly different. In actuality, though, we’re much the same (though don’t tell that to my eight and six year old). Sure, we now have the illusion of control—but that’s just it, an illusion. The desire to run our own lives has been replaced by the responsibility to do that very thing, for ourselves and for others—kids, spouse, older parent, even our boss.

The freedom of lazing about during the summer has been replaced by the obligation to earn a paycheck, to pay the bills, to mow the grass, get the car inspected, balance the checkbook. Life fills up, and that same lure of fantasy draws us in again, and we crave the escape. Granted we’re now coming at it from a different perspective—I no longer actually believe I’ll find the magic bottle—but the fantasy of having that magical ability is just as alluring. The concept of immortality is just as intriguing, but unlike a kid who tends to think they’re immortal anyway, adults can see the pain that would go along with living for centuries. The vampires of horror become a creature of empathy. We not only get the characters more, we still have a reason to want the fantasy. To slide into a world not our own.

My favorite paranormals are ones that are actually set in our world, but there’s stuff going on underneath. It’s the kind of world I’ve created in the Shadow Keeper books, in which the premise is that all the creatures from your nightmares do walk among us, but their kept in check by a secret judicial system tasked with investigating and prosecuting paranormal creatures who break the Covenant. I love the idea that a whole world of activity could be going on right behind a curtain, in the shadows, and I don’t think I’m the only one.

In the first book, When Blood Calls, the heroine is a human assistant district attorney, who’s given an amazing promotion, and is exposed to a world she never knew existed. She’s thrust in, only to find out that the first defendant she’s tasked with prosecuting is not only the man that she’d had a brief fling with—but also a vampire.

Talk about rocking your world!

So how about it? Why do you like paranormal books and movies? Do you like pure fantasy or “world-based” stuff?

Leave a comment about that or anything, and one random commenter will win a $15 Amazon gift card!

And I hope you check out the Shadow Keepers. You can learn more at www.theshadowkeepers.com or follow my blog at www.jkbeck.com

28 thoughts on “J.K. Beck Guest Blog and Giveaway!”

  1. I love paranormal books. Mostly because they “could” be real. Who’s to say – right? I like the world based best.

  2. I do like paranormal books and movies. And, I’m one of those who like them for the pure fantasy . . . I like to escape. 😉

  3. Viki, I like your attitude! (Actually, it’s mine, too. I’m always expecting to see things in the shadows). Christy, yup! Although my escapism ones are the action-y books/movies (can you say Blade?). Love the moody, gothic types, too, like The Others, but for pure escapism, give me fight scenes. And swords.

  4. Why not paranormal? Whose to say things are not ‘otherwordly’ underneath what others percieve as reality? I would like to think there is more to life than what the eye can readily see. (Hugs)Indigo

  5. Paranormal is definitely my favorite since childhood too. I think I’ve always related to the aspect of feeling out of place, not fitting in and always hoped there was a secret reason that explained it all like being part faery or something lol. But I enjoy both reality based and fantasy, as long as the characters feel real and make me want to know them. That’s what keeps me reading a series, wanting to know what happens next in their “lives” and the world created by the author. bells DOT franco AT gmail DOT com

  6. I have loved the paranormal since I was little, believing there was a monster living in the closet at the end of my bed. As a teenager I read Stephen King and it has just progressed from there. The term is so broad, from Angels, vampires, werewolves, demons and everything in between. Walking into certain places or into certain cemeteries and getting a chill. I truly believe we want to believe that there are other things here whether they be to protect us or seduce us.
    I am looking forward to reading When Blood Calls, which I have coming in in a few days and bonus we don’t have to wait no time at all and we get more!
    Thanks for a great blog and looking forward to your signing in a few weeks!
    Best Wishes.

  7. I love paranormal books. Its fun to pretend and visit a world that could be. Its the best genre for really letting your imagination go while still visiting a world very much like the one we live in.

  8. I love all kinds of paranormal books and movies, especially with a great romance storyline. Have quite a few favorite series that are world based, and am always amazed at the complexity and detail that is required.

  9. I love paranormal books and movies because they transport me to another place so different from my own life. I think it’s fun to imagine those creatures and paranormal beings are around and we just don’t know it. I like both pure fantasy and world-based stuff. As long as it’s a good story with characters I enjoy, I’ll read it.

  10. Thanks for the awesome comments everybody! I’m surrounded with paranormal lately, watching Vampire Diaries with my husband and Buffy with my daughter! And reading, reading, reading!

  11. I love all fantasy, but since urban fantasy is my particular favorite, I especially enjoy “world-based” stories where the world is our own but all the wonderful paranormals exist too.

    I love your books, Julie, and I’m really excited about this new series!

  12. I like paranormal stories because the create an oppurtunity for conflict and moral dilemmas without seeming so contrived. And they help us examine real life situations from a different POV.

  13. I think you were pretty much channeling me there – I grew up wanting to be Samantha Stevens or Jeannie. I’ve searched for those magical items that might just ‘take me away’ or give me the magic I dreamed of.

    These days, life is dull. We work, we pay bills, we clean and do laundry – we need something that pulls us out of that dull reality and gives us some fun and action. World-based books do this especially well because who is to say there isn’t something out there we just don’t know about? Why couldn’t there be strange and interesting creatures or peoples just outside of our view? That hint of ‘possible’ is what makes those fantasies so intriguing.

    Pure or high fantasy is good for other reasons. We are completely transported outside of our existence and given a whole new reality to play in. Heroes to follow along with, villains to vanquish and people to save. What’s not to love there?

    Additionally, many of these types of books have good vs evil stories. IRL the good guy doesn’t always win, but in books it is ever so much more possible to save the day, rescue the kitten and keep evil at bay for another day.

    “Oh the possibilities!” -Dr. Seuss
    I agree with Mr. Geisel completely.

  14. I’m not much of a paranormal book reader, but I do enjoy paranormal films (zombie movies, werewolf stuff, etc.). I think I enjoy them because they have a way of scaring me or drawing me into the darkness that other types of horror-friendly subjects can’t. But that’s my guess. Zombies are really the only things that scare me anymore…

    Oh, and I like any kind of fantasy, generally. Pure or world-based. Doesn’t matter. It just has to be written well.

  15. I like paranormal books sometimes, but I tend to be pickier about them than in other genres, because a lot of it might as well just be labeled as porn. 🙁 Sex is all well and good, but if we could have some plot in there too, it would be nice.

  16. I have always loved all things paranormal (though over the years I have become a greater skeptic). I just love the thought of there being something beyond what we know. It is the extraordinary among the ordinary. It doesn’t have to be a fantasy world it can be this world or the edges of both. I love it all!

  17. I’m such a huge paranormal fan. That’s actually all I’ve been reading lately! I’ve already torn through four series lately.

  18. I’ve already heard about this book on another blog, and it’s sounds really interesting.

    spamscape [at] gmail [dot] com

  19. Must admit, paranormal and futuristic books are my favourite. Have loved that theme since I was young, and was reinforced when Dad was stationed to Scotland, and we shared our house with a ghost (or did he share with us?). Plus, would love to win, since I made a New Year’s Resolution to win at least 2 contests a month.

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