Today’s strange thing is something I really love, Urban Fantasy.
It doesn’t get much stranger than mixing your present day fictional world with whatever magical, mythical, and fantasy elements you desire. I stretch the definition of the genre a little when I write it myself. It’s not always a very urban setting when I’m doing it, but the typical urban fantasy is set in some big city or another, whether it’s real or fictional.
It’s all the fantasy elements that make urban fantasy strange, and what attract me to it. I love playing with magic, mythical creatures, and other fantasy elements, but it’s also fun to be able to mix that with computers, cell phones, and modern transportation options. The other really fun thing about urban fantasy is the option to do an alternate history for your world. This can be especially fun if you chose to have it impact big events like wars, politics, or social movements. For example, in the world of my Swords & Shields series, the existence of preternaturals (witches, vampires, Fae, and werecreatures) has been known since the 1950s or before, so they rose up alongside blacks in the civil rights movement and worked with them to earn rights for all of them.
There are so many different fantasy elements you can include these days too. There are the popular vampires and werewolves, but you can also have were creatures of almost any variety you want. I’ve even read stories about wereplatipi and wereechidna. There are also zombies, fairies, elves, goblins, trolls, gods, nymphs, naiads, dryads, gryphons, chimera, Pegasus, unicorns, and any other mythical creature you can think of.
One of my favorite paranormal elements to add into urban fantasy are witches, mages, or wizards. What differentiates the three (if anything besides nomenclature) varies from author to author. I tend not to make a lot of distinctions between how their abilities work and how they work magic, just using different terms for how they self-identify or how society identifies them (which can often be different). I do have one series I’m working on that makes some very real distinctions between one type of witch and all the others because their magic actually does work differently, but the other three types are really all the same, jut identified differently based on their history, philosophy, and practices rather than their actual magical ability.
When it really comes down to it, I just adore a good fantasy, whether it’s set in modern day or not, but the ones set in the present open up an entirely different type of world building opportunity because you’re mixing your fantasy with your reality.
What’s your favorite fantasy element in Urban Fantasy?