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What’s In A Name: Urban Fantasy

whats in a name urban fantasy

I’ve always written what I consider Urban Fantasy – even before the term became commonplace. It makes sense to me to set my stories in the neighborhoods that I know, because I’ve seen plenty of magic there. And if I know anything, it’s that magic is adaptable!
Wikipedia says of Urban Fantasy:

Works of urban fantasy may be set in an approximation of our world in which fantastic exists secretly or in a world (such as an alternative history) in which it occurs openly (or some combination of the above). Elements such as magic, paranormal beings, other worlds and so on, may exist here. Common themes include coexistence or conflict between humans and other beings, and the changes such characters and events bring to local life are the mainspring.
Many authors, publishers, and readers distinguish them from works of paranormal romance, which use similar characters and settings, but focus on the romantic relationships between characters.


I also might use the term “Low Fantasy” – where magical events “intrude” into the normal world. [Urban Fantasy can be considered a type of Low Fantasy.] I probably wouldn’t, but it’s a term that’s available!

I look for the liminal spaces.

Looking over where the Fantasy genre has changed and morphed, I think I’d be comfortable explaining that my work is more like a classic Urban Fantasy than a lot of the modern types available. My works are about magic and mythos, but also about community and growth – and always some music and subculture, because that’s the heartbeat, the driving force.

As with any label, it’s only as effective as the understanding of what it represents. I want to be clear what I write about, so readers understand what sort of journey they’re signing up for before we depart. Of course, any trip can have unexpected twists and turns – that’s what I’m counting on.

In coming posts in this series, I’ll talk more about names and why & how I choose them. It is a very thoughtful exercise on my part! Look for posts tagged #whatsinaname for more entries with this theme.

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