What is urban fantasy, anyway?

gothic brideSince I don’t have a real definition of the term “urban fantasy, the genre bending favorite of many young adult authors, I thought I’d look up what a few other writers thought. My favorite is Susan Sizemore’s definition: Weird stuff in the real world. This was at one point called magic realism, but I guess that’s moved to the literary fiction shelf, with urban fantasy being a sub-genre of fantasy. Maybe?

I call this genre my own because, as Sizemore describes, my characters all occupy a recognizable world and go through events that fit the times we live in. The fantasy elements come along in the events, a side effect to a certain type of skin cream, the result of staying late at a strange night club, etc. That is where my ghosts and prophets appear, and then they go back into their attics and apocalypse silos, awaiting my next need.

I think our real world does in fact include these people. I see at least three outrageous people most days — a territorial suburban mom, a deranged sports fanatic — they ARE supernatural figures. No question. I don’t write them because they are much too scary. What they do when they go home is something I can’t consider putting on the page. Far better to involve a dragon. Don’t you agree.

Susan Sizemore’s article appears here: http://www.tor.com/2010/07/22/what-urban-fantasy-means-to-me/ Well worth a read, particularly if you like fantasy with one foot in the real.