Friday, October 01, 2010

Urban fantasy vs Contemporary Fantasy = Twilight vs Harry Potter

Diana Ilinca is the author of upcoming novel Zirconya: The Sage of Aluh'Nehn, the first book in a Trilogy which will be released in 2011. She will be discussing why urban fantasy is different from contemporary fantasy and why werewolves and vampires shouldn't belong to fantasy and should be in a different genre.

To celebrate, she has been writing a free eBook available through Wattpad on your mobile phone.
"Nahtaia: A Faery's Tale" about a faery who transforms a faery into a human, upsetting her people and risking banishment. With the help of Oren, Nahtaia must find a way to change the human back, taking her on an adventure that also, just might, lead her to love. To start reading Nahtaia, visit here.

I don’t know what’s been floating around the cyber-writing world, but it seems that I’ve been deemed a spokesperson for traditional fantasy(in some places). The mouth of the real fantasy books out there, for some, while for others, a dictator who’s got it in for urban fantasy.

*cough* When did this happen? It’s not quite what I was trying to get across so, as long as my cup of coffee is still half there, I’ll try to set things straight.

I love fantasy. It’s what I write and it’s what I read. There’s a roaring fire of passion engulfing my innermost....innards. Ok, that was a bit dramatic, I know. Really, though, fantasy has been such an important aspect through my childhood and it pains me to see it shrink in the distance while urban fantasy takes the stage. I suppose that is a bit naive and selfish of me but shoot, this is the internet and while I’ve been dubbed a “voice” for fantasy, as fleeting as this calling may be, I will stand and shriek at the top of my lungs for it.

I have nothing against urban fantasy. Honest. I got into the whole vampire thing when the Twilight craze started. Granted, I got out of it when the craze just got crazy. My own book that’s getting published is a contemporary fantasy. It’s not even urban! -which I just recently realized-

*gasp* “What’s that, Diana? You’re published book is not a traditional fantasy?” No, it is not. Zirconya: The Sage of Aluh’Nehn, has all the aspects of a traditional fantasy (true fantasy creatures, another world, elvish, etc) but the first book (Zirconya is a trilogy) takes place mostly in earth while the story has to do with another world in an alternate dimension and the crossing of creatures from that dimension. (if I just confused you, check it out on my website where you can read all about it:

Hark! I hear my readers calling! “What’s the difference between urban fantasy and contemporary fantasy?” Urban fantasy is, by definition, a fantasy-like story that has to do in an urban setting. Urban fantasy by reader definition is usually understood as paranormal fantasy. Vampires, werewolves, psychics, ghosts, demons, etc. Closer to paranormal fiction.

Contemporary fantasy is, by definition, a fantasy story set in the present day. It often has magical creatures, either living in the secret chasms of our world or leaking over from alternate worlds. Elves, faeries, trolls, dragons, etc. Closer to epic fantasy.

Urban fantasy vs Contemporary Fantasy = Twilight vs Harry Potter. Easy.

Whoops! I got off track here! Back to the main reason behind this post. Fantasy is shrinking in the distance! And, technically, it shouldn’t. In my opinion, urban fantasy should be separated from the other fantasy. Or maybe it should just drop the word “fantasy” all together and just stick with “paranormal.”

“But, Diana,” a reader says, “I thought you didn’t have anything against urban fantasy.”

I don’t! But everywhere I go and every time I look for some real, good, old-fashioned fantasy, I have to look behind or in between the vampire novels and I’m tired of it! From what I’ve heard and from the messages I’ve received, there are a lot of people who agree. Not everyone is into the paranormal stuff. I’m not saying to get rid of it; I’m just saying to put it in its place. To separate it so us elf and faery loving people can find what we’re looking for amongst the billions of stories out there. I have my fair share of urban fantasy on my personal boon shelf but when I fantasy, I want fantasy!

Now it’s your turn, readers! What I have written is based on my own opinion of the matter. It’s not set in stone. I am not a remotely-famous author. Shoot, I’m just getting ready to release my first book, but hey, if I have this opportunity to put something out there on the topic, by God, I will! But tell me, readers! Tell me what you think! What are your opinions on the matter?


  1. Now I'm confused. I wouldn't classify Twilight as "urban fantasy". Forks is hardly a big city; it's not urban at all! I always though urban fantasy dealt with large cities and the weird goings-on within them. (See Charles de Lint's books about the fictional city of Newford for a good example of the genre.)

    For me, Twilight falls squarely in the "paranormal romance" category.

  2. First off, Thank you, Precious for this post! I'm honored!

    La Coccinelle,
    I know exactly what you mean. I said the same thing just moments before I wrote this but apparently, a lot of teens label it as Urban Fantasy. That's what I was trying to say with dropping the word "fantasy" and just going for "paranormal." It's also what confused me with all the Harry Potter vs. Twilight talk going on. People gotta see that they're not even in the same genre so why are they being compared all the time? Thank you for reading and commenting!

  3. When teaching genre, I usually stick with the big categories: Fiction and Nonfiction first then under fiction the big categories such as fantasy, science fiction (which is another of those categories that make people crazy because of all the subcategories under it). I would agree that under fantasy there are definitely many types of subcategories that could and maybe should be used such as paranormal, contemporary, urban, but all of these still end up a part of the bigger category of fantasy.

  4. Jan Von Harz,
    very true. That's the way it should be done and I normally do the same :) In this case, my feathers were ruffled by the Twilight vs Harry Potter thing going on lol!

  5. I read your post with much interest, thank you for that. My novel, DREAM KEEPER, is presently with a publisher and will be released in the near future. I have been struggling to place it in a fantasy genre. My thoughts have been going between 'contemporary fantasy' and 'urban fantasy'. Now that I have read this post, I am leaning towards, 'contemporary fantasy'. Congratulations on the helpful and informative blog you have created. You have gained another follower!

  6. Fantasy, by definition, is an imagination. ALL authors that write fiction are writing fantasies. Granted the classification of what type of fantasy an author has written is needed. If you write about Elves and pixies then you write fairy-tales. If you write vampires and werewolves then that is horror. But in contemporary books, as in written recently and not based on today's environments, not all Elves are good and not all vampires are evil. So are authors writing anti-fairy-tales and anti-horror?? Your imagination is bringing you into a fantasy. A reimagined charactor. A vampire that sparkles in the sun instead of bursting into flames. There are too many classifications to understand what a book is about. Urban shouldn't even been there unless it's a book about a city, not fiction. Any other usage of the word urban is focused toward a racial group as in marketing, typecasting or profiling. My fantasy is not urban even if set in New York City. Just tell it like it is... This book is about... Dragons or vampires or Elves. Classification is only important to know what group to enter your book into to get an award. How about an award for Best Dragon Book or Best Elf Book? An award for the best Urban Fantasy Romance is saying you can't stand up against the best Contemporary or Historical Romance Awards. Which are basically saying they can't stand up against each other for the best Romance Award. And who ever wins an award will be seen as not deserving because their book was about....well, that could lead me into another tangent about how we can't be happy for other people who beat us.