You might as well ask me why I like black licorice. I just do. And I like Stephen King’s answer to that question. “What makes you think I have a choice?”
But why do I write paranormal stories?
As a kid, I had experiences I couldn’t explain and got few answers to my questions. So I went in search of knowledge, reading all I could find on the strange and usual. The Bermuda Triangle by Charles Berlitz pushed the needle in that grove for me. I was obsessed with what happened to Flight 19, and traveled through The Triangle several times. Nothing happened, as if someone saw me coming and thought it would be funny to order up the most perfect days on record. Not a white cap on the horizon or a cloud in the sky. But that didn’t make me any less addicted to the idea of experiencing something amazing and unexplainable.
I had written traditional stories for years, but none of them sold. The trending advice was: “write what you read.” I had trouble finding new fiction of interest outside the teen section. How did that happen? I wanted paranormal for grown-ups, not dreamy infatuation and delusional super powers. And I wasn’t alone. This need for more mature paranormal stories spawned a genre called New Adult.
I read literary works, and am painfully aware that serious literature gets better press. But when reading for recreation, who really wants to be mired in situations so steeped in reality? Where is the fun? Where is the escape? And I don’t mean the wrist-slitting kind. I enjoy intellectual book discussions as much as anyone, but I my hackles went up a little when a guy asked me with a crinkled face, “Why do you write that stuff?” He sounded as if he was spitting out a bitter slice of something only the Bizarre Foods guy would put in his mouth.
“People remember a good story,” I said, resisting the urge to pick a fight.
For centuries, people have passed their history and knowledge through oral stories. Never mind that the first written stories were pictorial.
Paranormal writing suffers the stigma of being viewed as dime novel or pulp fiction. Popular fiction isn’t necessarily written for the purpose of teaching, but it can. Although genre work might not garner the respect of literary fiction, escapist stories can heal and inspire while they entertain. Isn’t it more fun to be entertained without realizing that you might be learning through the relationships of the characters and their circumstances?
I like to think I’m attracted to the paranormal because I’m open to new ideas. There is so much we don’t know about the mysteries of the universe. I enjoy exploring what I think and believe about the unknown. Anything is possible, if not necessarily probable. The paranormal might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it can open a closed mind to a new world of possibilities.
I write that stuff. It’s what I enjoy.
Sheila Englehart is the author of Warning Signs, published by Second Wind Publishing