A big welcome to one of my favorite paranormal authors, Carrie Pulkinen!
Most people aren't surprised when they find out I write paranormals. You can tell by looking at me that I don't always go with the grain—the way I dress, my tattoos, and my hair has been every color in the rainbow (except green. Maybe next week…) I grew up literally next-door to a cemetery, and I've always been fascinated with the dead—and the undead.
A question that comes up a lot is whether or not my characters follow "the rules" or if I go off on my own (i.e. sparkly vampires). Though I don't write about vampires much, I can tell you that they never sparkle. As for the rest of the rules…they're debatable.
Does a stake through the heart kill a vampire? Of course. That would kill anyone. But do they immediately incinerate at the slightest ray of sunlight? Not necessarily. I think since paranormals have become so popular, authors have a little more freedom to bend the rules. If you go by Interview With a Vampire, yeah, they burn up. But in the Sookie Stackhouse novels, they have a few minutes before they're screaming in agony. And even then, they can heal if they find cover quickly enough. Are their fangs retractable? Or do they have fangs at all? Does it matter?
And what about werewolves? Originally, they only changed into wolves during a full moon. Now, I've read books where they can change any time, and the moon doesn't affect them at all. In others, they have to change with the moon, but they can also change whenever they want in between. Sometimes they're half-wolf, half-man. Other times they turn into full-blown canines.
In my first book, Sweet Release, Andre is half demon, half human. So, is he good or evil? Can a creature straight from Hell turn good? Is there even any good there to begin with? Since Andre is only half demon, his human side is in constant conflict with the evil that he has to suppress. I'd be interested to read a book where a full-blown demon can turn good and be the hero.
I think whether or not paranormal characters need to follow the traditional rules depends on the world the writer creates. That's the fun part about being an author—making your own rules.
And even those can be broken. J