Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Guest Post on Urban Fantasy

Today please welcome Jami Gray as she discusses urban fantasy and how she developed an interest in the genre.

Urban Fantasy…so is that like Lord of the Rings?

As one who writes in Urban Fantasy, you would not believe how many times I’ve actually been asked this question.  Every single time, I try not to heave a huge sigh or roll my eyes, because that’s just mean. My answer…”No, it’s fantasy in an modern, urban setting.”

Sounds good, right? I thought so, hence the reason it’s my go-to answer. However, I still caught hints of confusion or a quick shake of the head leading to a subject change.

So, to be able to give a more informative answer to those seeking knowledge, perhaps I should pose it to those who understand it best…readers.  What do you consider Urban Fantasy?

Is it the wizard stalking the rain-drenched streets on dark nights hunting ghouls and witches like some long ago western lawman? Is it the kick-ass female rocking the leather attire like ain’t no body’s business? Is it the terrifyingly, anti-social protagonist walking the thin line of insanity, that we somehow fall in love with between the pages, but in real life would cross the street to avoid? Or is the unlikely shifter/witch/vampire/hunter of any thing unnatural that suddenly finds himself or herself the one person who holds the ability to change the world around them?

Like many writers, I’m an avid reader. I started out with Fantasy. Yep, like Tolkien,  Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, Anne McCaffrey, Robin McKinley, or Katherine Kurtz.  As I grew, so did my reading tastes and I found myself drawn more and more to settings where magic and the real world collided.  Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality was one of my favorite series. How cool was it that normal, everyday people somehow managed to find themselves suddenly becoming the incarnation of Death, War, Time , Nature, Fate, Evil, Good, and all that those jobs entailed.  Think about it, what would you do if you suddenly found yourself in charge of Death. Would you be able to take a soul away, witness the grief left behind, because you knew down the road, a much darker, deeper agony lay in wait?

It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties, early thirties that I noticed more and more books were coming out that didn’t focus on a romantic relations, but on the strong development of the female protagonist (generally). The books, like GUILTY PLEASURES by Laurell Hamilton where Necromancer Anita Blake takes us inside a not-so-hidden world of the unusual, or BITTEN by Kelley Armstrong where Elena showed us how a normal woman handles suddenly growing fur and claws, sucked me in and made me fall in love, all because the main character was an independent, strong female not looking for someone to come save her. Granted, she still had some issues, but damn, these women, they were frickin’ awesome.  And, as I went on a hunt for more, I found them: ANY GIVEN DOOMSDAY by Lori Handeland where we meet Elizabeth Phoenix, a psychic cop in the Phoenix Chronicles, Patricia Briggs’ skin walker, mechanic Mercy Thompson in MOON CALLED, the first in her Mercy Thompson series, Ilona Andrews’ sword mistress, Kate Daniels in a magic ravaged Atlanta from MAGIC BITES, the awesome intro to her Kate Daniels series, Jim Butcher’s STORM FRONT, where we meet the dorky and dangerous (yes, dorky, not dark) Harry Dresden from the Dresden Files and C.E. Murphy’s cop, Joanne Walker of the Walker Papers, in URBAN SHAMAN. I could go much longer, promise (C.J. Adams, E.E. Knight, Terry Brooks…) All of these were the beginnings of some great series, series where magic was set against the backdrop of the modern world, complete with modern problems.  They appealed because it blurred the line of reality, suspended my belief, and rekindled my faith in magic.  Reading this genre (and writing in it) is my way of sharing that wonder with others.

And since I’m always looking for new voices to discover, if you have recommendations, feel free to offer them up!

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Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

You can find me at:

Black Opal Books: 

Muse It Up Publishing:


Amazon Author Page:

You can find all the buy links for both The Kyn Kronicles and PSY-IV Teams, in all formats at:


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think where the lines of urban fantasy blur and confuse people is the fact that a lot of it is actually urban horror.

Sandra Almazan said...

Good point, Alex!

Jami Gray said...

Very true, Alex. Urban horror is probably more fitting than urban fantasy at this point. Personally, I think some of our genre lines have gotten too thin, because story elements can cross various genre points, and how specific do we really want to be: urban fantasy, romantic suspense, post apocalyptic horror with a touch of sci-fi or "man, you have got to read this book!".

Jami Gray said...

Thank you, Sandra, for letting me spend time at your place today. Wishing all a wonderful week!

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