Tuesday, June 21, 2011

CFP: GLBTQ Studies and Paranormal Mysteries

On Friday I came across a post by Jana DeLeon in which she mentioned that she'd written a "gothic-lite" for Harlequin's Intrigue line:
Since the book’s release, a lot of writers have asked me how I “got away” with writing a ghost story for Intrigue, which is a contemporary romance line and not a paranormal line. The answer is that I didn’t “get away” with anything. Despite the gothic sound and haunted mansion, my story is not a true paranormal, which is why it works for the line. [...]

The house is reputed haunted. It’s isolated. It’s old and empty and has a history of tragic death. The heroine and hero see things they can’t explain. Sure, some of it turns out to be the villain, but not everything. The rest is unexplained. Was the white figure they saw out in the storm debris blowing in the inky black night or was it something else? That question remains unanswered.
By coincidence (spooky or otherwise), Clues: A Journal of Detection has just put out a call for papers for a themed issue on paranormal mysteries:
Paranormal mysteries often feature the usual suspects (ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and so forth) but also branch into the gothic, spirituality (as in Tony Hillerman's skinwalkers, Michael Gruber’s shaman trilogy), and other magic realism, as well as biochemical transformation (as in the Relic series) and a wide variety of mystery hybrids with horror and dark fantasy. For this theme issue of Clues, potential contributors are urged to think outside the normal boxes. Thematic analysis might include (but is not limited to):

• the paranormal as red herring (explained away by the end, as in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles)

• minority culture treated as paranormal (as in depictions of voodoo as horror) in mystery texts

• whether horror/dark fantasy in general requires detection

• the paranormal dialogue with subcategories of mystery: clue-puzzle/hard-boiled/noir/private eye/spy/police procedural/etc.

paranormal romance in relation to romantic suspense

• the mystery ingredients most affected by paranormal hybridity

• women characters as detectives and/or monsters and/or victims in paranormal mysteries

• use and/or overuse of providence and other supernatural means for mystery resolution

• the dialogue between literary and popular gothic texts

• paranormal mysteries as reading tools/pedagogical resources
I put the bit about romance in bold and left out some of the suggested topics. More details can be found here. The deadline for submissions is 29 December 2011.

There's a much shorter deadline for anyone wanting to present a paper to the GLBTQ Studies Area of this year's Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association conference. They "must be received by June 30, 2011":
Proposals of interest for this year's conference might include:

*HIV/AIDS in Erotic Culture
*GLBTQ Romance Novels
*HIV/AIDS in Popular Culture
*GLBTQ Television Representation
*The Violet Quill writers
*Popular GLBTQ romance novels/novelists
*GLBTQ comics/graphic novels
The use of bold is, once again, mine. Some inspiration, should it be required, may be found at Dear Author, which is celebrating Pride Week. Today's post, written by Sarah, is on the topic of "Book Awards and GLBT Books."


  1. I'd have classified Jana DeLeon's book as 'supernatural romance', even with unanswered questions. I'm not sure why so many prefer 'paranormal' and 'non-paranormal'. What's wrong with 'supernatural'? Supernatural, implied or not, is very much part of the Gothic Romance genre after all.

    (I do see 'supernatural' and 'paranormal' as separate entities.)

    "minority culture treated as paranormal (as in depictions of voodoo as horror) in mystery texts"

    Colleagues and I have been discussing why so many East Asian dark mystery/suspense films (including folklore mysteries) are labelled 'Horror' in the U.S.

    There are two films with similar titles, premises and endings; one is American and the other is Thai (made in 1977). The American film is Michael Mann's Manhunter (based on Thomas Harris's novel Red Dragon) and the Thai film is The Hunter. Both revolve around a man (the U.S. film has a F.B.I. profiler and the Thai film has a police officer) hunting a serial killer whilst relying on an imprisoned serial killer for help/guidance. Yet, the American film is labelled a dark psychological thriller and the Thai film a horror film.

    Oddly, there's an American remake of a Japanese film (labelled mystery in Japan and other Asian countries, but horror in the U.S.) that's labelled a mystery, which strongly suggests that East Asians themselves are part of the Unknown. Creepy, even.

    Interestingly, also in the U.S., The Devil's Backbone (Spanish or Mexican) is labelled as a supernatural mystery while Dorm (Thai) is labelled a horror, yet both have similar premises and both feature a ghost.

    We're seeing a similar effect in mystery/crime novels, romance novels and YA fiction as well. Anything East Asian usually means horror or martial arts now. How vexing.

    Sorry for being so random.

  2. No need to apologise, Maili! The CFPs are at least as random as your comment, which was really interesting.

  3. Thank you! I'll talk books one day. I swear I will!

    (It's timely because I was still annoyed about The Devil's Backbone and Dorm. TDB is much darker, bordering on 'scary', than Dorm. Dorm is a warm-hearted drama about lonely boys who gradually discover the meaning of friendship. And yet, Dorm gets the Horror label while TDB doesn't? Bah.)

  4. "Anything East Asian usually means horror or martial arts now. How vexing."

    And moving on only semi-randomly, that reminded me of a recent post by Sunita in which she observed that

    Booksellers like Fictionwise still categorize most gay and lesbian romance titles as erotica. And remember when Amazon pulled its m/m titles on the grounds that they were porn?

    It's not the same as the East-Asian=Horror/Martial Arts equation, but both would seem to be the result of stereotypes and/or prejudices.

    Interestingly, and going off at something of a tangent, when I went to look up the details of the Amazonfail episode that Sunita alludes to, when "the material that was targeted for exclusion and de ranking were all dealing with gay, lesbian, transgender, sex, erotica, and erotic romance" (Dear Author), I couldn't find any details on Wikipedia.

  5. "It's not the same as the East-Asian=Horror/Martial Arts equation, but both would seem to be the result of stereotypes and/or prejudices."

    True. Same with mainstream romances. You know, all those wink-wink jokes about bodice rippers and sex-starved housewife readers.

    A side note: I can't get the link to work (my browser is a bit funny at the moment). If I remember her post right: in fairness to Amazon, it was publishers themselves who pulled their English-translated Japanese titles off the digital shelves. It was due to a recent legal ruling in Japan, regarding the digital issue of intellectual property/copyright laws. As I understand, it's not a permanent action. It's more of a cautious move. I can't remember if I told Sunita this. Eep.

    Sorry for making this murkier if you're referring to a different post, though! *kicks Chrome* Stupid browser.

  6. The links are still working for me; I hope your browser fixes itself soon.

    "Sorry for making this murkier if you're referring to a different post, though! *kicks Chrome* Stupid browser."

    I don't remember reading anything about "English-translated Japanese titles" at Dear Author. In the post I'd linked to, Sunita was discussing m/m romance but she didn't mention anything about Japanese books.

  7. Merrian has had trouble posting a comment, so I'm doing so for her:

    There are two ''amazonfails'' the first was around 3 years ago. Amazon itself pulled the GLBTQ m/m titles. There was a major outcry in response. The Manga m/m titles being withdrawn only happened this year and I have heard almost nothing about it. I wonder if that is because of who reads the manga as opposed to the other?

  8. I prefer the magic realism themed stories better and a few ancient vampiric stories wouldn't hurt my taste. :)