Ginger Nuts of Horror
I'll be honest-- I'm more than a little embarrassed about my teenage love of Piers Anthony's Xanth series. But I still think the man doesn't get enough credit for inventing paranormal romance. At least three of the Xanth books that I can think of (Castle Roogna, Ogre, Ogre, and Golem in the Gears) are about a romance between a gorgeous woman and a monster-- and they all end with a classic, romance-novel HEA. Anthony would probably have called these books a fantasy update of Beauty and the Beast-- but I see them as an ancestor of the many, many books about a girl and the thing that doesn't know whether to love her or eat her.
What's still great about the Xanth books is that Anthony's monsters are really monsters. They don't sparkle benignly at the heroine for six books and then give her a surprise C-section with their teeth. Take Jonathan the Zombie in Castle Roogna. This is what he looks like: "He shuffled into the kitchen, dripping the usual clods of dirt and mold. No matter how much fell, a zombie always had more; it was part of the enchantment. His body was skeletal, his eyes rotten sockets, and the nauseating odor of putrefaction was about him."
That's the romantic lead, folks!
Where I wish Anthony had been more influential was his willingness to accept the body horror inherent in having a monster as your hero. It's just flat out nasty to have the hero crave the taste of the heroine's blood-- but that's a good thing. Why would you want to make your real, live monster an angsty boy in a Halloween costume?
After all, don't we all feel like a rotting corpse sometimes? And don't even monsters deserve a happy ending?
Body horror romance: the next big thing.
Nora Fleischer specializes in writing about funny monsters. You can find her novel Zombies in Love and her novella Over Her Head on Amazon. She lives in Minneapolis with her lovable husband Sven and children Wolfgang and Anastasia. She blogs at norafleischer.livejournal.com and tweets at @zombinanora.